How to Adjust the Rear Shocks on a Harley Sportster Using a Strap Wrench

Written by c.l. rease
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Improperly adjusted rear motorcycle shocks transfer road vibration and bumps directly to the motorcycle rider. The shock pre-load determines the amount of dampening provided by the rear shocks of a Harley Davidson Sportster motorcycles. Rear shock adjustments do not require a specialised tool nor does it require you to remove the shock from the motorcycle to perform the adjustment. An affordable tool will perform the pre-load adjustment without causing damage to the exterior finish of the motorcycle.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Strap wrench

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  1. 1

    Shift the motorcycle into neutral. Lower the Sportster's centre stand until it contacts the ground. Push down on the stand with one foot as you pull the motorcycle backwards to lift the rear tire off the ground.

  2. 2

    Wrap the strap around the top -- directly above the dampening spring -- section of the shock. Slide the strap into the strap wrench handle. Pull the strap to tighten it around the shock.

  3. 3

    Turn the handle of the strap wrench clockwise to increase shock stiffness or counterclockwise to decrease shock stiffness.

  4. 4

    Move to the other side of the motorcycle and repeat the procedure. Ensure you turn each shock the same distance to keep the suspension pre-load equal on both sides of the bike.

  5. 5

    Lower the Sportster's centre stand. Take the motorcycle on a test drive. Adjust both shocks with the strap wrench until the pre-load feels comfortable when you are driving the motorcycle.

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