Öhlin’s = AhhhLin’s: New Shocks Are Amazing! (Follow-Up)

Well, here’s the follow-up to the 23 October entry where I mentioned we’d be upgrading our Wide Glide’s rear shocks with a set of Öhlin’s.

Received our 329mm Öhlin’s #3 from Howard / Motorcycle Metal on Tuesday of this week and fitted them up the same day. Installation was pretty straight forward, other than having to go out and pick up four 1/2″ spacers to install outboard of the shock mounting eyelets to off-set the more narrow mounting eyes. Actually, what I found at the ACE hardware store were technically collars, but they worked just fine.

Upon closer inspection, the shocks started off life as Öhlin’s model HD 909’s and are then modified by Howard to his specifications after assessing our needs based on information we provided on our weight and riding habits / style.

Wide Glide in "solo mode" with the new shocks installed for the first test ride / commute to work on Friday. Had hoped to ride the bike in on Weds - Friday, but wasn't feeling great this week and knew it was going to rain cats & dogs on Thursday evening.

As has always been the case on my other motorcycles, switching to the Öhlin’s transformed the ride and handling of the Wide Glide. Gone was the harsh compression stroke, undampened rebound and constant road chatter… none of which could be tuned on the OEM H-D shocks that came on the bike or even the Progressive 440HDs that I replaced the OEM shocks with.

Instead of feeling like I was on a hard tail most of the time, the Harley is now nearly on par with the silky smooth and sure-footed ride qualities I get on my Öhlin’s equipped BMW R1100S. Of course, the real test would be riding two-up with Debbie and getting her feedback and impressions…

Wide Glide in "two-up mode" with the new shocks and ready for Debbie's "test ride" on Saturday.

Our test ride destination on Saturday became a return trip to Horsetown Western Wear over on Shallowford Rd in the far Northeast corner of Marietta & Cobb County.  There was a little camisole she decided to omit from last Sunday’s shopping spree and, well, turns out that she really needed it for her new Stetson embroidered velvet jacket.

Well, as hoped and expected, Debbie gave the new shocks a big thumbs-up accompanied by a huge smile… She was truly amazed at how much more comfortable the bike was.  As we approached a set of railroad tracks just before Horsetown she braced for the usual jolts and nada… smooth as silk. Even going over speed bumps became a non-event with a stiction-free compression stroke and controlled rebound.

Simply awesome! As I suspected, she found everything about riding the Harley “better” during yesterday’s 60 mile ‘first run’ with the Öhlins. The saddle was more comfortable, she never felt like she needed a ‘break’ and was just generally amazed at how smooth all of the roads suddenly became.

The only nit was that the spring size spec’d for our weight was not available in black. So, if you look closely in the photos you’ll notice that our shocks have a yellow-jacket look to them, i.e., two-tone black outer coil with a yellow inboard surface. As a quick fix to satisfy Debbie’s lack of enthusiasm for yellow springs on an otherwise black & silver motorcycle, I wrapped the coils with black vinyl electrician’s tape for this weekend’s rides to camouflage the Öhlin’s-yellow coils.

Next week, the coils will come off the shocks and be sent over to a local powder coater for a proper, permanent black finish. In hindsight, I should have been more clear in making my desire to pay the very reasonable up-charge for having Howard send the springs to his local powder coater before assembling and shipping the shocks. Live and learn, eh?


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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