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Off-Road Alternatives - Too Tech Suspension

Checking Shocks
Kevin Blumer | Writer
Posted December 18, 2013
Photographers: Demetri “El Robo” Wyman

This Rick Johnson Will Make You Faster

If you want to be fast in the off-road racing world, it certainly doesn't hurt to be named Rick Johnson. In fact, we can think of three fast, famous Rick Johnsons without bending our brain cells too hard. Today, we'd like to introduce you to yet another Rick Johnson. He's Rick “Too Tech” Johnson, and if your dirt bike's suspension needs tuning, he's the best Rick Johnson to know.

Rick owns Too Tech Racing Suspension, and possesses a unique combination of traits and talents that enable him to tune your dirt bike's suspension to suit your height, weight, riding ability, and the conditions you ride in. Rick is a former local Pro motocross racer and he is also a degreed engineer. That means Rick has the ability to not only go fast on a dirt bike, but to also understand the technical aspects of motorcycle suspension. The nickname "Too Tech" comes from his college days when some of his friends accused him of being "too technical."

Let's back up a little. Why tune your dirt bike's suspension in the first place? The reason is simple: The factory sets up a dirt bike's suspension for a mythical "average rider." This means average height, average weight, average riding ability, and average riding conditions. In truth, this average rider who rides in average conditions is about as common as the Loch Ness Monster. If you want to be confident, safe, and fast on your dirt bike, you need your suspension custom-tuned for you and you alone.

A motocross shock has a lot in common with a high-performance coilover for a truck. The typical motocross shock has more external adjustment options than the average truck coilover, but both types of shocks can be custom-tuned for optimal performance. Rick records each customer’s suspension settings on his computer. This alllows him access to exact information if customers call for further tuning advice or service.

Yours truly isn't the mythical “average” rider his '00 KX125 was set up for. Neither the front nor the rear suspension worked as it should have. The rear suspension was the worst offender, kicking up anytime a square-edged bump was encountered. After finding Too Tech on the Web, we gave Rick a call.

After consulting with Rick, we decided to have him work on the rear shock first. Yes, it's ideal to tune both the front forks and the rear shock at the same time, but if money's tight invest in rear shock tuning first. Rick estimates that rear shock/rear suspension performance is about 70 percent of the total suspension equation.

The first step was to swap out the too-stiff stock coil spring for one with a lighter rate. Next, Johnson opened up the shock and worked his magic on the internals. He tuned the shock for our needs, specifically for a 150-pound Vet Novice who races on the mixed-terrain courses of the Big 6 GP Series. This tuning is different from the needs of a 200-pound recreational trail rider, and different from those of a 185-pound AMA National Pro.

If you’re in the SoCal area, you can arrange to meet Rick at a local track for additional testing and tuning. Piru MX is Rick’s home track. Here he’s checking to see that the shock spring is properly adjusted.

It's important to be as honest and accurate as possible when describing yourself and your riding ability. Rick also appreciates rider opinions about how the suspension currently works. With this information, he can ideally match your suspension to the real you and not to someone else.

Our Too Tech-tuned rear shock was night-and-day better. Square-edged hits are now absorbed instead of bounced off of, and the bike feels more planted and stable at both high and low speeds. It's easier to go faster.

If your dirt bike suspension has never been custom-tuned for you, we're willing to bet it's holding you back. Rick "Too Tech" Johnson has the knowledge, parts, and tools to match you with your suspension. When it comes to fork and shock tuning, he's the best Rick Johnson to know.

Photos

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Sources

Too Tech Racing
310-371-3887
http://www.tootechracing.com/

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