Good Inexpensive Suspensions Sportster
Choosing suspensions for a Harley-Davidson is not an easy task, even when you know exactly what you need. We've been working with leading manufacturers for many years and are constantly learning something new. The problem is that not all manufacturers provide a detailed description of their product design, so we have to compare visually and manually when these components arrive.
There is often no point to overpay because the most expensive models are not always the best for individual usage.
As an example, we made a video of installing inexpensive monotube suspensions on a Sportster Custom 2009. The owner complained that the suspensions were not soft enough and didn't dampen, so riding on bumps caused backaches. At the same time, he wanted to keep the original look.
The Sportster Custom 2009 comes with 11.5-inch twintube short shocks. The problem of "kicking" when hitting bumps can be solved by switching to monotube shocks, which have significantly greater effectiveness and better heat exchange (in the twintube design, the space between the tubes is like a heat insulator).
The best monotubes on the market with the best price/quality ratio are Bitubo WMB/WME (with rebound damping). They have a high quality, an increased damper, piston and spring diameter, supports are made of aluminum, and preload adjustment is continuous.
Unlike expensive models, the WMB/WME model damper resistance doesn't change during fast and slow compression/rebound and doesn't depend on the vibration frequency. During a slow civilian ride, this is not required.
Manufacturers often recommend installing shocks that are 0.5-1 inches longer. This almost doesn't affect the height of the motorcycle but provides more shock travel and therefore greater effectiveness.
There is also a catch here: not all models increase the shock travel with increasing the length. The length can be increased by lengthening the rod or mounting supports. To increase the shock travel, you need to lengthen the damper. Legend honestly claims that their 12-inch and 13-inch shocks are equipped with different dampers, but the 14-inch model has the same damper as the 13-inch model; the length increase is achieved by lengthening the upper support. It means that when choosing a length, you have to compare photos online, because manufacturers rarely indicate the shock travel in the characteristics.
For civil riding on bad roads, cartridges must have a monotube design because there's a better resistance to bottoming out. The cheapest cartridges with closed dampers under pressure are produced by Progressive Suspension.
In the video, we showed that they are made of steel parts and are much heavier than their analogs, but we didn't say that 1 kg of unsprung mass is equivalent to 4-6 kg of sprung mass, depending on the motorcycle geometry. So a couple of extra kilograms (we didn't measure the weight of the cartridges, we just eyeballed it) in the cartridge body and damper makes the motorcycle 8-10 kg heavier.
Just like Bitubo WME shocks, these cartridges have the same resistance for slow and fast compression/rebound.
We recommend to install a fork and shocks with the same functionality. The suspension imbalance is like installing different tires on the front and rear wheels.
In our store, you can get any help and purchase/install any parts from the leading world brands. We work with Legend, Bitubo, Ohlins, Progressive Suspensions, RaceTech, Wilbers, Russ Wernimont Designs, Hyperpro, and Drag Specialties.