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Suspension Upgrade - Öhlins fork springs and shocks

dmonkey

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With about 2 months on my Ohlins suspension setup I figured I'd share my thoughts for anyone else interested. My motivation for upgrading was that I was frequently bottoming out the stock suspension off-road, and the bike would easily go into a bounce on-road which didn't inspire confidence at 40mph+, especially when cornering. I went with Ohlins because I've had good experiences with their products in the past and know there's a good chance they'll still be rebuildable if the bike lasts long enough to be an antique.

Ohlins doesn't sell their products direct, but a local shop is a distributor so I ordered the parts through them.
Ohlins FSK 161 HON CT125 TOP CAP & SPRING KIT - includes two different sets of fork springs, one set has a spring rate of 5.0 N/mm, one has a spring rate of 6.0 N/mm. The higher the rate number, the stiffer the spring. Not included but something you'll need: fork oil. Ohlins 10W is recommended.
Ohlins HO 029 Ohlins HON CT125 SHOCK - includes yellow and black springs, with yellow springs mounted. I swapped the yellow for the black to match the color scheme of the bike.

There are videos on YouTube for Ohlins and YSS fork kit and rear shock installs that can help give you an idea of what to expect.
The front fork kit install consists of pulling the forks, draining them, cleaning them, and reassembling with the new springs and top caps. The shop I ordered the parts through assisted with this. Removing the fork boots gave a little trouble, but everything else was straightforward.

The rear shock install was extremely easy done one at a time with the bike on the center stand. The hardest part was getting the snorkel hose back into place after disconnecting it, silicone spray lubricant helped with that. Read the included Ohlins instructions to see which way the shocks should face, almost every photo and video I've seen of them has had them installed backwards. You will need a deep well socket for the exhaust side bolt.

The rebound damping is the most noticeable improvement, and the suspension's travel is less abrupt feeling thanks to the stiffer springs in front and progressive springs in rear. For street and gravel or dirt road riding the recommended and default settings have worked fine for me. For more technical trail riding and washboard dirt or gravel roads it was a bit more comfortable with some preload removed. You still feel the bumps bucking the bike around on washboard roads, but it's much more tolerable than with the stock suspension, and it's in control enough to go faster on them.

The Ohlins setup addressed both issues I was having, I'm no longer bottoming out the suspension and the bike no longer goes into a rebound bounce. Adjustability is easy enough that I'll do it for a day of trail riding, but otherwise my use of the bike is pretty mixed so I keep the preload at or near the default settings which seem like a good balance.

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June 2023 long term review update: Still very happy with the Ohlins suspension setup front and rear. Have played with the adjustments a bit over more terrain and load weights and I found that it's very easy to adjust on the road. Can adjust rebound by turning the black adjuster wheel by hand. There's a small tool for adjusting the preload which packs small and doesn't require the same space as a typical shock spanner so you can adjust it without taking off the snorkel or exhaust.
Here's a better product page for the rear shocks: https://www.ohlinsusa.com/parts/2020-2021-honda-ct-125-mini-s36-shock-ho-029
Would I buy it again? Yes. Upgrading the suspension in general was a huge improvement on my CT125. If you're not jut putzing around the yard on this bike I would highly recommend it, even if you go with cheaper upgrades.
 
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Mick In VT

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Nov 18, 2021
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Thanks for the review. I think I was bottoming out the stock suspension on hard hits (and only weigh about 140). I went the easy route with Chimera fork caps to add preload (I wasn’t seeing rave reviews of the YSS front spring kit and wasn’t aware of the Ohlins when I made my purchase). Quality rear shocks (Kitaco-Gears on mine) have made a huge difference in comfort and control. For all of you riding anything but smooth pavement, start saving your pennies for improved suspension!
 

ASI125

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Jun 24, 2022
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Where did you order them from? I have had the FSK-161 on order for a few months, date keeps pushing back.
 

dmonkey

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My local motor sports shop is an Ohlins dealer so I ordered through them and had the parts shipped to the shop.
 

ASI125

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Thanks, I will try them. I ordered them from another online vendor back in March.
 

dmonkey

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I imagine there will likely still be a wait. I had them place the Ohlins order with a deposit 10/5/2021, the fork kit arrived 4/14/2022 and the shocks arrived 4/26/2022.
 

1wrenchguy

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Jun 22, 2022
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Awesome, thank you for sharing. This was one of the mods I was anticipating to do. I've only have 70 miles on my trail, all done yesterday. My go easy break in-period only lasted 5miles, which was mostly due to people in California driving like ass. Boy the weed smell every 1/2 hr.

I weigh 185lbs and did notice on tarmac, when I got a bit of lift at speed I was nearing limits or the rears, possibly even bottoming out. Which spring rate did you end up using in the front?
 

dmonkey

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I'm around 140 lbs and went with the 6.0 N/mm set of springs up front and haven't found them to be too stiff, nor have I noticed bottoming them out yet even with a bit of jumping.
 

1wrenchguy

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I'm around 140 lbs and went with the 6.0 N/mm set of springs up front and haven't found them to be too stiff, nor have I noticed bottoming them out yet even with a bit of jumping.
Nice, good to know!
Coming off my 450x and street bikes I need to ease off from riding like that on the CT. I am slowly learning to enjoy the silence and enjoying the scenery. This little thing is growing on me. Thanks again for sharing.
 

Plotus

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Jun 5, 2023
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You know a plethora of racks and guards don't help weight or balance. My opinion is work out the suspension then add racks. See what becomes top heavy or awkward. It's all too compelling to go comando with all the gear. Kinda why a milk crate and bungees gained such popularity.
 
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dmonkey

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Not a fan of farkles? :LOL:
Most of them make the bike more usable for me, which is among the reasons why I bought a bike of such utility. I strapped a milk crate to my CT125 before leaving the dealership. They're a cheap and simple solution but lack weather protection, concealment, and locking. I've since replaced the Givi top case with a significantly lighter Expedition 134 storage tote.
 

m0t0-ryder

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Jul 18, 2023
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The Ohlins site (and other places) indicate the fork kit is for 2020 thru 2022 models.
Will it fit/work on my 2023 JA65?
How about the 2024 model?

If it does fit the newest models, why doesn't Ohlins (and others) update their sales info?
 

dmonkey

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There are parts revisions to the front suspension between the JA55 and JA65, specifically the fork spring, collar, and seat per the part number updates in the parts catalogs (assuming those are correct). Probably minor changes. My guess is that like many other companies they may not have got their hands on the latest CT125 to confirm compatibility. Best to reach out to them directly if you are looking for their confirmation.

Others have installed both the HO 029 rear shocks and the FSK 161 front fork springs on JA65 models already. For example here's a video from BNS Speed Shop out of Thailand:
 
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