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  1. #1
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    Cushy ride needed

    OK, long story but I will try to keep it short. I bought my 99 vfr new and have loved it. But I am 17 years older now (notice I wrote "I" am 17 years older). I am 64 with some arthritis in my lower back. I don't want to give up on my VFR. Some years ago when I started having my back difficulties, I bought an Ohlins shock an sent it and the forks off to a well known suspension builder to be customized for me. I tried to express what I wanted in the ride, but I must have failed at that because when reinstalled on the bike it was the worst ride ever. I returned the parts for reworking, but the results were no better. I could not ride the bike any longer. So I removed the extremely stiff springs and went back to something close to stock rates and put the Ohlins back to stock valving. Much better, but still very choppy. The question is, can I make the VFR ride soft to protect my back? I don't care if the "handling" suffers, as long as I don't.


  2. #2
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    I would look at ergonomic adjustments as well. As an older rider, I have lowered the pegs and raised the bars a little. You want to take some of the pressure off you hands which transmits shocks to your body. Even foam grips can help, little tweaks can add up a more comfortable ride. A third party cushion or adding memory foam to your seat can also help.
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    Who was the suspension tuner if you don't mind me asking? Many of us who have gone to Jamie Daugherty http://www.daughertymotorsports.com, myself included, have had really great results, so hopefully it wasn't Jamie. The reports I've read about Racetech have been hit or miss but most of the complaints I have heard is that they appear to usually go on the soft side with their spring rates, so that might actually work in your favor. Ironically the stock suspension's main issue is that many consider it too soft. Damping however might be the more important issue to resolve.
    “You can checkout any time you like, but you can never leave...”

  4. #4
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    Back off everything would be my suggestion. Basically all the suspension does is absorb bumps to keep the ride smooth . What you are really looking to do is to change your riding posture .
    Do you get out on the bike much?
    From what you have said it sounds as if you don't, so what I would suggest is taking some paracetamol and ibuprofen and going out for a run. More time on the bike will help tone up the core muscles used on a bike. Start an exercise programme that will help strengthen your back.
    http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/a...exercises.aspx

    Think about how you sit on the bike, what you wear on the bike. Could you cope with a bit more padding on the seat , raise the bars up a bit, lower the pegs, alter the screen? Clothing wise loose the belt and use a pair of braces.

  5. #5
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    I do have lowered pegs and I have raised the stock bars. I do not have an issue with the riding position as far as I can tell. It is the bumpy ride. The roads here in KY are very rough.
    I have put 68k miles on the bike, but very few in the last 2 or 3 years. The firm Corbin seat admittedly does not help, but it fits me well. I also have a 1977 Goldwing standard and it does not beat me up like the VFR. It also is not fun like the VFR. I often ride 100+ mile at a time. I have the shock set up full soft, which gives the best ride, but it is still very choppy.

  6. #6
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    Agree with Fink here, Not that you haven't heard it before, but work the core group of muscles. Yoga & stretches work wonders, I play golf too, so get into the swing of it, if it wasn't for my 1/2- an hour in the morning. I wouldn't be walking. What's funny here is the vfr is the most comfortable thing I do and it's set up to rail, not saying once in awhile there's that one of bump or, that hurts, but even the 4 wheel vehicles drive me a bit nutz. If you are not sure, go find a good PT that understands what your going through. Yes the VFR can be set up to be a bit more plush, just interesting you say you had the suspension bits sent out to do just that, and found it worse Hmm? Stock set up is pretty plush. Then like others have said, play with risers and foot peg location, and maybe a seat change is in order. just saying.
    Opportunity is where you anticipate it.

    Making the VFR have more get up and go. Header build fund @ https://www.gofundme.com/vfr-header-build

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  7. #7
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    It's not the occasional big bump. I can feel all the ripples on the road. I am sure exercise would help me, but I need to help the bike too. Also I have had a broken hip due to a bike accident and stretching seems to aggravate my back as well. I may be beyond repair!

  8. #8
    Uber Guru Terry Smith's Avatar
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    I have experimented a bit with my VFR front end in search of a more controlled and comfy ride. There is definitely a trade off between the two, and backing off the compression and rebound damping certainly leads to more comfort but at the expense of control.

    You need to ensure you have free-flowing ports in the compression and rebound valves (Gold Valves or similar) and look at opening up the low speed bypass hole and lightening the shim stack.


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  9. #9
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    I do have aftermarket valves in the fork. It is the rear that bothers me the most as it transmits through the seat to my back. I do not know if the Ohlins shock can be softened up any more in the low speed by modification. The compression and rebound are all the way out. I have considered drilling out the bleed hole and see what happens. I fear it may get somewhat out of control due to wallowing. I also may go to an even lighter spring as I am only 142 lbs these day.

  10. #10
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    I happen to have a stock 5th gen shock with 32k if. Can I assume you have re sprung the shock to your weight?
    Opportunity is where you anticipate it.

    Making the VFR have more get up and go. Header build fund @ https://www.gofundme.com/vfr-header-build

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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by spxer View Post
    It's not the occasional big bump. I can feel all the ripples on the road. I am sure exercise would help me, but I need to help the bike too. Also I have had a broken hip due to a bike accident and stretching seems to aggravate my back as well. I may be beyond repair!
    Get Helibars. They will allow you to sit more upright. I have them on my '99, never going back to stock. https://www.helibars.com/products/He...-VTEC/178.html

    For your back, you NEED to get an Airhawk seat pad. It's really the best option out there for your situation. https://airhawk.net/product-category/cushions/ I'd recommend the Cruiser R Small for the VFR. This will put a buffer of air between you and the bike. Not only will it prolong riding times, but I've found it to be very effective in dampening large bumps that would otherwise send a large shock up your spine. The air cell bladder thing it's using was originally developed for medical uses, for folks who were seated in wheel chairs all day. The key to comfort with these is to keep them minimally inflated, just enough to get you up off the seat.


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  13. #12
    Uber Guru Terry Smith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spxer View Post
    I do have aftermarket valves in the fork. It is the rear that bothers me the most as it transmits through the seat to my back. I do not know if the Ohlins shock can be softened up any more in the low speed by modification. The compression and rebound are all the way out. I have considered drilling out the bleed hole and see what happens. I fear it may get somewhat out of control due to wallowing. I also may go to an even lighter spring as I am only 142 lbs these day.
    The Ohlins can be softened by altering the shim stacks in the same way as you would adjust a fork stack. Fewer shims = less total damping force.
    I ride faster than slow riders, and slower than fast ones.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RVFR View Post
    I happen to have a stock 5th gen shock with 32k if. Can I assume you have re sprung the shock to your weight?
    I have sprung to my weight, but it is at the higher range.

  15. #14
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    [QUOTE=V4toTour;533132]Get Helibars. They will allow you to sit more upright. I have them on my '99, never going back to stock. https://www.helibars.com/products/He...-VTEC/178.html

    For your back, you NEED to get an Airhawk seat pad. It's really the best option out there for your situation.

    I will check out the Airhawk. Thanks. Are Helibars really much higher than raised stock bars?

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cadbury64 View Post
    The Ohlins can be softened by altering the shim stacks in the same way as you would adjust a fork stack. Fewer shims = less total damping force.
    I have been down that road, and back again. It did not improve the low speed ride. It did make the high speed go bad.

  17. #16
    Uber Guru Terry Smith's Avatar
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    I haven't experimented much with varying the low speed bleed as that tends to be irreversible compared to a shim change. What I do know is that the compression valves in my ST1100 fork have lots of free bleed area and are consequently plusher over irregularities than my VFR and VTR, but you do lose some feel of control as a result. In my experience suspension setup is always a compromise between comfort and the feeling of control.


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  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by spxer View Post
    Are Helibars really much higher than raised stock bars?
    Yes, they are higher and further back meaning your hands will be closer to you.

    Stated on the site I linked:

    1 1/4" taller**
    1 1/2" rearward**

    Riding on the interstate, I can relax my left arm off the grip and rest on knee. With the Helibars doing this I can sit pretty much perfectly upright. Couldn't do that with the stock bars. Those measurements may not seem like much but the effect is immediate. You'll see the benefits the next big ride you take after installing them.

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by V4toTour View Post
    Get Helibars. They will allow you to sit more upright. I have them on my '99, never going back to stock. https://www.helibars.com/products/He...-VTEC/178.html

    For your back, you NEED to get an Airhawk seat pad. It's really the best option out there for your situation. https://airhawk.net/product-category/cushions/ I'd recommend the Cruiser R Small for the VFR. This will put a buffer of air between you and the bike. Not only will it prolong riding times, but I've found it to be very effective in dampening large bumps that would otherwise send a large shock up your spine. The air cell bladder thing it's using was originally developed for medical uses, for folks who were seated in wheel chairs all day. The key to comfort with these is to keep them minimally inflated, just enough to get you up off the seat.

    V4toTour,
    I am going to try the Airhawk. Their website recommend the Cruiser medium for the Interceptor.Do you use the Cruiser R Small?

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by spxer View Post
    V4toTour,
    I am going to try the Airhawk. Their website recommend the Cruiser medium for the Interceptor.Do you use the Cruiser R Small?
    I have a cruiser R small that fits on the stock seat nicely. If you're a guy, you want the "R". The R designation means there's a center channel that's void of any air cells. Reason being as worded by the product page : BUILT IN STRESS RELIEF DESIGN FEATURES – REDUCED PRESSURE POINTS ON TAILBONE, SCROTUM AND PROSTATE

    The regular cruiser medium will have air cells uniformly placed across the whole pad.

  21. #20
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    I ordered the Airhawk Cruiser R small. I will post a review when I get it in and try it out. Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by spxer View Post
    I ordered the Airhawk Cruiser R small. I will post a review when I get it in and try it out. Thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions.
    Feels a bit weird at first, but a long day in the saddle will be needed for the test. And again, you'll probably be most comfortable at the point of inflation just past where you can't feel the stock seat beneath you. The air cell thing should pretty much look deflated.

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    For pain relief, get some "Sombra" pain cream from Amazon. It comes in warm and cool versions. Both work VERY well. No, I don't work for them or sell it. I just use it. My nurse practitioner daughter put me on to it.

  24. #23
    Uber Guru ridervfr's Avatar
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    Try your stock seat again, I hate corbin seats, would never deal with them again. Their boots suck too along with their customer service. What about wearing a "kidney-belt?"

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    PM to me if you want to sell the Ohlins.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sniper View Post
    PM to me if you want to sell the Ohlins.
    hahahahahahahaha, when opportunity strikes

  27. #26
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    Got the Airhawk pad and test rode on it today. It did not go well. Having been warned it does not take much air, I blew only one short breath into it. Put it on the bike and off I go. Yes, it does feel weird and it does absorb some of the road ripples. After a short while of shifting around uncomfortably, I let some air out hoping that may help. It protrudes up front into my business and I could tell that I wouldn't be able to tolerate that for long. So I scoot forward on the pad to get away from the tightness up front. Better, but now all the air goes to the back and I am essentially sitting on the seat. So I stop again and add more air. So now it wants to pitch me forward, which is why I got away from the stock seat. After 40 miles it went into my tailpack and I road 90 more miles without it. Other than the Airhawk failure it was a good day with great weather and a nice lunch at a Mexican restaurant.

  28. #27
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    When i bought my Trek 2.3 years ago, the dealer had me sit on a gauge that showed where my hip bones were for a better seat fit. Ended up getting a seat from Cobb with memory foam, world of difference from the hard leather stock seat. Actually a good bicycle seat is not too soft, like those bar stool types. Maybe someone will get smart and offer a custom moulded seat based on each person "profile"! They do it with orthopedic inserts for shoes for shoes. I hope you can find a solution that distributes your weight and provides proper support.

    How well do you do on the GoldWing?
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  29. #28
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    I have only rode the Goldwing twice. Once when I test rode it at purchase, and about 80 miles after that. Then I took it down for all over maintenance. The time I rode it, keep it in mind it is 39 years old, it rode smooth on the ripples. The big hits were still felt. The front the worse.
    As far as bicycle saddles, I ride on a Brooks B17 Imperial. Best I have ever owned.

  30. #29
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    I bought the Cobb seat (six years ago) because they had fantastic instructions on how to measure and adjust. The biggest single ajustment that made all the difference was to align the seat (for men) 5 degrees to the left or right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sniper View Post
    PM to me if you want to sell the Ohlins.
    I find it hard to believe that it took 23 comments to get to this point.

    SPXer

    What model is the shock? I search pretty hard to find one, even rode to the Ohlins factory in NC only to be told "used" was my only option. I wonder if maybe you have one that isn't "right" for a VFR and that is making the situation worse than you expect. I have Ohlins on my R1200s (and on my old R1100s) and think they are fantastic at handling the hard bumps.


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