Well, after much toil we managed to get the bike together and everything working.
On Friday night we wound up working under the EZ-Up that I got a while ago for just such an eventuality. We were out in the rain until 3:30 AM. (!!!) The only test I did was make sure the bike fired up again, held a good idle, and the front light came on. (Front light check was due to me having to tap the front light connection)
On Saturday morning I put the rest of the bike back together. The crash bars, muffler, and pannier rack still had to be put back on. I had left them off the night before because I was more worried about the bike getting back to being more-or-less waterproof. In all the hub-bub I managed to lose a 5mm nut that holds on part of the windshield so I went off and fetched a new one of those too.
As an aside, if there were any part that I would choose to lose it would be that one. It’s a standard parts-bin nut. It cost 20¢ to get a new one.
Total time spent:
2 hours 12 hours.
Step one after it all came back together: calibrate the preload settings. Pressing a couple of buttons on the handlebars and that was done.
Step two: test.
This changes the bike into something it has never been before. I thought the bike was OK before and I did this to get better serviceability along with better performance. Holy crap. I didn’t know what I was missing.
It’s hard to describe really how things feel as a before-and-after type comparison without falling into the jargon that is suspension setup nonsense.
What I can say is that the bike feels more connected to the road than ever before. At the same time it’s also a lot smoother on normal roads.
Going to the jargon side, I think the difference is that the low-speed compression damping is set up correctly. Looking at it visually when going down the hill I live on I immediately noticed the front wheel moving up and down a lot more than I ever had in the past. Instead of relying on the tires to pick up the small irregularities on the road, the shock was — and not transmitting it to me. Another big change is that the rebound damping was set correctly. With the stock after going over a biggish bump it would feel bouncy. The Öhlins seem to be more in control of the rebound damping to ensure that the bounce doesn’t happen.
Another plus is that it’s sprung for me not the skinny German dude it was set up for originally.
I can honestly say that this is probably one of the best things I’ve ever done to the bike. Yes, it’s a spendy upgrade, but I don’t know of a better way to get a better bike. I can say honestly that this feels better than a new bike. Even the newest bike.
If you want to get one I want to give a shout-out to Dan Kyle of Kyle Racing who gave me a great price and got things set up just right for me. :-D
Update – a bit more research turns up that the stock gear can only adjust the rebound damping of the shocks and the preload. This really explains the difference in ride with the new equipment. The Öhlins has not only adjustable rebound damping, but has adjustable high speed and low speed compression damping as well. You can feel the difference in a heartbeat.
The only thing the Öhlins doesn’t have is electrically adjustable front preload. That’s a manual adjustment on this.