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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
As many of us have come to find out, the suspension of the X4 leaves a lot to be desired. My other machine is a wildcat sport with elkas. Every ride, I found myself hating the stock suspension more and more. The addition of carnivore tires and removing the front sway bar made it tolerable at best. I began searching for shock options a few months ago. I found that my options were R spec shocks, Walker Evans, Bandit, 814s or possibly respringing the Stock shocks (JBS). The price of the Rspec shocks and possibly having to respring them, wasn't appealing to me. The Walker Evans had great reviews but were somewhere around 1800ish to get them. I found very few people running the 814s and there were as many negative reviews as positive reviews, at least for the x4. I was pretty much left with the bandits. I have some experience using their springs on my wifes wildcat trail. Using their springs on the stock fox shocks totally transformed her machine. I contacted them and inquired about a military discount. To my surprise, they offered one even though the shocks are already listed as being on sale. This brought them down to a very enticing price and I decided to pull the trigger. Here are some pics and my initial thoughts.

The shocks came packaged very nicely and were delivered promptly. I ordered on a Monday and received them on Thursday night. The shocks came set at zero preload, compression was set 2 clicks from full soft and rebound was 5 clicks from full slow. They are pretty much ready to drop in. The shocks feature 3/4" shafts and dual rate springs, both of which I consider to be better than the other shocks offered. Looking at the photos, the shocks are slightly longer than my stock shocks with a little under 600 miles. They definitely feel like a quality product. I think the only thing I could find to gripe about is the compression and rebound adjusters. They require a small screw driver as opposed to having knobs. This is fine for the compression as it is up high on the shock and easy to get at. The rebound is down low and will require a very short screw driver to get in between the wheel and the shock. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning.

Prior to install, I took several ground clearance measurements and found that the stock shocks had sagged quite a bit over the course of 500 or so miles. This explains why I had noticed my rear tires were rubbing on the last couple of rides. As the machine sat unloaded with the stock shocks, I could barely get 2 fingers between the frame rail and the rear tire. After installing the shocks and gaining some clearance back, I can easily get 3 fingers in between the tire and frame rail. I am hoping this helps to alleviate some of the rubbing. After my final adjustments were made, I have 2.75" more GC in the front than with the sagging shocks and .75" more than I've ever had. The rear gained 3.5" over the sagging stockers and about .5" more than I ever had. I should note that I cranked the preload on the front shocks to achieve and 80/20 ratio of up/down travel. I did nothing to the rears because the rear is already sitting higher than I would like. the rear shocks are currently set at zero preload and are more along the lines of 70/30 for up and down travel. I figure I will have to play with both of these settings as the springs settle and I plan to actually load the vehicle with some weight to achieve my final settings. I have included a table that shows my various ground clearances.

The install was pretty simple. I was able to do the fronts with the wheels still on the machine. The rears were a bit of a pain. I had to take the wheels off and removing the lower shock mount was a bit of a challenge, reinstalling it was even more challenging. The passenger side shock had to be compressed slightly with a ratchet strap in order to get it to slide in. The drivers side dropped right in. All in all, it took about 4 hours but that was taking lots of measurements and taking some pictures.

I will not be able to put these to a full test for a few months. I have a 2 acre yard but it is pretty well manicured. I hit every rough spot I could find in my yard. I did this immediately prior to install and again right after install. The results are pretty positive. The machine feels like riding a Cadillac compared to stock. The ride is soft but not squishy. It somehow maintains a sporty feel without being harsh. I have one spot in my yard that will knock your teeth out if you hit it hard. I was able to hit this spot at the fastest achievable speed before and after. With the bandit shocks, i still experienced a bit of bucking but it was so much less abusive. Hitting this same spot in my wifes trail, nearly ejected me from the machine once. I have these shocks set pretty soft so I'm sure they will only get better.

The bottom line, for me it was worth it just to get my ride height back and get rid of the horrible self leveling shocks that seem to pump themselves up while going through whoops. I can't say that these are better or equal to the WE or the 814s but at their price point they are very good.

P.S.
The unloaded measurement in the table is jacking the machine up until the tires are just touching the ground. To me it illustrates the amount that the shock can travel from its loaded position. It also shows that there was some gain in suspension travel with the new shocks.
 

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Awesome review and great info! For the full drop or unleaded, did you happen to check for cv binding? On my Grizzly after a lift install, I good feel the inner cv joint bind. Axle shaft was hitting the cv cup. Did they say you needed limit straps? I do like the extra lift just worried about the binding.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did not check for any binding but it is something I will watch for. The actual lift is very minimal over the stock shocks when the stock shocks were new. It is only a 1/2 inch in the front and 3/4 in the rear. The travel of the suspension, at least in the rear, seems to be limited by the a arms themselves. I had to slightly compress the one rear shock to get it in there. They do recommend limit straps and I will be installing them. I just need to call bandit and figure out what lengths I will need.
 

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The a arms wont limit the travel. Might feel like it due to the inner bushing or maybe the swaybar. The shocks limit the travel. A little longs than stock might be okay but I'm not sure how much. On my Grizzly, I could spin the wheel and the axle shaft would ride the inner cup and I could feel the grooves in the cup where the joint bearings install. Hard to explain

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At full angle the axle shaft would hit these parts and and I could feel it as I spun the wheel by hand.


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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
When I installed the rears, the passenger side shock had to be compressed about 1/4 inch in order to line up and install the bolt. Something was limiting the a arm from traveling downward. I had my weight on it while trying to install the top bolt. It could have been the sway bar and the fact that I still had the stock shock installed on the driver side. I'm guessing that is it because I didn't have that issue on the driver side. I will be installing limit straps though. Bandit recommends them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wouldn't the guys running the lift kits experience this binding as well? They are lifting 3.5". With these shocks, I'm less than an inch of lift vs when my stock springs were new. I guess my thinking is that if they can raise that much, I should be fine with what little I lifted it.
 

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Really liking the look and the price of these. Wonder how they would compare to the WEs really wanna pull the trigger on some shocks..... Or buy a general XP 4 lol.
 

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The a arms wont limit the travel. Might feel like it due to the inner bushing or maybe the swaybar. The shocks limit the travel. A little longs than stock might be okay but I'm not sure how much. On my Grizzly, I could spin the wheel and the axle shaft would ride the inner cup and I could feel the grooves in the cup where the joint bearings install. Hard to explain

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When you were spinning the wheel and feeling this was it a front wheel or a back wheel?
If it was a front wheel was it the drivers side?
 

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When you were spinning the wheel and feeling this was it a front wheel or a back wheel?
If it was a front wheel was it the drivers side?
On my 03 Grizzly it was the front. The shaft pinched the boots and they were trash. Had to dremel out the retaining rings in the inner cups because the shaft bent or rolled the edge of the cup over the retainer rings.

I doubt the 3.5 lift changes very little full drop but am not sure. And maybe the 3.5 lift does cause the axle issue? That's why I did springs and portals until I can figure all that out.

I do like the longer bandit shock to get the lift vs a bracket lift.

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Really liking the look and the price of these. Wonder how they would compare to the WEs really wanna pull the trigger on some shocks..... Or buy a general XP 4 lol.
Not sure how they will stack up. On paper, I liked the specs of the bandits better. I knew they would be much better than stock and didn't really want to spend 500 bucks more to find out how good the WE were. The biggest issue for me with the stock shocks was the sagging of the springs and lack of any real preload adjustment. I also didn't like the bucking that was caused by the rear self leveling shocks. I think these shocks will cure those issues. I don't race this machine, it is our family truckster, I just wanted a smoother ride and wanted my ride height back.
 

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Not sure how they will stack up. On paper, I liked the specs of the bandits better. I knew they would be much better than stock and didn't really want to spend 500 bucks more to find out how good the WE were. The biggest issue for me with the stock shocks was the sagging of the springs and lack of any real preload adjustment. I also didn't like the bucking that was caused by the rear self leveling shocks. I think these shocks will cure those issues. I don't race this machine, it is our family truckster, I just wanted a smoother ride and wanted my ride height back.
how does it do with the small choppy stuff? mines the family truckster too, but i like to have fun when its just me and hate seeing the kids get jarred around on the bumpy stuff. i know the WE are suppose to make a big difference and really smooth the ride up. not like im gonna be out jumping it with two kids in the back, at least nothing major.

Also, what kind of military discount did they give? WE also offers military discount and with the forum discount brought them down to $1600
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Haven't had a chance to really put them through a good test yet. Winter has set in here and most of the riding areas are closed, not to mention it has been sub zero temps, lol. That washout on my property is the closest thing to choppy that I have on my property. It has a big dip followed by a few small dips. The first dip does a really good job of unsettling the machine and the following dips cause quite a bit of bucking. The initial hit was much better with the bandits and the bucking was less. I was hitting the it faster with the bandits too. There is still a lot of adjusting to do though, I need to get out to one of the riding areas to have any hope of dialing them in.

There is more adjustability in these shocks than the WE. I just realized that the WE shocks don't have rebound adjustment. The one downside to these shocks is that they are only sold in sets of four from what I have read. If you were to damage one beyond repair, you would have to buy a full set.

They take an additional 8 percent off for military. I got them shipped to my door for a little under 1300.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I haven't put many miles on them. The weather has kept our riding areas closed. Hoping to get out in the next couple weeks.
 

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I received my Bandits last night and unpackaged them this morning. All 4 look identical to me and aren't marked with part numbers or anything to differentiate them. Are the front and back the identical?

EDIT: Looking closer, it's obvious by the way the N2 reservoirs are clocked.

...and does anyone happen to know the torque spec for the shock bolts?
 

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You get any limiting straps?
No. I may add them to the front but I don't think the rears need them.
The rear shocks have about an inch and a half more travel than the a-arms can swing. The fronts are the same length as stock. Part of me thinks if the stock shocks don't need them then the Bandits don't either but I can see where they'd protect the shock if you ride fast and did jumps.

I just tried to pull out and take it for a short spin to settle the suspension to get sag measurements but now it won't fit through the garage door. After lunch I'll pull down the rear suspension with a couple ratchet straps and try again.
 

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I used ratchet straps to compress the suspension and was able to get it out of the garage. The Bandits came with 3/16" preload in front and 7/16" in the back. Here are the ground clearance numbers as measured to the skid plate:

Stock tires and shocks: 10-1/16" front, 10-1/8" rear
28" Carnivores, stock shocks: 12" front, 11-1/2" rear
28" Carnivores, Bandit shocks: 13-5/8" front, 14-1/4" rear

So without changing preload I gained 1-5/8" front and 2-3/4" rear. To level it out I'll remove 1/4" from the rear and add 3/8" to the front so I'll end up with about 2" of additional ground clearance over the Carnivores with stock shocks.

I'm heading to Tackett Creek in Tennessee in a couple weekends so that'll be my first chance to really try them out. I took them for a spin in the corn field behind my house and ran about 30 MPH perpendicular to the plowed corn rows. Soft as butter. Well, actually, still bumpy - I don't want to oversell it. But a heck of a lot better than stock. I'd have lost teeth if I'd have tried that with the stock shocks.

IMG_20200208_131859.jpg
 
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