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Harley bagger suspension upgrades

  1. #1
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    I am ready to put some money into the suspension on my 2005 road king custom. The forks have always sucked and the air shocks sometimes bottom out when two up, even at proper pressure.

    Ive looked into it in the past and procrastinated. Now, it appears that there are a ton of options that did not exist before. When I looked into it maybe five years ago, it looked like the hot set up would be race tech gold valve emulators (love them in my SV!) in the forks and either cheap progressive shocks or relatively expensive Ohlins shocks.

    Now, the gold valves still exist but there are entire cartridge kit replacements by (at least) Ohlins and Fox, as well as shocks by those companies and more.

    Normally Id just ask PK but.

    Anyone have experience/advice in this area? My riding on that bike is largely two up these days but occasional spirited solo rides still happen. Im having a new set of American Elite tires mounted now.

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  2. #2
    Posting Freak Jewcati's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbeek View Post
    I am ready to put some money into the suspension on my 2005 road king custom. The forks have always sucked and the air shocks sometimes bottom out when two up, even at proper pressure.

    I’ve looked into it in the past and procrastinated. Now, it appears that there are a ton of options that did not exist before. When I looked into it maybe five years ago, it looked like the hot set up would be race tech gold valve emulators (love them in my SV!) in the forks and either cheap progressive shocks or relatively expensive Ohlins shocks.

    Now, the gold valves still exist but there are entire cartridge kit replacements by (at least) Ohlins and Fox, as well as shocks by those companies and more.

    Normally I’d just ask PK but….

    Anyone have experience/advice in this area? My riding on that bike is largely two up these days but occasional spirited solo rides still happen. I’m having a new set of American Elite tires mounted now.
    King of the baggers entry??

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  3. #3
    Senior Member ducatirdr's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    I put a set of FOX rear shocks on my former RGS and it made a big difference over stock. The real issue with the Street and Road Glide Specials is that the only have 2 inches of travel. I like the idea of the newer longer travel kits out there for that Bagger racing style ride. Yes it raises the bike up a bit but it's worth it if you plan on holding onto the bike for a number of years. The roads around here require long travel suspensions.

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  4. #4
    Lifer 01xj's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    I put ohlins 159 on my road king. Unbelievable upgrade.

    https://www.ohlinsusa.com/parts/1990...-shocks-hd-159

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  5. #5

    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    I put springs and upgraded the fork oil up front. helped a lot. The rear I just put new stock air shocks on. I blew the old ones out not being careful with how much pressure I added!

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  6. #6
    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    I have nothing really of value to add to this, but I'd like to know what you end up doing and how it worked out. My 2017 SGS has the upgraded suspension, so it's not at the top of my list of to-do's. Forks are Showa's dual bending valve jobbies and the rear are Showa's emulsion something-or-others with one-touch adjuster. I believe the travel was improved to 3.0-3.5" depending on what you read.

    I tried convincing a friend he'd be far better off doing suspension bits on his high mileage '07 Road Glide rather than spend the $1000.00 on his sound system. Nothing happening. And the system doesn't really sound much better than what he had previously.

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  7. #7
    Lifer JohnnyV's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    My friend's dad has done Legends on his past three bikes(Road King and now 2 E-Glide Ultras) and loves them.

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  8. #8
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Yeah, the legends, Fox and ohlins stuff is all on the same price range; I’ve heard of fox before, but always for dirt. I’ve never heard of legends before starting this research, and I’ve heard of ohlins plenty and I’m very happy with what I’ve gotten from them before, so I’d lean that way unless I find a reason otherwise….still searching though hence this post. Adam, the ones I’m coming up with are 772 so I will have to research the difference with the ones you got. Both are 999, I think.

    I’m actually much more curious about the fork options…gold valves or new cartridge kit?

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  9. #9
    Lifer
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Good luck. I'll be watching along.

    I asked PK at one point before I had kids and found something else to blow my money on. He left me feeling that the biggest bang/buck improvement on my '14 RK was going to be to dump the air-over-oil shocks. EVERYONE I talk to echos the same. I posted here about this at one point because my read had always been that forks effected handling the most while rear shock effected ride/comfort the most. I find the handling on my '14 shockingly good for such a heffer. But the ride is disappointing. I always expected the opposite. I expected that grandma's oldsmobile kind of thing; corners like shit, but rides like a cloud.

    I'd focus your money on the rear first. Get a quality shock sprung correctly. Spring rate is less of an issue on these things than the SV given the rider is a (much) smaller percentage of the gross weight. Still, I'm a large human and like my springs stiff. So I'd be looking for a spring rate on the heavy side. Not an option from all sources.
    Fortunately there is a huge market here and plenty of options, some downright reasonably priced. I can't tell if you need top shelf here or if the more reasonable cost options are good 'nuf or not. My hunch is they are. The '17+ bikes have traditional shocks that I am pretty sure are just emulsion type. Everyone raves about them. Harley even sells what I think are basically the same emulsion shock as an upgrade for older air-over-oil models. Google says <$800.

    Me, I simply cannot help myself, so I'd really want something with a remote reservoir or at least bladder type (non emulsion). Probably something anodized in gold. Because yolo or something.
    The catch is, does a reservoir work with the hard bags? I'm a function over form guy in this respect and will not do away with the bags. I think there are options that work, possibly even in that gold anodized finish.

    I don't know if you've had the front end apart on yours. But it is a frickin' project on my '14! My attitude was that gold-valves & springs were going to be quick-n-easy. Especially since I would DIY. Given what a pain in the ass it is to get to the forks I'm not so sure anymore. Makes an argument for buy-once, cry-once and doing it "right". Conversely anything externally adjustable is a bit of a waste as access is such a problem. Ditto for the idea of being able to tweak gold valves. But at least with a ~$150 set of gold valves I am accepting that there is no external adjustability from the jump.

    All that left me feeling like hopping up the forks was probably the LAST thing I'd do as it just didn't feel all that worth it. And as I say I find my '14 handles as well as I want it to. Spend the $ on quality rubber instead.

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  10. #10
    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Any remote res. set-up I've seen on a baggers places them between the bags & fender, out of the way of docking hardware. Of those that I've seen up close & personal, I think it looks pretty slick.

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  11. #11
    Lifer
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Yeah. What is the difference between HD 772 and HD 159??? Looks like the 772 is the 'blackline' and anodized black. That's cool.
    I thought one of their kits was anodized gold. Seems they are not. I think I was comparing 772/159 and HD 039. The 039 being emulsion type and quite reasonably priced. Lots of other options too.

    Do the 772's. Those look the ticket!

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  12. #12
    Lifer
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by Stoneman View Post
    Any remote res. set-up I've seen on a baggers places them between the bags & fender, out of the way of docking hardware. Of those that I've seen up close & personal, I think it looks pretty slick.
    I remember seeing ones with remotes that were piggy-back or fixed, ie not on a hose. I thought I remembered something about having to modify or run without bags. That'd be a non-starter for me.

    Honestly I think the bladder or divided piston type (ie HD772 kit) would be fine and very easy to live with. $1k all in seems reasonable to me too. I think this is where my heart was.

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  13. #13
    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    I remember seeing ones with remotes that were piggy-back or fixed, ie not on a hose. I thought I remembered something about having to modify or run without bags. That'd be a non-starter for me.

    Honestly I think the bladder or divided piston type (ie HD772 kit) would be fine and very easy to live with. $1k all in seems reasonable to me too. I think this is where my heart was.
    I speak of both: piggy-back and remote. The peeps I know that went those routes bought brackets from the respective manufacturer. I should have also mentioned I've seen them mounted right to the rear fender too, but I don't know how that effected any docking hardware.

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  14. #14
    Lifer 01xj's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    772 is just the offering in the Blackline colorway. Features and specs are identical other than color.

    Gary, if you aren't on it already, HDForum is a great resource for this stuff. I spent nights and nights just searching the Touring bike forum and coming through the search results.

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    Last edited by 01xj; 04-06-22 at 01:22 PM.

  15. #15
    Kosher Assassin Stoneman's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    I see Pro Action mentioned a fair amount on some of the HD forums.

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  16. #16
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Harley bagger suspension upgrades-377fcfda-8f15-4dc1-b74a-9b50848d88ec

    Schwing! Got ‘em…

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  17. #17
    Lifer Imbeek's Avatar
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    Re: Harley bagger suspension upgrades

    Took it for a nice long ride into New York State yesterday, two up. Big improvement, would purchase again.

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