What Type Of Rear Shocks Are Recommended For Harley-Davidson Motorcycles?


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What Type Of Rear Shocks Are Recommended For Harley Davidson Motorcycles

For Harley-Davidson owners, choosing the right rear shock for your ride is an important decision. The type of rear shock you choose can make a huge difference in the comfort, performance, and safety of your ride. In this article, you’ll learn about the various types of rear shocks available for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, as well as what type of shock is best for your riding style and motorcycle. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced rider, this article will help you make an informed decision about the perfect rear shock for your Harley-Davidson. So let’s get started to find out what type of rear shocks are recommended for Harley-Davidson motorcycles!

What Type Of Rear Shocks Are Recommended For Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Benefits of rear shocks on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are best known for their power, style, and iconic status. To truly unlock their full potential, bikers often turn to aftermarket rear shocks. These upgrades offer an impressive range of benefits, including improved comfort, increased stability, and greater control. Here are some of the benefits of rear shocks on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

>>> Click here to read our review of the Best Rear Shocks For Harley-Davidson <<<

#1. Improved comfort

Upgrading the rear shocks on a Harley-Davidson bike can significantly improve comfort during rides. Stock shocks, while functional, might lack the ability to absorb shocks and vibrations effectively. Aftermarket rear shocks are designed with advanced damping technologies, such as gas-charged reservoirs or progressive-rate springs, which provide superior shock absorption.

These rear shocks minimize the impact of bumps and road irregularities, resulting in a smoother and more comfortable ride. Enhanced comfort will ensure reduced rider fatigue, which will allow for longer journeys with improved enjoyment.

#2. Increased stability

Rear shocks play a key role in maintaining stability on a Harley-Davidson bike. By improving shock absorption and minimizing excessive movement, aftermarket rear shocks enhance the overall stability of the motorcycle.

These rear shocks are engineered to offer better control over bumps, dips, and uneven surfaces. With increased stability, riders experience reduced chassis movement and minimized bouncing, resulting in a more balanced and composed ride. The enhanced stability inspires confidence, especially during cornering, braking, and acceleration, allowing riders to navigate challenging road conditions with ease.

#3. Greater control

Aftermarket rear shocks offer greater control over the bike’s suspension, leading to a more personalized and responsive riding experience. Many of these rear shocks come with adjustable settings, such as preload, compression damping, and rebound damping. These adjustments allow riders to easily fine-tune the suspension to match their preferences, riding style, and specific road conditions.

By customizing the suspension settings, riders will be able to optimize comfort, handling, and responsiveness. Whether it is adjusting for solo or two-up riding or adapting to different road surfaces, the ability to tailor the rear shocks will give the riders the control they desire for a more enjoyable and precise ride.

#4. Improved handling

Rear shocks play a major role in the overall handling characteristics of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. By improving shock absorption and reducing excessive movement, aftermarket rear shocks contribute to enhanced handling capabilities. These shocks offer better tire contact with the road surface, resulting in improved traction and maneuverability.

With increased stability and reduced chassis movement, riders can confidently tackle corners, bends, and curves. The improved handling will allow for smoother and more controlled navigation through various riding conditions, ultimately enhancing the overall riding experience.

#5. Safer riding experience

Upgrading rear shocks on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle also has safety implications. The improved comfort, increased stability, and greater control offered by aftermarket rear shocks contribute to a safer riding experience.

The superior shock absorption will ensure that the tires maintain better contact with the road surface, enhancing traction and grip. This will, in turn, reduce the risk of losing control, especially during sudden maneuvers or encounters with uneven terrain. The enhanced stability and control provided by aftermarket rear shocks inspire confidence and help riders respond effectively to unexpected situations, making the overall ride safer and more secure.

What Type Of Rear Shocks Are Recommended For Harley Davidson Motorcycles
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Rear shocks are a critical component of the suspension system on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, influencing comfort, stability, and control. When it comes to choosing the right type of rear shocks for your bike, it is important to have a basic idea of what type of rear shocks are recommended for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. If you are selecting rear shocks, you must know there are several different options available for your bike. These types of rear shocks come with unique features and benefits that cater to specific riding styles and preferences.

Here are the different types of rear shocks recommended for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. By exploring their characteristics and benefits, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the best option for your bike.

#1. Coilover shocks

Coilover shocks or also known as coil spring shocks make use of a coil spring in combination with a damper to provide suspension support. These rear shocks are known for their durability, reliability, and ease of maintenance.

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Coilover shocks are robust and can easily withstand heavy loads and rough terrains. This makes them ideal for touring or off-road riding. Coilover shocks often offer adjustable ride height, which allows riders to fine-tune the suspension and customize the bike’s look and handling characteristics.

The coil springs in coilover shocks provide progressive compression, which allows for better control, improved handling, and reduced bottoming-out during aggressive riding or uneven surfaces. Coilover shocks are quite easy and straightforward to maintain and the coil springs can be replaced easily if required.

#2. Air shocks

Air shocks or also known as air ride shocks make use of compressed air for adjusting the suspension firmness and provide a customizable riding experience. These rear shocks offer unique features and benefits for Harley-Davidson motorcycles including adjustable suspension, improved comfort, and more.

Air shocks allow riders to easily adjust the suspension firmness by adding or releasing air pressure. This flexibility allows for customization based on load conditions, riding preferences, and desired comfort levels. The adjustable nature of air shocks enables Harley-Davidson riders to fine-tune the suspension for a comfortable ride, especially when carrying a passenger or additional luggage.

These rear shocks can handle varying load conditions effectively, providing stability and support even with heavy loads. The ability to adjust the suspension on the fly makes air shocks ideal for riders who frequently encounter different road surfaces or load requirements.

#3. Hydraulic shocks

Hydraulic shocks or also known as oil shocks or fluid shocks make use of hydraulic fluid to dampen suspension movement. They are a common type of shock absorber used in many bikes, including Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Hydraulic shocks offer smooth and consistent damping characteristics, which ensures effective shock absorption and improved comfort. They are often designed with performance in mind, delivering precise control, improved handling, and enhanced stability during aggressive riding or high-pressure maneuvers.

Unlike coilover rear shocks or air shocks, hydraulic shocks typically offer limited to no adjustability. Riders looking for a more customizable suspension setup might prefer other types of shocks. Hydraulic shocks are very reliable, low-maintenance, and generally easy to install. They provide consistent performance under various riding conditions.

#4. Gas-charged shocks

Gas-charged shocks or also known as nitrogen-charged shocks are designed for enhancing the overall performance of the suspension system. These shocks incorporate nitrogen gas within the shock body to provide benefits like improved damping performance, enhanced heat dissipation, and more.

Gas-charged shocks offer consistent and efficient damping performance, reducing shock fade and ensuring better control over various road surfaces. The nitrogen gas will help dissipate the heat generated during prolonged rides, maintaining the shock’s performance and preventing loss of damping capabilities.

The presence of nitrogen gas reduces the risk of oil foaming, which can occur in conventional shocks during intense or prolonged riding conditions.

#5. Progressive shocks

Progressive shocks or also called progressive-rate shocks feature a unique spring design that provides variable stiffness based on the amount of suspension compression. They offer advantages like a responsive and smooth ride, enhanced handling, and more.

 Progressive shocks are capable of delivering a plush and comfortable ride as they offer a softer initial compression and progressively stiffer resistance as the suspension compresses further. This allows for improved control and responsiveness, especially when encountering uneven surfaces or sudden bumps.

The progressive spring design optimizes handling characteristics by providing greater stability during cornering and braking. The shocks adapt to changing road conditions and load variations, ensuring consistent performance.

#6. Adjustable damping shocks

Adjustable damping shocks allow riders to fine-tune the damping characteristics of the rear suspension. These shocks typically provide adjustment options for compression damping and rebound damping. They offer a wide range of benefits like improved adaptability, customized suspension setup, and more.

Adjustable damping shocks allow Harley-Davidson riders to personalize the suspension to their specific preferences, riding style, and road conditions. By adjusting the damping settings, riders will be able to optimize comfort, control, and handling.

The ability to fine-tune the damping will allow for easy adaptation to varying loads, passenger accommodations, or different terrains. Adjustable damping shocks provide greater control and precision, allowing riders to tailor the suspension to their desired level of performance and comfort.

#7. Remote Reservoir Shocks

Remote Reservoir Shocks feature a separate reservoir that houses additional oil or gas. The separation of the reservoir from the shock body offers numerous advantages like improved cooling, consistent damping performance, and more.

The separate reservoir provides increased oil volume and surface area, which results in improved heat dissipation and reduces the chances of shock fade. The additional oil or gas in the reservoir helps maintain consistent damping performance, even during demanding riding conditions or extended periods of use.

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The separation of the reservoir helps cool the oil more effectively, preventing overheating and maintaining optimal shock performance.

What Type Of Rear Shocks Are Recommended For Harley Davidson Motorcycles

Factors to consider when choosing rear shocks for Harley-Davidson motorcycles

Selecting the right rear shocks for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle is important for optimizing performance, comfort, and control. There are a number of factors that come into play when making the final decision, including your riding style, suspension setup preferences, your budget, and more. With such a plethora of options available in the market, it is important to consider different factors as they will help you make a better decision. Here are some of the key factors that you should take into account when choosing rear shocks for your Harley-Davidson bike. These factors will enable you to make a smarter decision that aligns with your specific needs and preferences.

Riding style and intended use

Your riding style and intended use play a significant role in determining the type of rear shocks that will best suit your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Whether you primarily ride on highways, prefer off-road adventures, or enjoy aggressive cornering, choosing rear shocks that align with your riding style will significantly enhance your riding experience.

Some people might want to use them for touring and long-distance riding. If you frequently embark on long-distance rides, comfort becomes a top priority. You must look for rear shocks that provide superior shock absorption, cushioning, and reduced vibrations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable touring experience.

There are also people who might want to use them for performance and aggressive riding. Riders who prefer enjoying spirited riding, aggressive cornering, or track days will require rear shocks that offer enhanced stability, responsiveness, and control. You should look for rear shocks that have performance-oriented features such as adjustable damping settings, progressive-rate springs, or specialized handling capabilities.

Let’s not forget bikers who love off-road adventures and adventure riding. For bikers who venture off-road, rear shocks that can handle rugged terrains provide ample ground clearance and offer robust shock absorption will be important. You must look for rear shocks that can withstand impacts, resist bottoming out, and provide sufficient travel for off-road exploration.

Suspension setup preferences

Personalizing your suspension setup will allow you to tailor the ride characteristics of your Harley-Davidson motorcycle to your liking. The ability to be able to fine-tune the suspension according to your preferences and specific riding conditions can greatly enhance your overall riding experience. You need to consider different aspects of suspension setup when choosing rear shocks like preload adjustment, damping adjustability, and progressive spring rate.

Some rear shocks come with preload adjustment, which allows you to fine-tune the suspension based on your weight, the weight of any additional load, and your desired ride height. Preload adjustment will ensure proper sag and optimize suspension performance.

Adjustable damping settings, such as compression damping and rebound damping will provide the ability to fine-tune the shock’s response to different road conditions and riding styles. This adjustability will allow for personalized control, comfort, and handling characteristics.

Progressive-rate springs provide a variable stiffness that adapts to the amount of suspension compression. These springs can offer a plush ride while maintaining stability during aggressive maneuvers or when encountering bumps and road irregularities.

Some rear shocks also offer the option to choose custom spring rates based on your weight and riding preferences. This customization ensures optimal suspension performance and comfort for your specific needs.

Compatibility and fitment

You should make sure that the rear shocks you are choosing are compatible with your specific Harley-Davidson model. To do that, you must check for compatibility and fitment.

Check if the shocks are designed for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s make, model, and year. Consult the manufacturer’s compatibility charts or seek advice from experts to ensure a proper fit. Assess the installation requirements and compatibility with your motorcycle’s existing components, such as mounting points, clearance, and any necessary modifications. Proper fitment will be important for safe and effective operation.


Setting a budget will be an important consideration when choosing rear shocks for your Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Rear shocks come in a wide range of prices depending on the brand, features, and materials used. You must consider different factors when determining your budget such as brand reputation, features, adjustability, long-term value, and more.

Established and reputable brands will command higher prices due to their quality, engineering, and track record. However, they often offer reliable performance and customer support.

Rear shocks with advanced features, such as adjustable settings, remote reservoirs, or progressive damping technologies might come with a higher price tag. You must evaluate whether these features are needed for your specific riding needs or not.

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While budget constraints are important, you should consider the long-term value of investing in higher-quality rear shocks. Premium shocks often provide better durability, performance, and reliability, potentially resulting in fewer maintenance issues and replacement costs over time.

Installation of rear shocks on Harley-Davidson motorcycles

Installing rear shocks on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle can improve its performance, comfort, and overall riding experience. While the installation process might appear somewhat intimidating at first, it can be accomplished easily with a few tools and a systematic approach. The tools you will have to gather yourself but there are the step-by-step instructions you will need to follow to install rear shocks on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle to ensure a successful and seamless upgrade.

Step 1: Preparation

Before starting out with the installation, make sure that you have the necessary tools, the owner’s manual for your Harley-Davidson bike, and a safe workspace. Then, park your Harley-Davidson motorcycle on a flat and stable surface, ensuring it is securely supported.

After that, disconnect the negative terminal of the battery to prevent any electrical mishaps during the installation. Refer to the service manual for specific instructions or precautions related to your Harley-Davidson model.

Step 2: Remove the rear wheel

With the help of a suitable socket and wrench, loosen the axle nut on the rear wheel. After that, loosen the rear axle pinch bolt on both sides of the swingarm. Then, you should carefully slide the axle out and remove it from the rear wheel, keeping it aside in a safe place. Now, gently lower the rear wheel and keep it aside.

Step 3: Remove the stock rear shocks

Locate the upper and lower shock mounting bolts on both sides of the bike. Using appropriate sockets or wrenches, loosen and remove these mounting bolts. Make sure that you support the shocks as you are removing the last bolt to prevent them from falling down. Carefully remove the stock rear shocks from your Harley-Davidson motorcycle and set them aside.

Step 4: Prepare the new rear shocks

Examine the new rear shocks and make sure that they are the correct fit for your Harley-Davidson model. If needed, you should adjust any preload or damping settings on the new shocks according to the manufacturer’s instructions and your desired preferences.

Step 5: Install the new rear shocks

  • Start by carefully aligning the upper shock mount with the corresponding mounting point on the frame
  • Then, insert the mounting bolt and hand-tighten it
  • Repeat the same process for the lower shock mount as well, aligning it with the mounting point on the swingarm
  • Insert the mounting bolt and hand-tighten it
  • Make use of the appropriate tools to tighten the upper and lower mounting bolts securely
  • Make sure to refer to the service manual for the recommended torque specifications

Step 6: Rear wheel reinstallation

Lift the rear wheel back into position, making sure that the brake caliper bracket fits properly. Then, you should reinsert the rear axle into the wheel and align it with the swingarm. Using your hands, tighten the axle nut to hold the wheel in place.

Gradually, you should tighten the axle nut to the recommended torque specified in the service manual. Tighten the rear axle pinch bolts on both sides of the swingarm to the recommended torque.

Step 7: Final adjustments and checks

  • Double-check to make sure all bolts are tightened securely
  • Reconnect the negative terminal of the battery
  • Give the rear wheel a spin to make sure that it rotates freely and does not encounter any obstructions
  • Bounce the rear of your Harley-Davidson bike a few times to check the smoothness of the suspension travel
  • Adjust any preload or damping settings on the new shocks as necessary, referring to the manufacturer’s instructions and your personal preferences


What types of rear shocks are available for Harley Davidson motorcycles?

There are several types of shocks available for Harley Davidson motorcycles, including air-adjustable shocks, coil-over shocks, and progressive rate shocks. Each type of shock offers different benefits and features, so it’s important to consider which type is best suited for your needs.

What are the benefits of air-adjustable shocks?

Air-adjustable shocks are popular among Harley Davidson riders because they offer adjustable ride height and ride stiffness. This means riders can easily adjust the shocks to suit their riding style and can customize their ride for a more comfortable experience.

What are the benefits of coil-over shocks?

Coil-over shocks are designed to offer a smoother ride and provide better shock absorption, making them ideal for riders who want a smoother ride. They also provide a more consistent ride, which is beneficial for riders who are looking for a more consistent performance.

>>> Read more about Rear Shocks for Harley-Davidson <<<

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White Star Rides is your go-to Harley-Davidson expert. We live and breathe these bikes. Our team has years of experience in fixing, riding, and loving Harleys. We know every part of these bikes and love sharing what we know with you. Whether it's about fixing a problem or just enjoying the ride, we're here to help. Trust us to make your Harley journey better and easier.

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