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Friday Edition


Stabilizing Pre and Post 2009 Touring Front Ends

The Tough Custom Cycle Engineering Top Triple Tree

By Smilin' Doc Robinson, Tech Editor, Heavy Duty Magazine, Australia
6/3/2011


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The CCE machined billet aluminium triple tree is shown at the top with the cast Harley-Davidson one at the bottom. There is a considerable weight saving with the aluminium unit.
The CCE machined billet aluminium triple tree is shown at the top with the cast Harley-Davidson one at the bottom. There is a considerable weight saving with the aluminium unit.




There’s nothing so good it doesn’t bear improving. I aim that statement at owners of 2009 and upward Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles. Certainly, in 2009 when the Motor Company came out with their new frame, the first for the tourers since 1980. By today’s standards, the bikes back then were underpowered slugs and therefore not ridden nearly as fast as they are nowadays, thanks to the much bigger and more powerful engines. And the new touring frame has certainly made a big difference.

But let’s cut to the chase here and let me make another statement: The Custom Cycle Engineering FLH Touring model billet aluminium top triple tree will improve the handling of pre-2009 models by 100 percent, and that of post-2009 models by 20-30 percent, in my estimation.

Have those figures sunk in and, if so, are they anywhere near the ballpark, and why? Well having been a long time fan of Custom Cycle Engineering products I made it a point earlier this year to visit their California facility and have a chat to head honcho Rick Whitehead.

Now a number of CCE’s products are designed with the express purpose of improving the handling of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, products varying from fork braces, through swing arm retrofit kits, to the triple trees that are the subject of this article.

The greatly increased support given to the fork tubes with the CCE top tree is clearly demonstrated in this close up comparison photo, with the stock tree on the left.
The greatly increased support given to the fork tubes with the CCE top tree is clearly demonstrated in this close up comparison photo, with the stock tree on the left.




While there are various products in the Harley-Davidson aftermarket that attempt to address the dreaded bagger wobble, the high speed instability that can develop with the touring models, products such as the True-Track and any number of imitators. But as Rick pointed out to me, these are all aimed at the rear end of the vehicle. While they all do a fair job in their own right, up until now nobody has addressed the role that the top triple tree on the baggers plays in this instability.

There’s no arguing with Rick’s statement that the stock FLH top triple tree is a product of 1950s’ technology given that it is virtually the same one that Harley-Davidson has been running from 1950. And as you’ll see in the accompanying pics the stock item offers very little support to the top of the fork tubes. Whereas the CCE top tree offers over two-and-a-quarter inches of clamping stability to the front forks and dramatically improves handling, tracking and overall stabilization.

Due to the fact that the fork tube is now engaged into the triple tree, custom fork length tubes are supplied to maintain stock ride height and the CCE kit includes an anodized billet aluminum pinch bolt top plate, new fork tube nuts and longer, custom length, 41mm fork tubes. The total cost of the kit is listed on the CCE web site as USD$845.00 which I believe is very reasonable indeed.

Now my test bike, a 2009 FLHX, had already been fitted with the Progressive Suspension Monotube Cartridge Fork Kit and thus required a slightly different kit from CCE, but it was good to know that fitting one upgrade did not obviate the other as they too often do.

To install the kit I called upon the services of Craig Carling, the gun mechanic at Adelaide Bike Works (www.adelaidebikeworks.com.au), who has done many product test installs for me to run in Heavy Duty magazine, the leading American V-Twin oriented publication in Australia.

What follows is a brief overview, as the many steps to disassemble and reassemble the front section of a touring bike with a batwing fairing would put most readers to sleep were I to document them.

Craig begins disassembly of the front end.
Craig begins disassembly of the front end.


The top section of the CCE fork tube is shown on the left with the CCE fastening nut beside it. The stock Harley-Davidson set up is shown on the right.
The top section of the CCE fork tube is shown on the left with the CCE fastening nut beside it. The stock Harley-Davidson set up is shown on the right.


The top lower fork leg still contains the old fork tube while the one on the bottom has had the CCE tube installed.
The top lower fork leg still contains the old fork tube while the one on the bottom has had the CCE tube installed.


After removing the fork leg Craig pumps out the old oil.
After removing the fork leg Craig pumps out the old oil.


A good quality fork oil, like Spectro fork oil, and in just the right quantity is required for optimum operation of telescopic forks. Here we see Craig carefully measuring the amount.
A good quality fork oil, like Spectro fork oil, and in just the right quantity is required for optimum operation of telescopic forks. Here we see Craig carefully measuring the amount.

And now pouring the carefully measured amount into the fork leg.
And now pouring the carefully measured amount into the fork leg.

With the new triple tree in position Craig refits the washer and nut.
With the new triple tree in position Craig refits the washer and nut.


He now completes the re-assembly ready for a test ride.
He now completes the re-assembly ready for a test ride.


A smiling Doc calls back to thank the guys after the first hard and (very) fast test ride through the great sweepers of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula.
A smiling Doc calls back to thank the guys after the first hard and (very) fast test ride through the great sweepers of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula.





Conclusion
Owners of Harley-Davidson Touring bikes manufactured before 2009 are well advised to fit the CCE top triple clamp in order to greatly improve high speed handling and safety and can be assured that their motorcycles will be transformed and become much more enjoyable to ride. No, let me rephrase that; for pre-2009 bikes this product is a MUST!

Owners of 2009 and upward Touring models will still find fitting a CCE triple tree top plate to significantly improve the feel of their bike at speed and in the corners and I highly recommend they do so.


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Reader Comments


I was very intrigued with the content of this article because I am on the verge of buying a 2008 FLHTCU, and having owned a 2008 FLHTC in the past, I experienced that high-speed wobble too.

If I get the bike, I'm going to have the CCE forks and TT installed asap.

There was a person who critiqued your article over the spelling of the word "legendary" in an ad at the bottom of the article page. The person who wrote that comment misspelled the word "they", by failing to type the letter "y" at the end of the word.

John
Sacramento, CA
Friday, March 07, 2014
Editor Response Oops. Just goes to show, no one is perfect.
--Bandit
Looks like a great product. Extremely robust and obviously much stronger than the stock TT

One thing that really distracted me had nothing to do with the article. At the bottom of the page is an ad for CCE. Why are the spelling legendary incorrectly with LENgendary? Is that an Australian thing that I wouldn't understand or is it plain ole spelling error?

Obviously it is a great company but if it is an error it concerns me that by missing something so important that their attention to detail in some areas is off a bit.

John
Belmont, CA
Tuesday, July 05, 2011

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