Harley-Davidson Premium Ride Shocks for the Road Glide Special | DOIN' TIME

Long-Term Test: Ride and tracking improvements with H-D Premium Ride shocks.

WRIST: Andy Cherney
MSRP (2015): $23,699
MILES: 11,495
MPG: 44
MODS: 10,000-mile service, Premium Ride shocks

It's been a busy cycle for Big Blue, particularly for maintenance. For one thing, Harley-Davidson issued a recall back in April (see the H-D recall report HERE), affecting certain models in the 2014-2015 Touring lineup, and, yep, the Road Glide Special was on the list. Apparently, a faulty clutch master cylinder in the recalled motorcycles could lose the ability to generate enough lift to disengage the clutch, due to a chemical reaction. The NHTSA says it's especially prone if parked for an extended period. Our Glide hasn't been all that idle, but I figured better safe than sorry, so an appointment was made with Salem Harley-Davidson. And since the Road Glide's odometer had since shattered the 10,000-mile mark, I'd tack on a 10K-mile service while there. To really test the dealer's patience, I also figured it'd be a good time to get the just-delivered H-D Premium Ride shocks installed.

The recall service was pretty straightforward. Then on to the 10K service, which consisted of the usual component, fluid and fastener checks, a belt adjustment, a spark-plug swap, and, on the service manager’s recommendation, a change to H-D SYN3 synthetic oil, due to my increasingly heavy touring schedule. Note that SYN3 is a 60/40 blend, not a true synthetic, and it’s also not cheap. The 10K service rang in at around $400.

Now for the new suspenders. Salem H-D says the Premium Ride shocks in the standard length (at your local Harley dealer; $550) are an easy install but, more important, offer more robust compression and rebound capabilities—qualities that are in short supply (pun intended) on the stock RGS. According to Harley, the upgraded Showa shocks sport larger chambers (40mm-diameter pistons and 14mm rods) so they react more quickly to bumps and better resist bottoming.

And what a difference! The ride is far more controlled, and blowing through the stroke on hard bridge surface transitions in town is no longer an issue. The Glide is more composed, with the tires tracking over irregular pavement much more cleanly. Even better, the RG now has better ground clearance, which makes sense because the bike comes stock with a paltry 2.1 inches of rear-wheel travel. Installing the PR shocks increases suspension travel by almost 50 percent! As with the stockers, spring preload can be adjusted for changing loads using a convenient knob on the left shock. Yes, the new shocks raise the seat height approximately three quarters of an inch, but trust me; it’s completely worth it.