Automatically lowering and raising a big Harley Davidson touring bike may seem like custom tomfoolery, but with a bolt on hydraulic suspension kit that even carries a three year warranty, riding big is no longer limited to big riders.
Imagine riding through wide open vistas along smooth, straight asphalt and the chances are you’re picturing doing it on a big V-Twin cruiser; the first motorcycle that pops in to my mind is a Harley Davidson Street Glide.
The problem for those who aren’t over six feet tall like I am, is that the moment they pull off that beautiful open road and in to a parking lot or worse yet, an urban area, manoeuvring the 800+ lbs machine with its 2-foot 4-inch seat height can often be a challenge.
Purveyors of HD customization, Concept & Design Cycle (CDC) of Bobcaygeon, Ontario are behind the creation of a ‘speed sensitive fully automatic active hydraulic suspension’ kit that fits Harley Davidson touring bikes 1996 and newer.
The CDC Active Suspension system automatically senses the motorcycle’s speed and lowers the suspension by 5.5 cm (2.5 inches) when speed drops below 20 km/h (12.5 mph). Although the system is fully automatic, it comes with manual override controls which can be mounted to the handlebars of the motorbike.
Painted black, the two suspension units mount directly in place of the factory springs and require no modification to a bikes’ frame or saddlebags. For riders with new bikes, this means the HD factory warranty stays intact even with the CDC system installed.
David Purdy of CDC tells me that the system maintains full OEM suspension travel even when at its lowest point. An important characteristic of the Active Suspension system is also its ability to deliver a ‘smoother ride through hard dips and holes because of a built in hydraulic rebound end of travel damper.’
Having had a chance to experience the system in a static environment, it all seems terrifically smooth and seamless. The two suspension units look natural on a Harley tourer rear-end and do little, if anything, to detract from the overall look of the bike. The polished metal handlebar mounted control unit is small and simple, with wiring that is hidden well out of sight.
In addition to the obvious benefits of lowering and raising a bike so a shorter rider can place their legs on the ground easily, CDC also points out the physics advantages of the Active Suspension system where it ‘helps reduce forward projection of the rider’s inertia, reduces ‘nose dive’ at low speed breaking, and reduces rear wheel hop.’
Retailing for CDN $3,495, the CDC Active Suspension system is definitely not an inexpensive bolt on accessory. Considering its function allows for a greater gamut of riders to enjoy the big bike HD experience, the product offers solid value for money.
The kit can be purchased through HDSuspension.com or through select local retailers. Even though buyers can opt to have their local shop install it, David tells me it’s designed so that the weekend wrench slinger can even do it themselves.
He also tell me that the unit is even being bought up by customers outside of North America as this Canadian company looks to distant regions of the world where the Harley Davidson brand image continues to gain traction.
The promise of properly engineered automatic hydraulic lowering and raising for the iconic large displacement cruiser sure is appealing.
If you’re like me and don’t have an issue with seat height, but still think this is mighty cool because lowering anything automatically makes it awesome, leave a comment below and tell us what other bikes you’d want this kind of system on.