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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
It's been 3 weeks since I replaced the stock fork internals on my '07 650N with Andreani Misano cartridges. There aren't many reviews of the kit out there (both here and on other forums/YouTube), and I want to weigh in with my thoughts to help out anyone who's considering the mod.

I like to frame things as questions, so here's how I'll break this post down:
  1. Review.
    1. Who am I? What's my riding experience?
    2. Why did I get the Cartridges?
    3. How have they changed the bike?
    4. Would I recommend them?
  2. Installation.
    1. Would I recommend installing yourself?
    2. What tools do I need to install them myself?
    3. How do I install them myself?
REVIEW

Who am I? What's my riding experience?

For context, here's my rider profile: I'm 5'10, 165lbs. I've been riding for a little over a year. This is my first bike, and I've put about 4K miles on it, mostly around town and on several longer trips on twisty mountain roads across the PNW. I'm still a beginner, but I used to be an alpine ski racer - I'm familiar with the concepts of race lines and apexes, and I'm not afraid of speed or riding (safely 馃) near the limits of my ability.

Why did I get the Cartridges?
My bike's suspension was completely stock when I bought it last year. The stock suspension was fine when I was first learning, but as time went on I started to notice a problem: it was underdamped. The front dove every time I hit the front brakes or stopped on a hill, and high speed/high impact compression and rebound were downright unsafe. For example - I had my second crash when I hit a divot on a downhill curve at ~30mph when the front violently bottomed out. I was nearly thrown off the bike, and I accidentally opened the throttle up as the front rebounded too far and I was fighting to stay mounted. I lost my line, went off the side of the road, and tipped over on a grassy embankment. Thankfully, I wasn't hurt, and aside from a bent brake pedal and radiator, the bike wasn't either. The experience made me wary of trusting my suspension, and I decided to do something about it.

How have they changed the bike?
My SV handles like an entirely different, and better, bike. However, it wasn't an immediate improvement. The front was uncomfortably firm at first - minor road hazards like small potholes and cracks translated to uncomfortable jolts, and larger road hazards felt like someone was driving my tailbone up through my spine with a sledgehammer. It took a few days of playing with the preload, compression and rebound settings to dial it in. And it has paid off in a big way.

I feel like I can trust my suspension again. The ride is firm enough to inspire confidence during spirited street riding, but comfortable enough to ride all day. I still feel minor hazards, but just enough to know they're there. It's an informed road feel. Major hazards are still bad, but instead of diving and rebounding wildly like it did with the stock forks, the front grits its teeth and muscles through them. While it's best to avoid major hazards, I feel confident that I could hit the same divot that I crashed on without getting thrown.

So, the cartridges have unquestionably changed the bike for the better.

Would I recommend them?
Yes and no - it depends on your budget and how much improvement you need.

The cartridges weren't the first suspension mod I made. I first
bought and installed a YSS Z-series Rear Monoshock (model# MZ506-330TR-15). That completely transformed the bike, even without adjusting any of the settings, and I highly recommend replacing your rear shock. In fact, if you only have the budget for one upgrade, I recommend that over new fork internals. It felt so much more planted, and it really helped tame the underdamped front end.

I'd already bought the cartridges when I installed the YSS shock. But if I hadn't, I don't know that I would have...at least not right away. I think the rear shock upgrade alone would have increased the limits of the bike and what I feel comfortable doing on it, and it would've taken more time for me to catch up and want to push those limits further with a fork upgrade.

Installing the cartridges was also a pain in the ass. It wasn't hard - it just took a lot of time for me as a new DIY mechanic to learn about what I needed to do, and I had to buy and/or make some special tools for the job. Installing the rear shock was much, much easier.

So if you have the budget - yes, I absolutely recommend them. But if you could only make one suspension upgrade, I would say do the rear shock first. It's cheaper, pays big dividends, and is much easier to do.


INSTALLATION

Would I recommend installing yourself?
Yes and no - it depends on your experience and comfort level, budget, and free time.

I'm a relatively inexperienced DIY mechanic with a boatload of free time (thanks COVID economy). I learned a ton by doing the job myself, and I'm glad for that. But if I'm being honest...it was a huge pain in the ass. If I were to go back to square one, I think I would have disassembled the front end myself and sent the forks to a shop like Race Tech to get the cartridges installed. Sure, that adds another $300 or so on top of the $580 cost of the kit, but if you're starting from scratch, I think it's worth it. If you don't already have one, you'll need to drop $100-$200 on a fork spring compressor in addition to another $40-$100 for new fork oil and oil seals. And if you don't have a lathe, you'll need to spend $40-$140 on getting the ends of the internal tube milled for 2nd and 1st gen bikes (the 3rd gen is a simple drop in).

I managed to get it done by building a very janky spring compressor out of $50 worth of parts from the hardware store, and by taking my fork tubes to a local machine shop to get milled. But between the costs of getting those done and the amount of time it took to do them, I think I'd rather have had someone else do it for me.

So - if you're experienced, have the time and tools to install them - do it. It's not hard. But if you don't have the tools and want to save money by doing it yourself - you won't. Trust me. The costs in both money and time are high.

What tools do I need to install them myself?
If you're ignorant and arrogant like me, and decide you want to do it yourself from scratch, here's a list of the most important things you'll need. I wish someone had made this for me, because it would have saved me a TON of time:
  • A way to lift the bike so that the front wheel is suspended.
    • I used a rear paddock, bricks, 2x4's, and jack stands for a very questionable setup.
  • A way to measure/adjust fork oil level.
    • I did this with a syringe, a sharpie, and some clear vinyl tubing.
  • A way to mill the bottom of the inner fork tube (for 1st and 2nd gen bikes).
  • A way to clean rust off your forks + lower triple tree clamps.
  • Fork Spring Compressor.
  • Torque Wrench.
  • Breaker bar.
  • 8mm, 10mm, 14mm, 23mm(?) socket heads.
  • Grease.
  • Fork oil.
  • Oil seals.
How do I install them myself?
If you're dead set on doing it, here's a high level list of the steps you need to take. This also would have saved me a ton of time.

Please note this guide isn't comprehensive. I'll try to add some links to additional resources I found helpful later.

  1. Get your tools together. Make sure you have ALL of them. Everything you need.
  2. Lift the bike so the front wheel is suspended.
  3. Remove the front brake calipers.
  4. Remove the front mudguard.
  5. Remove the front wheel.
  6. Loosen, but don't remove, the top of the fork tubes. Easier to do now while they're secured.
  7. Remove the fork tubes.
  8. For each tube:
    1. Disassemble the tube. Dispose of the oil.
    2. Using a lathe or other milling method, remove 3-5mm of material from the bottom of the inner fork tube.
      1. There is a small lip that holds a reduction bush in place at the bottom of the tube. You need to completely remove this so the bush slides out.
    3. Reassemble the tube. Only use the oil seal, dust seal, spacer, and washer (the OEM damping components are useless now).
    4. Install the cartridge, securing it to the bottom of the tube with the damping rod bolt at the bottom of the outer tube.
    5. Remove the top of the cartridge. Set it to the correct adjustment (see the andreani instructions).
    6. Add new fork oil.
      1. Use a 130mm air gap. Adjust if you want.
      2. Bleed the system to remove air from the cartridge components.
        1. Slowly pump the inner fork tube ~10 times, til the "whooshing" or "gurgling" noise stops.
        2. Slowly pump the cartridge tube ~10 times, til the "whooshing" or "gurgling" noise stops.
    7. Using your spring compressor, install the top of the cartridge by screwing it onto the cartridge tube til it bottoms out.
      1. Secure it in place by threading the nut on the tube up til it meets the bottom of the cartridge top.
    8. Pull the inner tube up and screw it onto the cartridge top. BOOM! Tube assembled.
  9. Clean any rust off the tubes or triple tree clamps.
  10. Re-install the tubes.
  11. Re-install the wheel.
  12. Re-install the mudguard.
  13. Re-install the calipers.
  14. Lower the bike and clean up. Drink a beer. You're done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So help us all out, why not post the exact part number of the YSS Z-series shock?
Save us some time, since it looks like there's a bunch of 'em....


thanks,

T.
Sure, meant to go back and add it: MZ506-330TR-15

They have a chart that maps bikes to model numbers here.
 
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