Gear and Product Reviews

Wilbers Motorcycle Suspension Technology in Detail

Written by  March 31, 2007

By Werner Koch and Benny Wilbers

Motorcycle suspensions have always been a grey area for me; however, Wilbers Motorcycle Suspension Technology in Detail has shed clear light on this subject. When I received Wilbers’ book, I was really taken aback by the amount of theory and detail that has gone into this publication. The actual book is 95 pages, and it is packed full of schematics and step-by-step pictures that not only give you a reference point but also answer some of those questions that seem to baffle even the best techs. Suspension systems require maintenance just like engine systems, both metric and American.

The real question is, do you feel these items are just too overwhelming and complicated? This can be a 'yes’ to many of you who purchase a motorcycle with those really cool looking upside-down forks or single-sided swing arms that may confuse you on how these systems work so well in harmony together. Wilbers’ suspension book will put those unanswered questions to rest, and the way this book is laid out gives you an understanding of how to disassemble and reassemble inverted forks and rear mono shock systems so you can tackle those projects without spending a lot of money and time figuring out if you are getting the full potential from your motorcycle suspension.

We purchase “new” motorcycles from power cruisers to sport bikes and the battle for # 1 is a tight race. The manufacturers today sell great products that are virtually maintenance-free. So when the time comes to have these items serviced, do we pass this work on to the professionals, or do we fix these systems ourselves? I have worked for many years in this wonderful industry and have forgotten a lot of the theory that was relayed to me in motorcycle school. When I picked up this book, everything came back to me and was clearer than even the longest lectures that I have sat through and had to pay for.

When it comes to the frame designs, Wilbers covers the following frame technology:
Trellis, Twin spar, Mono coque, Diamond, Classic Duplex, and Uni track systems. It also gives advantages and disadvantages of these systems. Single-sided swing arms are also discussed in their entirety, and the book has a great breakdown of the components.

Chapter 3 gives the definition of hydraulic shock absorbers from unsprung masses to sprung masses, and it really breaks down the positive side of what the shocks do and the basic functions and mechanical designs that have been produced.

Chapter 7 brings to the table rebound and compression damping with high and low compression damping and spring design and function. This is a really great chapter to get the low-down on what the suspension is doing and how to fine-tune the systems.

One other item that you hear mentioned often in bike shops is the progressive spring technology. Wilbers’ book has clearly defined this subject and has given practical tips on how to install these springs and even lower the friction which robs the suspension of its efficiency.

Chapter 9 covers optimizing a telescopic fork, and I feel that this was done magnificently. The practical tips to tuning in this chapter will help beginners, and the way this chapter was written not only shows you the process of rebuilding telescopic forks, it also explains this process, and it is easily understood.

Chapter 11 covers basic adjustment optimization of damping and suspensions. This will clearly give you the definitions of suspension travel and basic fork adjustments that can be obtained to keep your suspension in tune and at the correct settings to give you the maximum durability from the suspension that was purchased with your motorcycle.

Chapters 12-17 cover everything from suspension geometry to tires and chains. Do not overlook these items. There are several forces at hand, and if not properly adjusted, these items tend to over-compensate each other and will not help your suspension adjustments at all.

In the back of this publication there is a trouble-shooting guide which covers problems, causes and solutions and can be a great reference when you are trying to find a solution to that suspension problem when it may not be working to its maximum capabilities.

In summary, I feel for a tech support publication this book is a great way to maximize your knowledge and understanding of the suspension systems produced both in past and present day. I have been in rigorous training classes, and quite frankly, they can be confusing. This book was well written and the pictures are clean and easy to understand. Shop manuals are very basic and they cover the procedure, not the theory. The book itself is a well crafted and has a handsome glossy cover front and back and it is really just a great value for the amount of information that is in this package.

When you are at a loss on technical formulas and definitions, this book is what you need to get that suspension system working to the optimal level that it was intended to function.

The price of this book is $24.50 US. To obtain this publication, USA customers please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Review by Dave Miller