Motorcycles require upkeep just like anything else worth having, and while many parts on a bike have given lifespans, some elements are hard to specify an exact lifeline. For instance, shocks, especially well-made ones, can last a long time, but this depends on the rider and their style of driving. Motorcyclists that redline their engine every chance they get regardless of road conditions will have to replace their shocks more often. While twin-shock motorcycles may offer superior rear support, they too are limited to the abuse of the road. However, no matter the driver, shocks will need to be replaced eventually.
Does your behind seem to be taking more of a beating lately? Are the shocks bottoming out or squatting too much during acceleration? Can you feel the changes in the road surface? Any number of these questions will help you determine whether it is time to replace your rear shocks. If you have decided that it is time for replacement (and since you are here you likely have), then let’s focus on how to change dual rear shocks. If this is your first time having to replace this type of equipment, you may be overwhelmed, but replacing shocks, especially rear shocks, is a relatively simple and straightforward process.
Reaffirm Shock Selection and Elevate Your Bike
Before removing the old dual shocks, make sure that the replacements you have purchased are compatible with your bike and frame to avoid the wrong suspension. Motorcycle suspension is a delicate balance, and the wrong additions can lead to additional tweaks that may involve having to take your bike to the shop in an effort to readjust the balance. The best thing to do is to measure and examine your machine to ensure that the replacements you purchase will fit and complement your bike. That being said, some purchases of longer and shorter shocks are purposeful decisions to increase or decrease the height, increase weight capacity or improve the overall ride.
Once you have chosen the shocks that will work best for your bike and purpose, you will need to find a way to raise the rear of the motorcycle off the ground. While it may be tempting for the first-time rider to attempt a swap without some type of lift or suspension system, if you are not the Incredible Hulk, then it is not recommended. In addition to a lift, you should make sure that you raise the bike enough to allow the swingarm to accommodate the new shocks.
Support the Rear
While the desire to gain better performance through the replacement of your shocks is understandable, you would be wise to support the rear of the bike when doing so. The rear in this instance is in reference to the wheel and swingarm assembly. The tire, rim, rotor, swingarm and caliper all add up to a tremendous weight, which will all come crashing down if not properly supported.
One of the most affordable and effective methods for keeping everything in its place is to use a wooden block and shims. Place the wedge under the rear wheel, adding the shims as necessary to snug up the jig. Keeping a tight fit will ensure the easy removal of the old shocks as well as prevent any unwanted shifting or damage once the shocks are removed.
Loosen and Remove Old Shocks
After everything is adequately supported, you can move ahead with the removal of your old shocks. You should loosen and remove the bottom bolts first and then move on to the top ones. Taking out the bottom bolts first allows the shock to dangle freely and be supported by the upper fastener. While you can remove the top bolts first, it makes the work a little more difficult. Also, do not discard the bolts and fasteners because most aftermarket shocks will not include this stock hardware.
Attach and Adjust
Now that your original shocks are removed, you can begin installing the new ones. To install the new shocks, perform the same process as before but in reverse, meaning start by securing the top bolts followed by the bottom. Attaching the shocks in this way allows for greater adjustability when moving the swingarm and lining up the mounting holes. While you may have gone out of your way to ensure that the new shocks were the same as the old, you will likely find that you still need to maneuver and adjust the bike to fit the replacements just right. Wait to snug up the bolts until everything is aligned.
Secure the Bolts
Once you have the placement right and everything is to your liking, you can tighten everything up. For this part of the process, unless you are a qualified technician, you should look in your service manual and use a torque wrench. A motorcycle is not a piece of flat-packed furniture, the connections and bolts of your bike require tightening to a certain degree, and it is imperative you get that right.
Make Any Necessary Adjustments
Swapping out the shocks on your bike may also change ride height, meaning that you may need to make some adjustments for the bike to sit and rest properly. If you chose longer shocks, then your side stand may not sit on the ground or may require too much or too little of a lean, meaning that your bike will not be appropriately supported. Also, ground clearance may have been affected by the change, causing the possibility of dragging footpegs and exhaust when cornering. You can alter any adverse side effects by changing the length of your dog bone or even shortening the shocks. However, as either case may affect the performance of your suspension, you will likely want to seek out a motorcycle technician in your area.
If your rear is getting more hammered than usual and you are bottoming out or squatting through accelerations, then find the best motorcycle shocks and replace your old ones. The replacement process is simple and straightforward, but if you make any significant adjustment to the length of the shocks, you can expect to make some tweaks to your suspension as well.