ATV Riders Message Board Articles Reviews Videos Photo Gallery wallpaper Links ATV SxS News Interviews Racing News Models Donations Quad of the Month Contact Us

  Appearance | Miscellaneous | Powertrain | Protective | Steering & Suspension

ELKA Suspension
Elka 400EX Linkage Kit

Elka Linkage Kit

By: Rob Richeson (RICO)

02/06/04 - I'd like to start this review with my thoughts on how this setup works compared to a standard travel Elka rear shock. I’ve ran a standard Elka shock for a little over one year and have been very pleased with it. My rear shock was setup for 100% Cross Country style riding/racing. I've used it on MX tracks and just turned the compression and preload way up to compensate the large jumps. It soaked up everything on the track that I could give it. The small breaking bumps were a little rough but you can't expect a XC shock to work well on the MX track when that's not what it was built for. The rear shock worked well in just about all areas but no matter what adjustments I made it still wanted to swap around and buck in long rough sections. It wasn't bad enough that it beat you to death but it made for a rough ride and would wear you out faster in a race or long ride

Before the Texas GNCC race this past weekend I was able to install the Elka Long Travel Kit on my 400ex rear end. I set the sag to Elka’s specs and figured I would adjust the rest and fine tune it when I got to Texas.

After arriving in Texas, I jumped on the quad and took off for the practice track. Within maybe 2 minutes on the quad, in some VERY rough terrain, I was absolutely AMAZED in the performance the new shock. I ran one full lap and figured it could be a little softer and that the rebound was just a tad to fast. I turned the rebound down 2 clicks and compression down 3 clicks. I went back out for 1 more lap, and I was even more amazed at how well linkage really worked. I purposely hit large humps, ruts, washed out areas, and rocks running across the trail faster than I would have before this setup, just to see if it would kick up or swap back and forth. Well, I couldn't get it to do anything, but work like it was designed. You riders know the feeling when you’re going down a trail and there's a washed out spot, you carry the front wheels over, let the back drop down in the rut and WHAMO. The rear end hits like a ton of bricks, and up comes the rear end like you’re on a bucking bull. Those days are over people because it will soak it up and all the other obstacles in the trail that you've slowed down for in the past. It was actually kind of hard to get the confidence to push the quad to the its limits "Well I might go over the bars and wreck if I do hit this spot with this much speed." I truly can't say enough good things about this setup, and I could go on for hours, but I won't. There’s no doubt in my mind that this kit WILL make you a faster and smoother rider, but it's up to you to have the confidence to push it to the limit.

The Elka linkage moves the shock into a more vertical position which is were the extra travel comes into place. The ONLY downfall to this new linkage is that it sits ¼ of an inch lower than the stock linkage which in turn will rub against some manufacturers skid plates. I placed washers in between the swingarm and skid plate on the front mounts to fix the problem. Another solution would be to cut a section out of the skid plate where the linkage rubs. The good thing is that the clearance issue is only at the front of the skid plate next to the frame and under the pivot bolt, and not at the back were ground clearance is an issue.

In the pic below you can see the difference in the stock linkage (top) compared to the Long Travel Linkage from Elka (bottom).

Elka Linkage vs. Stock

The difference in the springs and crossover rings are significant. It’s hard to notice but the top spring on the left has a much lighter coil to it than the spring on the right. You might be thinking well the one on the right is not an SSD spring. You’re correct it’s not an SSD spring but the shock still has the Self Sagging option and will NOT sit higher than the front if you run SSD springs on your front shocks. The crossover ring is also larger to transfer the weight more evenly and at the appropriate time during the shock’s travel.

Please DO NOT be confused, this rear shock is an SSD shock and will work perfectly with any Elka front shocks with SSD springs. Actually, it would work great with any front shock setup with SSD.

Elka Springs

You do not have to be a shock technician nor do you need special tools to install this kit. Place the shock in a vice, back the preload off completely and remove the bottom spring retainer. (Pic 1) The retainer can be removed by pulling down on the springs and you slide the retainer off the shaft via the gap.

(Pic 1)

Elka Bottom Spring Retainer

With the retainer removed both springs and crossover ring should slide off the shaft. (Pic 2) Spray the threads down on the shaft with WD-40 and wipe away any grit or dirt that are on the threads. Reinstall the new springs and crossover ring and tighten down the preload slightly. (If you are not comfortable or confident in taking your shock apart send it to a trained technician) You’ll need to set the sag on the shocks once the shock is installed on the quad so don’t spend much time adjusting the preload.

(Pic 2)

Elka Shock Spring Removal

After the shock has been reinstalled, the sag should be set at 8.5 to 9 inches with the rider on the quad. The front should also have the same amount of sag. The green lines in the pic below show were to measure sag at both front and back of the frame.

Wheel travel with only the Elka rear shock is 10.1 inch (increased by 1 inch over stock) and with the linkage you get 10.9inch (0.8 more than just the Elka rear shock).
In the past people were cutting and rewelding the frame to move the upper shock mount. The idea of cutting and rewelding a frame is not the best thing.

Another advantage of the Elka rear 400EX linkage is to give a different curve in the rising rate in the motion ratio. Instead of having a very small soft part at the beginning of the travel you will have a very long plush part, at the end it will rise to give you a good bottoming out resistance.

With the rear wheels slightly touching the ground, I had 13 inches between the ground and rear part of the frame. That is very impressive ground clearance that really shows while hammering down the trail.

Elka Linkage Kit Installed

Copyright 2002-2022, ATV Riders All Rights Reserved - ATV Riders Forum - Message Board - Archive