|The Mighty Paint Shaker|
After talking with some of the lads at work I decided to give Progressive Suspension (http://www.progressivesuspension.com/) a try. I'd had had good luck with the brand in the past with some of my sport bikes, and figured it would be a low risk choice. What wasn't so low risk was my decision to go with the "lowered" shocks and forks. Contradictory as it sounds, I like to flog the big pig rather aggressively, and the thoughts of grinding its tender underbelly on the unforgiving Texas tarmac seemed, well, just a bit cruel. Not to mention that unweighting the rear suspension at an inopportune moment could ruin ones whole day.
Not to worry says Richard, a colleague, and a more than capable FLH pilot with just the same Progressive bits affixed to his rig that I was contemplating acquiring. We had ridden together (along with a gaggle of TR folks) on a three day trek to the hills of Arkansas and he seemed to have absolutely no issues hustling his Harley with velocity and gusto through fast sweepers and tight first gear 180's. "Don't worry", he said, "the suspension works so much better, you really won't notice the reduced ground clearance". Hmmm, I dunno.
|Progressive's Monotube Fork Cartridge Kit|
We started off by chucking the stock rear units (OK, full disclosure, the crew from A Biker's Garage, http://www.abikersgarage.com/ in Roanoke Texas did all the heavy lifting in the technical department. Thanks Bob, Dave, and Trent) and installing a pair of Progressive 940 Ultra Touring Series shocks (MSRP $699.95). These bad boys drop the ride height one full inch, while retaining all the stock travel for a smooth ride. They're adjustable as well, coming from the factory in the "full soft" mode (who's gonna stick with that setting....I mean, really!?). We set them at the half way mark just to have a starting point.
|The 940's are a snap to install|
|Touring Link tames that unhinged feeling|
The first thing I noticed was how much more "planted" the bike felt. It was stiffer, front and rear, but not harsh. To be honest, it kinda reminded me of the ride characteristics of some of my sport bikes. There was a feeling of enhanced control, lots of feedback coming back through the bars, very nice. After logging a few miles it was time for the first serious "test"; fork dive under braking. Here goes, a swift exit from the freeway, storm hell bent down to a four-way stop. Wait for it. wait for it. Now. A stout squeeze on the lever and the Performance Machine six piston calipers and full floating disks do their job, and so do the new Monotube forks. Amazing, dive was reduced significantly, maybe 30% to 40%. Not to mention the increased "feel" at the front wheel, OK, that was cool.
|Touring Link installed on the Road King|
As for the ground clearance issue. the jury is still out. On a couple of corners I ground a bit, nothing major, but we touched down nonetheless. To be fair, these roads are all fairly new to me, and chances are I may have sent sparks flying with the Road King in its former stock configuration. Only more miles and twists will tell. The bike obviously sits lower, you'll notice the first time you put the jiffy stand down after installing the suspension, it's the little things.
|Paint Shaker's new stance...bueno|