Owners Manual
Öhlins shock absorbers, Motorcycle Road & Track
Tuning the
Fine tuning
Safety signals
Important information concerning safety is
distinguished in this manual by the
following notations:
The Safety alert symbol means:
Caution! Your safety is involved.
Failure to follow warning instructions
could result in severe or fatal injury
to anyone working with, inspecting or
using the suspension, or to bystanders.
Caution indicates that special precautions must be taken to avoid damage to the suspension.
This indicates information that is of
importance with regard to procedures.
© Öhlins Racing AB.
All rights reserved.
Any reprinting or unauthorized use
without the written permission of
Öhlins Racing AB is prohibited.
Printed in Sweden.
All of Öhlins advanced suspension products are
adepted to the brand and model. This means that
length, travel springaction and damping characteristics, are tested individually just for the
motorcycle that you have decided to fit with
Öhlins suspension.
Before installation
Öhlins Racing AB can not be held responsible for
any damage whatsoever to shock absorber or
vehicle, or injury to persons, if the instructions for
fitting and maintenance are not followed exactly.
Similarly, the warranty will become null and void
if the instructions are not adhered to.
Saftey signals ................................................ 2
Tuning the suspension ................................... 3
Design ........................................................... 3
Function ........................................................ 4
Compression damping ................................ 4
Rebound damping ....................................... 4
Settings ......................................................... 5
Basic settings .............................................. 5
Setting the spring preload ............................. 5
Measuring .................................................... 5
Adjusting ...................................................... 6
Front fork spring .......................................... 6
Setting the damping ...................................... 7
Setting the shock absorber lenght ............... 7
Setting your motocycle .................................. 8
Start with rebound damping ........................ 8
Compression damping ................................ 8
Adjusting the shock absorber lenght ........... 9
Inspection and maintenance ....................... 10
1. Installing a shock absorber, that is not
approved by the vehicle manufacturer, may
affect the stability of your vehicle. Öhlins
Racing AB cannot be held responsible for
any personal injury or damage whatsoever
that may occur after fitting the shock
absorber. Contact an Öhlins dealer or other
qualified person for advice.
2. Please study and make certain that you
fully understand all the mounting instructions
and the owners manuals before handling this
shock absorber kit. If you have any questions
regarding proper installation procedures,
contact an Öhlins dealer or other qualified
3. The vehicle service manual must be
referred to when installing the Öhlins shock
Öhlins products are subject to continual improvement and development. Consequently, although
these instructions include the most up-to-date
information available at the time of printing, there
may be minor differences between your suspension and this manual. Please consult your Öhlins
dealer if you have any questions with regard to
the contents of the manual.
1. Design principles
2. Spring preloading
Mechanical adjustment Hydraulic preloader
Gas and oil
1. Emulsion shock absorber
2. Internal gas reservoir
3. External piggyback reservoir
4. External reservoir
with hose connection
Shock absorber
Tuning the suspension
Motorcycle road holding qualities
All motorcycles are designed with a suspension
geometry that includes height and fork angle. The
changing of components can affect this and it is
therefore essential that both the rear and the front
ends match each other.
Changing to Öhlins suspension gives optimum
performance only when both the front fork and
the rear suspension interact properly. It is of the
greatest importance that the front and rear loaded
height are within the specified values.
See section: Setting the spring preload.
Most of the Öhlins shock absorbers are of the
De Carbon type. The fluid is put under gas pressure and the gas and the fluid are kept apart by a
separating piston. The separating piston is often
fitted in a separate fluid chamber, connected by
hose, or fixed direct on top of the shock absorber
There are also types of shock absorbers where
everything is fitted inside the main cylinder tube
(internal gas reservoir), and even a small number
of emulsion shock absorbers that do not have a
separating piston. Pressurization of the fluid is
made with nitrogen. The pressurization prevents
cavitation of the fluid and the shock absorbing
action is therefore more even. The external
reservoires also contribute to better cooling of the
fluid, giving longer service life for both the fluid
and components.
Öhlins shock absorbers have integrated temperature compensation. As the temperature increases.and the fluid flows more easily the flow is
controlled accordingly. The shock absorbing effect
is therefore independent of the temperature.
The more advanced models permit individual
adjustment of compression damping and rebound damping, and also certain adjustment of
the length of the shock absorber.
Öhlins shock absorbers provide the possibility
for adjustment, making them adaptable to most
motorcycles, riders and ranges of use. All of the
shock absorbers have adjustable preloading of the
spring action; either mechanically or hydraulically.
3. Flow through
needle valve
4. Piston with apertures
5. Shims stack
6. Flow through piston
Stop washer
Shims stack
Compression flow
Rebound flow
The function, in principle, is that fluid is forced
through needle valves at a low rate of flow (Fig.3)
and through a number of apertures in the piston
(Fig.4) at a high rate of flow. The flow through these
apertures is regulated by shims (thin steel washers, Fig.5) that at high pressure are deflected to
open for the fluid. On most models the needle
valves can be set individually.
By altering the size of the shims stack (ie, number,
thickness, diameter) the characteristics of the
damping action can be varied (this shall only be
done by Öhlins authorized service workshops).
Compression damping
When movement of the motorcycle causes compression in the shock absorber, the fluid flows
through the needle valve (combined compression and return valve) in the piston rod. If velocity
of the piston is high, ie, in the case of rapid compression, this will not be sufficient and consequently the shims underneath the piston will open
to allow a greater rate of flow (Fig.6).
The fluid that is displaced by the volume of the
piston rod is forced into the external fluid chamber via a separate compression valve. Even this
valve is fitted with shims that open at high piston
velocity. The separating piston is displaced, thus
increasing the gas pressure.
Rebound damping
When the spring presses the shock absorber out
again, the fluid flows back through the needle
valve in the piston rod. The fluid flowing into the
chamber is forced by the pressure of the gas back
into the shock absorber via a separate non return
If velocity of the piston is high, the shims on top
of the piston will also open to allow the fluid to
flow though (Fig.6).
A-D. Bike on a stand.
E. Bike on the ground.
Setting the spring preload
Basic settings
Always ensure that the basic setting made by
Öhlins is correct. It is adapted to the make and
model (in its original state) and for a rider of average weight.
Preload on the spring/springs is very important,
because it affects the height of the motorcycle
and the fork angle. Consequently, handling characteristics can be changed, even negatively.
Proceed as follows (it will be much easier if done
by two persons):
Everything must harmonize
In the recommendation table there are Öhlins front
fork springs that are specifically adapted to the
shock absorbers recommended to your motorcycle. If none is noted in the table then “intact”
original springs is the right choice. Incorrect
spring action can give a fork angle that is too
steep or too flat.This in turn will give a tendency
for oversteering or understeering, which could
seriously affect the handling characteristics of the
A Place the motorcycle on a stand.
B Lift up the rear end to a fully extended
C Measure the distance, eg, from the
lower edge of the rear mud guard or
from a point marked by a piece of
tape, immediately above the rear wheel
axle, to the wheel axle. (R1)
D Make a similar measurement on the front
axle, e.g., from the bottom of the upper
fork crown to the front wheel axle.
The fork must also be fully extended. (F1)
F. Bike with rider on.
E Allow the motorcycle (without rider) to
apply load on the springs and repeat
the measuring procedure. (R2, F2)
F Then take the same measurements
with the rider and equipment on the
motorcycle. It is important that the
rider has a correct riding posture,
so that the weight is balanced on the
front and rear wheel in the same way
as when riding. (R3, F3)
The measurements may not differ from the
following sizes:
Without rider:
5-10 mm
25-30 mm
With rider:
30-40 mm
35-48 mm
7. Spring preload adjusment.
8. Front fork spring kit
+ A. Mechanical
preload adjuster
B. Hydraulic
preload adjuster
Adjust the preload with the rings on the shock
absorber or by hydraulic preloading. In the first
case, hold the upper ring and adjust the lower
one to the desired position (Fig.7A). Then lock
with the upper ring.
For hydraulic preloading, increase by turning
clockwise and reduce by turning counter clockwise (Fig.7B).
On shock absorbers that have mechanical type
adjustment the position of the adjusting/preload
rings can be adjusted. On a shock absorber that
has hydraulic setting the basic position can be
adjusted. Such changes should be attended to by
an Öhlins authorized service workshop.
The original setting of the shock absorber, when
delivered from Öhlins, should always be a base
when the settings are changed by use of the
adjustment devices.
The spring preload affects the ride height, it does
not affect the spring stiffness.
Therefore, on models with a linkage to the
shock absorber, the suspension may actually
feel harder when you reduce the preload and
the shock absorber gets into the harder range
of the link system.
Front fork springs
To optimize the road holding qualities of a motorcycle the front fork must match the rear suspension.
Öhlins springs are available for a large number
of motorcycles (Fig.8). These, in combination with
Öhlins shock absorbers, contribute to superior
road holding qualities. The original make of
springs should be used if there are none of our
springs in the recommendation table. However,
they must be in good condition and not fatigued.
Remember to change the fluid in the front fork at
least once every year.
We recommend Öhlins front fork oil. See table.
It is important that the recommendation table is
followed for new front springs. If there are no recommended front springs you must ensure that the
existing springs are in good condition. Neglecting
to check the front springs could seriously affect
the handling qualities of the motorcycle.
9. Adjustment of rebound damping
10. Adjustment of compression damping
11. High and low speed compression damping adjusters
High speed
= more damping
= less damping
Low speed
Setting the damping
The adjusting possibilities of Öhlins shock absorbers facilitate fine setting. You can optimize
adjustments to suit your own weight and equipment, your individual way of riding and the condition of the road. To be able to improve the road
holding qualities it is of the utmost importance
that you fully understand the functioning of the
shock absorbers. Then you can learn by trial and
error how they affect the motorcycle.
Depending on the model there are adjustments
for rebound damping, compression damping and
adjustment of the length of the shock absorber.
Damping is set with the knobs, they have a normal right hand thread. By turning clockwise they
increase the damping action and counter clockwise they reduce it. The knobs have definite positions with noticeable “clicks”, so it is easy to
count to the right setting.
Rebound damping action affects the characteristics of the motorcycle most. The setting knob
is located at the bottom on the piston rod (Fig.9).
It can be adjusted in about 40 steps. The compression damping knob is located at the end of
the reservoir (Fig.10). This can be adjusted in
about 25 steps.
Some models (PRX) have separate adjusters for
high speed compression and low speed compression (Fig.11). The low speed compression is adjusted in 25 steps.
The high speed adjuster has a wide range within
about 48 clicks
When making new adjustments it is easiest to go
back to fully closed, and then count forward to
the new setting. The adjusting knobs should not
be screwed in too hard.
If no ”click” is felt, the shock absorber must be
inspected by an authorized service workshop. It
could be due to incorrect or lack of gas pressure.
High and low speed referes to the shaft velocity
of the shock absorber. It is not necessarily related to the speed of the vehicle.
12. Rebound damping
• Unstable
• Loose
• Bouncy
• Hard
• Bumpy
13. Compression damping
• Harsh
• Hard
• Bad grip
Setting your motorcycle
Always begin with the basic settings recommended by Öhlins. Always make notes, adjust in
small steps and make only one adjustment at a
time. Adjustments should be made with two steps
(clicks) at a time. Adjustments should not be more
than four steps from the basic setting.
By utilizing the adjustment possibilities you can
test by trial and error, and learn how they affect
your motorcycle.
Always begin by test riding the motorcycle with
all adjustments at their i.e. delivery setting. Choose
a short run of varying character, ie, long and sharp
bends, hard and soft bumps. Keep to the same
run and adjust only one setting at a time.
Start with the rebound damping (Fig.12)
If the motorcycle feels unstable, loose and rather
bouncy then the rebound damping should be
increased. Begin by turning the adjusting knob 4
steps (clicks) clockwise. Test run again and adjust
two steps back if it felt too hard and bumpy.
If the motorcycle is hard and bumpy, especially
over a series of bumps, then the rebound damping
should be reduced. Turn counter clockwise 4
steps, test run and make any necessary correction
to 2 steps.
Compression damping (Fig.13)
The low speed compression adjuster affects ride
height, smoothness over small bumps and grip.
The high speed compression adjuster affects
stability, firmness in depressions and fast corners.
If the motorcycle has low riding position, the
low speed compression should be increased.
Screw clockwise four steps and test run again. If
this was too much then turn back two steps
(counter clockwise). If it feels unsmooth over small
continuous bumps or has bad grip, the low speed
compression should be decreased. Turn counter
clockwise four steps. Test run and make any
necessary correction in two steps at the time.
If the motorcycle feels unstable in fast corners
and has a tendency to bottom easily in depressions
and chicanes, the high speed compression should
be increased. Screw clockwise six steps and test
run again. If this was too much then turn back
three steps (counter clockwise). If it feels harsh
and too rigid or has a tendency to hop under
braking, the high speed compression should be
decreased. Turn counter clockwise six steps. Test
run and make any necessary correction in three
steps at the time.
When you have sufficient feel of the motorcycle
you can make further fine adjustments. It is feeling
and experience that counts.
14. Adjustment of shock absorber lenght
15. Adjusting the shock absorber length
Ensure that the springs are properly preloaded
before attempting to make any adjustments. A
simple rule is that increased preload of the spring
should be followed by an increase of rebound
damping by two steps.
When you feel that you have achieved an improvement, go back to where you started and
check once more. Be observant of other relevant
factors such as tyres, temperature, etc. Test run
to make sure whether further fine adjustment
should be made.
Setting the shock absorber length
Sensitivity of the steering can be adjusted by
altering the length of the shock absorber, without
affecting other characteristics. The length is
adjusted using two nuts down and the treaded
clevis at the end of the piston rod (Fig.14). The
shock absorber can be adjusted up to 12 mm.
Adjusting the shock absorber length
A long shock absorber results in steeper inclination
of the front fork (steeper fork angle) and consequently
sensitive, quicker steering. A short shock absorber
gives a bigger angle of the front
fork (flat fork angle) and consequently slower and
smoother steering. Each complete turn of the shock
absorber gives one millimetre (Fig.15). The length
may never be altered more than to where the groove
(Fig.16) that is cut in the thread becomes just visible
under the lower nut of the level brachet. Make small
steps and test run.
16. Groove
If the shock absorber has an
adjustable end eye/bracket, this
must not be threaded out more
than that one groove is fully
visible beneth the lock nut. Make
sure that the lock nut is tightened
after adjustment.
17. Lift the bump rubber
and clean the area below.
18. Inspection points:
Inspection and maintenance
Clean the shock absorbers externally with a soft
detergent. Use compressed air. Lift the bump rubber and clean the area below (Fig.17). Keep the
shock absorbers clean and always spray them
with oil (QS 14, WD40 or CRC 5-56 or simular).
Never use detergents that can damage the surfaces of the shock absorber. Thinner and brake
cleaner will dry the surfaces too much.
Inspection points: (Fig.18)
1 Check ball joints
for possible excessive play.
2 Check the piston shaft
for leakage and damage
3 Check the shock absorber body
and for external damage.
4 Check the external reservoir
for damages that can restrict the
floating piston from moving freely.
5 Excessive wear of rubber components.
6 Fastening to the wehicle.
• Check the hose equipped models
for leaks in hose and inlet plugs.
Preventive maintenance and regular inspection
reduces the risk of functional disturbance. If there
is any need for additional service, please get in
touch with an authorized Öhlins service worshop.
There they have the necessary tools and know
how for whatever you need.
Make certain that your shock absorbers are
always filled with Öhlins High Performance
Suspension fluid.
Regular maintenance and inspection contribute
to the prevention of functional disturbances.
Recommended service intervals:
Race track
Every 10 hours
Every 20 000-30 000 km
Never alter the gas pressure. Special purpose
charging equipment and access to nitrogen is
required. The gas pressure should normally never
be altered.
The shock absorber is provided with a separate
type reservoir filled with high pressure nitrogen
gas. To prevent danger of explosion, study and
make certain that you fully understand the following information before handling the shock absorber. The manufacturer cannot be held responsible for damage to property or personal injury
that may result from improper handling.
1. Never tamper with or attempt to disassemble the cylinder or the reservoir.
2. Never expose the shock absorber to an open
flame or other excessive heat. The shock absorber may othervise explode due to too high
3. Be careful not to damage any part of the gas
reservoir. A damaged gas reservoir will impair the
damping performance or cause malfunction.
4. Take care not to scratch the contact surface
of the piston rod of the cylinder,oil could otherwise leak out.
5. Never attempt to remove the plug at the bottom of the nitrogen gas reservoir. Any attempt
to remove the plug implies serious danger.
6. When scrapping the shock absorber, follow
the instructions for disposal.
More info
Öhlins Racing AB, Box 722, S-194 27 Upplands Väsby, Sweden
Phone +46 8 590 025 00, Fax +46 8 590 025 80
Your Öhlins dealer:
07241-02, Issued 02 01 04. 5000 ex.
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