Back on Sept 15th I penned a blog entry entitled Shock-Shopping for the Road King when I began to give up hope that the stock “Hand Adjustable Premium Shock from Harley-Davidson” on our Road King would ever meet my expectations for how shocks should work.
After considering my options — another set of Ohlins, a set of Works, or a set of Bitutos — I decided to give the Bitubo’s a try. They’re being sold by a local distributor — Traxxion Dynamics — who also offers a very nice fork cartridge that I’ve been considering for the Road King.
Dan is the Harley expert at Traxxion and he recommended Bitubo’s WME shock; however, he also noted the Bitubo’s were on backorder but due in fairly soon. I kept my fingers crossed that they’d arrive before we headed to Panama City Beach early on Oct 3rd.
They did, in fact, arrive in time. I picked-up and installed the shocks on Tuesday, Oct 1st. Dan already had our two-up riding weight so the spring pre-load was already adjusted. The material quality looked excellent and installation took all of about 15 minutes, where half of that time was simply jacking up the bike and taking-off / re-installing the saddlebags. Aside from that, it was just plug and play: remove two bolts + shock and install with the replacement shock using the same two bolts. No spacers or any special adjustments were needed.
Out of the box and with just my weight, the shocks didn’t seem to be a huge improvement over the stock shocks on the quick post-installation ride. However, even just riding solo the shocks performance quickly improved as what I suspect may have been some initial stiction went away as the shocks broke-in. I was cautiously optimistic that the bike would feel much improved once Miss Debbie was aboard: we were not disappointed.
While they weren’t as ‘plush’ as the Ohlins on our Wide Glide, I suspect that’s not a bad thing as the Ohlins spring was really optimized for one-up riding and I probably never put enough pre-load on the springs when we rode two-up, as we bottomed out a bit too easily. Not so on the Road King with the Bitubos: they had a very comfortable ride and smoothed out the bumps without any wallowing. I think we bottomed out twice in the 900 or so miles we rode on Oct 3 – Oct 6 and those were some pretty good bumps. The only thing they didn’t seem to handle as well as I would have liked were heavily broken-up or uneven pavement sections: just seemed like there was a lot more “chatter” coming through the rear-end of the bike than I would have expected with the Bitubos. Then again, the front forks are still stock and, well… awful. So, I suspect once those are upgraded with the cartridges from Traxxion Dynamics the overall feel of the bike on cruddy roads will be much better.
Bottom Line: We’re VERY pleased with the improvement in performance. I would have liked to have a little more adjustability and may need to talk about that with Dan at Traxxion when I talk about setting up an appointment to have the front suspension upgraded.