I’ve had my 2010 Triumph Thruxton for almost two years, and one thing I’ve been contemplating was modifying the suspension. There’s a lot of threads on the various Triumph boards about the execrable quality of the stock shocks and tires, but to be honest I didn’t really mind the set up, other than it felt squidgy in hard turns and had a tendency to sharply nose dive under hard braking. I’ve had crappy suspension on just about every bike I’ve owned, so this wasn’t really much worse that the 2007 Speed Triple, or the 2010 Street Triple, the 2001 Sprint RS, or even the 2001 Buell Blast I had.
I started off with cosmetic modifications to get the bike where i wanted it visually, but eventually a few sphincter-puckering moments on the Sandia Crest road lead me to start tinkering with the suspension. I dialed the pre-load up and while that tightened the bike up decently, it still had a tendency to get overly-spirited in fast turns. I tried new tires.
The Metzler Lasertecs are nowhere as terrible as the boards have to say — they’re very predictable, hold well, and aren’t expensive, but the Avon AM26 Roadriders truly change the character of the bike. Instead of a polite, staid machine, the Thruxton tips much more aggressively into turns on the British rubber. They hold tight in turns, do well in wet weather, but I found they were awful on that grooves concrete some states use for the highways. The Avons had a tendency to set up a pretty frightening speed wobble on these sorts of roads it didn’t have on the tarmac. At the suggestion of a cafe builder acquaintance, I tried the Shinko 712s — half the price of the Avons ($115 at my local garage wrech’s store…Score for the Scottish guy!), they grip just as well and at 2000 miles on them in just two months, seem to be wearing much slower. They also seem more stable on the concrete roads and don’t feel the wind as much. As a bonus, they have an aggressive-looking tread pattern and are 10mms higher in aspect ratio, giving the bike a more lean and tough appearance.
What the Shinkos and Avons showed, however, was how substandard the suspension was in hard deceleration or turning. A few weeks ago in a fast group ride down the Crest the front end of Trixie tried to tuck in a 35mph, downhill, right hand switchback. So…time to address the suspension. I’ve had a ton of suggestions — from the overly-ambitious and expensive Ohlins shocks and springs/valving, to the more reasonable Gold Valve treatment up front and Icon, cheaper Ohlin rears, to progressive springs up front with Hagon rear shocks. I read through the various boards, looked at my style of riding, and the cost to benefit of blowing over a grand on suspension and decided…
Spending a grand on the suspension is idiotic.
The final decision was based on thrift, but also on the notion that I could improve the set-up if I didn’t like it. Progressive springs in the front for $89, Hagon 900 three point adjustable shocks in the rear for $199. So how did the el cheapo option pan out?
Great. The springs went in first, as British Customs didn’t have the shocks in stock and we had to reorder directly from Hagon. (Thanks, Christine!) They take your weight, the type of riding (street or sport — unless you’re riding track, ask for springs, if you like your testicles…), and the color of the spring and bodies (chrome or black for either.) The springs immediately tightened up the front end and the same section of road that had been so interesting the week before was a doddle at 40mph. The front end lost a bunch of the chatter it had at speed or in turns, and was a serious confidence booster. It also exposed how absolutely worthless the rear end was.
The Hagons went on in 20 minutes at the local shop and several rides through the Crest road and the less challenging South 14 at perfectly legal speeds (honest!) showed the bike to be a completely different animal — tight, responsive, if a bit stiff. I’m going to wait a few weeks and see if the rear softens a bit as the spring breaks in, otherwise I made have to dial it down a bit. I took my iPhone and fired up the clinometer and ran it over the tire to get an idea of the lean angles I’ve achieved. The next day i was watching GP Moto with a local bike club and got to see what the 48 degrees I’ve been regularly pulling looks like.
I need to slow the f#$% down.
If you want to spend more money and get a wee bit more performance out of your Thruxton, by all means, do so, but if you are looking to tighten the bike up for spirited street riding without breaking the bank, I think this is the set-up to go with.
And she even looks good…
Trixie: 2010 Triumph Thruxton SE with EPCO exhaust, British Customs fender eliminator and turn indicators, Dime City Cycles fork gaiters, mirrors and levers, front fender painted locally, Hagon 900 shocks, Progressive springs, and Shinko 712 tires.