Over a full year since its start this little experiment with RFY Shocks continues to grow. Recently, I got the chance to do an analysis on one of the less sought after RFY shocks. That of course being the model without the external reservoir. Hardly breaking the bank, this shock can be had for around $100 shipped to your door. As usual, it is tough to get details on these shocks. Sellers, located primarily on eBay, know nothing of motorcycle suspension and instead list the scant details provided by the manufacturer. This is leaves a vacuum of knowledge around the product and understandably is a huge deterrent to purchasing the product.
As always, I designate each model with a name that I hope is easy to understand and communicate and this model is no different. My initial impressions were that this shock was the Model 1 but without the reservoir. After seeing the reservoir-less shock in person I now know that this is not the truth. As a result I have named this shock the Model 0 (zero). It is most simple of the shocks sold by RFY, thusly it only seems reasonable to make it the lowest model designation.
Upon opening the box it did not take long to spot the differences between the Model 1 and this Model 0. The two models use the same spring, lower perch, and clevis or eyelet, but that is where the similarities end. The Model 0 has a significantly larger shock body and a CNC made cap and upper eyelet. The the quality of manufacture on the shock body, top cap and eyelets, as well as the spring preload collars are a step above the Model 1. The preload collars are especially nice with better thread mating characteristics than other models. The machine work is also slightly better, showing more attention to detail.
After dismounting the spring the seal head nut was removed to reveal the shock head seal. The seal is similar to the other models, though it is larger to accommodate the larger shock body. Unfortunately my disassembly fixtures did not work well on this larger shock body. I had to build a second set of fixtures to disassemble the shock completely. The process however was much the same. Pulling the head seal revealed the internal bushing, top out spring, and piston.
The piston itself appears to be of reasonable construction. It is very similar to the construction of the Model 1, with a shim stack and some spring washers that are oriented in a way as to open and close holes as the piston travels. Overall surface area is large on the Model 0 piston. The damper design is of an emulsion type with a Schrader valve at the top of the body for adjusting gas pressure.
Before disassembly I ran the damper through its stroke several times by hand. Being an emulsion type damper it was important to keep the damper upright. Unlike other models this damper must be mounted with the shock body at the top. My initial impression was that the Model 0 had little to no damping properties. I then checked for gas pressure, both shocks appears to be pressurized but I did not check if the pressures were the same. I drained the dampers of oil and as is usual with RFY shocks they seemed to have the incorrect amount of fluid. The oil was the same the same yellowish, foamy, mystery oil found in all RFY models that I see. Emulsion type shocks require a very specific amount of fluid to to work properly and immediately it was obvious this is an issue on the Model 0. Filling the damper properly with oil will aid this dampers performance significantly.
The caveats with the Model 0 after inspection are two fold for me. The biggest is that the damper bushing is rather sloppy on the shock rod. As of now it I am not sure as to whether this will hinder the performance of the shock or not. My gut tells that the extra slop could lead to premature seal wear at the piston as well as the seal head. This however remains to be seen in the real world. The second caveat is that emulsion type shocks are old technology. There are better designs on the market, though this may only be important to you if you are performance oriented.
To summarize, the Model 0 is a nicely made, fully rebuildable, emulsion type shock, that can be had at an extremely reasonable price. It remains to be seen whether the shock will operate as reliably as the Model 1. The sloppy bushing fit is worrying, and considering that both of the Model 0 dampers that inspected were identical I do not believe this to be a quality control problem but rather a deliberate design issue. In the coming months I will be riding these shocks around some to see how they ride and how they last. Once this has been established under more certain terms I will update this analysis of the the RFY Shock Model 0.