Rear Shock

This page contains information on tuning the existing Rear Shock Absorber, as well as some full replacement options lower down .

OEM shock

Katana 600 shock

SV650 shock

R6 shock (So far, the fanciest "no drilling required" replacement)


OEM Shock

The overly soft suspension of the GS500 is an issue for many users, particularly those who have a more aggressive riding style. The rear suspension can be improved in two ways, by tightening the preload on the rear shock or by replacing the rear shock.

Tightening the preload on the rear shock is a fairly quick and easy procedure. Adjusting preload is a means of changing the amount of sag, or the amount the suspension compresses with rider on board. Properly adjusted sag will ensure that the suspension doesn't bottom out or top out on bumps. Note that adjusting preload does not increase the stiffness of the suspension. Preload, as the name suggests, increases the initial loading on the spring, but does not change the spring rate. Therefore, if the spring is just too soft for you, this will not solve the problem.

You will need only the tool kit that came with your bike. The tool shaped like a crescent on a handle is used to manipulate the rear preload and the tool shaped like a tube with one end pinched fits onto the handle of the crescent tool to entend its reach. These are pictured below. If you have lost them they are available from motorcyclesuperstore.com

At the bottom of your rear shock there is a coller with gaps in it and numbers written on the side. The picture below is taken from the right side where it is easiest to adjust.

Fit the wrench into the holes in the collar so that the flat vertical piece is resting on the collar and the hooked end is inside the gaps. From the right side of the bike, twist the wrench towards the rear of the bike. As you reach each further preload setting the collar will click into place. You will need to remove and reseat the wrench every time you advance the collar because there is such a limited travel space for it.

If you wish to decrease the preload you will have to advance the collar all the way around until it comes back to the lowest setting (1).

Katana 600 shock

One of the most popular upgrades for the rear of the GS is the Katana 600 shock swap. Not only does it provide a stiffer spring, but also allows rebound damping in addition to spring preload. The Katana shock will raise the tail end of the GS up about 1/2"-3/4" due to the longer length of the shock and the stiffer spring rate not allowing as much sag.

The Katana shock is a simple bolt in replacement for the GS shock. Simply unbolt the GS's shock, replace it with the Katana shock, and enjoy.

Edit by Janx101

(So I don't mess up hmmmnz entry below). But my process kind of cuts in at step 3 in the sv650 removal below. I didn't have a 'simply' removal ... Maybe because I forgot to drop the stock preload back to #1, is it longer or shorter at all? Mine was set to 7 and once unbolted a real pain to adjust the preload .. In any case .. If you are real new to doing this type of swap like me ... Here's what I did for my swap on a 2006 F bike. Tools: Socket wrench with 17mm, 14mm, 12mm, 10mm sockets plus a 5" extender. Crescent wrench with 17mm end and 14mm end. Screwdriver flatblade. 'propping up' device, wooden dowels? About 10" long.

Mistakes in process left out. (Some anyway) Process: Bike on Centrestand, Remove seat, Unbolt rear of tank with 12mm socket, prop the tank up with your suitable device. Remove 2x 10mm bolts under seat frame that secure the rear of airbox, not to remove the airbox! Just to give it a little vertical movement. Remove the plastic plug on left side of frame that leads to top bolt of shock. 14mm socket on extender to top bolt and crescent wrench 14mm on opposite side to hold it steady, remove nut and bolt. Repeat for lower bolt.

Now this point is why I loosened the airbox, the top point would come free of the mount, the clevis was sticking on the lower mount for sideways movement. So with the bit of vertical movement with rear of airbox I now had with the tank propped up, I could get a little more space to wiggle the shock up and free the clevis. It was still very tight and not wanting to force the boots on front of airbox I now did the following.

17mm socket and crescent wrench to remove the front bolt on the linkage mount on frame of bike. Now the linkage was just hanging on the 'dogbones' and NOW, I could simply wiggle/tilt/lift the shock up and out the right side of bike.

Bolt the top of shock back in, bolt the front of linkage back to frame, I could nearly rock the bike onto the back wheel enough myself but it was a little awkward, so I got a helper for 30 seconds to push/rock the back of bike down which made it very easy.

Now I'm not definite on this and I do know how to use and do have .. A torque wrench... I didn't use one for this, just tightened the bolts back up to near as I could tell was the pressure I loosened them from (not exactly scientific or exact but its served me for 30 years) .. Torque wrench the bolts if you know how, if you are not sure then do as I did. Get someone that does know torque wrenches to check if you want!

Bolt your airbox back in, bolt your tank back in.

Final note. I found I still had about 5mm of free space under the back wheel (AFTER the Katana shock was installed) while bike was on centre stand. Now get out there and love the feel of improved suspension!

See the SV650 entry for more details on installing a new shock.

sv650 shock install

by hmmmnz

to do this mod. you'll need a few basic tools, a socket set/spanners a drill and a 10mm drill bit and a hack saw you'll also need the sv650 shock (you have to use the yellow type not the later model white coloured shock)

Photo Comparing the Stock GS500 Shock with the SV650 Shock. (added by jamez667)

step 1. put your bike on its center stand,

step 2. remove your old gs shock, by unbolting the top and bottom bolts. (the back wheel will come down when either bolt is removed)

step 3. lift the gs shock up and out of the side of the frame.

step 4. now comes the fun part.... cutting and redrilling the sv650 shock so it will fit on the gs. (cut and drill on the yellow lines on the picture below)(ignore the yellow line at the base of the spring, that doesn't need to be cut)

step 5. install your nice yellow shock, by sliding the shock through the side of the frame and down.

step 6. bolt every thing up. you will have to lift the back wheel/swingarm up to get the top bolt to match up. you can do this with a peice of wood or by rocking the bike backwards.

now we have a nice yellow shock mounted to the gs giving us far better handling and a couple of extra inches of height at the rear.

sorry i don't have a before picture :(

the only issues with this mod apart from the drilling and cutting, is the fact that your center stand isnt long enough(it is but both your wheels will be touching the ground when its down) and your side stand is a little short as well, but it still works fine the bike just leans over a little.

right get modding :D

Here is a picture of my 2005 GS500F after the SV650 rear shock install.(added by jamez667)

Yamaha R6 shock

2006 and newer R6 shocks are known to work. "R6S" shocks will NOT. Spring color does not matter, they come in red, yellow, silver or black.

--The shock needs to have the horizontally mounted reservoir; a vertically mounted one will not fit.

--Check the bottom end of the shock to make sure it has a clevis style bottom mount... meaning, it has the same u-shaped mount on the bottom that the stock GS shock has. If the R6 shock you're looking at has an eye-bolt at the bottom, it will not work because it will not fit together with the GS's linkage.

To install the shock properly, you're going to need the lower spacer/sleeve, bolt, and nut from the R6. This is because the lower mounting holes on the R6 shock are larger than the GS's mounting holes and therefore, the GS lower mounting bolt is too thin. If you can find a good shock with a linkage, those parts will be included, otherwise you can order them from a Yamaha dealer or OEM parts website.

Some forum members have reported needing to grind a small amount off of the swing arm to give the shock proper clearance when bolting everything up. Some members have not had to grind anything. It should also be noted that if the shock is sitting against the swing-arm, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to grind anything away. When you get on the bike and put your weight on the suspension, the shock should move away a bit and if you have a small amount of space, it's enough.

There are slight variations to the design of the R6 shocks that will work but they both will install just fine. The earlier ones have a different shaped reservoir... a bit wider (shown in the picture below).

Also, the adjusters for the fast and slow compression damping are laid out differently... but again, both of these variations will install on the GS. First style:

Second style:

Forum member ShowBizWolf has a 2010 R6 shock with a black spring on her '98 GS. She did not have to grind away the swing arm for fitment of the shock. However, she also later on wanted to install 1" raising links... and in order to do that, she had to grind a bit of the swing arm to allow for shock clearance.

Additional details and information about the R6 shock and the extras you need can be found here: http://gstwins.com/gsboard/index.php?topic=52334.0

And here: http://gstwins.com/gsboard/index.php?topic=66899.0

Aaaaaand here: http://gstwins.com/gsboard/index.php?topic=58640.0

GS500 R6 Rear Shock Conversion YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_0gnFaONfY

See the SV650 entry for more details on installing a new shock.