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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 17th February 2007
whittlebeast's Avatar
whittlebeast whittlebeast is offline
Senior Master Custom Bike Builder
 
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Sportster/Buell Model: 1200 Low
Sportster/Buell Year: 2007
Other Motorcycle Model: Yamaha FZ1
Other Motorcycle Year: 2008
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Default Harley database of springs and shocks

I have been racing cars for a lot of years. Actual spring rate and shock travel is everything at getting a car to handle. As far as I can see this is ignored or at least miss-understood in the Harley world. I can calculate spring rate with acurate dimentions of the springs. They have to be off the shock to get the length. I would like to make a public table for shocks that gives.

SPRINGS
bike that they come on
Manufacture part number
free length
wire diameter
numbers of free coils
ID if the spring (most likely they are all the same)
Actual spring rate in lbs/in (I calculate that)

SHOCKS
bike that they come on
Manufacture part number
Extended length (eye to eye)
Compressed length (eye to eye)
Extended length of spring with min preload
Extended length of spring with max preload

If lots of peoples help, we could then get to any ride (soft to hard) and any ride height we could ever need. Here is Hypercoil's list of whats available. Look under coil overs.

http://www.hypercoils.com/Catalog.aspx

AW
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  #2  
Old 17th February 2007
c pierce c pierce is offline
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Sounds good to me. Go for it.
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  #3  
Old 17th February 2007
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Wbeast.....the problem doing this is most people either don't need their bike to handle better....cause all they do is ride "sane"....or they aren't willing to pull the springs from their shock.

I'm not sure because I haven't seen my stockers in a long time, but I don't believe you can remove the spring from them?
I know Works Perf. asked me lots of info.......weight, riding style, etc.
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Stuff: YES
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  #4  
Old 17th February 2007
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Other Motorcycle Year: 2008
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BWP 5p

By handling I mean I want a ride that does not bottom out in dips. Does not give a choppy ride in bumps. Never does anything unexpected.

AW

Last edited by whittlebeast; 20th February 2007 at 21:40..
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  #5  
Old 18th February 2007
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Very interesting suggestion. But HD does not make that information available to us. From my experience with Race Tech emulator kit and straight rate fork springs, Progressive 440's and Works Pro Racers and dealing with the technical people, I know none have actually done testing with a Rubbermount Sportster, at least not when I purchased (and returned) the products I mention. I know Progressive is taking off the shelf shocks, putting on springs to match rider weight, but not changing the dampening curve to match the spring rate. I know Works has no idea how to make their Pro Racers work for me, I weigh 230 lbs.

Have you read the wobble thread, or at least the last 10 pages? Part of the problem is the Roadster has to have a very specific set up with front and rear ride heights and swing arm and frame positions, and loose belt tension, fork brace and better tires to handle properly for guys my weight. The aftermarket shock companies are giving us rider sag specs, spring rates, dampening curves, and shock lengths and travel that do not account for the unique needs of Roadsters. I mention Roadster because that is what I have.

Most Sportster riders just accept lousy riding qualities as a fact of life. Most do not understand how to improve upon junk and flat wrong set up information provided by HD and aftermarket companies. By trail and error, and ignoring what the "pros" recommend, I have improved the ride and handling of my bike way beyond stock. Not done yet, but getting close.

In order for this information to be meaningful enough for the guy who is just starting out, much more information is needed. Rider weight, riding skill level, front and rear rider sag, frame and swing arm position, tires, fork oil etc etc. Because the correct spring rates will not help if too many other things are out of adjustment.

At some point, I would like to get a thread started that delt with how to set up suspension of all the different Sportster models. The information you're asking for is just part of what's needed to do that. I think that there is way too big a jump in the spring rates from one spring to the other. Therefore, the guys with weights at either end of the range, suffer a bad ride. The information you're asking for can help determine that.

Last edited by XLXR; 18th February 2007 at 11:18..
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  #6  
Old 18th February 2007
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oopps forgot to answer your question. Race Tech.95 kg fork springs were too stiff in the initial travel of the fork and also made the shocks ride stiff. I changed to Works dual rate spring .715 initial and 1.1 final, removed cross over spacer, added 13 oz's 5 wgt fork oil (that may be a bit too much), and intend to soften the compression dampening of Race Tech emulator even more in the future. Loosening up the front actually make the back softer. Road King air shocks on the back, 33 psi, not quite enough dampening for my 230 lbs.
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  #7  
Old 19th February 2007
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I hope to have a variaty of shocks for the Sportster soon. My intent is to jack the back of my 1200 low up in the rear. This is to get the trail down some, gain some suspension travel back in the rear, and generally gain some suspension compliance. I will not accept that a Sporty has to be unpleasent to ride. The is my wifes ride and she is in the 135 lb range. I may have to swap out the shocks when we intend to travel 2 up. Time and testing will tell. I have a pocket video cameria with a remote magnet mount bullet cam that may be huge in figuring out what is really going on.

AW
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Old 20th February 2007
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Can you set up the camera to photograph two indicator points, one on frame, the other on swing arm, that will demonstrate if the swing arm is staying in line with the front of the bike? That is the big question no one has been able to answer.
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Old 20th February 2007
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My first thought is "shure it could be done" Then once you have the data what would you do with it?

I picture a piece of square aluminum tuming mounted at the bottom to the swing arm and radioused so that the center of curvature was at the swing arm piviot. Now have two more arms mounted to the chassis at on end and free but real close to the arched tube (above). Now you could photograph side to side movement. You would also need an upper pointer to determine twist from pure side deflection.

The real question is what is the right answer and what would you do if you don't like the result. my gut feeling if you realy want one of these to carve the backroads... get a gsxr or r1/r6 or Hyabusa. Sorry, this is part of why I have two bikes.

AW
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  #10  
Old 27th February 2007
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So far I have found that the

stock 1200 low springs are about 99 lbs/in The springs are 1.7" ID with 13.25 free coils and .279" wire dia. Installed on the bike they are about 6.85" with the shock eye to eye at 11.53" Just over 11.25" with most of me on the bike. Spring free length 9.33" Installed the spring length is 6.85". All this gives 2.48" preload 2.48" x 99#/in = 245 lbs pre-load at full extention per side. Fully compressed and touching the bump staletto, the shock center to center is 9.75" or 1.78" total available shock travel. The rebound damping on the stock shock appears to be way tighter than the 1200s shocks even on full hard. All this data is very bad from a handling standpoint. Normaly you only want enough rebound damping to control the spring from overshooting the static ride height on a rebound.

stock 1200s springs are 51 lbs/in and the free length is 10.25" The springs are 1.93" ID with 12.5 free coils and .270" wire dia. Installed on the bike they are about 7.75 and about 6.5 with most of my 200 lb butt on the bike. This leads to the stock shocks has about 383 lbs total on the rear or about 191 lbs on each shock. Extended the shocks are 13.25 eye to eye. Total shock travel is 2.37" or 13.25 - 2.37 = 10.87 fully compressed to the bump steletto. About 12" with me on the bike. The unladen height of the seat with these shocks is 28.5" or about .5" higher than the Harley claimed height.

After riding the bike ... My first impression is that the stock 1200 Low way too much preload for any smaller rider and I am suspect for all riders. The stock shocks have way too much rebound damping in an attemp to soften up the slam against the shock as the springs recover from a large dip. The solution appears to be regaining some of the travel by installing shocks with longer travel. Sence I started this endever I ran across a Progressive shock number 412-4210c that is 13" eye to eye, has 3.8" of total travel at the shock giving about 4.5" of available wheel travel. The spring rate is a 75/120 that should be about correct for a single 180-200 rider. I have no idea what the preload on this shock or what the valving is like to give much more input. In time I may pop for a pair just to try.

The new Caddies will be here in a few days and I will install the spare sportster sport springs on them. I want to get back to the original Low ride height with a 160# rider with more available shock extension travle and with springs in the 50#/in range. I also hope to try the stock 85# springs in the Caddies as the preload will be only about 1.33" or about 113 lbs preload. The ID of the springs is not real interchangable and may become an issue.

If you measure from the bottom of the drive belt adjusting thread to the front point of the rear tail light I get stock 1200 Low is about 11.25" With the new rear 1200s shocks I get 13.37" or just over 2" higher with no rider.

(added 2/28/07) I laid out the rear suspension in CAD and the motion ratio is about .847 so the total rear suspension travel on the stock Low shocks is 1.78/.847 = 2.1" vertical chassis travel. The 1200s setup is 2.37/.847= 2.8" vertical chassis travel. Normally a chassis is set up to have zero spring preload at full droop and just touch the bump stops on the largest you would ever expect to hit and and use 1/3 of the available at rest with the "normal load". The stock Harley is a far cry from this goal.

(added 3/1/07) I put plastic wire ties on the shock shafts front and rear. Then went for a ride. What I found is that with me at 200 lbs, the 1200s shocks are using the entire available travel. I never felt the rear end hit hard so I am most likely close now, I am suspect that having a spring in the 85# range and with a free length of about 9" requiring less preload would be even better. In the front the standard setup appears to be close. I also noticed that about 33% of the riders weight goes on the front tire and about 66% goes on the rear tire.

Still testing... See www.ncs-stl.com/racecar for pics of my previous addiction It was entirly engineered, built and sorted at home. In 2000 it was driven by my 17 year old to be the 3rd fastest autocross car in the world.

AW

Last edited by whittlebeast; 2nd March 2007 at 15:51..
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