Shock-Shopping for the Road King….

And so it continues…  upgrading, that is.

Hard to believe that Harley-Davidson’s top-shelf motorcycles are still fitted with antiquated shock absorber technology that beat riders-up instead of a modern suspension system that, well, suspends the bike and provides passengers with a comfortable and easily controlled ride.

Screen shot 2013-09-15 at 10.27.53 PM

Harley calls these purportedly high-end touring shocks the “Premium Ride Hand-Adjustable Rear Shocks” and sells them for $500 as an aftermarket upgrade.  The description in the catalog goes on to say, “Experience the ultimate in ride quality with these Premium Touring Shocks. These shocks utilize a single tube, nitrogen charged emulsion design.”  Features include:

  • Offers enhanced compression and rebound damping compared to the Original Equipment-style air adjustable shocks
  • Provides a controlled yet plush ride with less bottoming
  • Compression and rebound damping is split between the two shocks – compression on the right and rebound on the left
  • Design balances the load of each shock; stiff spring with rebound damping on the left and soft spring with compression damping on the right
  • Larger chambers (40mm diameter pistons & 14mm rods) allow these shocks to react more quickly to impacts – this keeps the tires tracking while minimizing harshness transmitted through the frame
  • Knob behind the left saddlebag allows the rider to conveniently modify the spring preload via a hydraulic adjuster
  • Available in Standard Ride Height and Low Ride Height versions

That all sounds good, but when adjusted per the manual for our weight — 9 turns — there’s almost zero SAG, which is not usually a good thing.  Hit a bump and that lack of suspension travel becomes glaringly apparent.  I will try to lighten up the pre-load a bit for our next ride, but I plan to start collecting pricing info on Öhlins (below left) and BiTubo (below right) rear shocks this week so that I can make sure we’ll have a comfy / controlled ride on the way to Panama City Beach in early October.

S36PR1C1LB Screen shot 2013-09-15 at 10.28.20 PM


SDC10669I changed out the stock shocks on our 2011 Dyna Wide Glide for a set of Öhlins and it truly transformed the bike from a near-Hard Tail to a very comfortable sport / touring bike.  I bought these from Motorcycle Metal in Florida, but have since discovered that we have our very-own motorcycle suspension specialty manufacturer and shop just up the road in Canton, GA. So, I’ll likely check with them as they offer the Öhlins, Penske and Italian-made BiTubo shocks.

They also offer a fork kit, but I’m not sure I’m ready to drop that kind of coin right now.  This “fully upgraded Harley” seems to be drawing just as much $$ for upgrades as I put into our Wide Glide, i.e, exhaust system, suspension, rear racks.

More to follow….


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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