New Bike Fever: Part 3

The Big Money

 If you are fortunate enough to still have cash in your pocket after all the previously mentioned services and updates there are two more areas of improvement to consider that will have a drastic impact on your riding experience. By changing a few key components to high quality aftermarket parts you can often increase the performance of an older motorcycle to a higher level than that of the new model year.

When it comes to making more power, the engine on your motorcycle should be considered a big air pump. The more air you can move through the engine, the more fuel you can add to that air, and the more power you will produce. Everyone is familiar with the fact that motorcycles have to meet more stringent pollutant emissions requirements every few years but most folks don’t realize that your motorcycle also has to meet SOUND emission tests as well.

Sound emission effects more than just the muffler on your bike, manufacturers design every part of the intake and exhaust system to act like a labyrinth to bounce and absorb sound waves. The intake pulses of an engine are routed through complicated air boxes with small and oddly placed air filters while the exhaust pulses are pressed through a series of platinum screens and then bounced through a series of chambers and absorption material. In many cases, changes to the intake and exhaust systems can increase engine performance, reliability, serviceability, and also reduce weight.


Before you get too excited about peak horsepower numbers ask yourself this, “How much cumulative time to I spend at wide open throttle vs how much time to I spend going over bumps?” Even if you ONLY ride your bike on a paved race track the fact is that you still spend more time hitting bumps than you do squeezing the absolute peak engine performance available from your bike. If your suspension system is better able to support your motorcycle and keep the tires firmly planted on the ground your bike will accelerate faster, turn better, stop quicker, and provide a much improved riding experience overall.


Suspension wear is the most insidious of the items that degrade slowly over time because 99% of riders don’t even notice their suspension isn’t working properly until they notice an oil leak. In the most basic terms, the suspension on your motorcycle uses springs to hold the bike level and oil to slow down the vertical movement of the wheels. The energy absorbed while slowing down that vertical movement is turned into heat and that heat breaks down the oil. Nobody would dream of riding 50,000 miles without changing their engine oil but countless riders assume their suspension is working fine simply because their components aren’t yet completely destroyed. To make matters worse high quality suspension systems are complicated and expensive to manufacture so chances are very good that the suspension hardware on your bike wasn’t as good as it could be even when it was brand new. The fact is this: any adventure bike will be noticeably improved by upgrading the suspension system even if that bike is brand new.


There are three levels of suspension improvement to consider that all come at different costs. Not all of these options are available for all bikes so you should contact Touratech with any questions you may have. The most basic option is simply changing the spring rates to something more appropriate for you and your riding styles. It is often possible to change the springs on your stock shocks or forks with a relatively small investment (<$500) and if you are over 200lbs or under 160lbs chances are this will improve the handling of your bike quite a bit. Manufacturers spec out a single spring rate for a given model of bike there is a good chance they aren’t perfect for you. With appropriate spring rates you can expect to have a bike that rides level with you and the regular load, corners evenly with a light pressure on the bars, and maintains enough ground clearance that it doesn’t bottom out every time you look at a pothole.


The second option is to have your stock suspension components rebuilt and to have the internal components modified to suite your riding style. This isn’t possible on all motorcycles but if your bike has rebuildable components of decent quality this is usually a great option. The costs vary depending on what work is performed but the results can be very very good. An experienced suspension technician can change the the way your bike reacts to different bumps at varying speeds and set the bike up to ride in nearly any way that you request. This work is always accompanied by upgraded springs if necessary to get the most out of your suspension. Keep in mind that many bikes are built with suspension that can not be serviced so this option may not be available to you.


The last option is to completely replace the suspension components on your bike with high quality aftermarket parts. In many cases you can drastically improve the handling and adjustability of your motorcycle by simply bolting in a new shock. An aftermarket shock is a great option because you don’t have to wait for someone to modify your stock shock and you can often add adjustments or features that your bike was not originally equipped with. In some cases you can even add electronic adjustment to a motorcycle that wasn’t factory equipped with such a system.

Touratech offers replacement shocks for most bikes and has shocks available that are fully compatible with BMW’s auto-leveling dynamic ESA systems. The reason to upgrade your entire shock is the increased reliability, serviceability, and performance of a very high-end aftermarket suspension part.

Now that you know some budget friendly ways cure that new bike fever get out into your garage and put some time into getting to know a different side of your motorcycle. Remember that wear accumulates slowly over time and your bike’s performance gradually declines in a way that most riders don’t notice. Get the feeling right and help your bike measure up. You and your bike will be better off from the experience and you can use all that cash you just saved to get out and enjoy the ride.