Air Suspension Options for Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles by Harley Insider

Motorcycle Suspension Systems: Enhancing Comfort and Safety

Motorcycle suspensions are an intricate interplay of physics, working diligently behind the scenes to ensure a smooth ride while absorbing road imperfections. Without a well-configured suspension setup, encountering a pothole can result in a jarring experience that momentarily ejects riders from their saddles. This not only causes discomfort but also poses a significant risk of losing control, not to mention potential damage to rims and tires.

Motorcyclists who have undergone such unnerving encounters can personally vouch for the indispensable value of a finely tuned suspension system. Enter airbag systems, a popular option among Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. These systems enhance ride comfort for both rider and passenger, while also minimizing the likelihood of suspension bottoming out. In this article, we will delve into the inner workings of motorcycle suspension setups, explore the benefits and drawbacks of airbag suspensions, and evaluate various air suspension alternatives available for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Improve Your Riding Experience with Motorcycle Suspension Systems

A well-functioning suspension system is essential for optimizing your motorcycle’s performance and ensuring a safe and enjoyable ride. By understanding the principles underlying these systems, riders can appreciate the intricate balance at play.

Enhanced Comfort and Safety: Airbag Suspension Systems

Among the myriad of suspension options available, airbag systems have gained traction among Harley-Davidson riders. These advanced systems provide unparalleled ride comfort by effectively mitigating the impact of road irregularities. By utilizing air pressure to adjust and stabilize the suspension, airbag systems offer an adaptive solution that minimizes the risk of bottoming out.

Pros and Cons of Airbag Suspension Setups on Motorcycles

Like any technology, airbag suspensions have their advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these factors is crucial for making an informed decision when considering this option for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Pros:
1. Enhanced Comfort: Airbag systems provide a smoother and more cushioned ride, reducing rider fatigue and increasing overall comfort.
2. Adaptability: These systems can be adjusted to accommodate various road conditions and rider preferences, ensuring optimal suspension performance.
3. Improved Safety: By minimizing the chances of bottoming out, airbag suspensions enhance stability and reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden jolts.

Cons:
1. Cost: Airbag suspensions typically come at a higher price point compared to traditional suspension setups.
2. Maintenance: These systems require regular maintenance to ensure proper functionality and longevity.
3. Limited Compatibility: Airbag suspensions may not be compatible with all motorcycle models, restricting the options available to riders.

Air Suspension Options for Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

If you decide to explore air suspension alternatives for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle, several options are worth considering. These options offer varying features and customization capabilities to cater to different rider preferences and motorcycle models.

In conclusion, a well-tuned suspension system is indispensable for an optimal motorcycle riding experience. Airbag suspensions present an attractive choice for Harley-Davidson enthusiasts, offering enhanced comfort and safety. By carefully weighing the pros and cons, riders can make an informed decision about adopting air suspension setups. Take your Harley-Davidson’s performance to new heights with the right suspension system tailored to your needs.

Understanding Motorcycle Suspension: Explained and Optimized

Motorcycle suspension setups play a crucial role in delivering a smooth and controlled ride. While they may consist of regular forks and shocks, let’s explore how these components work and the different types of setups commonly used.

Front Suspension: Telescopic Metal Fork Tubes

In most motorcycles, the front suspension comprises telescopic metal fork tubes. These tubes house springs submerged in a specialized fork fluid. The springs used in the forks determine the nature of the front suspension setup. There are two primary types: progressive and linear.

Progressive Suspension

A progressive suspension setup features springs that are wound tighter at one end. This design ensures that resistance starts off soft but progressively increases with force, resulting in a firmer feel. Riders can enjoy a smoother ride over smaller bumps while benefiting from enhanced stiffness when encountering more significant obstacles.

Linear Suspension

Alternatively, a linear suspension setup utilizes springs that are evenly wound throughout. This design can lead to a stiffer ride overall, as the resistance remains consistent throughout the compression range. Although it may not provide the same level of initial comfort as a progressive setup, it offers predictable handling characteristics.

Rear Suspension: Mono-Shock or Dual Shock Systems

Moving to the back of the motorcycle, you’ll typically encounter a rear suspension system. This system can be either a mono-shock or dual shock setup, depending on the bike’s design.

Mono-Shock System

A mono-shock system consists of a single spring mounted between the frame and the swingarm. This design simplifies the rear suspension setup compared to the front. Typically, you’ll find a combination of linear and progressive springs paired with hydraulic shocks in a mono-shock system. These components work in a similar manner to their front counterparts.

Dual Shock System

In contrast, a dual shock system utilizes two springs, one on each side, mounted between the frame and the swingarm. This configuration can provide additional stability and adjustability, depending on the specific motorcycle’s requirements.

Both mono-shock and dual shock systems employ a mix of linear and progressive springs in conjunction with hydraulic shocks. The springs’ design determines the resistance characteristics, with linear springs providing consistent resistance and progressive springs offering a softer initial feel but stiffer resistance when fully compressed.

In conclusion, motorcycle suspension setups are vital for a comfortable and controlled riding experience. The front suspension employs telescopic metal fork tubes with either progressive or linear springs, while the rear suspension utilizes mono-shock or dual shock systems. By understanding these setups, riders can make informed choices that suit their preferences and riding conditions.

Understanding Motorcycle Suspension: Exploring Rebound, Compression, Dampening, and Pre-load

When it comes to motorcycle suspension, it’s crucial to grasp the concepts of rebound, compression, dampening, and pre-load. These factors play a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth and safe ride. Let’s delve into each aspect, shedding light on their significance and how they affect your choice of suspension system and its setup based on your riding style.

Picture yourself cruising down the road on your beloved motorcycle, encountering a small bump along the way. This scenario sets in motion the interplay of compression and rebound within your suspension. The suspension system is designed to maintain a slight compression consistently. As your wheel and tire encounter the bump, the upward force compresses the suspension even further. However, rebound comes into play to gracefully guide the wheel back down. By facilitating a smooth return, rebound prevents discomfort and minimizes the risk of momentarily losing control of your motorcycle.

The importance of proper compression cannot be overstated. Insufficient compression would result in the impact of the bump transferring directly to the rider, leading to significant discomfort. Additionally, there is a high likelihood of briefly losing your grip on the motorcycle. On the other hand, neglecting rebound can compromise traction on the road, jeopardizing your safety.

To ensure an optimal riding experience, it is essential to consider both compression and rebound when selecting a motorcycle suspension system. Moreover, understanding how to fine-tune your suspension based on your unique riding style is equally critical.

By grasping the intricate dynamics of rebound, compression, dampening, and pre-load, you can unlock the potential of your motorcycle suspension system. Whether you prioritize comfort or seek a high-performance setup, optimizing these factors will elevate your riding experience to new heights.

Pre-load and damping are essential aspects of suspension tuning. By adjusting pre-load, you can control the responsiveness of your suspension to compression and rebound. This adjustment is based on the level of compression experienced by the suspension while at rest, considering both the rider and motorcycle weight. Achieving the optimal pre-load settings is crucial for a comfortable and smooth ride, improved traction, and enhanced rider and passenger comfort.

Determining the perfect pre-load “sweet spot” involves various factors such as the rider’s physique, riding style, motorcycle weight, and intended purpose. For instance, a fully-grown individual weighing 250 lbs, who embarks on long trips with a passenger on a larger touring bike like the Road Glide while carrying personal belongings, will require a different suspension setup compared to a 180-lb rider commuting daily on an Iron 883 across poorly-maintained city streets.

In certain suspension configurations, adjusting the pre-load can be relatively simple, provided the person performing the adjustment is familiar with determining the appropriate amount of pre-load.

Finally, damping plays a crucial role in optimizing suspension performance by minimizing excessive motion and ensuring continuous tire-road contact. Effective damping adjustments regulate compression and rebound, preventing exaggerated movements. The primary objective of damping is to maintain tire grip on the road surface. Overly high compression damping leads to a rigid ride and fails to absorb bump forces, while excessive rebound damping creates a soft suspension that struggles to transmit the bump’s energy back to the road. Conversely, insufficient compression damping can cause the suspension to bottom out easily on bumps, while inadequate rebound damping results in a bouncy ride. All of these scenarios pose a significant risk to riders as they can compromise traction and stability.

Top-5 Air Ride Kits for Harley Touring: Enhance Your Ride Comfort

When it comes to maximizing ride comfort, investing in an air suspension kit is a game-changer. Whether you’re seeking additional support for injuries like chronic back or hip issues or simply looking to elevate the ride quality during long trips, air suspension kits offer unparalleled cushioning that stock suspensions often lack. These kits provide not only enhanced comfort but also the flexibility to adjust according to your bike’s weight and the length of your journey. Additionally, if you’re a custom bike builder aiming for that sought-after low-profile appearance, air suspension kits can help achieve the popular slammed-to-the-ground look synonymous with custom motorcycle designs.

In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of five remarkable air suspension setups tailor-made for Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles.

1. SHOTGUN SHOCK TOURING AIR RIDE SUSPENSION KIT – THE INDUSTRY GOLD STAR STANDARD

With a price tag of approximately $1800 USD, this air suspension kit may not be the most affordable option in the market. However, it has gained popularity among owners of Harley-Davidson touring bikes for its exceptional product quality and the outstanding customer service provided by Shotgun. The Shotgun air suspension kit is equipped with two toggles, one for rebound and the other for compression, allowing for convenient ride height adjustments. Additionally, the kit includes a generator, shocks, and all the necessary wiring and tubing required for installation on Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles. In case you require assistance, detailed installation instructions can be found on the company’s website. Customers have also praised Shotgun for their exceptional customer service, particularly regarding issues such as defective products or returns, ensuring positive overall experiences. Discover the competitively-priced fan-favorite that guarantees top-notch quality and customer satisfaction.

2. LEGENDS AERO-A ADJUSTABLE AIR SUSPENSION – MOST VERSATILE AIR SUSPENSION KIT

Introducing the advanced Legends Aero-A Adjustable Air Suspension kit, a game-changer for Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles. Experience unmatched comfort and precise adjustments to rebound damping with this cutting-edge air suspension system. With six external knob adjustment points, you have complete control over your ride quality.

Not only does the Legends air suspension kit provide superior comfort, but it also offers easy installation and convenient access to rear-end components. Compared to other brands, Harley-Davidson owners who have tried the Legends kit rave about its user-friendly design. No more hassle or time wasted during installation or maintenance.

However, it’s essential to note that Legends compressors have been reported to have a shorter lifespan than their counterparts. To ensure optimal performance, it’s crucial to handle air filling and dumping with extra care. By avoiding accidental overloading of the compressor, you can extend its longevity and prevent any untimely failures.

Priced competitively at approximately $1849.95 USD, the Legends Aero-A Adjustable Air Suspension kit offers exceptional value for its features. Plus, it is compatible with a wide range of Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles, making it a versatile option for riders seeking uncompromising comfort and control on their journeys. Upgrade your ride today with the Legends Aero-A Adjustable Air Suspension kit.

3. ARNOTT 2009-2022 H-D TOURING SERIES ULTIMATE RIDE KIT (BLACK) – PATENTED AIR SUSPENSION TECHNOLOGY

Introducing Arnott’s Air Suspension Kit: A Game-Changer for Harley-Davidson Touring Motorcycles

Discover the revolutionary Arnott’s air suspension kit, equipped with the cutting-edge TruAIR technology, setting it apart from the competition. This advanced technology boasts a robust air spring sleeve and shock damper design, delivering unparalleled performance.

Tailored specifically for Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles, the Arnott kit ensures a perfect fit with its application-specific brackets. Alongside, the kit includes convenient handlebar-mounted switches, a high-output compressor, and comprehensive mounting hardware pieces for effortless installation onto your touring motorcycle. Rest assured, detailed instructions are provided to guide you through the process seamlessly.

One standout advantage of the Arnott system is its impeccable design, preventing the fender from rubbing against the tire even in the unlikely event of a fully deflated suspension. This ensures both safety and peace of mind during your rides.

Excitingly, you can now find the Arnott kit on Amazon for an affordable price of $1189. To take advantage of this exceptional offer, simply visit the link provided below.

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4. TCT-MT REAR AIR RIDE SUSPENSION WITH AIR TANK – AN ECONOMICAL AIR SUSPENSION OPTION

Experience a smooth and affordable ride on your Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle with our comprehensive air suspension kit. Convert your rear suspension to an air ride effortlessly with this all-inclusive package, priced at a mere ~$309. Compared to similar offerings from other brands, our kit provides exceptional value for your money. It includes two height-adjustable air shocks, a reliable compressor, an efficient air tank, and all the necessary wiring and tubing for a hassle-free installation on your motorcycle.

While designed specifically for Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles, some creative users have successfully adapted this versatile kit for non-touring applications. However, please note that modifications might be required to ensure compatibility. Keep in mind that in such cases, customer support for troubleshooting may not be readily available. Therefore, exercise caution if you decide to explore alternative uses.

For Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle owners who desire a basic yet high-quality air suspension system, our kit offers an excellent opportunity to enhance your riding experience without straining your budget. Discover the joys of smooth, controlled rides with our reliable and cost-effective solution.

5. SLMOTO ELECTRIC CENTER STAND REAR ADJUSTABLE AIR RIDE – BEST BUDGET-FRIENDLY AIR SUSPENSION

Introducing the SLMOTO Air Suspension Kit: Enhanced Control and Convenience for Motorcycle Riders

Looking for an air suspension kit that goes beyond the standard features? Look no further than the SLMOTO Air Suspension Kit. This innovative kit not only includes all the regular components you’d expect, but also offers an electronic center stand, catering to the needs of shorter riders or those who struggle with maneuvering a full-sized touring bike off its kickstand. With the combination of an air suspension system and an electronic center stand, riders can experience heightened control and confidence while riding their motorcycles.

Priced at just $459.99 USD, the SLMOTO kit provides exceptional value by including a comprehensive package. Alongside two air shocks and an air pump, the kit includes all the necessary installation components, such as hoses and valves. Additionally, the standout feature of the kit is the electronic center stand, which adds convenience and ease to the rider’s experience.

It’s important to note that the manufacturer advises against using this system with motorcycles that have cross-under exhaust pipes. Due to potential fitment issues during installation, it’s recommended to avoid pairing the SLMOTO kit with such motorcycles.

Upgrade your riding experience with the SLMOTO Air Suspension Kit and enjoy the benefits of enhanced control, convenience, and value.

A quick comparison table, showing high-level details for each air suspension kit that’s been reviewed

Brand/Manufacturer Price (in USD) Included in Kit Extras
Shotgun Shock $$$$ Air suspension shocks
compressor
two switches
hoses and wiring
Excellent customer service from manufacturer, should it ever be needed
Legends Aero-A $$$$ Air suspension shocks
compressor
handlebar controls
hardware bag with hoses and wiring
System allows additional fine-tuning of suspension with six external knob adjustments for additional damping control
Arnott Air Suspension $$$ Air suspension shocks
ViAIR compressor
handlebar switch controls
hoses and wiring
Kit features TruAIR Technology with more rugged air spring and damper designs
TCT-MT $ Air suspension shocks
compressor
air tank
two switches
hoses, and wiring
Budget-friendly
Kit is sold with additional air tank intended to provide a more robust system.
SLMOTO $$ Air suspension shocks
electric center stand
compressor
switch kit
hoses, and wiring
Only kit on the list to include an electric center stand with the full air suspension kit

Advantages of Air Suspension Kits over Traditional Motorcycle Suspension Systems

When it comes to motorcycle suspension, air suspension kits offer several benefits compared to standard setups. These innovative systems provide riders with the ability to conveniently adjust their rear motorcycle suspension according to their preferences. By allowing the bike to sit higher or lower, air suspension enhances both comfort and performance.

Unlike traditional suspension setups that rely solely on springs and shocks, air suspension kits feature inflatable spring kits that can be filled with air to different levels. This adjustable feature is made possible through the use of an air compressor, which fills the airbag compartments and can release air when necessary to lower the bike’s stance.

One of the primary advantages of air suspension kits is the improved riding comfort they provide when inflated. By adjusting the air pressure in the airbag compartments, riders can achieve a more comfortable ride, reducing the impact of bumps and road irregularities.

Moreover, lowering the motorcycle’s suspension using air suspension kits can significantly enhance its handling and stability. This feature is particularly beneficial for riders seeking improved maneuverability and control, especially in challenging riding conditions.

Additionally, air suspension kits offer load-leveling adjustment capabilities. These kits are designed to balance the weight of the bike, compensating for factors such as the combined weight of the rider and passenger or the addition of passenger-cargo. By ensuring optimal weight distribution, load-leveling adjustment kits contribute to a safer and more stable riding experience.

In conclusion, air suspension kits provide numerous advantages over traditional motorcycle suspension setups. With their adjustable nature, these kits offer improved comfort, enhanced handling, and the ability to balance weight distribution. Consider upgrading to an air suspension kit to optimize your motorcycle’s performance and enjoy a superior riding experience.

Enhancing Comfort and Ride Height Adjustability with Air Suspension Systems

In addition to providing unparalleled comfort for riders and passengers alike, air suspension systems offer the advantage of adjustable ride height. This feature accommodates shorter riders by allowing them to easily place their feet flat on the ground, while taller riders can raise the height to ensure a comfortable leg position. Unlike traditional suspensions that require tedious trial and error adjustments, an air suspension system simplifies the process of modifying ride height, proving especially valuable during journeys. Gone are the days of struggling with preload adjustments and the need for specialized tools.

Moreover, the allure of air ride suspension extends to its “cool” factor. Many motorcycle enthusiasts opt to install air suspension systems not only for enhanced comfort but also to showcase their style when parking. By deflating the system, they can effectively “slam” the bike, bringing it closer to the ground. While everyday riders may choose air suspensions for their appealing aesthetics, it is often the dedicated project bike enthusiasts and builders of custom motorcycles who gravitate towards the low-profile, slammed appearance.

Prospective Disadvantages of Airbag Suspension Systems

While air suspension systems have become more affordable in recent years, the initial purchase and installation costs may deter budget-conscious individuals who desire to enhance their suspension. Furthermore, maintaining an air suspension system can be more costly over time compared to a standard motorcycle suspension setup.

One potential drawback is the possibility of airbags developing leaks and losing air pressure. This can result in an extremely uncomfortable and jarring ride, posing a significant safety risk due to the lack of compression and damping ability in the suspension. Additionally, there is a risk of air suspension components experiencing failures such as moisture damage or broken tubing, which can cause system malfunctions. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the long-term durability of an air suspension system when selecting a kit for your motorcycle, taking these risks into account.

In Summary

There are compelling reasons to upgrade your Harley-Davidson with an air suspension kit. If optimum comfort is your priority, premium kits like the Shotgun or Legends offer high-quality products and exceptional customer experiences. For those looking for a more affordable entry into the realm of air suspension, the SLMOTO and TCT-MT kits provide a cost-effective solution. Alternatively, the Arnott air suspension kit presents a reliable middle ground with its incorporation of patented technology. Regardless of your budget, there exists an air suspension kit suitable for your Harley-Davidson touring motorcycle and riding preferences.

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