Monday, June 29, 2015

YSS Suspension after 12,000 km

Bouncing over Romania's finest roads made me realise an update on Mike's YSS suspension was long overdue. It's amazing how quickly we tend to forget about something when it works perfectly. The YSS suspension was like that. We had it fitted and as it worked so well, we simply concentrated on travelling, which is probably the best compliment we can give them. But Mike's XT660R came with pretty good suspension from the factory. Sure there are ways to improve upon it, as can be done with virtually any OEM suspension, but it worked really well. The Bonneville, for instance, comes with rear shock absorbers which are pretty poor. Especially compared to the rest of the bike. But the XT suspension impressed us from day one. After 70,000 km or so the rear shock was past its sell by date though and the poor XT was wallowing over the road like a Cadillac. The good people from YSS came to the rescue, as you can read here, and said they could improve it a little too... it was more than a little!

They uprated both front and rear suspension. We thought the front was fine, they thought different! The rear now has a shock absorber with almost infinite adjustments on both spring pre-load and damping. Well ok the damping is 'limited' to only 60 settings... YSS suggested to work in 5-click increments at a time and then fine tune from there. The way Yamaha has mounted the shock limits access to the preload adjuster, so much so that Yamaha's own spring is hard to adjust without getting your fingers jammed in between the spanner and the frame or damaging the paint. With the YSS adjuster nut, this is a thing of the past. And, if you find it still too hard to do then they also do a remote adjuster.

Since having the YSS suspension fitted we've done over 12,000 km. From smooth highway, to off road and roads so bad that they were hardly rideable. We had temperatures from -10°C to 38°C, sweeping corners, strong side winds, hail, rain and shine. In short: we've had it all. The adjustments had us puzzled a bit, simply because there is so much adjustment possible! Once setup properly for the weight we carry and the damping characteristics Mike prefers, it has been brilliant. It simply eats up bumps, potholes, and cracks like nothing. The rear shock reacts incredibly quick and yet keeps the wheel firmly on the ground. The YSS upgrade has transformed the XT into a proper travel machine. The XT was very susceptible to sidewinds, since the YSS upgrade that is no longer the case. It's comfortable on bad roads and yet never becomes the wallowing duck you'd expect at higher speeds. 

The forks have new springs and new valves and give much more feel than it did before. It handles better, feels sharper and yet soaks up big holes without any drama. Part of the reason it's so good is of course the quality of the components. But the other thing we noticed is that the shock for the Yamaha didn't came out of a box... it was made on the spot. Companies like ProMaxx, who build the YSS suspension for the XT, have stacks of YSS components from which they make a base shock absorber as per YSS application chart. They then fine tune it from there. In Mike's case, having an XT with panniers, camping gear and himself not being a short little lightweight either, they changed the spring rate and the damping components. Not by simply turning out the adjusters, but by changing the internals. They set it up perfectly for Mike, while being in the middle setting on both pre-load and damping.

Are we impressed? No, we're far more than just impressed! It's easy to improve on something which isn't good, but the Yamaha suspension wasn't that bad, or so we thought! Now we know better! The YSS upgrade has taken it to a whole new level, making this XT far better than when it left the factory! I've been riding with Mike those 12,000 km and see the YSS suspension at work everyday, and I'm very impressed! Actually, I'm jealous...! YSS calls it world class suspension, we call it out of this world!