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Hank Thibodeau of Widowmaker Custom Design and Repair in Rougemont, NC (check them out here - (336) 364-8535)) changed a set of Black Hills Series shocks on a customer’s 1995 Harley-Davidson DYNA motorcycle. Thibodeau, a master mechanic, completed the swap in about thirty minutes.

The reason why the shocks were replaced is because Thibodeau saw the lowering kit starting to deflect. It also looked like the stud holding the shock was bending as well. Working with the owner, they decided to go with Suspension Technologies because they could retain the lowered look and increase the rear suspension compliance.

Suspension Technologies offers shocks in black, chrome and black and chrome. They selected a set of black 11” shocks, 1” lower than stock and ½” lower than with the lower block.

It turns out that the lowering block and the shock rod itself were bending. Thibodeau commented that based on his observations, it isn’t unusual to see lowering blocks failing over time. In addition, since the suspension still goes through its entire range of motion, the rear wheel can rub the rear fender and rub the wires completely through and disconnect the rear taillight and turn signals.

Tools Used:

  • ¾” Open wrench,
  • ¾” Box wrench
  • Jack
  • Cutting tool

Step 1:

Hank placed the scissor jack under the DYNA and raised the motorcycle until the rear wheel is slightly off the ground. A scissor jack is ideal because it allows you to lower and raise the rear of the bike to accommodate pulling the shock off and replacing it with the new one.

Step 2:

When you lined your eye on the fender strut, it looked like the stud that held the shock was bent. The stud has double threads and are only sourced by Harley. These bolts run $39 each from the Motor Company. All the bolts and studs were replaced with the bill just shy of a hundred dollars; I guess what they say is true, H-D means hundred dollars.

Hank went to work on the shock bolts and removed them with an open wrench and a box wrench.

After the shocks were removed, it turned out the studs were ok.  The lowering block and the shock rod were bent. Obviously this was unsafe. So it was an extremely good time to replace the shocks.

Again using a 3/4″ wrench, remove the upper shock absorber mounting bolt, lock washer and flat washer. Retain all hardware for use with the new unit.

Step 3:

The Black Hills Shocks are a mono tube design which allows the shock to be installed with the shock shaft in the upright or in the downward position. The order of fastners on the bolt is as follows:

– Bolt
– Lock washer
– Washer
– Shock
– Washer

Make sure you reinstall the same way you removed the bolts and washers.

Step 4:

On the break caliper side of the bike, the bottom shock bolt wouldn’t come out without removing the caliper. So Hank decided to use a cutting disk and cut it off.

Step 5:

Slide the shock on the top stud and slide the bottom bolt though the lower mount.

Hand tighten the upper and lower shock assembly and then torque the bolts to 35-40 ft-lbs.

Step 6: Setting the pre-load

The shock absorbers come pre-set for most riding conditions.

(The reason why they are dialed-in is because when they are  ordered online, the information that is provided allows the technicians to set the pre-load for the rider. - Ed)

It’s  strongly recommended that you ride the bike at the initial setting before making any adjustments. The shock absorber preload is adjusted for the weight the motorcycle is to carry. Increase preload to accommodate the total load on the motorcycle. Reduce the preload if carrying less weight.

The Black Hills Series shocks are designed to adjust  the preload without special tools. Firmly grip the spring cup and rotate it counterclockwise (Looking from the top of the shock) to add preload. The opposite direction reduces preload.  

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