RFY Shocks – Overview

with 60 Comments

There has been a great deal of interest in RFY Shocks, not just here, but also on other websites and forums. Rightfully so, the shocks are available on eBay from around $80 to $100 and they come in a myriad of colors and sizes. This presumably allows people to pick and chose to suit their needs and tastes while replacing there bounced out 40 year old models. Given the low price point and the ability to pick your color it’s not a hard purchase to make. There are plenty of people on the web both raving about these shocks and at the same time others are denouncing their quality. Since I’m building my bike and like to take things a part I decided that I too would purchase a set, but before strapping them on my multi-thousand dollar machine would take them a part just to see what is inside. Both for science and safety.

Before taking my RFY’s apart, the best information I had was posted by user Crazypj on the DoTheTon.com forum. He took his shocks completely apart and then made a few upgrades of his own, but since I am not going to steal his information you’ll have to head over there to find his post.

Here is a semi-exploded view of my shocks. Give it a look then scroll down.

RFY Shock exploded view.
RFY Shock exploded view.

The above photo shows the shock almost completely disassembled. All that remains is the shock seal, shaft, and piston in the shock. The bladder fits on the cap and is pressurized externally using the Schrader valve. The gas in the bladder does not come into contact with the damping fluid. This bladder colapses as the shock shaft displaces oil. The circlip holds the bladder and cap assembly in the reservoir of the shock, and bladder seals to the interior of the reservoir preventing fluid from escaping. Upper left in the photo is a semi-translucent washer. This washer goes between the upper spring perch and spring. I assume it’s primary function is to provide a surface that won’t chafe as the spring moves on the perch do to compression.

RFY Shock exploded view.
RFY Shock exploded view.

Here you can see the entire shock rod and all of its components. The piston and stacks are of most interest, though the components are all pretty standard. Which, in my opinion, is a good thing. Overall quality appears good, though there were challenges in disassembling the shock this far. The overabundant use of high strength thread locker was the main obstacle. A nice addition to the shock is the rebound bump stop which has a spring and should help prevent adverse wear and tear when your wheel suddenly extends to full droop.

My impression is that these shocks are more than usable. They do appear to be copied from an Ohlins shock. All things considered, they are in fact very nice. I wouldn’t however buy a set off the shelf and install them expecting a good ride. On my set, the factory assembly would have provided an ill working shock. These shocks are completely rebuild-able, and I was able to disassemble mine without ruining any of the parts. Without modification, I was able to reassemble my shocks while preventing the introduction of air into the system. Additionally, if one were in need of different damping characteristics, the stacks could be changed to accommodate.

The bottom line, if you want Ohlins, pony up the cash. If you want to go racing, get Ohlins. For the rest of us, if you want a shock that has the potential to perform like shocks that cost twice as much, the RFY is a great choice. Just know that before hand that you will need at least a partial rebuild to get them right.

60 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Quentin D.
    | Reply

    I purchased a set of these for my scooter. Do you know of anyone offering a video or photo tutorial on how to rebuild the shocks?

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/14-Shocks-Absorbers-Eye-to-Eye-Mount-One-PAIR-Expedited-Shipping-/291031610157?pt=Motorcycles_Parts_Accessories&hash=item43c2d5f32d&vxp=mtr

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Quentin,

      Unfortunately I do not know of a tutorial.

      Regards,
      Chris

    • Avatar
      L. Petr
      | Reply

      Hallo Kris ik heb net gekocht Rfy schokdempers maar geen manual zat er bij. ik heb een vraag wat voor druk zit er in ? Demper is voor mijn motor hard. Kan ik vullen met lucht o laten vullen met nitrogeen ?. Bedankt en groetjes L Petr.

      • Chris
        Chris
        | Reply

        Hi,

        Try around 75 PSI. Yes, regular air will work.

        -Chris

  2. Avatar
    Andy Wills
    | Reply

    Hi

    How much oil should put in these to perform best?

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi,
      There is not an exact number, the should simply be filled 100%.

  3. Avatar
    Steve
    | Reply

    Hello Chris,

    About the rebuild, are there pieces we need to change to make them work fine or just a good mounting will be ok?

    I have ordered a set and will receive them tomorrow. I will see what is inside before putting them on my bike. I’m from France

    What kind of oil do you put in them? SAE 10W or 7,5W or else?

    thanks a lot for your answer

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Steve,

      You should use shock oil, which is designed specifically for dampers.

      No need to change any parts.

      Regards,
      Chris

  4. Avatar
    Meeners
    | Reply

    Chris,

    First off, thank you for posting the information that you have. It is awesome. I have just recently purchased a set of the original series shocks for my girlfriends 150cc scooter she just bought. At the time and after a lot of research, this seemed like the best option to replace the blown and terrible quality stockers. In addition to these I also purchase a set of forks. Based on your knowledge it would be in the best interest to open these up and replace the fluid with actual shock oil. Do you need to fully disassemble the shock to do this, or can I just remove the cap on the lower end of the shock cavity, pull the seal down the shock shaft, and fill? Is it hard to remove this cap? I haven’t seen any pictures of what the bottom looks like.

  5. Avatar
    AMEEN BAKARE
    | Reply

    Chris,

    First off, thank you for posting the information that you have. It is awesome. I have just recently purchased a set of the original series shocks for my girlfriends 150cc scooter she just bought. At the time and after a lot of research, this seemed like the best option to replace the blown and terrible quality stockers. In addition to these I also purchase a set of forks. Based on your knowledge it would be in the best interest to open these up and replace the fluid with actual shock oil. Do you need to fully disassemble the shock to do this, or can I just remove the cap on the lower end of the shock cavity, pull the seal down the shock shaft, and fill? Is it hard to remove this cap? I haven’t seen any pictures of what the bottom looks like…

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi!

      You need a puller type apparatus to remove the seals and shaft. You can not just pull the seal out. Additionally, you have to remove the bladder and bladder cap to properly fill the shocks. I have a host of special tools that I use to do this.

      Regards,
      Chris

  6. Avatar
    GIlberto
    | Reply

    you mentioned “the RFY is a great choice. Just know that before hand that you will need at least a partial rebuild to get them right.”
    why do I need to partial rebuild them?

    I plan to install them this weekend and I want to get prepared

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Gilberto,

      There is a lot of info out there on this. But in short, they are not filled correctly with oil, they are not charged correctly, and generally speaking they can be assembled awfully bad. While you can install them and go ride, it is not recommended. They will not function correctly.

      Regards,
      Chris

  7. Avatar
    carmine
    | Reply

    hi Chris, i got a set of similar chinese product (JBS shocks, australia dealer)..want just change the spring because it’s stiff.. how to get the original spring off?
    thanx in advance

    carmine – italy

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Carmine,

      All you need is a spring compressor and two (19mm) wrenches.

      Regards,
      Chris

      • Avatar
        carmine
        | Reply

        Chris, thanx a lot for your kind and quick reply! the shocks are these:

        http://www.ebay.com/itm/SUZUKI-PE400-400mm-JBS-REAR-AIR-NITROGEN-CELL-SHOCK-ABSORBERS-PE400-SW-/141298606421

        i bet they are just the same RFY people’s republic product, probably you alredy had a pair on your bench..

        probably i dont need no spring compressor: the spring is short enough so i can just unscrew the double preload adjusting “rings” (really dont know the correct word in english..)

        i would like to send you the shock to improve\rebuild, but i’m so far.. maebe the next winter (now want enjoy my fresh finished project)

        thanx again and sorry for my primitive english
        carmine

        • Chris
          Chris
          | Reply

          No worries, Carmine. Your English is much better than my Italian, you have me beat. And I understand what you are saying just fine.

          The last set of JBS shocks I had did not have the drilling that connects the reservoir and the shock body. I avoid them now. I can’t say or not if this is true for all JBS units or not though.

  8. Avatar
    Mariano
    | Reply

    Hi Chris, is possible use rfy shocks as front shock in a yamaha banshee? Are too weak? Regards, Mariano.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      It’s possible, but probably not advisable.

  9. Avatar
    James Knight
    | Reply

    Hy Chris,
    Yes I have a pair of RFY on my Trike and am bouncing around quite nicely how do you adjust them and how do you put gas or air into the resevoirs, sorry am completely useless just enjoy triking and biking Ride Safe
    Jim

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi James,

      To solved the bouncing the shocks need to be properly filled with oil. That can only be done via rebuild.

      The reservoirs can be filled via standard air compressor, but it will only marginally help with the lack of damping caused by under-filled dampers.

      Regards,
      CL

  10. Avatar
    Justen
    | Reply

    Hey Chris, do you do rebuilds on shocks for people? I have 2 rear shocks from a 2003 Raptor 660 that I think need rebuilt. I bought the bearing kits for them but think they can use a full rebuild? Thanks for any help and a great write up.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Justen,

      I do the rebuilds, not sure how they will work on a Raptor though. Most of the work I do is for motorcycles.

      Regards,
      CL

  11. Avatar
    ChopperCharles
    | Reply

    Is there any way to get the 300mm shock length with the heavy-duty capability of the 320mm shock? I have a nearly 600 lb motorcycle and need 300mm shocks – 320mm is too tall for my short inseam.

    Charles.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Charles,

      It seems unlikely. There are quite a number of hurdles to do what you are asking, mainly, a really short shock as you request is not really capable of damping at rates sufficient for such a bike.

      Regards,
      Chris Livengood

  12. Avatar
    Charles Smith
    | Reply

    Stock shocks on an SCR950 or Bolt 950 are 10.25″, and they’re spine crushers. I just need something even slightly better than stock, in the 11.5″ range. There’s got to be a way to do that with an extra inch and a quarter of length.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      The problem with the RFY offerings is that they use a stock shock shaft and then altered bodies. So basically it means that what I can build for you likely wouldn’t have any more travel, maybe less, and spring options would be limited and likely terrible for your application.

      A big part of what I do relies on me being honest with customers. If I can’t sell you something I feel confident in, then I don’t sell you something.

      To put this in perspective, I do this for fun, it’s not my day job. I just like to provide reasonable options for folks when I can, if I can’t do that, then I’m honest about it.

      Regards,
      CL

  13. Avatar
    Charles Smith
    | Reply

    Okay, I understand. No worries, thanks for the info.

  14. Avatar
    Emile
    | Reply

    Hi Chris,

    I am looking at purchasing a pair of RFY shocks for an unusual application. I need an eye to clevis length of somewhere between 420 and 460mm (I will make a custom clevis to get overall length correct) but most importantly, I need the longest travel I can get. I have found 455mm (clevis bottom) and 440mm (eye bottom) shocks on eBay but it is difficult to find out how much travel each has (from photos it looks like the 455 might have about 110mm and 440 about 100mm). You mentioned that RFY use a stock shaft and altered bodies so my concern is that the 445mm shock may actually have the same or possibly less travel than the 440 because the body of the 455 is shorter (extra overall length comes from the clevis being significantly longer than the eye of the 440mm shock). Can you advise which of these has the longest travel or if there is an alternative shock with even more travel? The 455mm shock can be seen here https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/163885480275 and the 440 shock here https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/392419276723

    Regards,
    Emile.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Emile,

      As far as I know, the shocks basically all have the same travel. Right around 75mm. There are some trick to make them work longer, like remove or shorten the top out spring, adjust the lower perch down the shaft. Of course, with a bit of work custom shafts could be made. The longer body shocks have longer bodies, but the shaft lenghts stay the same across units. There is one exception the eyelet mount models have a shaft 1cm longer than clevis models. So if you mix and match parts, do some adjusting, you might be able to get 100mm travel out of them.

      Regards,
      CL

      • Avatar
        Emile Barrett
        | Reply

        Hi Chris. Well I ordered a set of 440mm, eye end RFY shocks and they arrived today. First thing I did was take the springs off and measure the travel. The have 105mm of free travel between the rebound spring and the start of the rubber bump stop so possibly 115mm by the time the bump stop fully compresses (I couldn’t remove the rubber to measure definitively because the nut is tight from undoing the end fitting with it’s thread lock compound and I don’t want to risk marking the shock shaft to get the nut off). So if I modify the rebound spring I may possibly be able to get 130mm or more but ~110mm that I currently have should be enough. There was thread locker in the threads but certainly not excessive so perhaps RFY have upped their assembly quality a little however, there is definitely air in the oil. I figured out that I can get all the air to move into the remote reservoir and once there it should stay put if I run the shocks essentially upside down, with the reservoir end to the bottom but I will probably drain and re-fill them with heavier weight oil as the compression damping is a bit soft for my application. These shocks are actually to be installed on the rear end of a 1965 Honda S600 car because the originals aren’t re-buildable and it is pretty much impossible to get new ones other than custom made Bilsteins out of Germany at around AU$2000 a set. So far it looks like the RFY’s will do the job albeit with a bit of modification and so at AU$165 for the pair they should hopefully end up being great value.
        Regards,
        Emile.

        • Chris
          Chris
          | Reply

          Emile,

          Thanks for the info! It’s always appreciated.

          A rebuild would be your best option, they aren’t particularly hard to disassemble. And once disassembled once, they come apart much easier for future rebuilds. Then you can properly fill the damper during reassembly.

          Anyways, good luck! I do love those S600’s!

          Regards,
          CL

  15. Avatar
    Danny
    | Reply

    I have a set of shocks for a YFS200 Blaster that are like the RFY but from imotorpartsusa on ebay. The springs are too stiff and don’t seem to have any real damping. Can you rebuild them to suit me?

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Dan,

      Most likely not. These shocks really aren’t appropriate for quads.

      Regards,
      CL

  16. Avatar
    Emilio
    | Reply

    Hi. I have two questions. I ride a 1993 Kawasaki Zephyr zr1100. It has twin rfy shocks. I corner hard and fast. When I first rode it it was mushy under hard cornering. The only adjustment I see is compressing the spring so I did. It now feels better and I feel more confident with it now. That said, I think I can compress some more however, I’m concerned about over compression and the risk of failure. How much is too much?

    Also, the rebound is brutal. Feels like struts when hitting a bump or pothole(which I try to evade them). Is there a way to adjust for this issue. Is there anything I can do about it?

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Emilio,

      I’m not really familiar with the bike, but it sounds as though the rear springs are too soft, and the damping is too soft as well. Depending on the dampers and springs you may be able to fix this, but it also might require news shocks and springs completely.

      Regards,
      CL

  17. Avatar
    Brian
    | Reply

    I wanna buy a pair of 12 inch rfy shocks for my 2012 sportster do you do the rebuilds, how, long does it take, and how much does it cost? will these be good on my sportster?

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Brian,

      There are no RFY units in that length that are appropriate for a Sportser.

      Regards,
      CL

  18. Avatar
    Darrin
    | Reply

    A set I found are 13 1/2 inches which would work for my FXDWG.I ride fairly aggressive my progressives are blown and 13 years old. Those seem like a good fit for budget minded meSince I don’t work since gutting to care for wife with brain tumor 17 month s ago. Can the progressives be rebuilt 2 options would like your opinion
    Thanks

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Darrin,

      The Dyna in my opinion is a bit heavy for these units.

      The progressives may be rebuildable. I’ll send you an email.

      Regards,
      CL

  19. Avatar
    Andrew
    | Reply

    Hey chris, Im researching some front shocks to replace on my 1986 lt250r quad racer ATV. The stock shocks are not rebuild-able and are 12 1/2″ eye to which is quite small for a performance ATV which means that finding replacements is impossible without heavy modifications or spending 600$+ on worx or another name brand. in my research i came across these RFY shocks which they have a 320mm which looks like it should bolt onto my ATV.

    If I’m going to run these shocks on my atv do you have any tips on going through them for the first time, any parts to replace or beef up? I have a suspension guy who can go through them but i’d like to know ahead of time what you think. Thanks.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Adnrew,

      These shocks are under built and have too little travel for quads.

      Regards,
      CL

  20. Avatar
    Lozion
    | Reply

    Hi there! Reckon these could work well on a Kawi W800?
    Txs!

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi!

      What’s the shock length?

      Regards,
      CL

  21. Avatar
    Lozion
    | Reply

    Hey Chris, sent ya an email with all the deets..
    Cheers!

  22. Avatar
    Lozion
    | Reply

    Hello, I take it you havent gotten my email Chris? I believe mine are top 14/20mm and bottom 10/20 with 330mm eye to eye.

    Thanks,

  23. Avatar
    Klaus Welch
    | Reply

    Hello Chris, thanks for your write up! I was given a 1981 Suzuki DR500 by a friend that runs really well. It was in need of some work, and the first thing on the list was of course shocks. I believe the originals look like they could be rebuilt but decided to go with these RFY shocks instead, hoping 40 years worth of shock technology might improve the ride. Considering the age of the bike, I was attempting to stick to a fairly strict budget overall and it needed some new tires as the current ones are cracking too.

    When these come in (15.75″ / 400mm) I wanted to try them out but figured I should look them over to determine if they are assembled/charged properly. Is there anything I should really be looking at before installing them? I see your rebuild service and want to consider doing that maybe in the future.

    Also, do you think that the 3″ of travel would be an issue? It appears that the stock ones are somewhere in the range of 7.7″ of travel. I realize this is a dirt bike, but I’m brand new to bikes and don’t plan to be jumping this thing, mostly just trail riding and exploring.

    If this isn’t a good fit for my bike, what would you recommend for someone on a budget?

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Klaus,

      I responded to you via email for for posterity I’ll respond here too. I do not recommend replaced 7.7″ of travel with 3″ of travel. These shocks are decent for on road, but they are not particularly fit for off road use.

      Best Regards,
      Chris Livengood

  24. Avatar
    Klaus Welch
    | Reply

    Thanks for the heads up regarding the shock travel. I’m having a hard time finding anything to fit this bike that isn’t extremely expensive.

    I believe the old ones are re-buildable but not where if parts or anywhere is able to work on them.

    Do you have a recommended economy shock for something like I need or a place that may be able to rebuild these shocks?

  25. Avatar
    Chad Adkins
    | Reply

    Hello Chris,

    I was interested in these shocks for my 1986 Yamaha Fzx700 Fazer. The rears are past their prime. What is your opinion on these for that application? Also, if you do suggest a rebuild are you in the U.S.? Is that something that you would be interested in?

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Chad,

      I am in the U.S.

      What length shock does the Fazer require?

      Regards,
      CL

      • Avatar
        Costa
        | Reply

        Hi Chris I’ve been reading the many questions regarding rfy shocks..I’m also in the market to buy some and you seem like to guy to ask..I’m building a project bike kz900 with a xjr1300 swingarm..Will these rfy units work for me aprox. The other question is do they have the same coil/spring thickness? For heavier bikes..please reply I need to make a decision quick

        • Chris
          Chris
          | Reply

          Hi Costa,

          I have no idea if they will work. I’m not familiar with the modification and it’s not clear what the bike and rider weight of your setup is.

          Regards,
          CL

  26. Avatar
    Chad Adkins
    | Reply

    I think it’s a 12 and 1/2 in.

  27. Avatar
    Jeff Davis
    | Reply

    I have a 2019 yamaha kodiak 700. The stock rear shocks are 320mm. These should work correct? The mechanic at the at the yamaha shop told me that they would. This is not used for mudding or racing. This is just used to check fence on the ranch and to get back and forth to the deer stand.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Jeff,

      I don’t believe these would work in that application.

      Regards,
      Chris

  28. Avatar
    Tom
    | Reply

    Hi Chris, are replacement shock seals available and do you have the specifications for them? I am going to service my shock and wonder if the seals will be damaged when I extract them. I have a pulling machine which I have used for other old shocks so getting them apart wont be a problem. Just wondering about collateral damage. Regards, Tom

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Tom,

      Yes, I can supply seals. You shouldn’t need them if you can pull them out straight, but that’s on you.

      Regards,
      CL

  29. Avatar
    Tom
    | Reply

    Thanks. I live in Australia. Probably too expensive to ship.

    • Chris
      Chris
      | Reply

      Hi Tom,

      I have shipped to Aus, but it is expensive. I think something on the order of $90 USD these days.

      Regards,
      CL

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