My Own Triumph Explorer Suspension Investigation

Posted on 19. May, 2013 by in All, Bike Video, Bikes, Explorer Suspension, Triumph Explorer

This post might surprise you!

Here’s a little section of video I shot on my ride home from Laguna yesterday. This is within 10 minutes of picking up the bike and you can see from my head bobbing (the camera is attached to my crash helmet) and from the screen and mirrors just how harsh the suspension appears to be and how many shocks are being absorbed by my arms and torso etc.

As I stated yesterday, this really is no different to how it felt before Laguna rebuilt the front forks and balanced the front wheel and so I was very disappointed. It feels to me at times as though the forks are rigid and when I’ve attempted to look over the bars to observe them, they’ve looked as though they’re not moving too.

Even though many people on the Explorer Forum also describe their suspension as harsh and hard I couldn’t believe that Triumph would make the Explorer with suspension so hard it didn’t move at times. Therefore, without knowing what else to think I’ve been fearing the worst and worrying that I have a faulty bike, a bent or out of round fork tube, that it would take months to convince others of and get sorted.

Consequently I decided I needed to find out for myself what was really going on with the front forks under riding conditions so that I would know for sure whether to pursue Triumph because of a fault or a suspension specialist because I want it improved.

So, I set up my video camera on one of the engine bars where it had a good view of the left fork as well as the road ahead… By the way, I’ve left the original engine/wind sounds on this one so that viewers can tell what I was doing (accelerating/slowing) etc. You might want to turn your volume down :)

I am both staggered and relieved by this evidence. Staggered that the forks are moving as much as they are, especially over things like the pea gravel and small undulations because they feel like they’re not moving at all, and relieved because I now know for sure the suspension is working as designed and my forks don’t have a fault – even though of course I feel they can be improved.

I really am much happier, even though getting them set up better will cost me money to know my bike doesn’t have a major suspension fault.

Some observations…

At first I thought the 55mm or so static sag was enormous and then to realise once the suspension had settled there was around 75 to 80mm rider sag, it got me thinking. I know in ‘normal’ bike suspension set up 30 to 40mm rider sag is considered ideal, but this is of course an adventure bike. It has around 190mm total front fork travel and so if the rider sag is say 80mm, that means the suspension has 80mm rebound travel and around 110mm compression travel left. I don’t know, but common sense would tell me this must be about right.

When I stopped to adjust the rear preload, I actually raised the rear rather than reducing it which I know some people think makes it softer, and this had an immediate and positive effect on the feel of the bike. I believe that by raising the rear it effectively puts more weight on the front therefore forcing the forks to absorb more. Heck, I really don’t understand this stuff, but the theory seems solid enough, at least until I can get the bike to a specialist and see what they say.

So, the bottom line for the moment seems to be that my TEx is working correctly and I was previously spoilt by the BMW duolever suspension, especially on the K1600 which with it’s weight just swallowed up the bumps. I still don’t understand how Kevin Ash could ever have felt the TEx suspension was plusher than a GS but with his untimely and unfortunately death that’ll just have to remain a mystery I guess.

I’ve had a Kent based suspension specialist recommended to me by a very good friend and I know they use the Explorer forums favourite Hyperpro as well as other components, so more on the subject when I’ve got it booked in etc.

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