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Rear Shock Oil

I wondered about changing the rear shock oil so I sent an email off to Belray. Here's how the conversation went:

Q. I have a 2000 Kawasaki Concours ZG1000 with 32,000 km's (20,000 miles) on the odometer. When should I be replacing the rear shock fluid ? I understand that you recommend your Racing Suspension Fluid; is that correct ? What weight would you recommend ? I usually ride solo, weigh about 175 lbs. Not an overly aggressive rider

A. The product you should use is Bel-Ray HVI Racing Suspension Fluid. In case you are unfamiliar with the the terminology, HVI stands for High Viscosity Index, which means that it contains a considerable amount of VI Improver. This is a polymer that shears with time and the oil viscosity will decrease. Check the fluid and if it appears to be thinner than when you poured it in, or if you notice a significantly different ride, it's time for a change. I suggest a 5W grade but if you want a slightly different feel to the ride, it can be fine tuned with a lighter or heavier grade. All grades are compatible. Note: HVI Racing Suspension Fluid is for the rear end only. Use High Performance Fork Oil for the front end

Q. How often would you suggest changing  the fluid ? I ride mostly highway and average about 20,000 miles per year ?"

A. I'm not trying to avoid your question but there's no one specific answer. If the ride you're getting is consistant, you're in good shape. The type of riding you say you're doing won't "shear" the viscosity to any great degree and you won't be generating a lot of heat to oxidize the oil and oil doesn't "wear out." Rather, it breaks down as the result of adverse conditions. Once again, if you're getting a comfortable ride, the oil is okay.

  • " I used 20W fork oil in mine. Worked a treat. With your lighter weight you may prefer 15W. 10W is what it comes from the factory with". - Boomer, COG Digest 2658
  • "I weigh about the same, and changed to 15WT Bel Ray Racing Suspension Fluid (RSF).  RSF is recommended over fork oil for rear shocks, not sure why but probably has to do with viscosity breakdown.  Damping action was remarkably improved, I run 20PSI in shock and #2 rebound setting.  This combo provides decent enough freeway ride and excellent control when carving up the twisties". - Ralph Spencer, COG Digest 2659

Article By: David J. Morrow

Updated January 2005

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