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Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders Discuss Sportster Motorcycle Suspension, Frame, Forks, Handlebars, Fuel Tank, Oil Tank, Fenders problems, advice, and/or how tos.

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  #1  
Old 14th August 2019
Nickolai Nickolai is offline
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Default How in the eff do I stay on my bike?

So it seems to be common knowledge that Nightster suspension is lacking from the factory. I discovered this first hand over the weekend as I just bought myself one. The roads here in Wisconsin (and apparently everywhere else in the world) are not great due to our hot humid summers and brutally cold winters. I can totally handle the minor bumps and potholes but it seems like whenever a good sized raised bump (like bridge transitions) at highway speeds, it feels like I am going to get bucked right off my bike. It feels like I'm 6 inches off my seat. Not fun or safe, and it's making me a little gunshy about riding the freeway to work.

The amount of information on this forum is incredible but I don't really know where to start. Road king shocks? Progressives? Or just suck it up buttercup?
Hey maybe I should put a seatbelt on my bike...

Is this common for everyone with stock bikes or this there something else going on here? I'm a harley rookie so bear with me.

P.S. I know this topic has been beat to death and I should search search search but the more I read the more I don't know which direction to go.
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  #2  
Old 14th August 2019
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SLW210 SLW210 is offline
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Mine seems to be more lacking on the front suspension. Getting the air pressure in the tires at a good psi for you is a start, that is your first contact with the road, also tire style, brand, etc. and tire age will play a factor. next see what your shocks are at for adjustments. Are you sure they are stock? I have similar road conditions, particularly potholes and bridge transitions, I generally dodge the bad road and potholes best I can, I get a jolt going over the bridges (a lot of these are where they are in process of going to 4 lane divided highway) which can have a good height difference from the roadway, but come nowhere near getting up off the seat, maybe the Nightster just has a stiffer suspension than my Custom, I'll try to remember see where my shocks are set.

I myself will be doing some springs and upgrades on the front shortly for sure, pretty much waiting on the rain to stop down here, though I may just move my Softail outside and cover it to give me some garage room if it doesn't stop soon. Probably going with performance Progressives front and back.

I also was thinking of going with a burly slammer kit and dropping my bike down some, decisions, decisions.
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  #3  
Old 14th August 2019
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BKB BKB is offline
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Default

Least expensive option, IMHO, is Progressive 412 shocks. 12.5" length & standard springs if you're under 200 lbs., heavy duty springs if more than 200 lbs. That'll give you about another inch of travel in the rear. Front is a bit more. Damper tubes from a longer forked model, like a Custom, & a set of Ricor Intiminators with 5 weight fork oil will give you about 2 inches more travel & much better road holding & comfort. That's the set up I've used for the last 10 years & 97,000 miles on my '09. I do feel the big hits, but don't get bounced off the seat. I'm 175 lbs., 6' tall with a 32" inseam. If you're very short you may need to try a different combination, to be comfortable at stops, as this set up raised my bike by about an inch & a half, over all. Hope this helps.
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  #4  
Old 14th August 2019
shanneba shanneba is offline
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Default

The "low" Sportsters with short shocks (~11 inch shock length) have limited shock travel. Somewhere around 2 " max.

Shorter suspension may reduce the shock travel even more.

Your Nightster does have rear shock spring preload adjustments. I believe there are 5 settings. HD sells a wrench for adjustments - SPANNER WRENCH HD-94820-75A.
You might see if those adjustments help some.

There is some info in the 2007 Owner's Manual on the adjustment but not much.
2007 Sportster Owners Manual

My 2013 Sportster owner's Manual does have this chart for the 5 position adjustments-

Recommended Shock Preload: Five Position
Less than 75 kg (165 lb) 1
75–89 kg (165–195 lb) 2
89–102 kg (195–225 lb) 3
102–116 kg (225–255 lb) 4
116 kg (255 lb) to maximum added weight allowed.* 5
* Add the weight of the rider, passenger, riding gear, accessories, and cargo.


The ~13" Road King air adjustable shocks are a popular upgrade.
With the 13 inch shocks you can get 1.5 to 2" more travel out of some (other may not increase travel as much such as those with internal gas reservoirs)
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  #5  
Old 14th August 2019
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60Gunner 60Gunner is offline
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If you look around you can still find the progressive 440s as NOS as cheap as the 412s since the 440s have been replaced by the 444s. The 440s are much better than the 412s which are barely better than stock.
I bought a pair of 440s for $230 this spring from nosoemparts located 40 miles from me. Brand new, in the box, complete with warranty. Should they fail, progressive replaces them with the 444s now.
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Old 14th August 2019
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Default

I came to this forum looking for help with my suspension.

I did the basic low cost upgrade that has been figured out by the forum members.

Progressive front springs with a reseal and 10 weight oil. I tapped and installed pipe plugs into the fork caps so I could adjust the fluid level. I think I ended up near the max (6.5" if memory serves me)
Road King (RK) rear air shocks (used low mile take-offs) I changed the oil in them and run 0-5 PSI solo and
10-15 PSI two up. I used the longer of the RK shocks as im tall.

Leveled the frame with me sitting on it.

This made a world of difference, now a good handling, comfortable bike, no bottoming out, no wallowing in the corners. No dive on braking.

I spent about $250 USD for the front springs, used RK shocks, seal kit and fork oil.

The next thing that really helped was a set of Metzeler ME888's. They're just great on my bike. (Compared to the HD spec Dunlop's)
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  #7  
Old 14th August 2019
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Toejam503 Toejam503 is offline
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Changing the fork oil (Harley Type E)made a BIG difference on the highway, for unseen bumps,etc. I used to run my rear shock pre-load at the lowest setting, now I run it at the center setting. It keeps it from bottoming out when I'm riding locally. When I take a long trip, I usually set the rear shocks at the highest setting as I'm usually carrying a load, too. If I were to replace the rear shocks, my choice would be the Progressive 444's.
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Old 14th August 2019
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Front forks just add the Ricor Intiminators. Made a world of difference. Im running the stock springs and the full stock amount of Amsoil 5wt. (Forget what it is). Perfect for 160# rider. Use less oil for heavier rider. The Intiminators take up 2 or 2.5".
The Intiminators are well worth the money as it's a valve that differentiates between bumps and dips to put it simply. Much like the shocks that use the same type valve like the 440s, 444s.

Here's a good read on what inertia active is/does for you

Last edited by 60Gunner; 14th August 2019 at 18:06..
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  #9  
Old 14th August 2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BKB View Post
Least expensive option, IMHO, is Progressive 412 shocks. 12.5" length & standard springs if you're under 200 lbs., heavy duty springs if more than 200 lbs. That'll give you about another inch of travel in the rear. Front is a bit more. Damper tubes from a longer forked model, like a Custom, & a set of Ricor Intiminators with 5 weight fork oil will give you about 2 inches more travel & much better road holding & comfort. That's the set up I've used for the last 10 years & 97,000 miles on my '09. I do feel the big hits, but don't get bounced off the seat. I'm 175 lbs., 6' tall with a 32" inseam. If you're very short you may need to try a different combination, to be comfortable at stops, as this set up raised my bike by about an inch & a half, over all. Hope this helps.
+1 You can get the damper tubes from a custom or a roadster. They are longer so your front end will be at full height. The Ricor Intiminators are definitely worth every cent they charge.

You may want to spend a few bucks more on the rear because that is where you feel the effect of the potholes all the way up your spine. Use 12" shocks minimum because the 11" will kill your back. Also see what the travel is and compare to other shocks, because one brand seems to have the same travel for all lengths and that means the longer shocks will still bottom out like the shorter shocks, you will only gain in the distance that the frame sits from the ground.

The springs that Progressive uses for my weight, and also the springs on my Ricor rear shocks (12") are too soft in my opinion, because I hit a lot of pothole type stuff and I still have bottoming issues (nowhere near as bad as stock, but a stiffer spring would have helped)
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