Race Tech's Gold Valve Suspension Upgrade

Since the manufacturers are equipping their bikes with higher-quality suspension components than ever before, it seems a bit excessive to toss out the OEM units and install all-new aftermarket shocks and forks -- at least that seems to be the Race Tech philosophy. After sampling their conversion on our long-term ZX-7, we'd say they've got a point. 

Race Tech's Paul Thede disassembles the stock fork leg. He's shown here removing the fork cap from the cartridge assembly to access the fork's damping-valve internals.

The modifications to our ZX-7 were performed by California Sportbike Racing in Costa Mesa (714/642-0104). CSR is one of the growing number of outfits trained to perform Race Tech's upgrades. The total bill for upgrading the fork and shock came to $814.42, including parts, labor and fluid. Essentially, the suspension components are polished internally, then hardanodized in wear-critical areas and revalved for increased lowspeed damping (to better control dive and chassis pitch) and reduced high-speed damping (to offer more compliance over sharp-edged pavement imperfection). The shock gets a remote reservoir and compression-damping adjuster added for superior fade resistance (since the reservoir adds a nitrogen suspension-fluid separator and greater fluid volume) and adjustability. That's a simplification of what's involved and how it works in theory.

The stock cartridge valving (left) is far less sophisticated than the Gold Valve cartridge which replaces it. Race Tech can also upgrade noncartridge forks to function like cartridge units with its Emulator fork valve.

In practice, the Race Tech modifications exceeded our expectations. We put several thousand street miles on the bike and took it to Laguna Seca for a day of hot laps, and we were impressed with the suspension's compliance and its greatly improved chassis control and fade resistance. The ZX-7 is a great handler out of the box, yet it can be punishing on rough pavement. Race Tech's suspension upgrades offer adjustability and improved damping characteristics. They take a great bike and bike it significantly better. 

Race Tech upgraded the ZX-7's stock shock by adding the remote reservoir shown here, complete with a compression-damping adjuster. The shock's internals are polished and the valving changed. The shock body and remote canister and cap are hard-anodized.

Magazine : Sport Rider
Issue : December 1994