How I chose my Shock...(long post) - Road Glide Forums
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-19-2018, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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How I chose my Shock...(long post)

I am posting this to give some insight on shock selection as a layman that I went through as well as give others a chance to enlighten the community on other factors to consider. There are some things that you will be able to define such as shock specs however there will be many subjective areas to consider i.e. quality, ride comfort etc..Here are some of the many things to consider...

Budget-What are you willing to spend??. From my research I think you will need to budget around $600 on new to get a great improvement over stock. I believe the next tier would be around $800 and the really high end shocks at plus $1000. From my research the systems over $1000 would be very minor improvements.

Quality of shock-This would be quite subjective and would need to be fleshed out reading the forums. I don't believe I have personally read of quality issues with any of the manufactures.

Warranty-Warranty may give an indication of a companies trust in the quality of there own product.

Customer support- How willing is the Company going to look after you. Again this would be subjective and you will need to hit the forums.

Does the Company have the ability to rebuild the shock for you and is that important to you? Maybe not an issue for those that upgrade bikes every 5-10 years?? I will admit that I don't know what the longevity of a typical shock would be.

Proposed use of the shock-Are you a solo rider, do you always ride two-up or do you take long trips?. Do you want comfort or do you want sport or do you want the ability to change that. What is the frequency of those changes in riding? If you are consistently a solo rider or consistently a two-up rider then the requirements of the shock are simplified. You can get a shock suitable for you and your payload. Set your pre-load on your spring one time and be done with it all. If you plan on riding your bike solo to work and then ride two-up at night then you have three choices...1.) purchase a shock with a hand adjustable or remote pre-load, 2.) get a shock that you can change the pre-load with tools (not preferred but might work based on your patience and frequency of the change) 3.) get either shock and find a compromise setting and live with it.

Ride height & shock stroke-Are you looking to maintain the stock height, lower it or possibly raise it? All else being equal a shock with more travel will have the ability to better absorb bumps before bottoming out. Realize that if you have four inches of travel the transition to stop will be much smoother than two inches of travel.

Relocation bracket-If you want to lower or maintain your ride height and have the ability to get a shock with longer stroke a relocation bracket will allow this. My understanding is that Super Shox and I believe Pro Action offers this. Maybe others do as well??

Spring rate/Pre-Load/Dampening- Before we get into pre-load and dampening I would say the first step in setting up your suspension would have to be spring(rate) selection. This will be done by your Vendor based on the information about payload that you carry. The purpose of the spring is to allow it to carry the weight of the rider, bike and payload. A spring to light will bottom out the suspension and a spring to heavy will limit the travel of the spring and create a harsh ride. Pre-load is basically used to partially compress the spring. By doing this it will firm up the feel of your bike, raise your bike as a by-product and set up your suspension to be better suited to handle the loads imposed upon it. Another very important part of pre-load is setting up the sag. The sag is essentially how much the suspension lowers once you and your cargo are placed on the bike. This is very important to how the bike responds to bounce. After you it a bump the suspension will first compress past your normal riding position and then return going past your neutral position. Having sag allows "negative suspension before topping out". Now on to dampening. All shocks have some form of dampening. The purpose of dampening is to control the rate of the return of the spring back to its neutral position. Without some form of dampening the spring would act like a pogo stick. The rate of the speed that the spring returns to neutral will vary depending on the forces acting upon it. The shock must have the ability to react to small but very fast bumps. This would require quick acting so that the shock maintains control of the road surface as well as provide a smooth ride. If the dampening is set to light however it will allow the shock to bottom out on large bumps. All shocks would have dampening (compression & rebound) set up at the factory to allow for the best compromise. There are also some manufactures that go a step further by offering hand adjustable dampening adjustments. I can't imagine making these adjustments from road to road. The one area that I have not found out the answer to. "Is there a benefit to dampening adjustment based on solo or two-up. My gut feel is no but I am sure others will chime in?? Anyways sorry for the long read. I look forward to others chiming in.
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 07:44 AM Thread Starter
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Anyone care to chime in on the benefits of adjustable dampening. Is it worthwhile? Are shocks without it set up generically good enough? Does changing your payload require changing your dampening? Thanks for any responses.
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 08:03 AM
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I don't know shit other than how the shock feels to my ass. I bought the Super Shox, preload only. followed instructions on sag. I am amazed at the ride. I am sure there are better, but I am more than happy with the shocks. I cant imagine a better ride, supple, doesn't bottom, feels planted they handle small jagged bumps and large bangers with no problem. If I were racing my half ton behemoth I would probably investigate further. I have only had one season on them, but couldn't be happier. I spent $605 including tax, I can't imagine anything better for under $1,000.
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 02:32 PM
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Personally, I wouldn’t spend $$ on a suspension upgrade if it didn’t enable me to adjust for pre-load and dampening (also known as rebound). Pre-load adjusts for overall load, while dampening adjusts for type of ride desired - similar (in concept) to the adjustable electronic suspension you might have on your auto, e.g., luxury or sport mode. Those who are happy with pre-load only shocks are fortunate to have a ride preference that falls within the manufacturers’ pre-determined specification for dampening. Once set, the only reason to change the dampening is to adjust for your desired ride style (e.g., you prefer a sport ride and your passenger prefers a softer ride).

I would add one additional criteria to your selection list - quality and knowledge of the installer. Suspension upgrades involve tuning the new shocks to your bike, your payload, and your ride preferences. While there are guidelines to follow, tuning the suspension requires an iterative process of install, then adjust/test/adjust/test...until it’s right for your situation. It also requires the owner to learn (and be able to perform) what adjustments are needed when a passenger or additional payload is added (e.g., luggage on a long trip).

Sounds complicated, but the rewards are priceless.
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Some folks seek the comfort of the straight and narrow. Me? I prefer the twisted road.

Last edited by RoadTrip; 03-22-2018 at 02:40 PM.
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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-22-2018, 02:48 PM
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For me, its not what you buy but who you buy it from - I know just enough about shocks to be a complete idiot in the field, but knew what I wanted and wanted to spend - I got hooked up with @Smarty from here and got on the phone with him - 1.5 hours later after talking about everything EXCEPT shocks, (could talk racing with him alllllll day) we discussed what I wanted and needed and how I ride - I now consider myself lucky to call that Chris Christopherson looking motherfucker a friend.......and my RGS is dialed into the road like a sum bitch.

For me, it was trust in the product and person selling them to me - Front and Rear...........and the shocks too

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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Awesome guys, thanks for the input!
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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadTrip View Post
Personally, I wouldn’t spend $$ on a suspension upgrade if it didn’t enable me to adjust for pre-load and dampening (also known as rebound). Pre-load adjusts for overall load, while dampening adjusts for type of ride desired - similar (in concept) to the adjustable electronic suspension you might have on your auto, e.g., luxury or sport mode. Those who are happy with pre-load only shocks are fortunate to have a ride preference that falls within the manufacturers’ pre-determined specification for dampening. Once set, the only reason to change the dampening is to adjust for your desired ride style (e.g., you prefer a sport ride and your passenger prefers a softer ride).

I would add one additional criteria to your selection list - quality and knowledge of the installer. Suspension upgrades involve tuning the new shocks to your bike, your payload, and your ride preferences. While there are guidelines to follow, tuning the suspension requires an iterative process of install, then adjust/test/adjust/test...until it’s right for your situation. It also requires the owner to learn (and be able to perform) what adjustments are needed when a passenger or additional payload is added (e.g., luggage on a long trip).

Sounds complicated, but the rewards are priceless.
I'm curious do your shocks of choice have a hand adjustment for the pre-load and if not do you bother to change the pre-load based on solo or two-up?
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackthunder View Post
I'm curious do your shocks of choice have a hand adjustment for the pre-load and if not do you bother to change the pre-load based on solo or two-up?
Yes (Öhlins use an easy to use tool, others are hand adjustable) and yes...if my payload is changing by more than 25 lbs. My wife only rides with me maybe 20% of the time, but her comfort is paramount because she has had back fusion and is usually "done for the day" if the bike bottoms out hard. Don't ask me how I know this.

A couple of other checklist items to consider:

1) After you get your shocks dialed-in, check your headlight adjustment. A new rear suspension will most likely be higher or lower than the OEM shocks. The headlight was set too low on both of my Rushmore bikes out of the factory, so I encourage everyone to check the adjustment if you haven't already done so.

2) I recommend have BOTH rear shocks be adjustable. I've not tried them personally, but logic tells me that the H-D Premiums (only one shock adjustable) would result in the rear suspension being less stable since only one side is providing the improved pre-load and dampening. Actual results may vary and I don't doubt they are an improvement over the air shock, just wouldn't expect them to be comparable with the Super Shox or Öhlins Blackline 772, for example.

Some folks seek the comfort of the straight and narrow. Me? I prefer the twisted road.
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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-23-2018, 05:21 PM
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All I'm going to say is you are wrong on your assumptions right off the start. I've owned Progressive 940, Ricor, JRi, Ohlins #3-#3 and #6. I have ridden bikes set up for me with Bitubo, Pro Action and a few others. Saying shocks over $1000 offer very little benefit over less expensive shocks is pure bullshit. My Ohlins #6's are the best on the market by a long way and yes they are over $1000. The problem with higher end shocks is they are much more adjustable which is what allows you to dial them in better for a world class ride. Adjusted correctly they are worlds better, adjusted wrong and they are no better or worse than shocks that cost less. Guys buy the top end and do not learn how to adjust them so they adjust them wrong, get a poor ride and then blame it on the shock and guys like you believe them. You are posting bad information.


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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tj316 View Post
All I'm going to say is you are wrong on your assumptions right off the start. I've owned Progressive 940, Ricor, JRi, Ohlins #3-#3 and #6. I have ridden bikes set up for me with Bitubo, Pro Action and a few others. Saying shocks over $1000 offer very little benefit over less expensive shocks is pure bullshit. My Ohlins #6's are the best on the market by a long way and yes they are over $1000. The problem with higher end shocks is they are much more adjustable which is what allows you to dial them in better for a world class ride. Adjusted correctly they are worlds better, adjusted wrong and they are no better or worse than shocks that cost less. Guys buy the top end and do not learn how to adjust them so they adjust them wrong, get a poor ride and then blame it on the shock and guys like you believe them. You are posting bad information.
Tell me how you really feel Lol. All joking aside my post is simply my point of view as a layman and I stated as much. In my research I realized it could be very confusing to the average rider that just wants to improve his ride. My hope was to assemble a bit of information as well as welcome input from others to allow newbies to really decide what is and isn't important to them. I also welcomed to be corrected. Other reviewers have stated that the next level of shocks beyond $1000 provided diminished returns. My post was most definitely not meant to be the final answer. Sorry you took such offence. For the membership, what percentage of an improvement would you say your shocks would be over sub $1000? I have no doubt others would go that path.
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