The new Rubber Paved Road – Traxxion Dynamics AK-20’s (abbreviated version)
Well, I’ve gotten 1,500+ miles under my belt with the Traxxion AK-20’s and now I’m ready to provide a general review of this top tier aftermarket front end cartridge system offered by Traxxion Dynamics for Harley Touring motorcycles.
My install was done by the only Traxxion Dynamics authorized installer (I think?) in the Northeast; Rocket Moto @ www.rocketmoto.com
located in Hollis, New Hampshire – which is a short ride from Boston, MA.
My experience at Rocket Moto: Owner Adam and his wife are two of the most professional and friendly people you could ever meet. Leading up to the install, Adam and his staff responded quickly to all of my emails and phone inquires I placed inquiring about their services and the Traxxion AK-20 install. Adam’s knowledge and passion for his craft came through loud and clear as I asked my questions, which put any concerns I had about spending $1,400+ (parts and install) to rest. It was refreshing to talk to someone who knows what they’re talking about and who can convey information in a clear and concise manner to their customer. Rocket Moto was also very accommodating by allowing odd drop off and pick up times for my motorcycle. For those interested in installing the Traxxion AK-20 on their Harley Touring and live in the Northeast or outside the Northeast for that matter, I highly recommend Adam @ Rocket Moto.
Adam mentioned one other important fact I want to share. Invariably, with many new mechanical based products there is usually some sort of break-in period before said product performs at its optimum design. So I asked Adam what that period was (in miles) for the Traxxion AK-20’s? He stated – there is no break-in period, the Traxxion AK-20’s perform 100% once installed – we shall see.
Preface; I have ridden my previous 2008 Harley Road Glide coast (Boston) to coast (LA) and have ridden my current 2009 CVO Road Glide north of Nova Scotia and south of Georgia, Texas and other states within the last couple years. I fully understand how my motorcycle handles on all types of roads and in all types of weather conditions. The only enhancements I made to my previous 2008 suspension was to add heavier SE fork oil to stiffen up the front end to reduce the nose dive effect and also I added a True Track stabilization device to this Road Glide as well. My 2009 CVO Road Glide handles better than the 2008, with True Track, as the redesign in the frame and other enhancements were employed during the 2009 model year. Therefore, any future upgrades to my 2009 CVO Road Glide, I wanted to go “full monty”.
Now for my initial riding experience after the Traxxion AK-20’s was installed. I left Rocket Moto around 9:00pm to motor home and when I sat on the bike, I knew something special was done. Moving the handlebar left too right was more precise than it had been. Turning the bike around to head out of the driveway was less strenuous and feathering first gear felt smoother for some reason – quite possible a placebo moment. Still in first gear, leaving the long driveway / cul-de-sac area from Rocket Moto, the front end felt like I was riding on a Rubber Paved Road.
The new Traxxion AK-20 front end felt surefooted and responsive and I never felt smoothness on a motorcycle to this degree. My initial thought was; the air must be low in my front tire. As I continued home (60 miles or so) I started looking for irregularities on the road / highway to feel how things would shake out – pun intended. I then began to remember Adam explained the finer details of the Traxxion AK-20 install and how I could make adjustments to the cartridges. One of his comments was, “you will notice how the rear end of the motorcycle will not keep up with the front end – you will feel how the back end will be harsh and/or not as controlled over bumps and road irregularities”
No truer words have been spoken. Going over bumps and road irregularities, the Traxxion AK-20 front end would “do nothing”, but the Harley back end would crash downward. For clarification, when I state that the front end would do nothing, I mean it was as quiet as a church mouse but maintained the proper tracking. On my previous 2008 Road Glide and my current 2009 CVO Road Glide (before the Traxxion AK-20 install) the front end would make muted to moderate clunking noises as I would go over a bump or drive over road irregularities. After the Traxxion AK-20 install, there is complete silence from the front end.
For the next 1,500 +/-100 miles, I put my 2009 CVO Road Glide through its paces with the new Traxxion AK-20 front end leading the way. Each time out, I would ride about 250 – 300 miles – checking for front fork oil leaks, listening for any new sound, feeling handlebar feedback and general motorcycle reaction to bumps and road irregularities.
Observations related to the 1,500 miles after returning home:
First observation; the CVO Road Glide always performed well in crosswinds and passing semi trucks on the highway. I never thought the experience of traversing these road conditions were problematic due to the frame mounted “Shark Nose” fairings ability to slice through the wind. The Traxxion AK-20 front end enhanced an already great attribute of the frame mounted fairing. During my testing period, I purposely sought out semi trucks on the road and rode in the rain with heavy winds (yeah, I know not safe – only did this once) and could not believe the improvement in stability the front end has.
Second observation; for those in the know, owners of the Traxxion AK-20 cartridge system can make manual adjustments to the cartridges; i.e., turn left on the internal knobs and the cartridges get softer, turn right and the cartridges firm up. Adam explained that the Traxxion AK-20’s offers a full 3 turns of adjustment. He, (and I assume all) as a factory authorized Traxxion AK-20 installer set the cartridges midway of the total adjustment; 1 ½ turns. Adam showed me how I can get my index finger between the opening in the covers that enclose the forks and handlebar risers to make adjustments on the fly. During test ride #2, I increased the damping on the cartridges by a mere quarter turn to the right. My quarter turn adjustment firmed up the front end more than I expected. For this test ride, the front end still exhibited the same premium characteristics it did previously but now it felt more Ferrari like and less Mercedes like – if that makes sense. Still very much in control and there was no sound from the front end over bumps and road irregularities but the front end remained firm – not to be confused with stiff. When I made it home, I changed the settings back to the factory 1 ½ midway setting and all was back to normal.
Third observation: Cornering felt more surefooted than in the past. The bike was easier to lean into corners and straighten up when rolling on the throttle out of a turn. The front tire felt planted to the pavement but didn’t communicate much through the handlebar. This is the feeling of riding on a “Rubber Paved Road” I mentioned in the heading. I don’t know how Traxxion Dynamics accomplished this but it works and works well.
Last observation; there is nothing else to report other than I have ultimate compliance from the front end of my motorcycle.
To digress - the million dollar question I wondered about while riding; would the Traxxion AK-20 front end work the same magic on a Harley Batwing fairing motorcycle as it does on the Shark Nose frame mounted fairing motorcycle? I love my 2009 CVO Road Glide, but IMO there is nothing more iconic on 2 wheels than a Harley Batwing fairing motorcycle. It looks utter perfect to me. If a Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 front end suspension upgrade can make the Batwing traverse crosswinds and pass semi trucks with the aplomb of the Road Glides frame mounted Shark Nose fairing, then motorcycle options will open up for me in the future. Until then – Shark Nose all the way.
The issue now, I have to get the rear end into the same league as the front end. After an extensive research, I have decided to ask Howard Messner of Motorcycle Metal to cook up some Ohlins 3-3 for me. Once I receive them and get them installed, I will provide a write up on their suitability with the Traxxion AK-20’s.
Lastly, I would be remised if I didn’t comment on the “would I buy them again question”. The answer would be absolutely for my first suspension upgrade on my 2009 CVO Road Glide. Now, if I had two touring bikes, I would not put the Traxxion AK-20’s on the second bike because 1: These things are expensive – money well spent – but expensive. 2: From what I’ve read (have not tried) the Progressive Monotubes gets you close to the performance of the Traxxion AK-20’s for a fraction of the cost. If that’s true, that is a good thing and a choice I’d probable consider for a second suspension upgrade and 3: Once the Traxxion AK-20’s are installed, it’s a done deal as you can’t take them out of your forks. You have to take your forks off if you want to transfer them to another bike. Case in point; leaving Progressive Monotubes in your trade in / sale won’t hurt as much as leaving AK-20’s in. For my keeper ride – it would be the Traxxion AK-20’s.
So there you have it – one man’s opinion of the Traxxion Dynamics AK-20 front end suspension upgrade for Harley Touring bikes. I’m extremely happy with my choice of the Traxxion AK-20’s and just as happy with Adam @ Rocket Moto as the authorized installer. Besides, Adam was 100% correct in that I didn’t notice any characteristic changes in the Traxxion AK-20’s after 1,500 miles of service – they worked great right out of the box. Thank you for reading this review and most importantly tell someone you love that you love them and wishing you all the best in your personal, professional and spiritual endeavors.
Now time to ride the Rubber Paved Roads again.