916/748 Suspension Guide


Due to the number of variables involved it can be pretty hard to get the suspension setting on the 996/916 right. This following article published in the October 1999 edition of Performance Bikes magazine Is a good place to start.

DUCATI 996

DAUNTED BY YOUR BIKE’S MYRIAD SUSPENSION ADJUSTERS? FILLED WITH FEAR AT THE PROSPECT OF TWEAKING AND TWIDDLING THOSE CURIOUS LITTLE SCREWS? THINK THAT PRELOAD MEANS PACKING YOUR PANNIERS THE NIGHT BEFORE A TOURING TRIP? RECKON A SETUP IS THE SOLE PRESERVE OF CORRUPT COPPERS? LOSE YOUR TECHNOPHOBIA, DESIGNED TO HELP YOU GET THE VERY BEST FROM YOUR BIKE’S SUSPENSION.

Glossary

PRELOAD The amount of tension on the suspension springs.
SAG The amount the suspension moves when the bikes weight is lifted off it.
LOADED SAG The amount the suspension moves down when the rider sits on the bike.
COMPRESSION This controls the downward movement of the suspension
REBOUND This controls the upwards movement of the suspension.
TRAVEL This is the distance the suspension travels while the bike is being ridden.
FORK HEIGHT The amount the fork legs protrude through the top fork yoke.
RIDE HEIGHT The distance between the rear axle and the tail piece.
STEERING HEAD ANGLE This is the angle of the forks from vertical.

996 SUSPENSION – PB RECOMMENDED SETTINGS

REAR SHOWA Static Sag 10mm (measured vertical from wheel spindle)

Loaded Sag 30mm

Compression Three turns

Rebound 1.5 turns

Ride Height Standard

Tyre Pressure 29psi Track 39psi Road

 

FRONT

Static Sag 22mm

Compression 10 clicks

Rebound 8 clicks

Fork Height 19mm

Tyre Pressure 31psi Track 35psi Road

Preload Six rings showing

Steering Head Angle Steep position (one degree less than standard)

 

THE SETUP

START

Bike set up can seem daunting at first because of the number of variables – rider weight, riding style, the list goes on. It’s impossible to give perfect settings that will work for every rider on every bike every time. What’s possible to acquire is an understanding of general suspension principles, which combined with the specifics of your own bike will help you master your suspension.

So this month we take Ducati’s 996 round the roller coaster ride that is Oulton Park, followed by a rigorous road workout, to find the best all-round setup.

To make this adjustment remove the locating dowel and loosen the two clamp bolts, then with a C-spanner turn the castellated nut under the top yoke clamp 180o. Refit the dowel and tighten the clamp bolts. The steering damper then needs repositioning to the forward position. The change to 23.5o will making the bike steer into corners faster and hold a tighter line through turns, the downsides are less straightline stability and a steering lock that doesn’t work, because the position of the top yoke has changed.

 

SETTINGS – THE STANDARD

On standard settings there was very little feedback from front or rear ends and the bike was very twitchy over bumps. As we went softer on compression and rebound the feedback got better and the bike became more stable. When we went too soft the rear wheel chattered under hard braking so we increased the front compression and rear rebound.

Once we were happy with the setup it was time to make it turn, so we reduced the steering head angle. This transforms the bike into making it possible to brake late into turns and still hold a tight line. The downside to this was the extra load on the front end caused the forks to bottom and the front wheel to chatter under hard braking. More front spring preload and compression damping had the problem sorted. The final problem we had was the rear end squirming exiting turns especially coming onto the start/finish straight. After no improvement was gained from stiffer rear suspension settings the 180 rear tyre was fitted. The increased grip and reduced the tyre flex making accelerating out of turns hard much less scary.

CONCLUSION

Because of the 996’s power characteristics it’s essential to carry loads of corner speed to achieve quick lap times, but unfortunately the standard Ducati suspension settings don’t encourage this kind of behaviour.

The stiff setup makes the Duke twitchy and unwilling to hold a tight line. Our setup makes the bike more supple so it soaks up the bumps and this in turn allows you to run less steering head angle so the bike will turn.

The narrow rear tyre also helps to increase corner and stability. The original fitment springs on the 996 are slightly too hard, this means they will work better with a heavier rider (Maxton recommended softer springs front and rear). But with our final setup they coped well on track and road, solo and two up.

For serious track use a steeper steering angle (i.e., more rear ride height combined with the steepened front) could be used but, for a good all-round track and road combination the set-up described here should get most Ducati riders out there doing Foggy imitations.

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