How do you know when the shocks on your motorcycle have gone bad? What is the best shock to replace them with? I am going to address those questions and give you options available from K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com). From OEM replacements to Lowering Kits, and even Air Ride Suspensions, we have the set up you need.
To begin with we will address the issue of needing to replace your shocks and what you should look for. First you must understand the basic anatomy of a shock absorber. A shock absorber basically consists of two things: a spring to soak up bumps and a damping system to control the speed that the spring compresses and extends, or re-extends. The damping system is housed in the main shock body, based around the resistance of a piston moving through a fluid filled cylinder. The ease with which this piston can move is dictated by the size of holes (basic valves). These hole-sizes are adjusted, usually via a needle moving in or out, when you adjust a damping setting. Your back shocks control comfort, handling, and whether your bike can put the power to the ground under control. A high percentage of bikes that have done a lot of miles over a number of years will have a sick rear shock. The seals may be shot, internal valves worn and damper rods bent, giving symptoms from back-end pogo-ing to suspension seizure. At best a bike with shot shocks will handle like a bucket of jelly, at worst it will cause a crash. So it pays to keep on top of your back spring.Knowing what to look for when assessing your shocks will stream line the process and allow you to periodically perform quick inspections.
Visual inspection – Whenever you clean a bike, have a good look around the back shocks, looking for oil leaks. Often this will show up as dirt sticking to the leaking oil. If you fear that the shock’s leaking, then get the crud off, go for a hard ride and re-check. If you’re losing oil it’s dangerous, so you’ll need to replace them.
Give it a Bounce – Even if there is no visual cue as to the deterioration of a shock (many used bikes will have long since lost all the oil) then it still pays to check shock condition. Over time suspension fluid deteriorates and loses its damping properties, internals seize and valves stick.To check there’s some damping, hold the bike upright and push down at the rear, hard as you can, and let it spring back. If the tail springs straight back up with the damping exerting no controlling influence, then rebound damping is probably shot.If movement is unduly stiff, then the shock or part of the suspension’s linkages may be seizing, so investigate further, or take to a bike shop.While you’re playing with the tailpiece, try lifting it as far as suspension travel will allow. You’re looking to make sure there is some upward movement and feeling/listening for knocks and ‘clunks’ that would indicate any play in linkages.
Check Your Chain/Belt – With suspension getting more supple and increasing in travel, chain/belt tension is becoming more of an issue. Due to the fact that swingarms and chains/belts do not pivot from the same point, tension changes as suspension and back wheel move – as the wheel rises and the rear shock compresses, the chain/belt tightens. If is too tight it will pull tighter when the suspension compresses. Effectively you will now be riding a ‘hard-tail’ and any further demands on the suspension can cause traction to be broken. You will also be shock-loading the output shaft in the gearbox, leading to unnecessary stress on gearbox bearings and seals. To counter the above problems, set your chain/belt to the manufacturer’s specification. Exactly. And determine whether this figure is with the weight of a rider onboard, or unloaded. If no figures are available set free-play in the middle of the chain/belt lower run at an inch and a quarter with the rider in the saddle (you may need help with this step).
After you have determined your shocks need to be replaced, you now have the task of deicing what to install. Are you happy with the ride quality? Would you like the seat to be a little bit lower? Do you want a suspension you can tailor to each ride (passenger, no passenger, luggage, no luggage, or passenger with luggage)? Here at K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) we offer a complete selection of shock styles and designs.
OEM Style Replacements – Designed to be a direct replacement of the factory shock, these units deliver the same ride quality and handling of your stock setup. Because they are a OEM replacement, they will have the same physical size, and mounts, making this the easiest swap out of the whole bunch. For those content with a factory “ride” OEM replacements sound like they were made for you. Check out the great selection from K and G Cycles today, and restore that new ride feeling.
Aftermarket Shocks – If you are content with the stock ride height but want improved handling and ride performance, look no further than The preeminate name in aftermarket shocks, Progressive suspension. They have evolved into the largest aftermarket motorcycle suspension manufacturer in the United States as well as a top tier supplier of suspension components to domestic OE customers. Producing a better replacement shock with increased spring rate, better dampening characteristics, and firm controlled rebounds is just one of the things Progressive has mastered. See their whole line up here.
Lowering Shocks/Kits – For the rider that wants the bike to sit lower due to physical need or attitude adjustment, we carry a full line of shocks designed to lower your bike, but still give you the comfortable ride you have come to enjoy. Top manufacturers like Burly Brand, Progressive, AEE and more contribute to great selection available at K and G Cycles. Lowering a bike can lead to more confidence, better handling, and a better fit, as well as an altered stance that can impose some wicked attitude for everyone to see.
Air Suspension Kits – These kits employ air springs that allow you to enjoy a custom ride and height setting unlike any other suspension setup. With products to fit most Harley-Davidson, and your choice of remote fill or on board compressor adjusted, air suspensions for motorcycles provide you the ability to “Slam” your ride or soften it with the flip of a switch. Great for Touring bike applications because it emphasizes the “Glide” portion of your bike. Works well on Softtail, Dyna and Sportster applications too. Well known names like Legend, Shotgun Air, Platinum, Progressive, and more call K and G home, and that gives you buying confidence.
When it comes time to replace your shocks, you have a little homework to do. Are you satisfied with the way the bike rides now? Are you wanting better handling or a lower ride height? How about stepping up to a full on custom suspension that improves your ride and lets you dole out the attitude whenever you want. Log on to K and G Cycles (www.kandgcycles.com) and see what we can do for your ride.