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Do I Really Need a Motorcycle Suspension?

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Ohlins Shock Absorber


Experienced riders love to talk about all things regarding motorcycles.  But WHAT if you just like to ride and are not into the mechanics of motorbikes?

Well, you may have to endure some friendly conversations about mechanical things, whether you’re interested or not.

Some stuff is pretty easy. Even if you’re not interested in “tires,” for example, at least you know where they are and you can tell when they need to be replaced.  (And by god you SURE better know about checking your tire pressure, no matter how little you are interested in bikes themselves).

Anyway, “motorcycle suspension” is one of those boring mechanical topics. If you are trapped amongst some riding friends at a rest stop and a few of them get on this topic, that would be your signal to take a nap, or hit the road on your own, because they will likely be yapping for a while.


On the other hand, what if you start to wonder aloud, “So what is a motorcycle suspension and do I really need one?”

Well, you probably won’t endear the more experienced riders to anything you might say about motorcycles ever again (presuming they ever speak to you again).

The good news is that the basics of motorcycle suspensions are simple to understand.  They’re just the inter-connected gizmos that come free with every motorbike. (Well, maybe not “free,” but they sure come with your bike whether you want one or not).

A motorcycle suspension boils down to this:  It’s a collection of springs and mechanical parts, including shock absorbers, that work together to keep your motorcycle tires in contact with the road.

All that’s especially important for aggressive riders who are pushing their bikes and skill levels hard on the road or on the dirt.

What any biker can appreciate – even an easy going, mellow rider – is that your motorcycle suspension also cushions you from the bumps and jolts of the road.


What’s pretty obvious on the front end of your motorcycle is the TELESCOPING FORK with internal shock absorbers and internal (or external) springs. The front wheel and axle are connected to this fork, which allows the wheel to move up and down a lot more without jolting you, since the expansion and contraction of the fork absorbs the brunt of the force.

A vital component of your “rear” suspension is the motorcycle SWINGARM. That’s the contraption that is connected to your frame on one end, and on the other end, it holds the axle of the rear wheel.  Another important component of the rear suspension is the SHOCK ABSORBER, which extends upward from your swingarm pivot bolt to the top of the frame, just beneath the seat.

You may also be getting the picture that your MOTORCYCLE FRAME is an integral part of all this, since it supports the entire suspension system, and in fact your entire motorcycle. Well, you’d be right!

OK, this little bit of info won’t make you the smartest guy or girl in the conversation when this topic comes up, but at least you won’t have to ask “Do I really need a suspension?”

If you want to see what some shock absorbers look like, check out the following link. Realize that for some motorcycle enthusiasts, that would have a grand time perusing this selection….



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