Products 13 May 2016

Review: Factory Spec suspension

Setting up our long-term 2016 Yamaha YZ450F test bike.

After taking delivery of our 2016 60th anniversary Yamaha YZ450F MotoOnline long-term bike and taking to the track for a few rides, it was time to have a top level suspension technician massage the settings to suit my weight, riding style and preferred feel in a bike. In no way were the stock settings sub-par, but for me personally I knew what I needed to feel more comfortable, so we contacted Ken Wheeler at Factory Spec Suspension in Western Sydney to get the job done.

Wheeler, who works alongside the likes of Matt Moss and Nathan Crawford to name a few, took delivery of the bike, asked a few quick questions and began to work his magic on the bike. Within days we had the bike back and headed straight to the track, the difference? Night and day, the bike felt completely different, within half a lap it was clear the updated settings were ideal for me.

I found myself having a hard time getting the bike to turn in the way I wanted in stock form, and it was also a bit too harsh in the small, square edged bumps we seem to encounter a lot here in New South Wales. So first up the standard fork springs were changed from a .51 to a .49 spring rate. Next they were valved to hold up in the stroke yet remain smooth throughout using a custom made mid-valve part designed by Factory Spec to gain better control in the early part of the stroke.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

For me I’m all about front end feel and a having a bike that turns in well, I’m not the kind of rider that steers with the rear end. So for me this fork setting instantly gave me a tonne of confidence and allowed the YZ450F to turn on a dime. Along with the improved turning, the updated fork settings are super plush in the small square edged bumps, yet hold up well on the larger hits – the perfect combination. The clickers are set at 10 clicks for compression and 12 on the rebound.

Next up, the rear end. Weighing in between 78-80kg on average, Wheeler felt the stock shock spring should be retained and internal setting changes should be made to gain the best setup for myself and my new fork settings. A slight height adjustment was made internally in the shock along with a custom setting to be more compliant on both corner entry and in acceleration chop. The clickers are set to the same specs as the forks and the high speed is set at 1.5 turns along with a sag the setting of 105mm to finish off rear end updates.

This front and rear end combination is super impressive. I’ve always been a massive advocate of doing suspension work before anything else, it’s truly amazing how someone who knows what they are doing can transform the way a bike gets around the track. I’m now super comfortable, a lot safer, getting less arm pump and most importantly enjoying the YZ450F even more thanks to our Factory Spec suspension.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

It’s not secret the 2016 YZ450F has more power than any regular rider needs, so to keep the bike under control and smooth around slick and choppy tracks can prove a bit of a handful. In stock form, the bike felt like it was more suited to American style circuits with more wide open sections, less choppy bumps and larger high speed jumps. Unfortunately we don’t see much of that here in Australia, especially New South Wales, so this updated setup I feel was a necessity to get the most out of the bike.

Overall our 2016 YZ450F feels more plush in both the front and rear, a lot more controlled, it turns in very well, soaks up the larger hits with ease and offers up a confidence inspiring ride after receiving the Factory Spec treatment. If you’re riding a YZ450F, a YZ250F or any other brand of bike for that matter, we highly recommend taking your bike to Ken at Factory Spec and having him work his magic. Your lap times will drop considerably and you will enjoy riding your bike a lot more, that is guaranteed.

Price wise you will be looking at $750.00 for the same Factory Spec treatment on your ride, a small price to pay for an upgrade that shaves down your lap times considerably and allows you to ride safer for longer. To contact Factory Spec for more information on how to get your bike set up for your needs, call 0418 804 274 or click here to head to their Facebook page.