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Reworking 2015 Street Glide Suspension

While Working with Progressive Suspension

Photos and text by Mike Stevenson

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Here's a Performance Machine performance bagger with Progressive Suspension products installed. PM and Progressive are members of the MAG Group of custom product manufacturers now owned by Biker's Choice.
Here's a Performance Machine performance bagger with Progressive Suspension products installed. PM and Progressive are members of the MAG Group of custom product manufacturers now owned by Biker's Choice.

This year, for my annual trip to Sturgis, I took my 2015 Harley Street Gilde FLHXS. I was excited to ride my new black Street Glide special, which has the worst stock suspension of a modern day motorcycle, let alone any other $25,000 bike I've ridden. I will save my rant on this subject and just get to my Street Glide suspension solution review.

Before leaving on the Sturgis run with Bandit on his 2014 Indian Chief, I knew I needed to solve this ride issue because I could not ride 100 miles without serious pain. Fortunately, I had a new pair of 412 Progressive rear shocks I could swap out for the over-sprung rear shocks that came on the bike. Big help, I mean big help because these shocks are set up for minimum 300-lb. dudes.

412 Cruise Series Shocks

The new 412 Cruise is the perfect balance of lowered stance and ride quality. By combining a flat-wire spring with a progressive main spring the 12.5-inch shocks sits like 11.5-inch units under the weight of the bike, yet they utilize the full stroke as terrain demands it. The result is a lowered shock that rides like a traditional height unit.

At Progressive Suspension, we always want to be sure that you get the perfect part for your bike. Please click the link below to select your bike so we can be sure we get you exactly what you need.

FROM: $349.95

Trouble is, that exposed the serious problems with the Stock Japanese H-D metric front end. Without time to sort out the 49-mm forks, I left on my trip and had to deal with whatever road conditions came along. By the time I got back, I'd had enough.

So let’s get into fixing the front. My first attempt was to change out the stock fork oil to a heavier viscosity, which was surprisingly better, but not great. I had used the Progressive monotube on a 2002 Road King and thought highly of the improvement. The single monotube technology is highly approved by dirt bike riders, but there is a significant difference in street and dirt fork technology. Dirt bikes always have substantial fork slider braces. Street bikes don’t. If one tube works differently from the other on a street bike the pressure is transferred to the fender and or the axle. What if you buy a bike with a single monotube system and remove the front fender? We don’t like this picture.

Here’s a tech Bandit performed with Jeremiah Soto on his hot rod Dyna:

I figured this would be a good place to start. I contacted Progressive to see if they would like to help with a kit. I let them know I was interested in doing a write-up as I could not find anything useful on the internet about this specific year Street Glide, and thought people might find it helpful. No response from them after repeated calls, so I purchased the kit myself and now feel free to give my impressions of this product objectively.


True high performance front suspension is finally available for the 2014+ HD Touring line. Progressive Suspension has combined their road smoothing Frequency Sensing Technology (FST) damper with a progressive rate spring to create a state of the art fork cartridge kit for the late model baggers.

At Progressive Suspension, we always want to be sure that you get the perfect part for your bike. Please click the link below to select your bike so we can be sure we get you exactly what you need.

FROM: $499.95

Our Sturgis Street Glide test bagger.
Our Sturgis Street Glide test bagger.

I'm not overwhelmed with the results. I think they knew that. That's why they weren't into helping with this project. That's not to say it's not better. It is, but only a little better than the fork oil change.

To be fair, the bike has maybe 2 inches of fork travel, and the 19-inch front wheel and radial tire are probably as much to blame as the shit archaic forks. The monotube kit is a modern fork set up, meaning that one side uses a gas cartridge and the other holds a progressively wound spring.

It does as good a job as can be done in this situation, because there is no way to adjust for rebound or compression. The combination of better rear shocks and using this kit is certainly better, but no BMW for ride. Keep in mind that the Progressive 412 rear shocks that I used are very entry level. I would think that rears with some adjust-ability would make a big difference, and balancing the ride height front to back is important. Some people have gone to a 13-inch rear for 1 inch more travel, and I think that might be a good idea, but it would shift more weight to the front.

If you’re interested in using this kit, I can give you some directions for installation that are not in the instructions.

If you’re going to do the job yourself, there are some things you need to know. The fork tubes are very easy to drop on these bikes, no need to take apart the fairing and fuss with all that bullshit. Just follow the service manual if you have one, or check out some online instructions.

You need to have a couple of things before you get started. A ¾-inch Allen socket for the fork caps, and a 12-mm Allen socket for the damper tube on the bottom of the leg. I ended up making one by cutting off a 12-mm Allen wrench to get the right length, and then used a 12-point, 12-mm socket to slide the Allen into for my tool.

You will need to have a way to hold the fork leg to loosen the fork cap and the lower bolt. JIMS makes all the special tools for fork operations. Also, you really need to have an impact wrench to do this easily.

If this is too complicated, you can just take the legs somewhere and have the kit installed, then reassemble the legs in the triple tree. Doing it yourself saves a lot of money and time. Dealers get close to $100.00 per hour for the labor.

Now the left leg that has the spring in it will be longer than the right leg. This makes putting the axle and the wheel back on harder because they don't line up.

Put the right leg in the triple tree and lock it off, with around 1/8-inch showing at the top. Install the left as far up as you need in the triple tree so you can line up the axle and install the front wheel.

Then take a large, long flathead screwdriver and put it between the handlebar and the top of the fork leg cap and pry down until you have the same amount of leg coming through the triple tree as the other side. Tighten the pinch bolts. I found this easier than trying to jack up the leg from under the fork leg. Be sure and follow the instructions for the installation of the kit, but these things I've pointed out are not mentioned.

Do some shopping around and you can find these kits for $ 350.00 to 380.00 now, but you will pay more than that to have them installed, so do it yourself. There are also dual shock kits available and we are anxious to test a set.

In the end, am I glad I did it? Yes................... I think it's as good as you can get with this bike.

I have a line on a new company, Yelvington, for the rear shocks that may be promising. Bandit and I met them in Sturgis this year and I liked the shock they had. We will see what comes of it.

The bike's cornering and ride through the twisties are much improved. It does not get as upset leaned over and hitting bumps as it did before and lets the much improved frame work well. The front and back of the bike feel way more connected, so it's a breeze to connect a good line through a chicane or lean it a bit more in a sweeper.

I hope all this helps with any decisions to either buy or install the monotube kit. We had some misinformation about the new 2017 touring models. Apparently, the factory stepped up to address suspension issues. Check this story:

Progressive Suspension
Click on the image for info quick.
Click on the image for info quick.

JIMS Machine

Performance Machine

Biker’s Choice

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Reader Comments

I understand your thoughts on the single side cartridge, and here’s my understanding of it.

The kits for 2013 and earlier had a cartridge and springs on both sides. The 2014-16 49 mm fork legs are way stiffer and the axle design keeps everything in line. The flimsy front fender plays very little role as a fork brace. This set up is much lighter and allows for a more robust cartridge and a larger progressively wound spring.

Not sure If someone would want to run a bagger like this without a fender, but it would not matter.

This set-up may not be appropriate on a chopper and was not designed for it.
I think the legend axeo is probably better, but way expensive. This is a first start and not all that hard to install once you get it down. So if another company wants to step up, I’ll do it again.

Mike Stevenson
Da Valley, CA
Monday, November 21, 2016
Editor Response Let's see what comes to the surface next.

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