FROM LOOSEY-GOOSEY TO SUSPENSION MAGIC
There is no doubt that the single biggest weakness of the KLR off-road is
the suspension. It is wimpy, and the fork action can be compared to a high-tech pogo stick. Race Tech took our under-sprung, under-damped forks and
shock and turned them into trail art. The difference in ride quality was amazing.
We had already installed a set of heavier fork springs and upped the weight on
the fork oil in an attempt to make the front end work on the trail. This helped
marginally, giving a firmer ride but without much improvement in damping
control. Race Tech installed its Gold Valve cartridge emulator kit and a set of
high-performance fork springs. Now the forks ride up in the stroke and resist
bottoming and rebound in a smooth, controlled manner. The steering on trail
sections is much more precise. The front end goes where it’s pointed and
tracks straight. It is truly amazing.
On the back of the bike, Race Tech hooked us up with its shock-shaft
assembly, which includes the Gold Valve. This kit uses your stock shock body
and replaces all of the internal parts. On its online product description page,
Race Tech claims that the kit “is an impressive performance upgrade.” After
riding with the new shock, we agree. Like the stock fork, the stock shock
had a serious case of pogo-stick envy. It was marginal at best on the pavement and scary in the dirt. With a set of stuffed saddlebags, things just got
more wallowy and grim. The Race Tech shaft assembly keeps the OEM spring
preload adjuster and adds a very functional rebound adjuster. After installing the rebuilt suspension, we immediately took the KLR out on the trail. On
the first pass on a hilly, whooped-out trail, we experienced speed and control
We fit on a Ricochet skid plate for its beefiness, Moose Racing’s Expedition luggage rack system and a Wolfman dry duffel bag. We shelved the stock tires for Kenda Big Blocks since
we spend a good amount of our time in the dirt.
Race Tech re-valves and resprings the
fork using their Gold Valves. The difference is incredible, as the machine went
from wallowy and soft to plush and firm
and far more dirt-worthy.