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Albion Shock Absorbers by Ikon Suspension

test ride

Old age is not always a good thing. Take the shocks on your '77 Suzuki GS750 or '68 Triumph Bonneville. They might look OK, but even when they were new, the shocks on many of our favorite vintage bikes were considered junk right out of the box, with period testers peeving over poor performance and early failure. Seventies Japanese shocks were particularly bad, but there was a lot of poor product coming out of England and Italy at that time, too.

The telltale of worn shocks is a bouncy ride, with poor spring control and almost zero rebound control. And control loss is more than just a performance issue, it's a safety issue, too. That makes bolting on a new set of shocks one of the single best ways to improve the ride and handling on older bikes. Better yet, it's typically a quick, easy job, making it somewhat ironic that more owners don't look at a shock upgrade as a first point of ride and handling improvement. We appreciate the aesthetic argument — modern shocks don't always look right on vintage bikes — but there are good options for swapping out that tired set of shocks that look right, as we found installing a set of Ikon's new Albion Series shock absorbers on Tech Q&A man Keith Fellenstein's 1968 Triumph Bonneville.

Created by Ikon USA for the U.S., Canadian and South American markets (and not available elsewhere), the new Ikon Albion was specifically designed for '60s, '70s and '80s Brit bikes, although clearly they would work on a host of Japanese and Italian bikes, as well. Fully rebuildable, they feature a 12mm piston rod and are available with any one of six different Ikon Tri-Rate springs to suit different rider weights and loads and feature adjustable spring preload. Damping is fixed, but Ikon says damping can be adjusted internally to suit rider preference. Currently available in lengths from 12-inch to 13.5-inch, Albion shocks are finished in black with chrome springs for a classic vintage look. More importantly, performance is miles better than anything you could buy back when your classic bike was new.

The old shocks on Keith's Bonneville were in typically bad condition: the eyelet mounting bushings were shot; the springs were sagging; and the shocks were "flat," with no or limited rebound. The Bonneville actually rode kind of OK, but I found myself unconsciously taking it easy because of the old shocks' limited performance. Ten minutes of wrenching later, a back-to-back ride with the new Ikon Albions installed proved just how bad Keith's old shocks were. Instead of bouncing and wallowing over uneven surfaces, the back end of the Bonneville is now absolutely planted. Spring load control is linear and sure, and the Ikon shocks' excellent rebound qualities transform the ride and the rider's sense of control. The improvement is so pronounced, it's almost like riding a different bike.

Adding to the good news is the price. $350 a pair may not seem like pocket change, but considering the quality and performance, we think the Ikon Albions are an excellent buy. You can spend less, but you'll get less, and you'll never regret buying quality.

SnapJack V2 by Tirox Products

test ride

Bikes without a centerstand are at a serious disadvantage when it comes time to clean or adjust the final drive chain because there's no easy way to get the rear wheel off the ground. A small hydraulic jack sometimes works — if there's enough room and you can find a solid purchase on the frame — but typically it's an exercise in frustration.

A nifty solution comes courtesy of Tirox Products and the SnapJack V2. Designed to simplify chain and wheel maintenance on bikes without a centerstand, the SnapJack is an extremely simple tool. First, lock the front brake handle with the included hook-and-loop locking strap. With the bike on the side-stand, position the SnapJack 3-4 inches away from the side of the rear tire. Place the cradle up against the swingarm with the upper leg at about a 30-degree angle to the lower leg, then push against the top of the lower leg of the SnapJack to lift the bike, followed by inserting a locking pin to hold it in place. That's it. An aggressive cleat at the bottom keeps it from sliding on most surfaces, and it comes with an anti-skid pad for working on smooth or painted concrete. Adjustable, it has a total extension of approximately 12 inches at its shortest and 13.5 inches at its longest. I tried it out on my son's quasi-café'd 1972 Honda CB350 that he's running sans centerstand, and it worked perfectly. Of note, I found that the closer I positioned it to the rear wheel axle, the better it worked. Used in conjunction with Tirox's innovative 360 Degree Chain Brush (Test Ride, January/February 2018), it made chain maintenance a breeze. Suggested retail: $51.95.

2018 Andy Tiernan Classics Calendar

2018 Calendar

The 2018 Andy Tiernan Classics calendar showcases great 2-stroke motorcycles from England. With lead pencil and watercolor artwork by Mike Harbar, featured bikes include the 1924 Dunelt Model C, the 1929 Scott Squirrel, the 1940 S.O.S. Magnetic and more. Important dates in the U.K. classic bike scene are noted, and all proceeds from the calendar sales go to the East Anglian Air Ambulance, a non-profit ambulance service that has saved the lives of many motorcyclists. $13.20 (at press time).

Float Pin Remover by Randakk’s Cycle Shakk

Float Pin

Honda specialists Randakk’s Cycle Shakk have available a neat little tool to help remove stubborn float pins with less risk of breaking the float pin posts, a familiar issue for owners of older Japanese motorcycles with float pins that have seized over time. Sized specifically to work with carburetors supplied on Honda GL1000 through GL1500 and Honda CBX, CX500 and DOHC Honda fours, it will work on any carburetor with 24mm- to 26.75mm-long float pins. Comes with full directions for use. $29.99.

MOTOAUCT Vintage Motorcycle Auction Site

Sell your Bike

Looking for an alternative to traditional auctions, eBay or Craigslist for buying and selling vintage bikes? Created by vintage bike enthusiasts Jason Delacroix and Jason Williams, MOTOAUCT is a new online vintage motorcycle auction site offering buyers and sellers an easier way to find and sell. Sellers and buyers are vetted, and the online format means sellers don’t have to hassle with shipping bikes to auction and buyers don’t have to hassle with immediate, on-site shipping.

Brass-Bladed Gasket Scraper by Motion Pro

Gasket Scraper

This brass-bladed gasket scraper from the motorcycle tool pros at Motion Pro is ideal for scraping gaskets off aluminum faces, which can be easily damaged with steel scrapers or razor blades. The ergonomic handle is machined from 6061 billet aluminum and also doubles as storage for an extra blade. The scraper’s narrow, slant-cut blade is designed specifically for thin engine cases. Replacement blades, including brass and steel, are available. $24.99.

The Wark Shop

Harley-Davidson with sidecar

The Wark Shop, owned by Bob Wark in Marietta, Ohio, specializes in the sale and installation of motorcycle sidecars with over 20 years of experience in sidecar mounting and alignment. There are four brands of sidecars available for purchase from the Wark Shop, including Velorex, Champion, Watsonian and Trans-Moto. Already have a sidecar and want to install it yourself but have questions or need advice? Contact Bob by phone from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern time, seven days a week, or email your phone number.

The Wark Shop
1955 County Road 9
Marietta, OH 45750

740-374-4250 (office)
740-538-4746 (home)