FFRC DR650 SERIES 9: best suspension upgrade ever!ADVENTURE OZ
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- 4 years ago
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The suspension geeks at Full Force Racing Components have been scheming on ways to transform the prehistoric suspension on the DR650 into something worthy of a modern bike. A while back FFRC customised the rear shock with excellent results, and tried the usual cheap mod of heavier fork oil up front with mediocre results.
FFRC's second level of DR650 improvements have been incredible though. The rear shock was already dramatically improved with their custom valving, but now they have added a customised piston that makes the rear suspension even more plush over small bumps. And up the front FFRC have invented their Plex valve which works so well the rod forks are now the equivalent of good cartridge forks, a job started by Race Tech emulators and intiminators by Ricor.
The DR650 suspension is very plush over small bumps and corrugations, and yet now handles extreme abuse like this 60 foot jump with ease. As covered in a previous video, the rod forks are a very old inadequate design, and the suspension at both ends is too soft and underdamped. Also the rebound and compression damping at both ends is badly out of sync so can't be solved with just using heavier oil, which was one of the requirements to make intiminators and emulators work.
The usual upgrade for the DR650 forks has been fitting Race Tech emulators or Ricor intiminators. Many riders report better performance with these in combination with heavier springs. However, while they are adjustable, emulators require disassembling your forks and modifying them, which many DR650 owners baulk at. The intiminators do not require taking your forks apart, but they do require putting in a different fork oil weight as they only affect compression damping, not rebound damping, on the DR650.
FFRC's chief suspension guru, James, has been designing state of the art suspension components for years, not only for motorbikes but also rally cars and V8 racing cars, and wanted to create the ideal fork fork upgrade... the Plex Valve that would be the match the performance of quality cartridge forks, and could simply dropped into the fork, be adjusted if needed, would not require changing the fork oil, and even better could work well with the stock fork springs.
James from Full Force Racing Components spent a lot of time developing this Plex valve on their dyno machine, but also with various riders testing the DR650 suspension on easy dirt roads through to the punishment of a motocross track.
It is hard not to rave about how different the DR650 feels, with that smooth ride on dirt roads and easy dirt tracks right through to the most challenging terrain you could imagine. FFRC's dyno and real testing suggests that most riders will find the FFRC Plex valves will be suitable for the stock springs for riders up to 100kg. It looks as though stiffer rate single springs only for those heavier riders, a safari tank or for very aggressive riders. Previously we had discussed how the DR650 dual rate stock springs are poorly designed, but the length of the Plex valve compresses the softer part of the springs sufficiently to achieve the right amount of sag.
This FFRC dyno chart compares the results of the DR650 budget option of 15w fork oil, then with the new Plex valves. James has included a set of Kayaba forks from a YZF450 which is a very good cartridge fork. You can see who closely the Plex valve mimics the cartridge fork, although of course it's deliberately softer than the motocross fork. While I haven't used Ricor intiminators, I have used Race Tech emulators in the past with good results but the Plex Valve is definitely a step further and much easier to install too.
As mentioned the Full Force Racing Components DR650 rear suspension was already brilliant after James created custom valving for the rear shock.
FFRC also decided to test their latest DR650 upgrades in extreme conditions. The guys reasoned that if their suspension mods worked well in these conditions, and the stock components held up okay, then it should all work well long-term for everyday adventure riders.
The test riders agreed the suspension work by Full Force Racing Components and these new Plex Valves were great, and even landing the DR650 from the biggest jump was smooth, an impressive achievement given the stock fork springs are far too soft for even easy dirt riding normally. When the DR650 is such a cheap bike to begin with, to me it makes so much sense to to spend the extra money and get an excellent suspension tailored to your needs. And the DR650 will still be much cheaper than most adventure bikes in its class.
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