Product Review

Lindemann Engineering Suspension

by Jon Lewis


The Search for Better Handling

In the search for better handling, the first thing to do is learn how to ride.  No need to worry about how good your bike is, it's guaranteed to be better than you.  If you have an F4 it's going to be a LOT better
than you for a while.

But as I got better, I began to notice problems with the handling. Wallowing in corners. Diving under braking, trouble keeping the back wheel on the ground when leaned over on bumpy roads, wheel spin on
exiting corners, even some bottoming out.  I first made some tentative adjustments to the forks and tightened up the shock spring.  Things were better for a little while.  Then I got a little better at
cornering and a little more sensitive to what the bike was doing.  I started noticing the same problems again.  I made some more adjustments but could not get it so I was happy with it.  I went to professionals. Lindemann Engineering tuned my suspension for me for a nominal fee.  They are the best at this and I happen to live nearby.  They have this crazy idea that we unskilled riders deserve the same kind of attention that they give to professional racers.


Things were much, much better after that.

After a little more experience, the same kinds of problems started cropping up again. (I'm a slow learner).  Lindemann had warned me that they only set the bike up as best they could with the stock suspension
and that it was far from perfect.  I made some more adjustments the way they taught me to, and it got a little better but still not what I wanted.  Probably all I need, but there were still problems I could feel in the handling. I want more. TIME TO UPGRADE bellowed a deep voice from the pit of my groin.

I got lucky, a friend had sold his F4 but still had the aftermarket shock he put on it.  I bought it cheap and took it to Lindemann Engineering to be rebuilt and set up for my weight, bike, and riding style. My friend  D___  (only met him twice, but what a good guy) also gave me some advice on set-up.  I got lucky again and it started to get cold and to rain!  That made it a good time to take the bike apart.  Before I got the shock back from Lindemann I took the forks off and brought them in.  They needed better valves and stronger springs for a guy my size (over 150 lbs, I won't say how much over). 


Today I got enough technical info from JeF4y to replace the old shock with the new one.  Following advice from D____ and others I lengthened the new Penske shock. It is adjustable so the back end will now ride
considerably higher than stock.  This should make the front turn in quicker and give more ground clearance without reducing stability.  It will also allow the front end to be raised without sacrificing turn in.  I hope to get the best of both worlds - faster turn-in and better stability.

When the forks come back they will have much stiffer springs, better valves, a harder, smoother coating on the legs and fresh oil. Lindemann will also make some of the finer adjustments to the preload,  compression and rebound damping.  I will clamp them in a bit lower in the triple clamp, thus raising the front end.  This set-up is supposed to be comparable to full Ohlins race suspension in terms of mechanical
efficiency performance and quality.  It's a lot cheaper though.  Also, it will be set up for me and the way I ride.  That makes it a lot better choice.

I had to take off the bodywork except for the front fairing, and had to remove the gas tank in order to get at everything. Here are some pictures of the process.




Forks stripped, break pads secured in place with paint sticks to avoid accidental dislodging and a lot of extra work, rear end on swingarm stand and weight lifted off the shock with tie-downs suspended from the
ceiling beam. 

After removing the stock shock, I bolted the bottom of the Penske in place and rested the top of it on the bracket.  Since it is adjusted to be longer than the stock one, the boltholes do not line up.  I just pull up on the tie-down strap to both shorten the strap and lift the bike at the same time till the holes line up and voila, bolt it in, torque it down mount the remote reservoir right where the stock one was and it's done.

Here it is installed.. 


Here are the adjustment screws at the top of the stock forks....


The compression damping adjustment is at the bottom of the fork legs, just above and behind the front axle.

More to come once the bike is 100% back together.  I'll also let you know if all this has the handling effect I hope and expect.

With thanks to JeF4y, Mike(AKA F4iRacer) David, and Lindemann Engineering.

 


UPDATE

I finally got the forks back from Lindemann Engineering on Wednesday. It took one week longer than expected which was the only complaint about the entire experience. Can't really blame them much though, with Daytona being so close they are very busy and most of the extra time was taken up with the anodizing process, which they subcontract out. They do the quality control to make sure that the anodizing gets on the inside of the lowers (the only place it really counts). This is a harder coating that makes the forks last longer before they begin to get slop in them, and it helps keep the fork oil cleaner longer.

Everything came back with base adjustment settings already made. It is set up for road riding with 35mm of sag. If that seems like a lot, it is still much, much stiffer than stock and I have seven more lines of preload to play with and the Penske shock is almost infinitely adjustable for preload.

The springs are .90 weight (up from the .65 stock ones) for my 190 lbs including gear. Base compression is set to 1 turn out Rebound is 1.25 out. I won't give you the shock settings as I don't know what the spring weight is so it would be meaningless. (I should find that out) The valves are clearly a lot better than stock.

It is a noticeably longer reach to the ground now that the rear is raised up to half a turn less than the Penske's max and the front is raised up a bit as well.

I plan to ride the bike like it is for a week or so to get used to it, then start seeing if there is anything I want to adjust, doing the best I can until after Daytona. At that point Lindemann is willing to take another look at it with me on the bike in full gear. He will make final adjustments and recommendations then. This is far better than your average service, and I didn't get the impression that they do this as a usual thing. But, it seems that if you ask, you get.

This bike now handles unbelievably well. I haven't given it much time yet as today was the first ride with the new set-up, but I am a happy camper. It falls into turns much faster, tracks beautifully and sticks like glue. One turn with bumps that always set the back wheel spinning for a half revolution or so before, now makes no difference to it at all. The tires feel just as tight to the ground on dips that leave me feeling weightless as they do on flat smooth surfaces. It's great, great I tell you. Great.

The steering is clearly a lot faster. I don't know for sure about the stability yet as I haven't pushed it much. So far it seems more stable, and I'm riding around without my steering damper till I get everything sorted. This bodes well for my ride height adjustments but there is plenty more experimenting to do before I can be sure.

All in all, even though I was expecting a lot, Lindemann has made even more a difference than I dared hope for. This bike is so much FUN to ride now it makes me giddy. 


What do others have to say about it?

The Peeps (left) says, "I like the new black color forks, and what was up with red spring on the stock shock? The blue Penske is much nicer."
Skyler (right) says, " I told him to have this done ages ago. I am now proved right again"

PS. For all you F3 guys, Lindemann has a good stock of FOX rear shocks for the F3 for sale at $300. Yes they are new!



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Jon Lewis