ELKA LEGACY SUSPENSION TEST
— A better ride for cheap —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels —
Most sport quad riders are weekend warriors who love upgrading their machines. One of the smartest purchases you can make is in the suspension department. A lot of riders think that adding power parts will make your quad faster. That can be true; however, if you don’t have the suspension to handle the added power, you won’t go much faster. While racers get the best and most tunable shocks they can find, most of us just want something better than stock that won’t break the bank. Elka Suspension offers many different levels and variations of shocks. Their Legacy Series shocks fit our 2003 Kawasaki KFX400 and go for $999.99 for the whole set. The KFX400 is identical to the more common Suzuki LTZ400, so all of these mods apply to the Suzuki as well.
Our KFX400 came with preload-only adjustable front shocks that are now 15 years old. They were okay when the quad was new, but now we generously call them “pogo sticks.” You can’t adjust the damping of these shocks, and the oil is only in the smallish shock body, which means they get hot and fade quickly while riding. That leaves you with a rough and uncontrolled ride. Elka’s Legacy front shocks are a piggyback reservoir-type that come with compression and spring preload adjustment and a triple-rate spring setup that Elka selects based on your weight and desired type of riding. The triple-rate spring setup gives you a smoother and more comfortable ride while going slow or fast.
The rear shock of our Kawasaki does have a piggyback reservoir and a compression adjustment, so it could be modified and made to perform like new or better with fresh oil, a new shock bumper and the correct spring rate, but that would cost more than the new Elka Legacy rear shock. Fortunately, the Legacy Series set comes with a rear shock that is low-speed compression, spring preload and rebound adjustable, and has a dual-rate-spring setup and comes tuned for you. The reservoir is remote and mounts easily to the frame of the Kawi. Installation of all three shocks is simple and easy enough that you can do it yourself if you have the right hand tools.
TESTING THE SETUP
We set up a good loop of whoops, rocks, sand and tight trails to test the new shocks on. We did one loop with the stock shocks, then replaced them with the Elkas right at the riding area. Our first impressions were all about comfort. After making a few slight low-speed compression adjustments, the Legacy shocks soaked up the slow-speed chop and rocky sections a lot better than the stockers. We were able to pound through whoops and rail sand corners with more confidence and speed. The shocks felt like they were tuned just right for the rider’s weight and riding style. Naturally, we wished the front shocks had a rebound adjustment, but that added expense doesn’t make sense for a weekend trail-riding quad. The owner loved the new ride it gave his ATV, and was happy to pick up more control and speed for little more than the price of shock service! Go to www.elkasuspension.com to check out their full lineup of ATV and UTV shocks, or call (800) 557-0552.