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June 6, 2003, 06:35 PM

Are the manufacturer tire pressure recommendations on bikes are good for any tires, or does tire pressure vary? I have assumed that the tire pressure that was recommended for my stock MEZ4's on my VFR would be appropriate for the BT010/BT020's that I have on it now. But I am starting to question this, as the ride seems a little more harsh than I remember. Perhaps I have just gotten used to the SV's soft suspension, but I thought I'd ask. The recommended pressures are rather high (36/40? I think), but perhaps that is due to the weight of the bike.
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June 6, 2003, 10:46 PM

My former racer roommate in California always ran sticky tires (BT020, Super Corsas, etc) and "track day" tire pressures (cold: 30-32 front, 28-30 rear) on his 929 [Ohlins parts], HawkGT650 [F2 front end], and SRX600 [stock] all the time, and adjusted his suspensions at those pressures. He could tell by feel when they were off by as little as 1psi! He also used up tires (no burnouts & no chicken strips) every 3,000 miles.

Having ridden and worked on all his bikes, and compared to the ones I've owned, I assert the following: The manufacturer recommendations apply to any tire. Reducing the tire pressure to "track day" levels increases traction, softens the ride, but allows the tire to deflect more making it feel vague. To a point, lower pressures get you more traction, and a less harsh ride, but less feel for how hard the tire is working or what the pavement surface is like.

I personally run factory recommended pressures all the time and adjust my suspension at those higher pressures. Yes, I'm trading maximum traction for more road feel. I prefer to know what my tire is doing. I also prefer to get more than 3,000 miles out of a tire. For reference, I got 10,000 miles on my Hayabusa's BT56 rear, and 15,000 miles on the BT56 front.

The VFR has a fully adjustable suspension so I recommend setting it to factory recommended tire pressures, then adjusting the suspension to your hard/soft tastes. At best, the SV only has preload adjustment and the suspension is notably soft. Were the SV to have a harsh suspension (perhaps you put in stiffer front and rear springs & heavier fork oil), consceivably you could run "track day" pressures to soften it up, increasing ridability & maximum traction.

KWoods, ArlingtonRider, and Woody might add some finer points to this, depending on how bored they are, or how many pain killers Lee took.


-- Chris
BMW R1100s
(previous rides: '82 KTM250, '95 CBR600F3, '98 Buell S3T, 2000 Hayabusa, 2008 R1200R)

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke
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June 7, 2003, 11:39 AM

Thanks for the feedback. What ever happened to that suspension set-up seminar anyway?

I haven't done much to the suspension on the SV yet other than add some preload spacers and switch to 15w fork oil. Probably overhaul/upgrade the suspension over the summer. I decided that it made more sense to spend the money on more track time and improve my riding before spending money to make a bike that is still more capable than me even more so.

It is only a track bike, so I have been running track-like pressures in my new M-1s. So far I like them. I need to work on my body position since I started dragging pegs (not getting my upper torso off enough). I did think it was a bit strange that I was dragging peg and still not using all of my tire. In other words, the tire certainy had more lean angle left in it, but the bike did not. I finally got the spacers for my rearsets, so that should help, but I was wondering if the soft suspension contributed to that. Is the bike squating too much and reducing ground clearance? Hell I can use all my rear tire on my VFR before grounding the peg on that, and it has some low pegs. Of course, it didn't even dawn on me until I was done that I should have taken the feelers off!

Also, it seems that most front race tires are 120/70 (higher profile than my 120/60s). People suggest dropping the triples in the forks to compensate, which makes sense. I'm wondering if perhaps putting an Ohlins on, and raising the rear would accomplish the same thing without reducing cornering clearance. Something to think aboutover the summer, but thought I'd ask. I have a lot to learn about suspension, steering geometry, etc., so feel free to preach!!!

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June 7, 2003, 12:09 PM

Racers use track pressures and track tires between 28 and 33 psi cold, depending on the rider, the tire, and the weather. The warmer the outside temps, the higher the starting tire pressure. When we started the track day at Summit May 19th, I ran 29-30 (front-rear) on Dunlop GP's. When we were out in the morning, aside from the track's slickness, those pressures had my tires squirming around too much. I added less than a pound to each, and it made all the difference in the world. Kept things planted up to full pace.

Street tires on the street? Very different. Depends on the rider, the tire, and the bike. I ride an Aprilia Falco pretty aggressively. Stock Metzeler ME-Z3's, kind of a 'sport-tour' tire. I keep them at 33-34 psi cold. If I had a VFR, and I took more trips and the occasional 'spirited' jaunt, I would run them a little higher, maybe 35-36. If I were a conservative rider, even higher, 36-37 psi for better wear.

Check your pressures before every ride, not after. Even street tires will pick up 3 psi when they heat up. If in doubt, go with the manufacturer's recommendation. But remember, it's a CYA suggestion to optimize wear characteristics, not necessarily performance at a race pace.

John (CCS ex #67)


Johnny V.
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2004 Aprilia 1000 Mille R (street)
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June 7, 2003, 04:25 PM

Quote:
Thanks for the feedback. What ever happened to that suspension set-up seminar anyway?
Yeah, wasn't OneFunR6 or Ken going to do that?

Quote:
I haven't done much to the suspension on the SV yet other than add some preload spacers and switch to 15w fork oil. Probably overhaul/upgrade the suspension over the summer. I decided that it made more sense to spend the money on more track time and improve my riding before spending money to make a bike that is still more capable than me even more so.
Good way to firm up the SV forks. I think HyperPro and Progressive suspension offer cartridge inserts that will give you compression dampening and preload adjustment. Have you done anything to the rear other than going up a click or two preload?

Quote:
Is the bike squating too much and reducing ground clearance? Hell I can use all my rear tire on my VFR before grounding the peg on that, and it has some low pegs. Of course, it didn't even dawn on me until I was done that I should have taken the feelers off!
My guess is the SV rear spring is too soft for your weight (180# ?) and track speeds/lean angles. I don't know how many clicks of preload the SV rear has, but I suspect you've already gone up 1 or 2 clicks from stock. You can crank the rear preload up to max, but I wouldn't recommend it since you're artificially reducing the shock travel. You cannot fix too soft a spring problem by applying preload.

Racers like to run straight rate springs since it provides predictable suspension movement, but one spring does not work for all tracks. A compromise is a progressively wound spring whose spring rate increases the more the spring compresses. I've replaced straight rate springs with progressive springs (progressivesuspension.com & hyperpro.com) on three bikes (HawkGT650, GS500E, ZR-7) and the suspension performance improved dramatically.

Quote:
Also, it seems that most front race tires are 120/70 (higher profile than my 120/60s). People suggest dropping the triples in the forks to compensate, which makes sense. I'm wondering if perhaps putting an Ohlins on, and raising the rear would accomplish the same thing without reducing cornering clearance. Something to think aboutover the summer, but thought I'd ask. I have a lot to learn about suspension, steering geometry, etc., so feel free to preach!!!
Be very careful sliding the forks up in the triple clamps. You're reducing the rake and trail which will quicken the steering, but make the bike "nervous." Moving the forks 5mm will make a huge, probably detrimental, difference in handling. The taller front tire shifts the bike's weight distribution slightly backwards and up. Instead of fiddling with the forks, I'd approach the problem from the other end and raise the rear ride height slightly. Some bikes (Ducati) have ride height adjustment. Since the SV does not, you can reduce the front preload and increase the rear preload to change the sag a few millimeters.

After replacing the fork springs with progressively wound ones, I did this on my friends' GS500E and ZR-7 which only have rear preload adjustment to raise the rear. This is a brute force method and does not provide much fine tuning. If you want to fine tune the suspension, you've got to upgrade the parts.

I am not an expert on suspensions, nor much else for that matter. The above is work that I've actually done, and my thoughts on it. Hope it helps.


-- Chris
BMW R1100s
(previous rides: '82 KTM250, '95 CBR600F3, '98 Buell S3T, 2000 Hayabusa, 2008 R1200R)

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June 7, 2003, 04:27 PM

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What ever happened to that suspension set-up seminar anyway?
Lots said that they wanted in on it, but noone wanted to throw out dates or agree on dates to do it, so I let it go.


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June 8, 2003, 09:47 AM

I'd like to touch on a couple of things. First off, tire pressure.
A factory recommendation is just that. This is what the factory has found to be the best pressure forWEAR. That is what they recommend for the best tire life.
Also, different tire respond differently to pressure changes. GP to street is different too.
The reason you lower the pressure or raise the pressure is for tire temp. The lower the pressure the hotter the tire gets. The higher the pressure, the cooler it will run. You must be carefull when playing with pressures. If you go to low, the tire will over heat and get greasy in a couple of laps.
The reason the tire gets warmer is because with less air, the carcas of the tire can flex more, generating heat.
Setting tire pressures right comes from experience. Try keeping a log of brands and pressures and performance. This will allow you to use different brands to their best performance.
Second thing is spring rates. I prefer and recommend a constant rate spring. They provide the best possible performance and predictability.
Talking about suspension is like opening a can of worms, but I'll just mention some basics.
Make sure the sag is set properly. This is THE MOST important thing you can do. This is the baseline for EVEYTHING. I set mine to an inch in the front, and an inch to inch and a quarter in the rear. Then put all adjustment settings in the middle, and go from there. This should give you a base line. Someone mentioned cranking up preload for ride height adjustment. That is wrong. All that will do is tighten the bike up.
I have a bone stock suspension that is from 96, and it works just fine for my 230 lb. body.
You can move the forks around in the triple clamp to quicken/slow down steering. Be careful. I recommend moving 3mm at a time.
If you want to compensate for a taller or shorter tire, measure them. Measure the diameter of the old tire, then the new one. Move the forks in the triple clamp 1/2 the difference. Lets say the old diameter is 27 inches, and the new tire and rim is 27 1/8. You'd drop the front end 1/16 . This will make the bike handle the same as the old setup.
One last word of advice, put a wire tie around the lower fork tube above the fork seal. This will tell you how much the front end is moving around.
I hope this helps......................


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June 8, 2003, 03:46 PM

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(snip) Someone mentioned cranking up preload for ride height adjustment. That is wrong. All that will do is tighten the bike up.(snip)
You can move the forks around in the triple clamp to quicken/slow down steering. Be careful. I recommend moving 3mm at a time.(snip)
That someone is me. Please reread my post above yours. You can safely and accurately use the preload to change the ride height by a few millimeters (as I stated) which is about 1 or two preload clicks/turns. I also stated "You cannot fix too soft a spring problem by applying preload."

My recommendation is tailored for this forum's members. The "Average Joe" rider should not be moving the forks in the triple clamps since they don't know how, or why suspensions work or how much to adjust them. [Those with track time and racing licenses are certainly not "average joe" riders].

I'll grant yours' is the best solution, however 99% of this forum's readers do not have the comfort or expertise adjusting forks in the triple clamps. 'Tis not a task for newbies.

Now, can we discuss the finer points of straight rate vs progressive rate springs?


-- Chris
BMW R1100s
(previous rides: '82 KTM250, '95 CBR600F3, '98 Buell S3T, 2000 Hayabusa, 2008 R1200R)

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June 8, 2003, 06:03 PM

Sure. From my experience, a single rate is the most predictable way to go. A progressive rate spring will change characteristicts during use. I just don't have the time to try and predict what the suspension will do going into a turn........


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June 8, 2003, 10:15 PM

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Sure. From my experience, a single rate is the most predictable way to go. A progressive rate spring will change characteristicts during use. I just don't have the time to try and predict what the suspension will do going into a turn........
You must be a racer or have alot of track time. That is almost exactly the same thing my old roomate, an ex-racer, used to say. I subscribe to the notion of a spring that is a performance compromise. Yes, a progressive rate spring changes characteristics depending on speed, turn rate, and road conditions (smooth, bumpy, broken, etc), but where a progressive rate spring performs "average" under most conditions, a straight rate spring performs "great" under few conditions.

I suspect your brake and throttle application skill makes up for the straight rate spring's shortcomings. Others in this sport are not as skilled, and therefore are better suited with a progressive rate spring that removes the need for them to think and compensate for suspension action.

To each his (or her) own. Glad we're American and have choices.


-- Chris
BMW R1100s
(previous rides: '82 KTM250, '95 CBR600F3, '98 Buell S3T, 2000 Hayabusa, 2008 R1200R)

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June 8, 2003, 10:48 PM

Quote:
Also, different tire respond differently to pressure changes. GP to street is different too.
The reason you lower the pressure or raise the pressure is for tire temp. The lower the pressure the hotter the tire gets. The higher the pressure, the cooler it will run. You must be carefull when playing with pressures. If you go to low, the tire will over heat and get greasy in a couple of laps.
The reason the tire gets warmer is because with less air, the carcas of the tire can flex more, generating heat.
Setting tire pressures right comes from experience. Try keeping a log of brands and pressures and performance. This will allow you to use different brands to their best performance.
Dude, you're smoking crack! Some of this is common sense, some of it is repeating what I said earlier, and the rest of it is crap. You've obviously picked-up a few good tips and mixed them in with your own ideas. Keep a log of brands and pressures? gimme a break! This will allow you to use different brands to their best performance? Who does this? You keep a log to remember pressure settings for different climates, not tire brands. As racers, we find a tire we like and stick with it. Ask anyone who races. You're wrong. You don't change your pressures with tire temp. Tire temp changes tire pressure! Cold tires are the same temp as outside temp. Race tires are operating at optimal level around 37 psi. They pick-up 5-8 psi as they heat-up. So, you guess at it, based on the outside temp, like I said before. You adjust as you feel them at speed, but never more than a pound or so. At least, every other racer I know does that. Usually, we ask the rep what pressure everyone is running. That's right, everyone! Tire reps at the track will tell you the cold psi to set. Really, what the hell are you smoking?


Johnny V.
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2004 Suzuki GSX-R600 (racing)
2004 Aprilia 1000 Mille R (street)
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June 11, 2003, 07:05 PM

JP, I am not full of crap, nor would I pass along wrong information. Maybe what you do works for you. Great. But I take a different approach. as a RACER, I'm always looking for a better tire. Therefor, I'll try different brands. Of coarse I have my preference, but I'm not so blind as to never try another brand. I'm also smart enough to know what pressures to run from EXPERIENCE. I don't have the need to ask the Dunlop guy what the other guys are doing. And if you're running 37 psi in a race tire, good luck. You'll need it. Whoever you asked gave you wrong advice. But then again, I'm sure with your expertise, a little too much air is no big deal.
I've been doing this a long time. I have approx. 18k on a race track, in every possible condition, on everypossible tire, and on a bunch of different bikes. I'm not saying you have to take my advice, I'm just letting people know what I've found to work over the years.
Have a good day.......................


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June 11, 2003, 08:08 PM

Thanks again for all the advice. I think I understood what each of you were saying, and don't really think that you guys were contradicting each other as you seem to indicate. Just saying 2 different things.

I also pulled this from another website ( http://www.mad-ducati.com/Articles/TirePressure.html )for reference. I can't vouch for it, but it makes sense as well. It seems to answer my question a bit in terms of different tires running cooler than others, which in turn would require different pressures. I may experiment with his theory on 20%/40% pressure change on the track, which if my math is correct would translate into cold temp psi of 30/30 becoming warm temp psi of 36/42.

Quote:
Determining Best Tire Pressures

You'll get a lot of opinions on what tire pressure to run, but the correct tire pressure for you is not a matter of polling other rider's opinion. Here are the basics you'll need to decide for yourself.

Start with the bike manufacturer's recommendation in the owners manual or under-seat sticker. This is the number they consider to be the best balance between handling, grip and tire wear. Further, if you're running alloy wheels on poor pavement, consider adding 2 psi to the recommended tire pressure just to reduce the likelihood of pothole damage. Just as you would for a car, increase the pressure 2 psi or so for sustained high speed operation (or 2-up riding) to reduce rolling friction and casing flexing. Check your tire pressure regularly as they say.

In order to get optimum handling a tire has to get to its optimum temperature which is different for each brand of tire. Most of us don't have the equipment needed to measure tire temperature directly so we measure it indirectly by checking tire pressure since tire pressure increases with tire temperature. Tire temperature is important to know because too much flexing of the casing of an under-inflated tire for a given riding style and road will result in overheating resulting in less than optimum grip. Over-pressurizing a tire will reduce casing flexing and prevent the tire from getting up to the optimum operating temperature and performance again suffers. Sliding and spinning the tires also increase tire temperatures from friction heating.

A technique for those wanting to get the most out of their tires on the street is to use the 10/20% rule.

First check the tire pressure when the tire is cold. Then take a ride on your favorite twisty piece of road. Then, measure the tire pressure immediately after stopping. If the pressure has risen less than 10% on the
front or 20% on the rear, the rider should remove air from the tire. So for example, starting at a front tire pressure of 32.5 psi should bring you up to 36 psi hot. Once you obtain this pressure increase for a given rider, bike, tire, road and road temperature combination, check the tire pressure again while cold and record it for future reference.

Each manufacturer is different. Each tire model is different. A tire design that runs cooler needs to run a lower pressure (2-3 psi front) to get up to optimum temperature. The rear tire runs hotter than the front tire, road and track. So the rear tire cold-to-hot increase is greater. Dropping air pressure has the additional side effect of scrubbing more rubber area.

When I used the tire pressures recommended by Ducati (32.5F/36R) for my 916 on my favorite road, I got exactly 10/20% on a set of Bridgestone BT-012SS. So I guess I'm an average rider and the BT-012SS runs at an average operating temperature compared to other brands.

For the track you'll have to drop the cold tire pressures an additional 10/20%. Track operation will get tires hotter (increasing the cold-to-hot pressure range) so starting at say 32/30 psi now should bring you up to the
same temperature (and pressure) that 35/39 psi gave you for the street.


Don't even think about running these low track cold pressures on the street.

Finally, dropping tire pressures on street tires for track use has its limitations, so street compound tires on the track often get too hot and go beyond sticky to greasy. That's why you have race tires. Race tire compounds are designed for severe operation at these higher temperatures for a limited
number of thermal cycles. On the other hand, race tire on the street usually won't get up to the appropriate temperature for good performance. At street speeds, the race compound often won't perform as well as a street tire.


Larry Kelly
'95 916
[Edited on 6/12/2003 by rddy]
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June 13, 2003, 09:22 PM

Maybe I was even LESS clear than you were, Miller. Race tires operate at an optimal pressure around 37 psi... when they're HOT! Touchy, are we? I don't want to compare creds, but if you insist... this is my fifth year racing (second year expert). If you're some AMA stud, I'll apologize. Something tells me you're not though. I just think that giving such extensive instruction on suspension set-up belongs on a Moto GP site, not here. Measure your tires after a race. Unless you're running rains, they'll be up around 37 psi. So, most of us measure cold tire pressure at the track, and start 'em between 28 and 32, depending on outside temps. Your epic poem on suspension set-up and tires annoyed me. I never said you're 'full of crap' or 'giving wrong advice,' so lighten-up!


Johnny V.
CCS & ASRA #67

2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000
2004 Suzuki GSX-R600 (racing)
2004 Aprilia 1000 Mille R (street)
2001 Aprilia 1000 Falco (street)
2001 Suzuki GSX-R600 (racing)
1995 Kawasaki ZX-6E (street and racing)
1986 Yamaha Radian 600
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