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Offline KellyL

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Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« on: June 14, 2019, 09:45:49 AM »
This is a review of my experience with upgrading the suspension of my 2017 Z900 with a full Nitron setup and riding it on the roads of Victoria in Australia. I hope someone gets something useful from this.

The short TL:DR summary

My overall sensation of tyre grip and handling control was markedly improved, particularly at speeds over 90km/h on uneven and winding roads, after installing a Nitron TVT25 fork cartridge kit and NTR R1 rear shock to my Kawasaki Z900. It is a worthwhile upgrade if you do a lot of high-speed riding on challenging road surfaces and conditions, and you can afford the expense. The benefits may however be marginal if you weigh <80kg and ride at lower speeds on good quality road surfaces.

Now, on to the longer review!

Background

Ive had my Z900 since early 2017.  I weigh around 90kg before I get dressed in all my riding gear, and frequently add another 5-10kg of luggage before I head out on the bike. Most of my riding consists of a combination of general commuting through the Melbourne metropolitan region (including tram tracks, level crossings, legal lane splitting, and peak hour traffic) as well as weekend escapes through the regional country roads every few weekends - when adult life permits. I guess Im just your average middle-aged motorcycle rider.

Within the first month of ownership I had set up the loaded suspension sag for my weight on both ends of the bike to around 35mm at both ends. This required 10mm of additional preload from the factory setting on the rear shock, and 14 turns clockwise from fully out on the front left fork adjuster.

The damping on the bike started to deteriorate around the 8000km mark on the odometer, especially at the front end.  Whilst the gradual loss of front compression damping was bearable, the rapid disappearance of rebound damping was more concerning. This was evident in the bouncing when I stopped at traffic lights, and with that heart stopping sensation of the front tyre disappearing whenever I gently applied some throttle on the exit of a bumpy corner.  The front rebound clicker had gradually gone from six clicks out to fully shut in my efforts to retain some damping. Meanwhile the rear end seemed to be coping reasonably well, despite a bit more butt-sinking on acceleration and an emerging thwacking sensation with square edged bumps.

The upgrade process

I went ahead and ordered a full suspension upgrade kit from Nitron Australia as I had grown fond of the bike and intended to keep it for the years to come. I placed an order for the Nitron TVT25 front cartridge set and Nitron NTR R1 monotube rear shock. I chose this shock instead of the remote reservoir models because I only ride the bike conservatively on public roads. They recommended springs based upon a 100kg clothed rider weight. They estimated a 4-6 week wait for the items to arrive, so I decided to swap out the fork oil myself during this interim period. This involved draining the left fork of approximately 390mL of muddy-looking watery oil and replacing this with some Motul Expert 10W Medium grade fork oil that I had lying around from another bike. This simple oil service did a reasonable job with restoring the front rebound damping, but bump compression became quite harsh once the pace increased. This also threw the bikes overall damping slightly off balance, as the rear shock now felt too soft in comparison.  In hindsight I think the equivalent of a 7.5W grade fork oil might have been a better match for the rear shock at that mileage. (You can read about it in https://www.z900forum.com/index.php/topic,1456.0.html.)

The fork cartridges arrived 4 weeks later, and I dropped off both forks for installation by Nitron Australia. They provided a clear explanation of what the work involved - especially the right fork requiring careful separation of the lower tube from the caliper/axle clamp casting, and modification of the casting to allow for attachment of the rebound cartridge. 2 weeks later I got a call from them again, and I returned to their shop to pick up the completed forks and the rear shock. I installed the shock myself by using an Abba Stand, a 14mm spanner, a 14mm socket with extension, a torque wrench, some moly grease, and a cup of coffee.  It could only be installed one way since the eyelets at each end are of different width; Nitron set it up so the rebound adjuster was at the engine end, and the preload adjuster ring at the rear wheel end.  The only changes I made to the Nitron factory settings after installation was to increase the rear shock damping by 2 clicks clockwise.

The ride

What I find unusual about motorcycle suspension is that Im happy when I stop noticing it. This phenomenon occurred after the upgrade when I started to ride the bike at speeds above 90 km/h and along bumpy and tight winding roads.  I had a better sense of traction on the road surface and the overall trajectory of the bikes line, and I stopped worrying about the bike unexpectedly kicking off into a strange new direction. The experience is hard to describe, but its like the bike gets more composed and confidence-inspiring the faster it goes. This is contrary to what happens with the stock suspension, where the bike just gets more unruly and starts riding me instead of the other way around especially once the damping starts to vanish with increasing mileage.

Low speed commuting is a different matter though. I must be honest and say that it doesnt feel that different in the daily grind. Perhaps its somewhat easier to tip into and out of roundabouts, and the stop light pogo is gone. Thats about it. Theres certainly no ecstatic transformation of the boredom that accompanies straight-lining down a freeway. I need to head into the hills to get a return on this investment, but its worth it once Im there.

Concluding thoughts

Im happy with my decision to get the Nitron stuff. It works for my paunchy weight and the places that I ride. But perhaps you mightnt get the same value for money if youre somewhat lighter and/or just cruise around town. Replacing the fork oil might be all you need. But consider the opportunity cost if youre thinking about purchasing something like an aftermarket exhaust or some other shiny bits; these suspension parts are probably about the same coin and will likely provide ongoing reward as one develops their riding skills.


Online Greyhairhoon

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2019, 10:59:25 AM »
Great writeup and thanks for the detailed explanation. Fellow Aussie, I am down in Tassie.
I couldn't agree more with it getting better the faster you go when you do the suspension. And like you if I don't notice the suspension it must be good or working well.
I have written a few stories in this suspension section as well, as I do things.
I did the K-Tech Razor R on the rear a while a go and it transformed the bike, but I am starting to notice the front more, and more than I used to so I think it is starting to go off a bit as well, could just change the oil but would rather do decent internals like you have done. I did ring Nitron Australia a while back, did you use Suspensions R Us, and I might even send them over to them to do the same as you have done pretty soon.
What tyres are you running? I put the Road 5's on are they really changed the bike for the better, I will be putting them on again next time as well, they really suit this bike.
Keep us informed of how it all goes after a bit of time.
 :028:
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 11:02:36 AM by Greyhairhoon »

Offline zed9

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2019, 04:06:17 PM »
Good review. I have had New springs for my weight and front and rear re-valved.
My best description is like yours....I don't notice the suspension any more. Any bad things the bike does now is the fault of the pilot and believe me, I'm not sure that can be fixed.   :015:

Offline RobZ900

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2019, 09:07:11 PM »
Good read. My Z is now on just over 10,400 miles and over the last month Ive really noticed the rear is seeming to squat more under my weight. Ive set the preload and rebound to be the best it can for both the forks and shock, but its just not cutting it. Im 115kg in my boxers, so by the time you add my riding gear and work bag into the mix, the total load on the bike has got to be in the region of 125kg. Now looking at a Nitron NTR1 for the rear and having the forks rebuilt with the correct rate springs, revalved and correct weight oil. Hopefully that should sort the issue. Id love the cartridge kit for the front, but I just cant afford the 1000 price tag. I did find the Andreani cartridge kit for 500 including the springs which would be more achievable, just got to weigh up the cost difference between having the forks reworked or buying the cartridge kit and having the suspension guy install them. I know the cartridge kit option will be more expensive, but it would give me compression damping, just depends how much of a cost difference there would be. Regardless, I know something needs doing as the stock setup is dog sh#t!
Motorcyclist - noun (moh-ter-sahy-klist)
: a person willing to take a container full of flammable liquid, place it on top of a hot, moving engine and then put the whole lot between their legs!

Offline Marco

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2019, 10:22:18 PM »
The NTR1 is a massive improvement.  I got a Hyperpro kit in the front of mine from new after riding the demo bike.  It made it a lot better.
I keep toying with the idea of the NVT25  but don't think it's going to be worth it.
The guys I ride with are on ZX10Rs and Tuonos and I can stay with them in the twisties.  The front is harsh and there is a hell of a lot of head shaking but I balk at 1000 for what might not be a big improvement.  The roads here are pretty much all like the IOM TT with more bumps.
Z900 Performance Edition  Akrapovic ASZT can Delkevic headers  Bar end mirrors  High seat  R&G rad guard   R&G tail tidy  Chinese levers Hyperpro fork spring kit.  Supersprox Stealth rear sprocket.  Nitron NTR1 shock absorber.

Offline KellyL

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2019, 02:51:43 AM »
Suspensions R Us, AKA Nitron Australia, are local to me and therefore I chose to consult them on my suspension upgrade options. They helped me with another bike that I own, and I have been impressed with their communication and service.

I think our options in Australia for good quality suspension work are more limited than those in other countries such as the USA and UK. For example, there aren't many people that will rework stock shocks - and the guy that did this for me previously wasn't very reliable.

I don't know if Andreanis are available here. They sound like a good option though. The trick in Australia is finding a reliable shop that is nearby; that can get these kind of parts for you in a timely fashion; and can perform the installation without causing unwanted dramas. This is surprisingly difficult.

Fork revalving was definitely an option, and I discussed this at length with the technicians. They said that it could be done - and that they performed this on numerous Z900s and MT09s - but that there was only so much to gain with the design limitations of having just one active leg to work with. The cost of a revalve and respring was around 35% of the TVT25 upgrade. I decided to adopt the "pay once and do it properly" approach. I guess this is a personal preference, and 'your mileage may vary'.

Total cost of the Z900 + full nitron setup = roughly the cost of a stock GSX-S1000 or a little less than a stock Z1000, although if I'd bought one of those bikes I'd probably end up modding the suspension anyway.

It was interesting that the Nitron Australia team said they get a lot of business from the ADV crowd, and are playing a major role in the development of the cartridge kits and valving on behalf of Nitron UK.  Apparently a large proportion of Nitron's worldwide ADV sales is from Australia.

As for tyres - I'm running Pirelli Angel GTs.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 03:12:04 AM by KellyL »

Offline zed9

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2019, 03:28:37 AM »
I went with revalving and respringing the front and rear because of my style of riding. It's made a noticeable  difference but that hasn't made me push the bike harder, it's made the bike safer over rough roads.
If you're constantly pushing the bike to the limit on road or doing track days then it's worth spending the money for the better kit.

Online Greyhairhoon

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2019, 04:23:04 AM »
*Originally Posted by KellyL [+]
Suspensions R Us, AKA Nitron Australia, are local to me and therefore I chose to consult them on my suspension upgrade options. They helped me with another bike that I own, and I have been impressed with their communication and service.

I think our options in Australia for good quality suspension work are more limited than those in other countries such as the USA and UK. For example, there aren't many people that will rework stock shocks - and the guy that did this for me previously wasn't very reliable.

I don't know if Andreanis are available here. They sound like a good option though. The trick in Australia is finding a reliable shop that is nearby; that can get these kind of parts for you in a timely fashion; and can perform the installation without causing unwanted dramas. This is surprisingly difficult.

Fork revalving was definitely an option, and I discussed this at length with the technicians. They said that it could be done - and that they performed this on numerous Z900s and MT09s - but that there was only so much to gain with the design limitations of having just one active leg to work with. The cost of a revalve and respring was around 35% of the TVT25 upgrade. I decided to adopt the "pay once and do it properly" approach. I guess this is a personal preference, and 'your mileage may vary'.

Total cost of the Z900 + full nitron setup = roughly the cost of a stock GSX-S1000 or a little less than a stock Z1000, although if I'd bought one of those bikes I'd probably end up modding the suspension anyway.

It was interesting that the Nitron Australia team said they get a lot of business from the ADV crowd, and are playing a major role in the development of the cartridge kits and valving on behalf of Nitron UK.  Apparently a large proportion of Nitron's worldwide ADV sales is from Australia.

As for tyres - I'm running Pirelli Angel GTs.

Interesting story.
Yeah I hear what you are saying and agree about getting stuff in Australia, we have to take what we can get here and hopefully you get it when you order it. In Tassie here there is not much at all unless you do it yourself, which I normally do. But rebuilding the front forks as you have done requires lots of special gear that is not worth buying for a one off job.
The cost of all this stuff is crazy, for what I paid for one rear shock for this bike, I can buy 4 high end coilovers for my car complete with springs.
 

Offline KellyL

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2019, 04:56:57 AM »
*Originally Posted by Greyhairhoon [+]
Interesting story.
Yeah I hear what you are saying and agree about getting stuff in Australia, we have to take what we can get here and hopefully you get it when you order it. In Tassie here there is not much at all unless you do it yourself, which I normally do. But rebuilding the front forks as you have done requires lots of special gear that is not worth buying for a one off job.
The cost of all this stuff is crazy, for what I paid for one rear shock for this bike, I can buy 4 high end coilovers for my car complete with springs.
Yes, the cartridge kit is definitely beyond my own skills. It involves blow torches and drilling into metal parts. Have you tried experimenting with different fork oils? Maybe a revalve and respring is the best option for you, and you could deal with Suspensions R Us via post.

Edit: I also found the website of Teknik Motorsport in Western Sydney. I can't vouch for them as I haven't used them, but they quote around $550 for a revalve and service. https://www.teknikmotorsport.com/Yamaha-MT09-Tracer-XSR900-Suspension

Perhaps the cost will seem less outrageous when you think about how much technology and function you get from a quality suspension component, when the same money only buys a glorified baked bean tin for an exhaust?  :018:
« Last Edit: June 15, 2019, 05:54:56 AM by KellyL »

Online Greyhairhoon

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Re: Review: Nitron TVT fork / NTR R1 shock upgrade
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2019, 09:39:28 AM »
Yeah well like you, if I do the forks I will do both legs properly. I am a sucker for spending money on bikes. I have always done suspension and tyres first on every bike normally.
I can send the forks over to Nitron, I have a mate that works on Toll shipping, and he goes to Melbourne and back so no worries there.
Yeah well I ordered a full exhaust in a weak moment back in April, I am hoping it never turns up sort of. I am at the moment getting $70 a week off the cost of it for every week after 5 weeks that it is late, its 5 weeks over at the moment and climbing. Hope it takes another 6 months.  :002: