K-Tech Suspension Review
1 year on - On road and Track
WRITTEN BY AARON TRAVELL
Those of you following our Suzuki GSXR 750 project series will know that we upgraded to K-Tech aftermarket suspension very early into the project. You can find that article for installation and first impressions here https://bit.ly/3D8aC6N.
It’s been almost a year since it was fitted and the bike has been ridden extensively on the road and hammered on some of the UK’s best tracks. We’ll cover this on video separately, but for now, this is our written review!
So before we get into the performance, this is what we went for:
Rear – K-Tech DDS Lite shock
Front – K-Tech SSK piston kit with K Tech springs to suit my weight and riding style
This is my first experience of purchasing, fitting and using aftermarket suspension. Before purchasing and while I was researching what to go for, I found the subject of aftermarket motorcycle suspension a bit of a grey area, difficult to understand with very little useful content available online. But now having first-hand experience, my understanding is quite good and hopefully this review will help you too. While I’ll mention road riding in this piece, I’ll mostly refer to track, because that is the environment where I’ve really found out what is going on.
So, what is a suspension upgrade about, better handling, more grip, more comfort, more plushness? Turns out, it’s a bit of a blend of those things. I’ve broken it down into sections I feel are most important and I’ve tried to write it in laymans words so its as helpful as possible to anyone reading, plus some of my own feelings in different parts of a typical corner.
Balance and ride quality
The first sensation that came from the upgrade was that the bike was now balanced front to rear. Of course, the performance ultimately comes from the hardware, but even with the right hardware, the set-up is incredibly important and shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only did I purchase the K-Tech parts with my weight and road/track riding style in mind, but it was set up by a Pro – TW Suspension tech. You can find TW Suspension Tech here – https://www.twsuspensiontech.co.uk/.
In practice, there is a massive difference to the way the bike feels on road and track, it’s balanced front to rear now, with a feeling of more even pressure on the tyres, front and rear. Previously the bike felt hard in the rear and soft up front, now it feels balanced, confidence inspiring and more comfortable. In terms of comfort, while my GSXR is never going to feel like a spongy adventure bike, it has benefited from a marked improvement in ride quality. While it’s firm, it’s lost most of the crashiness of the stock set up, it’s supportive and has a level of plushness it didn’t have before.
Ability to hold a line
Secondly, the handling and ability to hold a line… OMG, I haven’t ridden another bike that comes close, even the latest Superbikes from the best manufacturers. The way I can now confidently rail the GSXR into and out of corners is incredible and I have no doubt that the K-Tech upgrade has facilitated this.
For the first time, I now feel like the famous GSXR chassis is able to handle like it was designed to. At first, I had to recalibrate my riding a bit as I found I was hitting the inside curb mid corner; the bike just makes a tighter cornering line now – end of story. Whether or not this makes sense, physics wise, I don’t know, but I’ll hang my hat on that being the case.
Immediately, I was able to increase my corner entry speed by another 10-20mph because I became confident that I’d enter the corner with no drama, hit the apex and then not run out of room on exit because the line the bike held was tighter, firmer, sharper and more repeatable.
Grip Feedback and Tyres
Feedback is also significantly increased. I now have a much better feeling of what is going on with the tyres beneath me. Teut from TW Suspension Tech told me that my new set up will make the tyres work harder; I can definitely feel that. Whilst “feeling” is hard to explain, I now have a much better understanding of levels of grip and where the ceiling of grip is. I can feel the feedback from both front and rear tyres, what is going on and what the bike wants from me in terms of rider input. This inspires confidence.
But on that note, my new suspension set up does demand good tyres to get the most from it. Running the Dunlop Sportsmart TT was fantastic and made for a rock solid and “on rails” type track riding experience, where I felt that I still had room in the tank to go faster. On the flip side fitting Pirelli Rosso Corsa 2 has not been as good, making a much mushier experience, pumping and constantly loosing traction. To get the most out of your K-tech set up, you need the right tyres to match it. If you are running in Novice or Intermediate track day groups, most modern Hypersport tyres (Rosso Corsa 2, Sportsmart MK3, S22) will be OK, but if you are running at a faster pace in advanced group, then nothing less than Sportsmart TT or track specific tyres will do in my experience.
Braking and corner entry.
Previously, my front suspension felt too soft, bottoming out under hard braking and even chattering, sending my rear wheel either 6” in the air or squirming everywhere. While of course, I still have weight transfer from full gas to full brakes, it is a much more controlled experience, even when I get very hard on the brakes, there is much more suspension progression and the bike stoppies and squirms much less. I am currently running 9.5 weight springs, if I was being picky I might opt for slightly stiffer springs next time to give a bit more braking support again.
As the rear shock now has the correct sag and rebound damping, the rear is also much more connected to the tarmac under heavy braking and less tendency to lift. Due to the increased grip feedback, I am able to enter corners faster, confident that find my way safely into, through it and out the other side. Essentially, this allows me to brake harder and enter the corner faster.
As previously mentioned, I feel my new K-Tech set up has brought out the best in the chassis of the GSXR and enables a tighter cornering line irrespective of tyre choice. I know people talk a lot about counter steering etc, but for me personally, I don’t really get it. What I do know is that if I run a high corner entry speed and combine that with lots of engine braking (high rpm) and I’m off the throttle, with this set up, I’ll track a beautiful cornering line, be safe and probably get a nice pic of knee down action in the process. 😊
Ultimately, riding on track is about going around the same piece of tarmac hundreds of times and progressively finding ways to go faster and be safer. Because the set up makes for a more repeatable and confidence inspiring experience, it makes finding new those improvements easier and safer.
So we’ve entered the corner, tracked a beautiful line, what now about the exit? Assuming I have grip, I can get on full gas earlier and harder than I’d have ever thought possible, spitting me out of the corner really hard down the next straight. While this is an area of my riding I still need to develop and one aided by better tyres, it’s true that I am now able to get on full gas very early out of a corner with good traction and still hold a tight line. This can only be down to the K-Tech DDS Lite shock and is the only way to beat a modern 1000cc Superbike with 200hp on the straights on a 750 with 130hp – super early and super hard corner exit!
While a K-Tech suspension upgrade is a fairly pricey upgrade, especially if you’ve just bought a brand new 1000cc Superbike thinking it was going to be track ready (as per they’re marketed), the performance benefit is so much better than any stock set up from any bike manufacturer. If you want to go fast on track or just improve the handling and safety of your motorcycle in all areas, K-Tech suspension is the right choice and we fully recommend it. In fact, I don’t think I’ll own another bike without it!
K-Tech Suspension in-use Gallery
Knox products I wear on my GSXR 750
Written by Aaron Travell