Willson 120: New Suspension is a Must!

This is the sixth post in a series that will follow Matt and Brayde Willson’s motorcycle journey from Seattle to Tierra del Fuego over 120 days.

In preparing for our trip to Mexico last March, Matt and I tried to set the rear sag on my 2007 BMW F650GS with a light load of luggage. Even with the shock preload turned all the way up, there was still too much sag. Sure enough, as we rode through rough terrain in the Copper Canyon, I could feel every rock and hole, and bottomed out on my fair share of ‘topes’ (huge Mexican speed bumps). After an especially rough section in Baja, we discovered my fork seals were blown. 

When we returned, we reached out to Alex at Konflict Motorsports, a local suspension shop with the reputation of being experts with dual-sport and adventure motorcycle setups. With some quick measurements and assessment of riding style, Alex reworked my front forks with cartridge emulators, new springs, seals, and fluid. The difference was immediate, like night and day. This was my first time getting customized suspension, and I couldn’t believe the impact it has on riding. Things as obvious as better endurance because my arms aren’t worn out, and better braking and handling, to subtleties like better visibility because my mirrors aren’t blurry from shaking. Well worth it!

This also made my worn out rear suspension extra apparent. Luckily, I know just the guy to help me out with that! Two years ago, Touratech came out with a new suspension line that Matt has already been testing thoroughly on his R1200GS. We saved up our pennies, and by mid-summer Matt had a Touratech Suspension Explore HP rear shock re-sprung and dialed in for my weight and riding style.

With a couple hours and beers and a mechanically-savvy husband, my F650GS now rides even better than new. My friend Angela and I recently took advantage of a beautiful afternoon to go ride around some dirt roads in the Cascades, and once again, I could not believe the difference I experienced. We got incredibly muddy and had a blast. Suspension that is dialed in to my size gives me the ability to ride faster and more comfortably in all terrain, from railroad tracks to gravely washboard and everything between.

Just a few weeks left before I get to really put everything through its paces on our big trip–can’t wait!


About the authorsMatt Willson is the product line manager at Touratech-USA. He’s been with the company for 5 years and has been riding motorcycles longer then he can remember. Matt’s wife, Brayde spent her life around motorcycles and the two have been riding together as long as they’ve been together. Brayde rides a 2007 BMW F650GS and Matt rides a 2006 BMW R1200GS