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Works rear shock vs Wilbers

I spoke to the folks at Wilbers (via email) and looked into their rear shock. What I don't like about it, is that they have to make permanent modifications to the electric/hydraulic preload adjuster system and afterwards, you no longer have 25 steps of adjustment available to you.

From what I can tell, they use their own pre-load adjuster on their shock body, and it can't handle the full range that the OEM adjuster does.

By contrast, the Works rear shock uses the stock OEM pre-load adjuster with no modifications. This means you can later remove the Works shock and re-install the factory unit and return the bike to stock if you ever want to. The Works shock is also re-build able, has a 1,100 lb spring rate (versus the 900lb OEM), and adjustable rebound dampening. The fact that it is rebuild able means that in 40K miles when the shock starts to wear, you can have the valves and oil in it replaced and get it recharged, instead of buying a new shock. The OEM shock is NOT rebuild able, and is usually pretty much worn out by about 35K miles.

I haven't actually ridden the Wilbers, but I have ridden the Works shock, and I can tell you the Works shock is a huge step up in performance from the stock rear shock and spring.

I have been working with the engineer at Works for about 8 months now, fine tuning the rear shock parameters, and they now are on the third generation of this shock. I think they now have the pre-load and rebound/compression dampening dialed in perfectly for the bike and loads. I just returned my second Gen shock for the third Generation, and I will get some miles on it in the next few weeks and be able to give some more precise feedback on it. The second Gen shock was real close to perfect, but had just a tad too much pre-load on it for solo riding. They took out some of the pre-load and also increased the high speed blow-by rebound setting by about 25%. Once we finish testing on this third gen shock (this month), it will be made available for resale from Works.

The real beauty of the Works shock, is that if you pull a trailer or have other special needs, they will custom make the shock to suit you. They already have a model all dialed in for folks who tow a trailer. I am working with them on the one for the standard rider (50% two up and loaded and 50% solo riding). Just tell them how you typically ride and any special needs you have and they will make the adjustments to the shock when they build it.
 

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Here is their website address:

http://www.worksperformance.com/

They are in the final stages of development on the GL1800 shock, and it should be completed in the next two weeks. Once I get my hands on the 3rd generation shock (next week) and give them some feedback, I think they will be ready to market it. From what I have seen so far, I anticipate that this new version will be spot on and won't need any further adjustments. This should give them a benchmark starting point for a standard replacement shock for the existing unit.

If you are interested, I suggest you contact Works directly (by phone or email) as they can probably give you a better date on when they will actually be ready to start shipping them. Ask for Pierre if you call.

I had to remove my old shock and send it in to them, as they removed the stock preload adjuster and moved it to the new shock, and then sent both the old and new shock back. If you have the Progressive Spring removal tool, you can remove and install the pre-load adjuster yourself and save having to send in your original shock.
 

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Performance gains

Here are the main performance gains I have noticed with the Works Shock.

First of all, the spring is stiffer, and this makes the whole rear end feel more solid. It does not squat as much in turns. The increased spring rate results in less sag, so the rear end does not sit as low. The end result is more ground clearance so I don’t drag pegs as easily. High speed riding is also vastly improved with the new spring rate, as the bike is more firm and does not tend to wobble or pogo on high speed sweepers like it used to.

The increased rebound dampening also greatly helps. After an impact, the rear end settles much faster than before. This accentuates the overall tighter feeling that the new spring provides. It is most noticeable when you are leaned over in a turn that has some rough spots or dips in it. In my opinion, this is one of the true tests of a good shock setup. Find a corner that has some undulations in it and see how the bike handles when leaned over (nearly to the pegs) and you hit the bumps. If the bike stays taught and does not loose it’s line, then the shock is properly dialed in. If the bike begins to pogo (bouncing front to rear) and looses it’s track, then the shock is being overcome and cannot contain the forces put on it. This is another place where the Works shock shines. When pushed to extremes like this, you really begin to appreciate the tighter spring and rebound dampening. The shock maintains the bikes composure at all lean angles and speeds that I have been able to ride at. I have several test corners that have some good bumps in them, and with the new shock, the rear wheel maintains grip and contact and the front end does not pogo or loose track.

I am able to add about 10mph to my entrance speed on all corners as a result of the Works shock. While you may not ride hard enough that this matters to you, consider the safety aspect of increasing the handling envelope that the bike can tolerate. In an emergency, that extra 10mph could make a difference. For instance, when you enter a corner too fast or overcook it (which we all occasionally do). How the bike (and you) handles the increased speed and lean angle will make the difference between an accident and just a puckered seat.

Some folks have changed out the spring to the Progressive unit, and while this helps, it only addresses half of the equation. If you add more spring force, you also have to add more dampening force to counteract it. The increased dampening on the Works shock is adjusted to work in concert with the new 1,100 lb spring rate. And it also is adjustable via an Allen head adjuster on the bottom of the shock. This allows you to dial it in, within limits, to your liking.

If you are getting a new stock shock from the dealer for free, then I say by all means take it. The stock shock does not do a bad job unless loaded (two-up), but it looses its performance pretty fast. At 30K miles I removed my original shock and replaced it with a new OEM shock that I got a hold of. I was amazed at the improvement. My OEM shock had gradually been going downhill for a while, but I didn’t notice it because the change was so slow. Once I put a new OEM shock on the bike it was obvious to me how much my original shock had degraded in performance. And the real kicker is that you can’t buy the OEM shock or spring by itself. You have to buy the shock, spring, and preload adjuster all as one unit for about $1,000. This is another thing makes having a rebuild able shock attractive.

Under two-up and fully loaded riding conditions, the Works shock also shows a marked improvement. The increased spring rate means the rear does not sag as much and the increased dampening means the bike doesn’t bounce after impact. As a result you have more ground clearance. You also don’t have to add as much pre-load to the adjuster unit. When I ride one-up I can typically leave the adjuster at zero or maybe 5 but no higher. When two up and loaded, I run it at about 12. With the OEM shock, I had to run the adjuster at 21 single, and 25 with passenger and luggage, and it still wasn’t enough for my tastes.
 
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