Keep Your Harley’s Ride Smooth With These Shocks
Harley Davidson is known for producing some of the best bikes in the world. And if you own one, you know already that that’s not an exaggeration. The parts are durable and long-lasting, giving riders comfort and style at the same time. But there are parts that could be improved greatly over what’s attached to the bikes when they’re on the assembly line. Shocks are one of those.
While the default shocks have positive attributes, rides could be too soft or uncomfortable when driving around pavement that’s bumpy. Irritation can quickly settle in, leading one to search for new shocks that improve height and comfort all at once. Below are nine of the best shocks for Harley Davidson bikes, including an in-depth Buyer’s guide that will help you shorten the brands that are right for you. In the conclusion, two of the best picks are listed, but it’s recommended that you sort through the options and view the comparison table as well since some shocks are solely for the front and rear.
This comparison chart lists some of the primary differences on the shocks that are reviewed. Use it to determine the type, color, and the Harley that it’s suited for. If you need more information that isn’t provided, the links next to the brand’s title show the product’s description and purchasing options.
Best Shocks for Harley Davidson in January, 2019
Progressive Suspension 944-4020UT – Best Harley Touring Shocks
The Progressive Suspension 944-4020UT is an all-touring shock that’s outfitted to be used for people that are planning on riding with a passenger. But even if that’s not the case, installing it on a bike for only yourself could be a huge benefit, especially if you weight upwards of 250 pounds or more. Directions are easy to follow, and the shocks can be fully installed in less than three hours.
Best Shocks For Rebound Reduction
When they’re ready, you’ll notice that the rebound is completely gone; no more annoying bounces or bumps that irritate your back and lead to pain behind your torso. It graces through tight curves nicely without causing bottom out.
HD 022 Ohlins – Best Shocks For Long Distance Travel
The HD 022 Ohlins Shocks are black and grey in color, having great absorption in areas that a littered with abrupt irregularities on the road. Although you should always try to avoid potholes, the impact will go over much better when these are fitted to your bike. Bottom out won’t happen, and unlike air shocks, the bumps won’t push your tire upwards to a degree that makes it come off the surface from everyday bumps.
You can also get preload settings from the company before or after to buy (to ensure that the shocks fit your bike based on weight, height, etc.)
XMT-MOTO – Harley Air Ride Suspension Kit
The XMT-MOTO Rear Suspension Shocks are more touring parts for your wheels. With this product, it’s all about the height. You won’t experience any significant changes to it, as the measurements are precise. That means you’ll get about two inches up or down, but no more than three. This is good at preventing your engine from touching the bottom and helps with acceleration.
The bumps won’t get stronger when you’re at high speed. And if concerned for installation, this is as easy as it gets. You could do it yourself without any help, just by looking at the manual.
BURLY B28-1201B – Best Shocks for SportsterChanges to height are good and will take it down to approximately two inches. If your bike sits low already, be careful to test drive it as to ensure that nothing comes close to the concrete. And if you have someone else tagging along with you, softening is likely to occur, depending on their weight. Heavier passengers will increase these effects, but not so much if both weigh about the same.
If you’re looking for slammers that are visually appealing and fit to even out a good balance of soft and stiff absorption, this is suggested for you.*Green*
Factory Spec FS-04505 – Harley Sportster Lowering Kit
The Factory Spec FS-04505 are shocks for the Sportster, measuring 10.5 inches in length. You can pre-load them during adjustments, and wrenches would be all you need to get it to the desired height. It’s a good buy for shorter riders, and will greatly help with reach. No longer will you have to put up with straining yourself to put your foot down on the ground without relying on the kickstand.
And for looks, the black color looks well on most bikes but isn’t mirror finish, meaning that they go well with bike colors which follow the same paint style. Just do your homework with the spacers, as no instructions are given with the product. If that isn’t a problem, then the Factory Spec could work out well for your Harley.
Progressive Suspension 412-4062B – Best Shocks for Harley Davison Dyna
The level of adjustments is good as well and should smoothen the ride when you’re operating the bike with someone that puts on more weight than yourself. You will need additional tools to install it on your own though, and the bottom out could occur if done at the lowest point. When set high, the shocks function just as any other on the list would.
Progressive Suspension 422-4002C – Heavy Duty Rear Suspension for Softail
The 422-4002C by Progressive Suspension is another shock that’s pure eye candy. The chrome finish is very nice and will make any bike look like an entirely different model once installed.
There’s two inches or less for the adjustment, with a wrench included that will help you get it to the right point that you want. It’s a firm ride that’ll alleviate strain from ordinary shocks but feels slightly stiff when you’re at speed close to 60 miles per hour.
Other than that, there’s not much else to complain about, so consider it if you need something that’s pretty and functions well on a Softail.
Progressive Monotube Fork Cartridge Kit – Best Front Suspension for Harley Touring
Fits 1997-2013 Touring
Fits 2014+ Touring
The Progressive Suspension 31-2500 and 31-4000 are included together since they’re both likes, although one (the 31-2500) also features the fork cartridge included with the pack. They give good control in the front and can be installed with 2 spacers.
When you’re done, the ride will be similar to that of a sports bike, meaning that your position won’t change from movement around roads with a lot of bumps. Stability is consistent and will feel still at times, something that won’t change much no matter what height you have to set to. Regardless, use it if you think you’re adding lots of weight towards the front of your bike.
BURLY B28-1006 – Best Slammer Kit for Harley Dyna and Fatbob
The final product is the Burly B28-1006, a slammer kit that keeps its setup simple. You won’t need to waste time with too many parts, as the product can be installed with minimal items. In fact, you might have it on your bike in as little as one hour.
There a height reduction of about two inches and medium-to-short riders should be able to balance the Harley without stretching their legs too far. While the height could be different is used on a Harley alternative, it should go down to the point where you’ll experience bottoming.
Best Shocks for Harley Davidson – Buyer’s Guide
If you own a Harley, chances are good that you would be better suited for a new pair of shocks, especially if you’re still relying on those that were assembled alongside the bike itself. Front and rear shocks will help you travel the road much easier. But given the variety and specifications listed that cater to specific bikes, you should definitely do your homework. The guide below serves as a gateway to help you find out which shocks are best for your bike and style of riding.
Passenger or No Passenger?
As you may already know, motorcycles differ in the level of comfort based on how many passengers are on the bike. While there’s usually just two, the second person could make a huge difference regarding which choices of shocks is best for you to ride. This is due to many factors, but most notably the risk of bottom out take place (detailed further) .
Also, more weight means more strain on the shocks when they cruise over bumps of any sort on the road, so you’ll definitely feel it more if you’re riding in a place with poor road conditions. From this, you should look for shocks that have a high weight limit. To get an accurate listing of this, you could either call or refer to the manufacturer’s website. And be sure to pick up rear shocks as well, especially if you do ride with a passenger on most occasions.
Most shocks for Harleys can be adjusted a few inches, according to the how high or low the users wants the bike to sit from the ground. Most people aim for a lower height than what’s given on factory shocks, but there are exceptions. If you’re planning on getting your ride installed at a shop, be sure to let them know how low. If you’re short, doing down about two inches would probably be best, as your foot would reach the pavement much easier. It could also help you gain better control and confidence in your riding since you won’t be wasting time getting your foot adjusted or pushing down the kickstand when it’s not necessary (red lights, sitting in traffic, etc.) Every brand above has the ability to be modified by height, but the length itself doesn’t change from brand to brand very much.
Stiff or Soft?
Shocks can be either stiff or soft. Depending on your preferences you may like softer brands over those which are stiff. But too soft can also be an annoyance. It’s best to pick one that has a feel that’s in between the two. Rear suspension springs are a toss-up as well but may perform better when a little stiff. If you’re going to be riding alone, more stiffness shouldn’t be needed in most instances.
Front shocks are best when soft, which helps absorb most impacts without it leading to a distraction from your driving. When assembled correctly, your ride should be smooth. Try them out by driving normally. If you don’t feel as much as what was given from the shocks before, then your bike’s springs are good to go.
Easing the Pain
One of the biggest complaints about Harley’s standard shocks riding with them. They can be so uncomfortable to some that just one brief ride could result in moderate to severe back pain. For the elderly, the annoyance could become debilitating to the point where the bike cannot be ridden at all. This is one of the reasons many people begin to search for new shocks in the first place.
Although every person varies, all of the shocks above will reduce pain almost immediately when you’re on the bike. Fewer bumps mean more relaxed rides, and you won’t be fixated on getting your stance right. Doing this can stiffen your back and make it difficult to go over normal road imperfections that you would have trouble with on better shocks. As such, look for those which will allow you to accelerate without moving your legs too much.
If you don’t know how to install your shocks alone, it should be easy to find a place that can do it for you. But if you’re trying to save money, using an install guide from the internet could be of great help. Not off shocks have detailed instructions, and some manuals could even be missing key areas that one should know about before install begins. You could also look on YouTube, but be aware that some videos could also have you assemble the shocks in a way to which isn’t recommended by the manufacturer. When in doubt, always contact the brand and ask them for tips.
Putting on shocks incorrectly could lead to leaks and bottom out very quickly. While buying those that are easiest to install shouldn’t be the main buying factor in the shocks listed, having something that can go on without spending a day (or an investment at a shop) setting it up is an added bonus.
Bottom out is an occurrence in both automobiles and motorcycles. It refers to when the lower part of your bike hits the asphalt during transit. This is more likely to happen when your shocks are adjusted too low for your bike. If your Harley is low and is a risk of touching the pavement when your riding, don’t make the mistake of adjusting them too much.
Furthermore, some shocks that are labeled to go down to one inch could be inaccurate by a margin of one to two inches. Other times, the margin is the opposite. After riding on your new shocks, look at the frame if you notice an awkward hit. If there’s nothing there, check out the motor gashes or cracks. This is a good sign that you’ve adjusted too low, or that you gauged the height incorrectly. To prevent further damage, bring your height up a notch. Doing this could save you lots of time (and funds) from not having to tend to later repair work.
After going through the reviews and setting the shocks evaluated, you probably have an idea about which is best for your Harley. There are both front and rear shocks, so be sure that what you’re getting is the one you actually need. Additionally, know whether or not it will fit your bike. If you’re using a bike that isn’t a Harley, you may have more choices available but require extensive tuning before it ready to go next to your wheels.
Regardless, the top two picks from the list are the Progressive Suspension 944-4020UT (rear) and 31-4000 (front), chosen from their smooth performance over rough pavement and relatively easy setup. But don’t discard your consideration for the others, which could be refined to fit your bike better. No matter which shocks you do purchase, it’s a guarantee that the product will be much more enjoyable on your bike than what’s provided from the factory brand. And with more absorption comes better or longer rides during your travels.