Motorcycle Suspension Parts Buying Guide

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Motorcycle Suspension Parts Buying Guide

The components that go into a motorcycle's suspension are designed to ensure that the motorcycle's tyres remain in contact with the riding surface while also providing adequate absorption of bumps and other surface imperfections encountered along the way. The suspension provided in the front wheel remains independent of the rear wheel's suspension, and instances of motorcycles using different suspension types for front and rear wheels are all too common. The reasons behind people looking for motorcycle suspensions parts vary, from people looking to replace faulty parts to people looking at improving their riding experiences.

When looking for motorcycle suspension parts, buyers have different avenues in which to turn that include regular brick-and-mortar shops as well as online shopping platforms, like eBay. Buyers, before looking for motorcycle suspension parts, should take into account that a motorcycle's suspension can react differently when subjected to different riding conditions, and different suspension types can produce different riding experiences. As a result, buyers should not only be able to differentiate between front and rear suspension parts, they should learn how to identify the various alternatives on offer as well.

Front Suspensions

Most modern day motorcycles make use of telescopic forks to serve as suspension for the front end. These forks, used since the 1930s, are nothing but hydraulic shock absorbers that come with coil springs and valves on the inside. The coil springs help support a motorcycle's weight and the valves regulate flow of oil. Top yokes and bottom yokes are used to connect these forks to a motorcycle's frame, and the lower end of the forks are connected to the motorcycle's front axle. While fork tubes can be made using different materials, they are typically covered with protective plastic sheets, referred to as gaiters, which can require periodic replacements. In the absence of gaiters, it is seen that the fork seals found in front forks are more prone to damage.

Conventional Telescopic Forks

Conventional telescopic forks are those where the fork tubes, or the upper portions, slide into the lower portions or the fork bodies. The upper portion, referred to as the stanchion, slides in and out of the fork tube as, and when, a bump or any other kind of unevenness is experienced, and the stanchion's movement is cushioned through the use of a damping rod that can be found within the fork tube. Oil secreted with the rod works in damping the stanchion's movement, and a long spring that runs along the entire length of the fork helps by pushing back, thereby keeping the wheel in contact with the riding surface. Fork tubes should be smooth to ensure that the fork oil remains sealed within the fork. If an oil leak is noticed, or if internal springs no longer work as they should, a replacement may well be needed.

Inverted Telescopic Forks

During the period when telescopic forks first came into being, some motorcycles, like Harley Davidson's Pea Shooter, came with a front suspension design that involved the lower section of the fork moving up and down. While this design did not quite catch on then, its use is not uncommon now, and forks found in such setups are commonly referred to as inverted telescopic forks, or upside-down forks. In modern day motorcycles that employ inverted telescopic forks, the larger and elongated stanchion is connected to the front wheel's axle with the slider tubes mounted on the steering yoke, and these fork alternatives are known to provide increased stability while attempting aggressive manoeuvres.

Inverted telescopic forks, it is noticed, tend to offer increased side-to-side and lateral resistance as compared to conventional telescopic forks, and their use can help improve overall handling. In addition, a number of inverted forks give users the ability to tweak with settings pertaining to aspects like rebound damping, compression, and the spring's pre-load. However, typically found on high-end motorcycles, these alternatives are more expensive than their conventional counterparts, and in case their oil seals fail, they can lose their damping oil quite easily and quickly.

Types of Conventional and Inverted Telescopic Forks

Both conventional and inverted telescopic forks can be further sub-categorised and different types of motorcycles, as shown in the table below, resort to using different types of conventional and inverted telescopic forks.

Fork Type


Upright: free valve

Simple construction


Used from small to large motorcycles

Upright: cartridge

Very good damping capabilities

High rigidity

Used with larger motorcycles

Inverted: separate pressure

Separates air and oil

Stable damping

Typically used with motocross motorcycles

Inverted: big piston

Damping force improved by large piston

Used with many larger models

While changing a motorcycle's fork type from conventional to inverted telescopic forks, or simply changing the type of conventional or inverted telescopic forks a motorcycle uses is a possibility, aspects like compatibility and riding experiences still need to be taken into account.

Other Front Suspension Alternatives

A number of motorcycle manufacturers around the 1980s experimented with "anti-dive" suspensions; these suspension systems used hydraulics and worked in tandem with a motorcycle's front brakes. However, these forks had a tendency to become rather stiff whilst braking, and were phased out quite soon. Over time, various manufacturers have experimented with different single-sided fork designs, with varying degrees of success.

A common opinion is that the design of telescopic forks is not quite perfect, and not only do they require reinforced frames, they can also cause motorcycles to dive forward under extreme braking. In recent times, the only other alternative that has seen significant success is the telelever front suspension used by various BMW motorcycles. Although, the hub-centre front suspension system employed by the Vyrus 985 and the Yamaha GTS1000 offers riders good overall riding experiences as well. Some motorcycle manufacturers, like Greeves, have gone ahead and used swingarm designs to serve as suspension for the front end of their motorcycles, which tend to offer more robustness in comparison to telescopic forks.

Rear Suspensions

Just as there are different types of suspensions that are used at the front end of motorcycles, there are different alternatives when it comes to the rear suspension of motorcycles, and therefore, anyone looking for rear suspension parts ought to pay attention to this aspect. Shock absorbers have been typically used at the rear end of motorcycles and the use of double-tube or twin-shock type shock absorbers was rather common with most motorcycles until not so long ago. Changes in technology saw the use of single shock absorbers replacing the use of twin-shocks, and these new variants, referred to as mono-shocks, are used across different sections of motorcycles today.

Swingarm Suspension

The swingarm type of suspension is most commonly found at the rear end of today's motorcycles. A typical swingarm suspension unit comprises of a pivoting fork that connects to a motorcycle's lower rear section and a spring that works in absorbing shock. While some variants make use of singular springs, some others are known to use more than one spring. A particularly good thing about swingarm alternatives is that they continue to hold a motorcycle's rear axle in place even as the motorcycle pivots vertically. People looking for rear suspensions can also find two-sided swingarms, which can be described as pivoted forks, given that they work in supporting rear wheels from both sides.

Buying Motorcycle Suspension Parts on eBay

Irrespective of the reason behind looking for motorcycle suspension parts, buyers can benefit greatly by turning to eBay. This is because buyers can expect to find just about every kind of suspension part on eBay, ranging from different kinds of front and rear suspensions to other suspension parts, like fork seals, fork braces, as well as bearings and bushings. In addition, buyers shopping on eBay can also expect to find complete suspension units to fit most popular brands of motorcycles, like Suzuki, Yamaha, Ducati, Harley Davidson, and BMW.

Given that motorcycle suspension parts are commonly made of metal and can be rather heavy, it is important that buyers pay attention to the postage and packaging costs that they are required to pay, as these can vary from seller to seller. A good idea is to look for local sellers who allow purchases to be picked up in person, as this can help save some money, and those looking at saving some money can also benefit by browsing through the plethora of used motorcycle suspension parts that can be found on eBay.


Buyers looking for motorcycle suspension parts should understand that this world has become rather diverse, and knowing just what to look for is bound to help. Aspects like cost and usability go hand in hand when it comes to deciding which kind of motorcycle suspension alternatives to choose, and when in doubt, or when not looking for too much, searching for stock alternatives is suggested.

When it comes to changing suspension parts because they are damaged or do not function properly, the job at hand is often straightforward, as is looking for relevant parts. However, buyers looking at changing their motorcycles' existing suspension systems to enhance performance ought to take into account that a motorcycle's overall geometry revolves around the suspension unit's height as well as angle, and any significant change in either can have a considerable effect on the motorcycle's geometry, thereby affecting the riding experience. Whether this is for the better or worse depends on just what has been done, and a lot depends on how well the front and the rear suspensions perform together.

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