The EDR Performance 2015 FZ-09 project build is underway with its first major upgrade – suspension.
Almost unanimously, FZ-09 owners rave about how powerful and torquey the 847cc inline three motor feels followed immediately by complaints about the inadequate suspension. Yamaha fitted the bike with a very soft suspension that is extremely limited in adjustability. The forks contain 0.75kg/mm springs which is far too soft for all but the lightest of riders and only offers preload and rebound damping adjustments. In the rear, we again have a shock that is sprung far too light and some basic rebound adjustability. With this setup in stock form you find the bike wants to squat low every time you get on the throttle, lightening the front end to remove most feedback. It is also very unstable through turns, creating what many riders call a “pogo” effect where the suspension’s inadequate rebound damping causes the whole bike to bounce around and never feel planted through corners. Even medium braking transfers too much energy into the suspension causing it to dip much further than it should. All of this translates into a motor that simply overwhelms the suspension and leaves the rider not feeling confident to reach lean angles the bike is really capable of. Not only that, but safety becomes a concern in evasive maneuver and hard-braking situations, where a properly set-up suspension can make all the difference.
So what is an FZ-09 owner to do? While there are many ways to improve the stock suspension, none of them will get the bike to the point where it handles the way the chassis is capable of and you’d also still be left with a system that has no compression adjustment. The best route you can go with these bikes is to replace the fork internals and shock altogether, and we decided to go with K-Tech’s 20mm IDS fork cartridge kit as well as their Razor-R rear shock. K-Tech makes some of the best suspension products around and we had very high expectations for this kit our friends at Orient Express Racing put together for our project FZ. Once they arrived we wasted no time getting parts swapped out!
Ben Waller, EDR’s highly experienced suspension technician had the OEM fork internals apart and was quick to show us some of the major inadequacies with the stock setup. As you can see, one of the tubes is pretty much a dummy fork, containing only a spring and some oil while the other tube does all the
work with compression and rebound valving. This creates a very under-powered and overwhelmed front-end with a very limited range of adjustment. K-Tech’s 20mm IDS fork cartridge kit comes with both sides fully adjustable for preload, rebound, and compression and out of the box very few actual adjustments were needed to the settings. The shock was a similar story, with our Razor-R unit having a wide range of adjustment for ride height, preload, rebound, and compression. Once both were installed, we could tell even before taking it for a spin that it would be a completely different machine. Just pressing down on the front end no-longer caused the “pogoing” effect we could see with the stock setup. The chassis now can transmit the feedback needed to help the rider feel confident enough to reach lean angles we wouldn’t dare try with the stock setup. Once again, this proves what we’ve seen time and time again that if there’s one major upgrade for FZ-09 owners (and many other bikes for that matter) we can’t recommend enough, it’s suspension!