Sunday, November 14, 2010

Product Review: Progressive Suspension 465 Series Shock

Stock suspension isn’t as bad today as it was back in the days when everyone swore the factories used fish oil for damping fluid, but that doesn’t mean it’ll never wear out. After 31,000 miles the rear shock on my 650 V-Strom was starting to feel limp, so I checked into a new one. The retail price of the OE unit—a breathtaking $1,006.04—suggested it was filled with diamonds, not fish oil. My next stop was Progressive Suspension’s website, where I was happy to see a new 465 Series shock priced at $745.90.

This particular gas-charged 465 has a remote hydraulic preload adjuster like the stocker, and if you’ve ever tried to get a preload wrench around a monoshock buried in the innards of a bike, you know an external adjuster is a good thing. The shock body is made of aluminum, and the shock rod has a diameter of 46mm. Other features include deflective disc damping, a threaded body so you can make fine adjustments in sag, and a five-way rebound damping adjuster.

The remote preload adjuster comes with a bracket that bolts to the frame tabs where the stock adjuster fits. The bracket angles the knob slightly, making it easier to grasp. The mechanic who installed the shock for me said he would have liked the line running from the adjuster to the shock to be about an inch longer, since there wasn't any slack at all in it once everything was bolted down, but he didn’t think there’d be a problem with it the way it was.

The difference in price is a compelling enough reason to go for the 465 instead of the stock shock, but people expect better performance from aftermarket shocks, especially one the manufacturer advertises as a “high-performance” unit. The problem with replacing a worn-out, high-mileage stock part with a shiny new aftermarket one is that the difference in performance is liable to be significant and therefore misleading.

Compared to my old shock, the 465 was better, but not hugely so. I ride a lot of backroads around my home town, and I know which bumps to avoid. Before I swapped shocks, I put in a few laps of a local circuit of twisties and deliberately hit the worst bumps on the route. After installing the 465, I did it again. The difference in compliance over the nasty bits was the difference between being in a fistfight and a pillow fight. Where the stock shock hit so hard it lifted me off the seat at times, the 456 rounded off the sharp edges and kept the rear wheel more under control—and my rear end in the saddle.

On the highway the difference between the stock shock and the 465 was about the same as on the backroads, a slightly smoother ride with better control over freeway expansion joints.

Overall there was nothing about the 465 that made me jump up and down and say “Wow!” But that’s all right, because I figure most people are going to buy one because their stock shock is worn out, and the 465 outdoes the original in enough small ways to make the price differential compared to stock even sweeter.

The 465 series shock comes in stock height and a 1-inch-lower height for the 650 and 1000 V-Strom, ST1300, Road Star, KLR650, Raider, M109R, and several others; check Progressive Suspension’s website to see if there’s an application for your model.—Jerry Smith

1 comment:

  1. Cool - good to know they are still making good shocks.