UTV UPGRADES: SHOCK THERAPY SPRING KIT
Are you looking for better performance out of your side-by-side? Start by upgrading your suspension!
Even electronic suspension systems benefit enormously with a simple shock-spring upgrade. By the staff of Dirt Wheels
If you ask any off-road racer where to begin when it comes to boosting stock side-by-side performance, they’ll tell you to start with the suspension. Turbos, superchargers, and other engine modifications are pointless if you can’t keep the wheels on the ground.
Our 2021 Honda Talon R Live Valve Edition was mostly stock as far as performance goes, but we’ve added several bolt-on goodies over time, such as a 32-inch tire and wheel kit, a spare tire carrier, a soft bag in the bed loaded with tools, and cargo, which added to the machine’s poundage. The stock Fox Live Valve shocks performed decently from mid to top speed, but they would rattle a bit at slower speeds over choppy and/or rocky terrain. With just 1500 miles on the odometer, we also noticed one of our rear stock springs was beginning to show noticeable sag.
You can order the spring kit and install it yourself with the help of instructions and videos on the Shock Therapy website, or you can remove and ship your shocks to them for the service. Refer to the website for shipping instructions. If you’re local, you can take the entire car to Shock Therapy, like we did.
At Shock Therapy HQ in Phoenix, Arizona, we met with our installation technician, Lonnie Leonelli. We already supplied him with information on added aftermarket parts, the type of terrain we typically ride, and how many occupants are normally in the car. In our case, the answer was a driver and passenger. It’s even more important to get that last question right if you own a four-seater. “When people bring their car in, they often claim that they are riding with four passengers 90 percent of the time, so we set the car up for that,” said Leonelli. “They go out and drive it solo, but it’s sprung for 700 to 800 pounds of passenger weight, so it’s going to be stiff. When you schedule appointments, it’s important to be realistic about the weight you carry.”
One of the advantages to having the technicians at Shock Therapy complete all labor is the extra attention your shocks receive. “We set up preload and crossover on the shocks, clean the shocks up (hot oil bath), put a reservoir cap on them, charge them up with 200 psi, and then we will spring them up, bolt them back on, set the ride height, and it’s good to go,” said Leonelli. Shock Therapy also installs a Schrader valve on the reservoirs for simpler nitrogen recharging.
ELECTRONIC SUSPENSION SYSTEMS NEED LOVE, TOO
There is a common misconception that electronic suspension systems are fixed and can’t be upgraded, but that simply isn’t true. “You can re-valve the shocks, work with internals and treat it like any standard shock,” claimed Leonelli. “Just upgrading the springs makes a night-and-day difference. Stock springs lose their tensile strength quickly. Our springs are much higher quality.”
With the installation complete, our first test stop was Johnson Valley, California, during the King of the Hammers event. To call the terrain here rough and technical would be an understatement, but it’s perfect for testing at lower speeds.
It didn’t take us long to realize that our stock Honda Talon now handled like an entirely different animal. On washboard and rocky trails, our teeth no longer chattered as the suspension floated over the bumps, but without that uneasy disconnected feel at the steering wheel. The tires gripped the terrain, remained planted and tracked straight, never wandering. It gave us all the confidence we needed to head for the deep whoop-de-doos and mash the gas pedal.
With the Live Valve switched from the Normal mode to Sport mode, we attacked row after row of deep sandy whoops. The Talon’s suspension went to work as the chassis remained more level than it ever had. The difference is shocking and addicting all at once. We found ourselves seeking out the roughest trails we could find. The results were always the same—straight tracking and plush suspension feel. The change in suspension performance is incredible!
Our testing continued in the Arizona desert where we discovered that Live Valve is also enhanced with the addition of new springs. The difference when switching between Normal and Sport suspension modes is much more prominent. One of our favorite features of Live Valve is the system’s ability to firm up the outside shocks when cornering at speed. It works even better with stronger springs that are set up for the car’s actual weight and payload. Railing around corners through sand washes is crazy fun. We can’t wait to get our new, better-handling Talon out in the sand dunes!
BEST PERFORMANCE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
If you want to go faster and keep your passengers smiling at the same time, Shock Therapy is the place to start. You can order the Honda Talon spring kit for $600 and do the work yourself, or you can do like we did and take the car to Shock Therapy where it will get the VIP treatment that ensures it’s set up properly. Your shocks will also look and perform better than new! It will run you about $290 extra, but it’s more than worth the extra coin if you don’t know how to set up your suspension.
Tel: US/Canada (623) 217-4959
Tel: Mexico (602) 780-2017
23011 N 16th Ln
Phoenix, AZ 85027