Go Sportsters

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Bloodweiser, Dec 20, 2010.

  1. Crack Monkey

    Crack Monkey Been here awhile

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    I'm on the stock 2006 XL883 suspension. It's not great, but at least it isn't the low setup. Holding off on upgrading it until I'm sure I'll keep the bike for more than another year or two. If the wife likes riding 2-up, I'll have to trade for something more suitable.

    Did the Sundowner move you up/forward without the extra padding? Or, only after adding it?
  2. Crack Monkey

    Crack Monkey Been here awhile

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    Also, I read through the various suspension threads over at XLForum. But, came away just as confused. Most of the talk was about either making the low suspension tolerable, or set-ups for heavier riders.

    Is there a thread that talks about a normal height setup for an average weight rider? I'm 5'7" and < 170lbs.
  3. 83XLX

    83XLX Been here awhile

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    For front suspension, I installed Progressive fork springs, added a fork brace, and used 15wt fork oil. For the rear, a set of 13-1/4" FXDX shocks with progressive springs and adjustable rebound damping. I weigh about 200, and the shocks are fine on the loewst preload setting, leaving plenty of adjustment for a passenger.

    Two on my bike (with the 2-up seat lictured here) are kind of cramped, but not bad for shorter distances. The low bars help, too.

    [​IMG]
  4. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

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    Yeah, our asses were on fire and not in a good way. :lol3
  5. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

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  6. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    Check out the 7 pages of suspension stickies. There's 2, and I'm not sure why they're called 7 pages.

    In a nutshell, ricor intiminators in the forks & works dual rate springs are supposed to rock. Can't speak of the srings, but the intiminators are worth the $$. Google discount codes, I got 30% off with one when I ordered.

    Rear - you'll get a thousand suggestions. Ricor is claimed to have the greatest shocks too, but they're terribly pricey (actually they're discounted now, but still over $600 :eek1). Too much for me. I've got 13.5" 12 series progressives (95/120 springs) and they're not much better than stock. I wouldn't buy them. I'm right around your weight (170-180 w/ gear). Search xl for the whittlebeast hybrid shocks, cheap and good for guys our weight. That's my next attempt.
  7. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    Ditch them and you'll come out ahead. My roadster came with forwards, sold them for $200 and picked up mids for $50. :evil
  8. zataomm

    zataomm Been here awhile

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    +1. I bought an '04 1200R a couple weeks ago, PO had put forward controls on it. :puke1

    Got a set of new mid-controls off a Nightster for $80, and the bike feels like a real motorcycle again. I personally don't know how anyone can ride with forward controls. I put about a hundred miles on the bike before I could switch them out and never felt like I was in complete control of it.
  9. Crack Monkey

    Crack Monkey Been here awhile

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    Thus the confusion. :)

    That was the way I was leaning, but I thought the Whittlebeast hybrids were for a low set-up? Or, does the recommended spacer bring them back up to 13"?
  10. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    You use a roadster body which is 13.25" and slap on a spring from a custom with a spacer so it does retain the 13.25" total length.

    If you don't have either I could see making these being either kinda pricey or time consuming (if you wait for a deal). I've got the stock roadster shocks, so I just need to source a set off a custom - even still, trying to find a set of an 09 or later for under $100 hasn't happened yet in 5 months.
  11. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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  12. Wanna Ride

    Wanna Ride Adventurer

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    The Sundowner seat moves you forward because it has a flatter seat area. The stock seat has a depression you sit in, and forces you back. I can't compare the two directly because I added foam to my Sundowner. Another plug for the Sundowner is women really like them, especially if they have a back rest to lean against.

    When I wrote the "7 Pages of Suspension" on the XL forum, the site would not accept all 14 pages, so I had to break it up. They are in the suspension sticky section, and have links to each others, so they are easy to find. I just wanted a unique name to avoid getting mixed up with other suspension threads.

    Over the years, Whittlebeast, myself, and others tested most of the common shocks and different suspension set ups. There are options that range from cheap to the most expensive. It is your responsibility to do your research and decide which direction you want to go.

    Since 2009 Harley improved the stock shocks enough that few people are changing them out. That's why they are so hard to get now.

    My general recommendation is to start with Ricor Intiminators in the forks, regardless of rider weight, riding style, or bike. They are that good, and make the single biggest improvement. That has been verified by many different people, and on many different bikes / forums. There have been people who added them and did no other suspension modifications.

    A 170 lb rider may well be good with the stock fork springs and shocks after adding the Ricor Intiminators, especially with the 09 and later bikes. After adding Intiminators, it is common to reduce shock preload, which is what a 170 lb rider needs. The Intiminators reduce the phenomenon called front to rear coupling which occurs when a stiff fork transmits the force of road bumps back to the shocks and puts additional preload on them.

    If you have the money, buy everything at once and then you only have to do things once. However, it is also possible to do one step at a time, test ride for awhile, and not do anything else if you're happy with it. There have been people with the short suspension doing just that, but not stopping until they replace the forks and shocks with full length components.

    Riders at the extremes of weight, 140 lbs or 260 lbs will likely need to change springs to better match their weight.

    I forgot to mention, Harley offers (or did offer) a two up shock for the low bikes. I have only read a few reports about it, but they appeared to work well.

    The 1200S shocks are also getting hard to find, and they are now old, so getting a good pair with low miles is even harder. They have a light spring which is good for lighter riders on the rubber mount bikes.

    I also tried the FXDX shocks, but I don't know the year. The final spring rate was too stiff for my 270 lbs. They scared me a few times when the tire skipped out over a series of bumps in a corner because the spring was too stiff.

    The Works Dual Rate fork springs are actually 2 different springs sitting on top of each other. There is a "cross over spacer" in the shorter spring. The cross over spacer is a metal tube that limits the travel of the shorter spring. You can change the length of the cross over spacer to adjust the point in fork travel where the spring transitions from the soft initial spring rate, to the harder final spring rate. By adjusting the crossover spacer length, the same springs can work for a 300 lb aggressive rider on a Roadster, to a 140 lb rider on a Nighsters. It is the most versatile spring available.

    Progressive Suspension offers different fork springs now. The standard spring is good for riders in the 180 lb range with the long forks. The Drop In Lowering Spring Kit is designed to lower the full length forks. Be careful to not get them mixed up. Last I checked, they don't have a specific spring for the short forks. They do recommend their standard spring, but short forks don't have enough travel to allow the spring to transition to the harder final rate, so it may feel to soft for heavier, more aggressive riders.

    Any questions I missed?
  13. gumshoe4

    gumshoe4 Been here awhile

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    First let me say to WannaRide that I appreciate the detailed information. I have also reviewed it over on the Sportster website, but I must admit I'm still a bit confused. It's awesome that you guys have put that much work and effort into the matter and I, for one, really appreciate it.


    So I weigh about 285 with gear on and ride solo all the time. I don't currently own a Sportster, but have been checking them out for a long time and I'm drawn to the Nightster, in particular and the Roadster also. The sales folks in the dealerships keep shoving me away from the Sportys because of my size, but I like the Sportys and I have to believe they can be made to work for someone like me...

    I know a lot of this (how the ride feels to me, for example) is subjective, but I'm looking for reasonably good handling and a ride which won't jar the fillings out of my teeth. Sounds like Initiminator front, but still not clear on what to put on the back...want to have reasonable travel in the suspension, so it doesn't bottom out or throw me out of the saddle.

    RK air springs? Progressive longer travel tuned to my size? The two-up springs?

    Thanks!
  14. Wanna Ride

    Wanna Ride Adventurer

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    I weigh 270 in gear and typically have additional 30 lbs of back rack and tools. Being an old dirt biker / racer, I know how to set up suspension correctly and have the riding skills to pass the "slower" sport bike riders in the twisties while on my Roadster. Most of them have never been passed by a Harley (XR riders excluded) and seem to get a bit confused when they hear the Harley noise coming up from behind. When they turn around to look, I know I have them beat. In addition, my Roadster is comfortable enough to ride all day, I frequently ride 300 miles a day, most all back road twisties. I could easily double that if I stayed on highways, but I always end up home at the end of the day.

    So, despite what most people think, the rubber mount Sportster can be set up to be a really good all 'round bike. The real problem with rubber mounts is the junk suspension Harley and the aftermarket suspension companies have been selling throughout the years. Don't take my word for it, there are many guys on XL forum who have learned the same lessons. Most dealers know surprisingly little about how to make a Sporster, or any other Harley, how to handle well.

    It should be your decision, not theirs. If you decide to go with a Sporster, and cannot find a Roadster, you should give serious consideration to putting longer forks and shocks on, especially if you expect any significant handling performance. The bikes with short forks have problems with low cornering clearance, and there is no way around that except raising the bike. It depends on how much you want to spend and how much you like working on bikes. Keep in mind, only the Roadster and XR have dual disc brakes in front.

    The RK air shocks will work for you. Be sure to get the long version, 13 1/4", I think. Lots of people like them, but they are not nearly as good as a Ohlins or Ricor set up correctly for you.

    Progressive Suspension does not do any custom shock set ups, your only choice is standard or heavy duty springs. You will need the heavy spring. The cheapest 412 with heavy spring should be OK for a cheap shock, but if you consider their more expensive shocks, you might as well spend a bit more and get the Ricor shocks, custom tuned for you. You can find a lot of used Progressive Supension shocks on ebay, not everybody likes them.

    I would also highly recommend Ricor Intiminators and Works Dual Rate fork springs which can be used in any rubber mount fork.

    The beauty of the Sportster is its versatility to be set up in so many different ways. It is a rough bike by modern standards, but that's the character that guys love about it. By contrast , I rode a Yamaha Warrior. It is perfect, I could not find a single thing to complain about it. But I did not buy one.

    To be honest, some of my friends who bought Sportsters sold them after a few years and moved on to other bikes better designed to meet their particular riding style. Sport tourers like the Honda ST 1300, Ducaties for track days, Adventure bikes for light off road work. Other people intend to keep their Sporty forever, its the other bikes that come and go.

    I don't want to take anything away from this forum, but there is just too much to explain about suspension set up to repeat everything I have already put on the XL Forum. If you want to spend the money, all you really have to do is duplicate my suspension set up, which is detailed in the "7 Pages of Suspension" over there. At your weight, no stock suspension on any brand middle weight bike will work well without serious modification. At least I have never found one.
  15. treysmagna

    treysmagna Bald is beautiful

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    This is a pic of my 1200S and my friends 1200Custom when we rode them from Houston to the Artic Cricle in 2005!

    Attached Files:

  16. Crack Monkey

    Crack Monkey Been here awhile

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    Nope, I think you got them all.

    I do have two additional questions...
    How much of an effect does riding two up have on the required fork spring rate? Suppose I'm fine solo with the stock, full length fork and spring, w/ Intiminators. Once I add a 150lb of wife and gear to the back of the bike, is it safe to assume the stock fork spring is now overloaded (and I should probably just go ahead and install some progressive rate springs while I have the fork caps off to do the Intiminators)?

    Also, once Intiminators are installed, is there any significant gain to be made by adding air valves to the forks? Or, is that mostly for running stock forks?

    For the rear, I'm pretty sure I'll skip the less expensive options and save for some Ricors or Ohlins.
  17. Crack Monkey

    Crack Monkey Been here awhile

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    They get a larger commission on bigger ($$$$) bikes. They did the same to me and I'm 5'7" and 170lbs (so the big bikes are BIG to me). The anti-Sporty vibes from most Harley guys was almost enough to put me off the bike. Only in American is a 883cc, 50hp bike considered a chic bike. :huh

    But, I'm glad I went with it over the other standards I was considering (SV650, Bonneville). It was less expensive, less maintenance, and probably less likely to get me in trouble (slower, lower, the engine doesn't feel like it needs wound up to get moving - overall just a more relaxed ride).

    I'm the only one of the my friends with a Harley. But, of all the bikes, it's probably one of the best all-around bikes. The only other bikes that are similar are the modern Bonnevilles. Sure, the supermotos are fun hooligan bikes, but they suck for actually going places on pavement. The dual-sports are better on trails, but too tall for stop-go traffic and buzzy on the highway. The crotch-rockets are better on the super-slab, but they aren't cheap, and they're really easy to get into trouble (legally and physically).

    Sometimes I wish I bought a Bonneville instead. But, if I had, I'd probably wish I had a Harley. :lol3
  18. Wanna Ride

    Wanna Ride Adventurer

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    Two up actually tends to lift the front end a bit because so much weight is so far back. The real problem happens when you hit the front brakes hard and get a lot of fork dive. Or hit a big bump and bottom out the forks.

    If you rarely ride two up, don't go very far, stay on relatively smooth roads at moderate speeds, you might get away with stock forks. It also depends on what bike you have. For example, the 07 Nightster spring is too light for anybody. The 09 Roadster stock spring will probably be OK, especially after adding Intiminators.

    Air forks are an easy way to compensate for too soft a fork spring, and are the easiest way to be able to adjust from solo to two up riding. The problem is they put more pressure on the seals, so it is better from that perspective to get the correct spring first and use the air valves as fine tuning.

    What bike do you have? How much do you weigh, and how hard do you ride solo?
  19. Crack Monkey

    Crack Monkey Been here awhile

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    2006 XL 883 (plain-jane Sportster).
    170lbs, usually don't carry anything but a rain jacket and a water bottle.
    Average rider, not aggressive.

    Two-up will be rare, and only local.
  20. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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