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Much has been reported regarding the poor performance of the stock ST3 suspension. While feeling nice and plush in the showroom there is much to be desired for those wanting to push the "sporting" side of touring.

[begin rant]While the new ST3s resolves many of these issues, those of us with the ST3 are left "wallowing" through the twisties responding more to the suspension than to the road itself. [/end of rant]

So the research began.... Dicussing the issue on forums, reading magazine articles, and talking with suspension tuners to find the best for my needs on the ST3.

My riding consists of two-up about 30% of the time, and I have found this experience to be an "eye opening" experience to say the least with the stock rear shock. I was able to increase the pre-load to the maximum available, however the "little sachs shock that could" just ultimately wasn't up to the task. We all adapt and make it work, but I knew it could be much much better.

I needed a much stiffer spring to handle the weight of two-up riding, and much better control of the weight of the bike and rider in normal solo riding in twisty sporting conditions. I really wanted a shock which would allow the independent control of both high and low "velocity" compression.

I was hoping for much greater control in two-up riding situations and to eliminate the "wallowing" feeling and large suspension movements due to weight transfer during braking and cornering.

The answer for me was found in a Penske 8987 shock, custom valved for the ST3 and my weight and riding style. I went with a 700#/in spring, which is a significantly higher spring rate than the ~500#/in stock one.

The Penske 8987 has 30 levels of low-speed and 18 levels of high speed compression adjustability and 25 levels of rebound control. Overkill for a sport-touring bike? Perhaps, but the ability to independently adjust low-speed dampening (braking, cornering, general dips and rises) ideally meets the needs of those who "sport-tour" two-up.

Here's a few pictures of the installed unit in my ST3:

I had already added an adjustable ride height rod, but the Penske also comes with a ride height adjustment as well.

I've only been out on two rides since installing this rear shock but the initial reaction is WOW - and that I have a lot to learn now...

First I realized that I've been reacting more to the stock suspension than to the road itself - which had made my reflexes artificially slow. Everything seemed to be happening much quicker now, even at the same pace. It's almost like learning to ride a new bike all over again.

Then I realized that the softness of the stock suspension masks out the true feel of the road, and I immediately began to feel a much greater confidence level just with the sensation of being in better touch with the road surface.

Perhaps its mostly due to the new front forks (I'll be posting about these next), but even braking is better with less weight transfer. Oh yeah, there's also less weight transfer on acceleration which gives gets the front up in the air nicely :)

I've done little other than setting the sag as of yet, and I have much to learn about adjusting the shock, but I'm very satisfied so far and happy with the result.
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