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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I will be upgrading the suspension on my 2015 soon. I'm definitely going to get new fork cartridges but haven't decided on whether to get a new shock or have it rebuilt by Traxxion Dynamics.

One of my main concerns is comfort. Would AK-20s and the rebuild be ok or should I get a new shock with AK-20s?
 

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I have the Ak 20 cartridges, and I've had both a rebuilt , stock shock and a built Penske Double. Traxxion did all of the work.

The stock shock rebuild, for 350 is a bargain. It is surprising that a simple rebuild, revalve and new spring can make it work so well. If the stock shock rates a 5 on the 1-10 scale, this rebuild moves that number up to 7. Its downside is that you cant adjust its length, and it's not as comfortable as the real Penske shock. The length adjust is a big deal. The bike wont handle correctly without this. The 190/55 tire helps, but it isnt enough.

The real Penske shock has a huge adjustment range, and it is really comfortable. More comfortable and plush than the reworked stock shock. If that's what you are after, theres really no choice.

If you had asked about saving money, for sure.....the reworked , stock shock is a good place to save money. You can buy an adjustable link and that is similar to a longer shock. It's not bad, at all, but it wont compete with the Penske shock.

As far as the money side of things goes, when you revalve the stock pieces you get nothing for re sale. Those will have to be sold with the bike.

The ak 20, and penske shock. I bought mine in 2013. I believe it was right at 2000, all in? Maybe 1900? There was a discount for buying both at the same time.

My set up is for a 190-210 lb rider. The ak 20's are easy to adapt to other bikes. Traxxion can do that for a few hundred. People know me well enough here to know I am an a-hole , but I wouldnt rip anyone off. They are built to such a high degree of precision, they dont really wear out. They are 1100, new. If i sold these for 500.00 , I think that would be possible.

The shock can also be converted to fit other bikes. They wanted 400 to re-build my sv 650 shock into a Ninja 1000 shock. Well, 400 and an extra 100 for the spring. That didnt make a lot of sense . I bought that shock , used, for 450 and sold it for 550.00. At that point, it made more sense to sell it and buy new.

If I were selling my Ninja 1000 shock, I'm sure one of the guys here would consider it at 550.00. Maybe 450, but it's so well made, and dead nuts simple to rebuild, that it will always be worth something.

It's not like we are buying this stuff to resell. No, mine isnt for sale. The last time I posted somethi g like this, I had PM's asking me for prices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A comfort scale is what I was looking for. I think I'll go with a new shock. Especially since it and the AK-20s can be modified to use in other bikes.
 

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Comfort? If stock is a 5, modified stock is a 7, than the penske shock is a 10.....at least. If not higher. It's a completly different feel. The ak20/Penske is plush and comfortable, yet you never have the chassis misbehave.
 

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Even though they are often one of the most expensive upgrades, I tend to think suspension upgrades are usually worth the coin. That being said, I don't really understand the engineering voodoo of them -- even having held the components in my hand. I guess I've never taken the opportunity to really compare and contrast the OEM components vs the high-quality upgrade. In the end, both just look like a few springs, some washers, and some valves.

So, assuming "you get what you pay for", what specifically are you paying for in a thousand-dollar shock or cartridge kit? Are the springs a much better grade of steel? Is there a lot of labor-intensive machining in the after-market valves that is skipped in the OEM version?
 

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Simple answer, recouping R&D costs. Maybe the expensive stuff holds a little tighter tolerances, but with CNC technology availability over the last several decades that's moot. Maybe a little bit more exotic material, but that can't be that much.

OEM forks and shocks are made for the masses to meet a variety of needs. "Street" level aftermarket parts are more specialized, and require a lot more design trial and error. True race stuff sucks on the street as it's often made for a specific track for a specific rider, to be changed at the next track. An insane amount of R&D time thrown in for a few hundred sets made. And yes, that technology trickles down to the specialized "street" parts, so those take some of those engineering costs as well.

You cannot only consider the costs to make something. Engineering is not free.
 

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Rob, with aftermarket cartridges, in this fork, you get a few things. One being they are slightly longer and offer more travel. You cant do that with the stock cartridges. Dirt bikes usually have better quality cartridges that you can deal with. Race tech sells a valve system you can use with our stock fork cartridge. This is semi-cheap if you do it yourself. If Race Tech does it, they will charge as much as replacing the whole cartridge. They really ...nevermind. let's just say the value really isnt there.

Two is the base material. The material is high quality and hand machined. The whole idea behind the forks damping system is forcing 10w oil through valves and past shims. If this system doesnt seal well, you lose damping control. The expensive cartridges also have anodized coatings . Thus is a big deal because the stock, non anodized cartridges wear. This contaminates the oil that you are using to control the spring. After 20-30,000 miles, you can pretty well throw away the stock cartridges. At that point, they will be so worn out that they really are not worth messing with.

The spring is also higher quality. The aftermarket spring will also be matched to your weight. Obviously, they cant do that with stock parts.

It's fairly normal for a stock for spring to have small chunks flake off. These chunks will stock in the valving. Once that happens, you lose damping. So, aftermarket spro gs are often shot peened and/or coated to reduce the chance of this happening. More expense, but it works better.

It's tough because there really is no half option. Kawasaki charges 375.00 for a stock cartridge, that would be just under 800, for the set, so 1000, for excellent quality set isnt that bad. The bad part is you've already paid for the stock, 800.00 set. If you had someone who would valve your stock cartridges for 100.00, sure, go for it. But, when that figure is more 600ish, and better quality costs 400 more, it's tough to justify the 600 job.

To some degree you can work with stock cartridges. Maybe that's the mid range option? Thats usually around 500.00 and figure another 100.00 for the spring. Tha bad part here is when you sell the bike, that goes with it. Even if you kept the cartridges , they will likley be worthless in anything but this specific fork. And, they dont work as well while you have them. The aftermarket cartridge can be removed and sold, or re built into something that fits your new bike.

The shock is a similar thing. In ways, its worse. If you look here, you get a decent idea if what a manufacture pays for a gas charged shock. Kawasaki is buying 50,000 of them, so they pay less. Although it works pretty well, few are willing to drop 400.00 into something that was so low quality to begin with, and lacks adjustments.


It would be amazing if there was a cheap, or reasonable way to do this, but there isnt. This really is about as reasonable as this gets. It just isnt a cheap area to work with. Even if a bike is supplied with Ohlins. The OEM stuff isnt very high quality, unless you spend 50k on the bike. Even at that, what you buy isnt going to be set up for your weight. You still need to pay to have someone do the internal set up and buy proper springs.
 

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I'll still stick with what I said and somewhat disagree with RC. Yeah, better materials, yeah better coatings, yeah better tolerances, but I still think recouping engineering costs are a huge part of this. Everyone, including Ohlins, makes all their parts in China now, and it will get worse now that Ohlins sold out last year to a conglomerate.
 

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So, without getting into the cost rationalising (or not), I’ll say this - go for the new shock. Not only is each component of the aftermarket shock superior to the stock in engineering, design, tolerance and functionality but also the range of adjustment that you get with it and the palpable difference in feel and handling that you experience with each tweak... it’s gold, mate, gold. Be it ride height (a huge plus) or each turn of compression and rebound, you feel the difference immediately on your bike. A rebuild is a waste of money because you’re neither here nor there. Spend on the aftermarket shock and rejoice, I say.

Also, upgrading the front set up and not upgrading the rear to the same level will mean that you won’t be able to enjoy the front setup to its fullest. And that would be a shame.
 

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I have also gone both routes. If you have the money and plan on hanging on to the bike for a long time the Penske / AK-20 will be about as good as you can get. However if you are on a budget, the rebuild is a very noticeable improvement over stock and you would not be disappointed.

Traxxion does good work and I had them rebuild suspensions on my VFR and Ninja 1000 with very good results. My Tracer has the Penske / AK-20 set up since I tour on that one quite a bit and wanted better bump absorption.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I do plan to keep it awhile and do some light touring on it. Sounds like the Penske/AK-20s will be the right choice for me.

Thanks for all the advice
 
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57x, the engineering has to factor in. You know it has to. I have no idea where they are made. It's possible there are Chinese children building them....? If so, the kids did a good job and deserve a pat on the back.

Traxxion didnt really offer an option that made the stock cartridge a reasonable thing to use. Go figure, they sell cartridges. I wanted to use them because Traxxion had good ninja experience, back then. They still do.

The all in price of rebuilding the stock cartridge was 600-650. Replacing everything with the ak 20 cartridge was 1000. There was also added downtime if I would have sent the stock cartridges in, as well as the postage.

It didnt make sense to spend 1750 and lose the cartridges when the bike was sold. I felt better about spending 2000 and getting the ak 20's back when I sold the bike. If I was able to use the cartridge, awesome. If not, I only had to sell it for 250 to break even.

I'm sure the performance of them isnt dramatically different than the re-valved stock cartridge. Well, the adjustments are dramatically different. With the ak 20 cartridge, 1/16 turn is a real change. It isnt with the stock cartridge.

If the cost of the stock cartridge was 1/4 of the price, maybe that made sense, but not at 3/4.
 

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One of ther thing Traxxion does. I'm not sure if this is ak20 related, or one of the mods that happens, no matter what. This mod was seriously cool. If you took your bike in, you might never know you got this with the Ak20 kit.

On the bottom of our right hand fork, there is a compression adjustment screw. Traxxion has you remove this assembly and substitute the needle for one with a different shape. Theres is more tapered. It starts out fatter and finished up thinner. Exactly what you would do of you wanted to change the full range of adjustment. It takes about 2 minutes to change this needle.

I would have loved to try this, on it's own., although rebound damping is what was screwed on my fork.

You could see where the stock screw turned, but never really did anything because if its shape. The new one is not like that. You notice even a 1/16 turn with the new needle.

In real life, it looks like this. They replaced the yellow piece. The new one looks like the photo. The stock one was round with mostly parallel sides.
30406
 

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So, I've been going back and forth on this investment. I went the Ohlins route with my prior bike. It was great, since at the time I was much heavier and it just improved the ride.

I'm still over the standard weight that these bikes are meant to handle. I love riding fast in the canyons so I think I'd benefit from it. If I go with Traxxion, I'd get the AK20. However, for the rear, there are three types, 1) double adjustable piggyback, 2) double adjustable reservoir and 3) street shock. Any thoughts on the way to go? I'm not looking to get the biggest and best just to have it. I'd want what would work best. Thanks
 

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So, I've been going back and forth on this investment. I went the Ohlins route with my prior bike. It was great, since at the time I was much heavier and it just improved the ride.

I'm still over the standard weight that these bikes are meant to handle. I love riding fast in the canyons so I think I'd benefit from it. If I go with Traxxion, I'd get the AK20. However, for the rear, there are three types, 1) double adjustable piggyback, 2) double adjustable reservoir and 3) street shock. Any thoughts on the way to go? I'm not looking to get the biggest and best just to have it. I'd want what would work best. Thanks
Double adjustable refers to separate adjusters for compression and rebound. To the best of my knowledge most quality aftermarket shocks have this setup. You definitely need to have a double adjustable shock.

As for reservoir location, while piggyback option is a more neat solution, I seriously doubt if the Ninja 1000 will accept such an option due to space constraints at the site of shock placement. Further, going in for a remote reservoir is no problem on this bike, you can mount the reservoir where the preload knob of the stock shock is located.
 
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I have the penske Double. Bikram is correct as to its description, although their street shock also has adjustable compression and rebound. The base, street shock wasnt available when I bought mine.

Their street shock doesnt appear to have length adjustability. That's a big deal, for this bike. For that reason, I would get the double.

If you dont want the length adjustment, I'm not sure the "street shock" will offer much of an improvement over the reworked stock shock.

If I remember correctly, the street shock was only 200 less than the double? That extra 200 is wel worth it to get the length adjustment. This bike needs a longer shock or the back end raised, to handle properly. The longer shock is the best way to do that.

If you want to save money, have the stock shock rebuilt. That would give you 95% of what the street shock offers. For me, it doesnt make much sense to spend 900.00 and lose features you would have had at 1100.00.
 

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I have the penske Double. Bikram is correct as to its description, although their street shock also has adjustable compression and rebound. The base, street shock wasnt available when I bought mine.

Their street shock doesnt appear to have length adjustability. That's a big deal, for this bike. For that reason, I would get the double.

If you dont want the length adjustment, I'm not sure the "street shock" will offer much of an improvement over the reworked stock shock.

If I remember correctly, the street shock was only 200 less than the double? That extra 200 is wel worth it to get the length adjustment. This bike needs a longer shock or the back end raised, to handle properly. The longer shock is the best way to do that.

If you want to save money, have the stock shock rebuilt. That would give you 95% of what the street shock offers. For me, it doesnt make much sense to spend 900.00 and lose features you would have had at 1100.00.
Thank you.
 

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Double adjustable refers to separate adjusters for compression and rebound. To the best of my knowledge most quality aftermarket shocks have this setup. You definitely need to have a double adjustable shock.

As for reservoir location, while piggyback option is a more neat solution, I seriously doubt if the Ninja 1000 will accept such an option due to space constraints at the site of shock placement. Further, going in for a remote reservoir is no problem on this bike, you can mount the reservoir where the preload knob of the stock shock is located.
Thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I was thinking about the 8975 Penske until RC mentioned that it wasn't height adjustable. I will be getting the Penske 8983 with remote adjuster more than likely.
 

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The spring rate and damping is set up so well, you could get by if there was no way to adjust them. Far better than stock. You can adjust, but , onviously, but if i had to start deleting features...

The length adjust would be something i missed. Ive tried all kinds of settings with this, and its a fun ine to mess with.

You can change it in a few minutes. Its easy to access. You dont need to remove the shock to use it. Its really well thought out.
 
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