Installing Race Tech Emulators

for bikeland.org

by kz2zx





Stock damping-rod forks are notorious for a poor ride over sharper-edged road imperfections, and the factory spring rates are typically very soft. This leads to difficulties in handling on a racetrack. At higher speeds what would have been softer bumps in the road are now harder. To overcome the deficiencies of the stock forks, I purchased a new set of springs that are more appropriate for my weight and riding style, and a set of Race Tech cartridge emulators.

The Emulators replace the simple bleed orifice in the damping-rod style forks with a progressive-bleed spring-loaded set of spring-steel discs. They allow a damping-rod fork to behave like a higher-dollar cartridge-fork, with different low-speed and high-speed damping rates (here, low- and high-speed refer to the travel or compression rate of the fork, not necessarily the speed of the motorcycle). Rebound damping is still handled by the upper bleedhole in the damping rod, but is controlled by the weight of the oil in an emulator-equipped fork.

For $210 from my local go-faster store, I got a pair of Emulators and 1.0 kg/mm springs for my ZX-6E. For $8.99 more, I bought a bottle of Silkolene 15W Fork oil, and for $12.99 I ordered a set of replacement oil seals from Peak Moto. I broke down and purchased OEM Kawasaki dust seals for $14.99/pr. I now had all the parts to rebuild my forks - there are some inner bushings that seldom wear out, and in my case I held off purchasing until I could inspect them. Turns out this was the right choice.



Saturday dawned, but I was already up for two hours. The family and I are going to be busy Sunday morning, leaving me only a few hours to complete the fork upgrade on the ZX-6E track bike.

Well, Saturdays and a sense of urgency are a bad combination for me. First the kids woke up, then Mommy wanted breakfast, and then I had to go get a haircut. Whew, 1.5 hours of daylight burnt!

The 6E has a 14mm hex-socketed axle with a 12mm hex-socketed nut. Now, the 10R has a 14mm hex-socketed axle nut, so I had half the equation... but trying to get a solution to break that 12mm nut free on the 6E was a giant exercise in futility. Two hours of frustrated phone calls later, I broke down and drove to Sears to get a 12mm Allen key. One big-assed breaker pipe cheater later, I broke the nut free. Time spent getting the tool: 2 hours. Time spent using the tool: 3 seconds.

At this point my wife realized it was better to let me continue, as I probably would have fumed all day if she stopped me...

I took the front suspension off the bike, but quickly got frustrated again by the cap mechanism on these forks. Its a simple cir clip (inside snap-ring, sort of). Every attempt to push the cap down resulted in compressing the fork instead. I got clever, though, and put the fork back in the top triple clamp, and used a sort-of C-clamp and a 1/2 inch drive socket to compress the spring and remove the clip. No fuss, no muss.

Next came disassembling the fork, straightforward at last. Pulled out the damping rod, and drilled the holes to remove the damping capability. Chamfered and wire-brushed the holes, and started to reassemble the forks.

The seal driver I use is a nifty thing. I cut about a 5 inch section of 1 1/4 inch sched 40 PVC pipe, then saw it in half the long way. I heat the halves over the gas stove, and then clap it against the fork slider so that it rehardens at the right diameter. Pure genius, and I have no idea who to attribute it to, but I didnt think of it first.

Next comes driving the bushing into the stanchion, then seating the seal. Replace the inside ring keeper there, and drop in the emulator - I set the preload on it a little higher as Im an aggressive, heavy rider . Be sure to retighten the backing nut if you change the preload.

Install the springs, and look at the preload spacer height on the Race Tech site - 20mm in my case. Time to cut...

Reassembled the fork cap assembly as the reverse of disassembly, and voila! The right fork is done, and I am much happier now than I was six hours ago...

Now I have it down, Ill wait until next weekend to do the other fork.

No pics as the wife had the camera today, but next weekend fer sure...

Click here to visit our forums to discuss this story

Headlines