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I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading every suspension thread I could find here to help with choosing a shock upgrade, so thanks to everyone who wrote about their suspension adventures. As I just fitted my Scrambler Icon with a single-adjustable shock from SB Suspension and have ridden it a couple hundred miles since, I thought I’d contribute my little bit to the forum with a review.

I decided on the SB Streetfighter shock because I wanted a premium shock (it’s made by JRi), preferably one that doesn’t have to cross an ocean to get a rebuild (I live in Colorado), and am not concerned about adjustability as long as the spring and shock are initially chosen and set up by a suspension expert familiar with the Scrambler (thanks SBKen!). I contacted Ken Hall at SB, gave him my riding weight (195 lbs) and style (mostly a lack thereof), and ordered the shock. Three weeks later (any delay understandable since it’s the height of the racing season), I had the new shock in my hands.

The installation took about two hours from cutting down an 8mm Allen wrench to putting the tools away. Having done it once, it would be easy change the shock in 30 minutes the next time. I used the scissor-jack-between-the tire-and-rear-frame technique (I think Smifff originated this, brilliant!). The shock fit nicely in the swingarm pocket, no shim needed there, and the included bolt and plastic spacers for the upper mount fit well. The reservoir mounted easily and doesn’t interfere with anything. Interestingly, the SB shock even with the reservoir is noticeably lighter than the stock shock/spring.

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Throwing a leg over the bike with the new shock mounted, I immediately felt the ride height was higher, no doubt because of the low preload I had used to make the stock shock bearable. I’m not exploring the edges of my tires on a regular basis, but that gave the bike a noticeable tendency to turn-in slower and run wide. Not very Ducati-like. Needless to say, my Scrambler handles sharper with proper sag.

Riding felt noticeably smoother within the first few hundred yards out of my garage. If I had to pick just one word to describe the Scrambler rear end with the SB shock, it wouldn't be "cushy" or "plush", it would be “smooth”. The stock shock transmitted every pavement irregularity such that if you rode over a dime you could confidently say if it was heads or tails. Maybe not quite that bad, but harsh. The SB turns the volume way down on the road roughness. Many smaller bumps are almost disappear, felt almost entirely through the forks now. I rode a 20 mile stretch of mediocre pavement a few days ago with the intention of testing how the shock behaved, but got into the ride (it was a pretty evening on a winding road, and there were wild turkeys crossing the road, and then some buffalo with calves just off the road, etc.) and realized afterward I wasn’t even aware of the rear suspension. It just worked as it should and let me enjoy riding the bike. The stock shock never let you forget it was there, like a jealous girlfriend at a party.

The ride on the SB shock, aside from handling bumps hugely better, feels firm and controlled. Sharp-edged bumps (such as where there are manhole covers recessed a couple of inches below the surface of concrete pavement) caused the stock shock to deliver a hard, bouncing jolt that could chip your teeth (I would often stand on the pegs to avoid the hit). With the SB, there is, of course, still a distinct bump felt, but it’s both considerably lesser and the bike feels sure-footed through it. Likewise in turns on rippled asphalt, it gives me a lot better feel and more confidence that the rear won't take a hop to the outside.

So yes, the SB shock works exceedingly well on the Scrambler. Better handling and hugely better ride, what’s not to like? Well, there are drawbacks. The SB is not inexpensive. However, it's not out of family for the various Scrambler aftermarket shocks. Since I’m expecting to keep the Scrambler a long time, I thought better to “buy the best and only cry once”, as the saying goes. Aesthetically, having the shock reservoir sticking out a bit on the left side of the tank is a subjective call, but I find it reminiscent of dirt bikes I rode in the 70s and 80s (as does the Scrambler itself) and like it. Did have a laugh one day, a guy looking at the bike saw the reservoir and the tube going under the tank and asked me if it was a nitrous oxide system.

The real number one drawback of the SB shock was a little unexpected – because of it, I will definitely have to do something about the forks. The forks were never more than marginally okay, but since my arms and shoulders soak up impact a lot better than my butt and spine, the stock shock got voted off the island first. Being spoiled by the now-excellent rear suspension, I very distinctly feel far more bump impact coming up through the forks now, and don't like it. I see a fork kit (or something) in my future. I guess I’m sort back to where I started – reading fork mod reviews here to see which way to go…

ChuckZ
 

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Good timing... I reached out to Ken yest because I realized he's in my area now (Nashville,TN). He responded promptly & was nice & knowledgeable. I'm prob going to have him do my FTP, just not sure on my timing. He gave me several good price options including Ohlins & SB


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