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Thread: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

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    SMSW's Avatar
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    Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    This can also be titled one guy’s opinion of Gold Valves.

    I have been unhappy with the way my ST handles bumps, specifically freeway blacktop expansion heaves that occur every 50(?) feet or so. These are not the concrete expansion joints. I also thought it was a bit harsh going over shallow potholes and everyday road irregularities. These jolts traveled right up through he handlebars and sometimes knocked my GPS into a sagged position.

    Reading other threads on this site, and looking around the internet showed me that the Gold Valves seem to have a big following and everything I’ve heard is positive. I decided to go with the valves ($400) and not the caps that allow adjustments from the outside. Once dialed in, there would be no need to change the settings and I did not want t spend the extra $150 (which can be done at a later date should I feel the need).

    Finished putting the bike together Tuesday, and went for our club’s Wednesday ride. First impression: the bike is smoother - I noticed this going over the bump from my driveway to the street. Riding down the freeway to breakfast I started looking for bumps and damaged road surfaces. The impacts seemed to be spread out, as if I were taking the bumps in slow motion, and many were barely felt. The rear shock is still stock (though I did fill up the preload adjuster and turn it to the stock setting). The same bumps that were now missing in the front were felt clearly in the seat of the bike.

    I’ve tossed around the word compliant a lot. My Gold Valve forks simply absorbed bumps without transmitting as much of the shock as they had with the stock valves.

    The group ride was just under 200 miles long - the return trip on interstates. I found that I no longer need to stand up on the pegs when going over RR tracks, and one recessed manhole cover that I realized I could not dodge felt insignificant. Some of those expansion bumps were found on the trip home. I can only say they felt as if someone had ironed them down. Yes I felt them and they jarred the bike, but the severity was greatly reduced.

    Our ride on Ohio State routes was mostly smooth with sweeper curves and few ‘twisties’. The bike felt planted but today’s was an easy ride without pushing it. I’ll know more in the coming weeks. Other changes that probably did not affect the feel as much as the new valving were a new set of tires and increased front fork preload. I used the stock springs. All of the replaceable parts in the forks (bushings, seals, etc) were renewed. The bike has 36k miles on the clock, and the original fork oil was dark but not thick soup. I came back with RT’s suggested 5 wt oil.

    Race Tech’s customer service was great. I pestered their inside Tech Support guys with questions and they patiently answered everything. Mike Crow - their outside Tech man was over the top. He returned my call, was more than friendly, emailed me the custom valving instructions, and was every company’s dream Tech Support guy.

    One thing you should know. The damping is handled by a stack of shims atop a small aluminum disk (a tiny puck) with holes machined through it. When you hit a bump the oil forces the shims to bend and the oil squirts through the holes. Stiffer forks have a thicker stack of shims (less bending, less oil flow). Plush valving has fewer shims. Race Tech specifies four levels of damping for the compression and four for the rebound valves. The difference between any one of the levels is one 17 mm dia x .1.5mm thick shim. If #1 is used for the softest (plush) valving, and #4 for the stiffest, my ‘custom’ setup was Level 2 compression and Level 3 rebound. RT suggests Level 3 Comp as standard.

    So, was this worth $400? I went into this hoping for an improvement, and figuring if there was none to my liking it was worth the investment. Short answer is yes. Longer answer is in the 3rd paragraph above. A smoother ride will let me enjoy the bike more and not wear me out as quickly on long rides.

    Now for the elephant in the room. Does anyone have recommendations for rear shocks that might match my improved ride up front? I’ve read about several people who have had problems with RT rebuilt shocks, but no complaints about Honda’s stock rear shock. Are any aftermarket rear shocks as durable as the OEM? And as compliant as the Gold Valves?

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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    Race tech makes a shock

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    Be Thou My Vision dduelin's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    A RT revalving of the OEM shock has worked great for me at 165-170 lb riding weight. I'm not aware of longevity problems with a RT massaged shock at least on this forum. Frankly I can't believe it's been 100,000 miles ago. I check the rebound action now and then to ascertain the shock is still working properly and has the same rebound properties I dailed the last check.

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    VFRedrider's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    Thanks for the write on the Race Tech Gold Valves! Good feed back.

    One question: what is your normal ride load? i.e. One-up? 2-up? Heavy or Light rider. I'm 6' and 235 lbs. Just trying to calibrate for my possible needs.
    Also, which springs are you using? I made the suggested Sonic switch and I'm not totally impressed. Good ride height but, jittery and a bit over sprung. I'm reducing the preload spacer this weekend to look for an improvement.
    ...jus' keepin' the shiny bits up and the rubbery bits down

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    L Plate Rider TerryS's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    Quote Originally Posted by VFRedrider View Post
    Thanks for the write on the Race Tech Gold Valves! Good feed back.

    One question: what is your normal ride load? i.e. One-up? 2-up? Heavy or Light rider. I'm 6' and 235 lbs. Just trying to calibrate for my possible needs.
    Also, which springs are you using? I made the suggested Sonic switch and I'm not totally impressed. Good ride height but, jittery and a bit over sprung. I'm reducing the preload spacer this weekend to look for an improvement.
    The "jittery" ride is more likely due to the restrictive compression damping built into the stock fork than solely due to the spring. The Honda HMAS valve bodies have very small ports, which means they restrict the oil flow on a bigger hit, and transfer more force to the chassis. Aftermarket valve bodies have much larger ports and rely more on the shim stacks to provide resistance. The benefit here is that with high oil velocity, the shim stacks are deflected away from the valve sealing face and thus the wheel is able to follow a bump more easily and transfer less shock to the chassis.

    For reference, I have Gold Valves (either real Racetech parts or near equivalents) in my VFR800, VTR1000 and ST1100, and have spent lots of time experimenting with set-up. The stock forks on all these are good quality parts but they need some fine tuning of the springs and dampers to get the best ride and handling.

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    mlheck mlheck's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    While a person or two on this forum has bashed the Racetech rebuilt shock, I am with dduelin. I have actually owned and ridden a Racetech rebuilt shock for over 40K miles, a great deal of this 2 up with no issues. My Wife really noticed a difference in how compliant the bike was when hitting the before mentioned frost heaves. It may not be the BEST option, but when factoring in "Bank For the Buck" I have no complaints.

    Sonic ALWAYS recommends a much heavier spring in the forks than does Racetech. My wife bought me a set of 1.1 Sonic springs one year for Christmas and that is what lead me on my suspension upgrade adventure. In the end I found that the Racetech settings gave me the best results.
    Michael Heck
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    Site Supporter roginoz's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    I ran my Race Tech rebuilt OEM rear shock for about 50K miles before having it rebuilt a second time. Prior to the first rebuild, I spoke with one of the Race Tech reps at the IMS show in Dallas. He told me that they'd be happy to sell me a G-3, but that for the type of riding I described to him the OEM rebuild would work just fine. Race Tech did put a heftier spring on during the first rebuild, to match my weight.
    Roger Smith
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    L Plate Rider TerryS's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    Quote Originally Posted by mlheck View Post
    While a person or two on this forum has bashed the Racetech rebuilt shock, I am with dduelin. I have actually owned and ridden a Racetech rebuilt shock for over 40K miles, a great deal of this 2 up with no issues. My Wife really noticed a difference in how compliant the bike was when hitting the before mentioned frost heaves. It may not be the BEST option, but when factoring in "Bank For the Buck" I have no complaints.

    Sonic ALWAYS recommends a much heavier spring in the forks than does Racetech. My wife bought me a set of 1.1 Sonic springs one year for Christmas and that is what lead me on my suspension upgrade adventure. In the end I found that the Racetech settings gave me the best results.
    I think you're right about this. According to Sonic I should have 1.1 kg/mm springs in my ST1100; I bought some, and didn't care for them, just too stiff. I happened to have a surplus set of 0.90 springs from my VFR, and have been exceedingly happy with these, plus the re-valved front-end. The Racetech recommendation is 0.93 or near offer.

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    VFRedrider's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    I realize that when you make changes to one end, it affects the other BUT, this thread was about the OP's write-up on the Gold Valve system for the forks. How did we get to Racetech rear rebuilds? I know my original rear shock is likely done (75k mi.) but, I don't need to be reminded!

    TerryS, I think you are on to something with Sonic's rating being a little on the high side. I put the 1.1 kg/mm in too and I think they are over sprung. I haven't got to the pre-load spacers yet. (I lost the momentum after another 60+ hour workweek...) The first step will be to take an inch out of the PVC. Another thought was to replace the spacer with a piece of the original springs. It's gonna take a little figurin' to come up with a length that will keep the ride height in the range and the rate correct.

    I do think the Gold Valve up-grade is in the future. Unfortunately, (or maybe not!!) Nor-Cal winter riding season is nigh. The best time of the year IMHO. Hard to get up for tearing into things when it's so nice outside!

  10. #10
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    SMSW's Avatar
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    Re: Race Tech Gold Valves, a Review

    Quote Originally Posted by VFRedrider View Post
    I do think the Gold Valve up-grade is in the future. Unfortunately, (or maybe not!!) Nor-Cal winter riding season is nigh. The best time of the year IMHO. Hard to get up for tearing into things when it's so nice outside!
    Installing the RT GV's is really an easy and relatively quick job. I said in another thread I was intimidated by the several maintenance items I had planned and I did not want to lose riding time. However, the fork oil leak on my bike made me do it now. Little things have a way of becoming bigger and I was afraid dirt in the seal might scratch/erode the fork slider. I pulled the tupperware, front wheel, fender, brake lines, and then the forks slide right out of the clamps. Taking them apart was about as easy as anything I have ever done. Sure gremlins can raise their heads, but you can always stop and reassemble the forks instead of fighting a stuck bolt. I'm sure guys like Igofar can do this blindfolded in one short day. It took me a whole lot longer because I did not work straight through and tend to clean and polish the plastic before it goes back on. (Order parts and gather materials before you begin).

    In the end, the enjoyment of the improved ride was worth the downtime. I almost cannot believe the improvement.
    Last edited by SMSW; 10-12-2017 at 03:50 PM. Reason: spellling correction

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