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Discussion Starter #1
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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Discussion Starter #2
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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter #6
Awesome guys, thanks for the input!
 

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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.
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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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.
 

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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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Discussion Starter #10
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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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I should add I totally agree with you Tj316 about people not learning how to do your setup properly and the case would be worse movingly beyond preload adjustment and getting into compression and rebound on the higher end shocks.
 
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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.
Hey thanks for the input. I agree with you on your second point too but strangely I had adjustable one side only progressives on my Breakout and come to think of it I don't recall anything different between leaning left or right.
 

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Progressives front and rear

Several years several of my friends, who also have 2009 CVOs, and I switched out the suspensions to Progressive Monos in the forks and 444s in the rear. What a fantastic difference. Made the suspension like a Porche Carrera. It hugs the road like a spider. Still riding my 2009 FLTRSE3 and my stock 2017 FLTRU has a similar feel.
 

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Blackthunder, I didn't mean to come on strong but I am a suspension junky and I hate it when people blame quality products on their lack of ability to understand what the shock is telling them and then properly adjust it from that information. I have said many many times, most riders are better off with a good shock that has preload adjustment only. These shocks are easy to set up and adjust and will deliver a good ride. Once you get into better shocks with rebound adjust or with compression and rebound adjustments you had better be committed to learning and understanding the adjustments or you are wasting your money and will never get the performance out of the shock that you paid for. I raced professionally up into my early 30's but for some reason always assumed a Harley rode like it did because it was a Harley and never considered doing suspension upgrades on it like my race bikes. That changed when I won a set of Progress 940 shocks when they were first released. I bought the monotubes and installed them at the same time. The bike was literally transformed and the ride improvement was huge. With that I was so impressed I started thinking I wonder if there is even better available and I started down the suspension highway buying and trying different brands looking for the best. Most all aftermarket shocks out there are a vast improvement over stock, so it really comes down to each individual and what they are looking for. Many are looking for just better than stock, some want a lot better and others the best available. No one is wrong, it's all what you want and what you can afford. I like to ride aggressive both 1up and 2up so I want the best because I understand the true benefit of a quality suspension is improved traction which can save your life, the side benefit is a smoother more comfortable ride. Good luck to all whatever you choose.
 

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Blackthunder, I didn't mean to come on strong but I am a suspension junky and I hate it when people blame quality products on their lack of ability to understand what the shock is telling them and then properly adjust it from that information. I have said many many times, most riders are better off with a good shock that has preload adjustment only. These shocks are easy to set up and adjust and will deliver a good ride. Once you get into better shocks with rebound adjust or with compression and rebound adjustments you had better be committed to learning and understanding the adjustments or you are wasting your money and will never get the performance out of the shock that you paid for. I raced professionally up into my early 30's but for some reason always assumed a Harley rode like it did because it was a Harley and never considered doing suspension upgrades on it like my race bikes. That changed when I won a set of Progress 940 shocks when they were first released. I bought the monotubes and installed them at the same time. The bike was literally transformed and the ride improvement was huge. With that I was so impressed I started thinking I wonder if there is even better available and I started down the suspension highway buying and trying different brands looking for the best. Most all aftermarket shocks out there are a vast improvement over stock, so it really comes down to each individual and what they are looking for. Many are looking for just better than stock, some want a lot better and others the best available. No one is wrong, it's all what you want and what you can afford. I like to ride aggressive both 1up and 2up so I want the best because I understand the true benefit of a quality suspension is improved traction which can save your life, the side benefit is a smoother more comfortable ride. Good luck to all whatever you choose.
All good TJ, I wholeheartedly agree with your post. I am hoping for "a lot better than stock" without going to the next level of a shock with adjustable dampening. Curious with your dampening do you just set it and forget it? Or do you make adjustments when going to two up or different riding styles?
 

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What I did was I found a rough section of road and made passes up and down it making adjustments to my shocks. I like doing it this way because since I'm going back over the same road I just went down I can really tell what the adjustments did. Once I dialed it in 1up I put the wife on the back, I found out I didn't have to mess with the rebound or compression but just add preload. Once I got it dialed in 2up I added my tour pak and loaded it down, put the wife on the back and did the same thing. I now have 3 settings, 1up, 2up and 2up loaded. All 3 adjustments are made with preload only after my initial setting of the compression and preload. My wife says the bike rides amazingly smooth and she would know because the ride sitting over the rear tire is much more harsh than the riders sitting between the two tires.
 

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I just installed Ohlins 772`s that I purchased from Smarty here on this site, the ride is amazing compared to the stock Showa shocks on the 2017 RG. I put about 120 miles on them on Saturday, 40 of them in the Canyons of Socal. All I can tell you is the bike feels lighter and more flickable with much more planted feel with a greatly improved ride over all the barking bumps and potholes.
 

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I just installed Ohlins 772`s that I purchased from Smarty here on this site, the ride is amazing compared to the stock Showa shocks on the 2017 RG. I put about 120 miles on them on Saturday, 40 of them in the Canyons of Socal. All I can tell you is the bike feels lighter and more flickable with much more planted feel with a greatly improved ride over all the barking bumps and potholes.
Do they have more travel than 2.1 inches like the stock shit shocks?
 

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Blackthunder, I didn't mean to come on strong but I am a suspension junky and I hate it when people blame quality products on their lack of ability to understand what the shock is telling them and then properly adjust it from that information. I have said many many times, most riders are better off with a good shock that has preload adjustment only. These shocks are easy to set up and adjust and will deliver a good ride. Once you get into better shocks with rebound adjust or with compression and rebound adjustments you had better be committed to learning and understanding the adjustments or you are wasting your money and will never get the performance out of the shock that you paid for. I raced professionally up into my early 30's but for some reason always assumed a Harley rode like it did because it was a Harley and never considered doing suspension upgrades on it like my race bikes. That changed when I won a set of Progress 940 shocks when they were first released. I bought the monotubes and installed them at the same time. The bike was literally transformed and the ride improvement was huge. With that I was so impressed I started thinking I wonder if there is even better available and I started down the suspension highway buying and trying different brands looking for the best. Most all aftermarket shocks out there are a vast improvement over stock, so it really comes down to each individual and what they are looking for. Many are looking for just better than stock, some want a lot better and others the best available. No one is wrong, it's all what you want and what you can afford. I like to ride aggressive both 1up and 2up so I want the best because I understand the true benefit of a quality suspension is improved traction which can save your life, the side benefit is a smoother more comfortable ride. Good luck to all whatever you choose.
Are there any good reads out there that you, or anybody reading this can recommend, that will help a novice learn to properly adjust shock compression and rebound? Choosing the right spring and setting preload is simple enough but, fine tuning a good set of motorcycle shocks beyond that definitely takes some advanced knowledge that is not easy to come by.
 
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