It wasn't long ago that improving the power of a bike was all that there was to do. If handling was bad, it was either accepted or token efforts like fork braces and stearing dampers were as far as anyone went.

Now, the power of most sports bikes is such that after the obligatory can change, they are fast enough. So what else do you spend your hard earned wonga on except for anodised screw kits - Suspension and Brakes.

Tyres

My bike came with BT56's while Dunlop D204's were also standard equipment. The BT's were a good tyre with good grip, stable and lasted well (6000mls). I then switched to BT56'ss. Grip was more confidence inspiring when warm. When cold, a little slide here or there could be expected (not so with the BT56). They lasted 3500mls.

Now I am on BT010's. The back lasts 3000mls before the handling goes off, with another 1000mls or so untill they are illegal. The front lasts twice that. They grip as well as the BT56'ss and have had no slides yet. The best so far.

Rennsports are gaining ground. Haven't tried them myself yet, but this man has......

"I must admit i didn't take too kindly to the bt010's after having 207's on the 6, the rear wasn't a prob but I always felt the front a little vague and when pushing hard felt it could tuck in, you know that way when your just starting to peel in, goes kinda light and not very confidence inspiring ?. It never actually did anything just felt like it would.

I then fell prey to the tyre test article in PB and for once actually followed their recommendation and bought the road going compund rennsports, Bloody glad I did to.

With the rennsports this feeling has completely gone and boy do they grip ! I was really concerned that they would just shred in about 1000 miles but not so. Was up round Ullapool for a weekend with the lads , GXR1000 (with ex-club racer onboard) included. Now it was a bit of a struggle holding on but no way was the 9 disgraced, not by a LONG shot !(PB artcile Pah !). Anyway, after 700 miles of seriously hard road riding, on all surfaces, extremely fast sections and twisties, the rennsports are still holding up no problemo, got the usual puckering round the edges and a wee bit chewy, but this soon wore away once we had calmed down abit.

Bottom line ; top tyres and well worth the money, definetly having another set."

Thanks to Hootsmun.

MCN have just done a tyre test in the June 13th edition. Using a GSXR1000 and a Fazer 1000. The lap tme is the best of five laps. The rating is the total given for lap time and rider rating.

Suzuki GSXR 1000 Yamaha Fazer 1000
Lap Time Price Total Lap Time Price Total
Metzeler Rennsport RS2 1:09.43 238 40 1:13.28 238 37
Avon Azaro S. Sport II 1:12.15 194 30 1:13.36 194 37
Pirelli SC2 1:09.24 236 37 1:12.56 236 38
Michelin Pilot Race Soft 1:10.56 225 34 1:13.45 225 33
Bridgestone BT001 1:10.56 TBA 31 - - -
Bridgestone BT56 - - - 1:13.56 205 35
Dunlop D208 GP 1:11.50 280 30 - - -
Continental Contiforce - - - 1:14.10 168 30

 

About a 01 ago, they did another test. They tested 6 sets of tyres (R1 and SP-1) and more or less concluded the following.

Bridgestone BT010
Avon Azaro
Metzeler MEZ3
Michelin Pilot
Dunlop D207
Pirelli Dragon Ego

Latest info looks something like this

tyres.jpg (50338 bytes)

Suspension

IF you are a complete novice in the suspension department, you could do worse than reading this page that gives an insight in what does what.

For the road, I find the standard suspension pretty good. It has taken about a year and a half for me to start to think the limits of the standard equipment have been met. Actually the limits are probably no where near met, it is just that after changing something I can now notice the difference. On the track, it may be a different matter, but I am not going down that road (yet).

The first step must be to get the suspension working properly for your weight and riding style. The factory set up is for a rider with a weight of 68kg - generally this will be much lighter than the average Brit, Yank etc. So, first I would recomend increasing compression and rebound damping and also preload.

Don't be put of from attempting to improve the suspension because there is so many knobs and dials to twist or turn. Read the owners hand book or Service manual and they will explain the basics. From that point on, all you need is the ability to know, since you have changed something, that the bike feels better or worse than before. Everyone is different and there are no right or wrong answers.

Before you start, write down the settings so you can revert back if everything goes pear shaped. Another good tip is not to change everything at first. Adjust items one by one. Also, if you are going to adjust the compression damping, say, don't just move it one click, move it 3 or 4. Ultimately this may be too much of a change, but it will show you what characteristic you are changeing.

The table below shows what I use compared to the standard values. Also, the magazine Performance Bikes ran a suspension tune-up article sometime back for a C2 running round some UK race track. This is a reasonably well repected bike mag and I have seen people from the far east and the USA all asking for details of this set-up.

My Settings* Standard** Performance Bikes***
Front  
Preload 2.5 Rings Showing 7 Rings Showing 2 Rings Showing / 30mm****
Compression 5 clicks from max. 7 clicks from max. 3 clicks from max.
Rebound 5 clicks from max. 5 clicks from max. 4 clicks from max.
Rear
Preload Factory position Factory position 5mm****
Compression 7-10 clicks from max 12 clicks from max 2 clicks from max
Rebound 4 clicks from max 5 clicks from max 4 clicks from max

* - I weigh in at about 13st (in the scuddy).
** -For rider weight 68kg (just under 11stone)
***  - C2 Model Set up for track use. C1 model has softer rear spring.
****- Dimensions are for static sag. 

If you want to uprate the front suspension, the first step would be uprated springs. Progressive or Ohlins will do a set for between 55 and 70 or so. This will be the next item on my shopping list.

After that, its time to get the forks revalved. Here is where somebody like Maxton may come in useful. They do a modified front fork package that changes the flow orifices and replace the springs with higher rate ones. I think the price is about 200. I have spoke to them about it and they are very friendly, patient and enthusiastic. The only down side was that there was s waiting list for about two months for their ride-in-ride-out service. But, if you just send them your forks, it takes about 10-14 days.

Finally, if that is no good, throw them away and buy a new at around 2K (e.g. Ohlins). Or take up racing full time!

The rear follows a similar route. But, because the rear shock can be replaced for about 400, it is maybe better to get a new one since they offer more adjustment than the standard unit. The rear shock is also regarded as the weak link in the Kawasaki suspension system. Ohlins are always the top of the shopping list. Also, Maxton also do a set of rear inkages that raise the rear ride height by about an inch. Since the ZX is pretty stable, this seams to be a popular mod that increases the turn-in rate. I have had it done (30 for the two linkage plates) and consider it money well spent. Read more here

Brakes

Firstly, the standard brakes are a bit variable. Some are good, some are wooden. In any case the route is the same.

Fit a set of steel braded hoses. This will cost about 50-60 and gives a better / firmer feel at the lever (although, some people actually like the softer feel of the original hoses since they allow more travel). At the same time, it would make sense to fit new uprated pads. There are many makes to choose from and each company offers different materials / compounds. The best for general road used is sintered from the likes of Carbon Lorraine or Dunlop. A pair (for one caliper) is about 20-25. Mostly, this is a DIY mod, but should also be reasonable cheap to get the dealer to perform. I have done all of the above and do recommend it - a good way to spend 120.

If this is not enough, you have to throw away the old rotors and calipers and buy new from someone like Brembo. Agian, this is too expensive for me and for road use just isn't required. That said, the replacement of rotors are becoming more popular, and cost little more than the price of an exhaust.