Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk


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sleepy3103
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Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:20 pm



Hi all, This is my first post. I have been reading, and reading, and reading... I like this forum. I just purchased my first motorcycle since I got rid of my last one 8 years ago. Its a 1983 GL1100I Interstate. It has 33,000 miles on it since it sat in the last owners garage for 5 years. It runs pretty good and looks pretty good, but the suspension and brake are in serious need of some fixin. The seals are blow in both forks and rear shocks, so I'm thinking of just switching to a non air setup.

I have read a few older threads about new spring from progressive suspension, so I'm looking at those for replacements. The only problem is that i am short, and I have read that with the progressive 13" rear shock it will make your bike a lot taller. I am 5'6" and my inseam is 29" and that is probably giving myself a little extra. The way my bike sits now I can almost touch flat footed, and that is with the suspension with no air. So I'm looking for options, like a lowering kit i could use with the new springs or something along those lines. I also found some heavy duty shorty chrome shocks on ebay, and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience with them.
Here is a link to the sale http://www.ebay.com/itm/HONDA-GL1100-GOLDWING-SHORTY-HEAVY-DUTY-CHROME-SHOCKS-/261269494246?pt=Motorcycles_Parts_Accessories&fits=Year%3A1983%7CMake%3AHonda%7CModel%3AGoldwing+1100%7CSubmodel%3AGL1100&hash=item3cd4e019e6&vxp=mtr

The last thing is, can I make the forks non air with the progressive suspension kit alone or do I need something else to accomplish that?

Thanks for any and all advise. I'm new to Goldwings, but I'm enjoying mine so far.
My new GL1100 Interstate
My new GL1100 Interstate



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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Aug 25, 2014 1:55 pm

You've got a couple of problems facing you: Your springs are going to be old and tired, which means sagging. So your bike is already sagging down quite a bit. Even replacing your rear shocks with new OEM shocks (if they were available, which they aren't), you would find your bike would rise up quite a bit.

So finding shocks with new springs (which will be firmer than your old, tired springs) that are then cut down even more to lower your bike, are going to be VERY hard - you will find your bike will ride like it has almost no suspension at all.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Mon Aug 25, 2014 2:43 pm

WingAdmin wrote:You've got a couple of problems facing you: Your springs are going to be old and tired, which means sagging. So your bike is already sagging down quite a bit. Even replacing your rear shocks with new OEM shocks (if they were available, which they aren't), you would find your bike would rise up quite a bit.

So finding shocks with new springs (which will be firmer than your old, tired springs) that are then cut down even more to lower your bike, are going to be VERY hard - you will find your bike will ride like it has almost no suspension at all.


That why I was asking If anyone had any experience with these shocks on ebay. They are 2 inches shorter then the progressive suspension shocks. I don't mind a "hard" ride, right now they bottom out over every bump bigger than a crack in the road. So as long as they don't bottom out all the time I'm fine with that. I'm going to try and set it up to where it sits a little higher than it does now, but not by much. If its a hard ride that ok, because if I can't touch the ground when I stop then I cant ride at all.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby triwing » Mon Aug 25, 2014 3:51 pm

You have the option of new progressive springs,not only in front, but in your stock shocks,as well.
New seals front & rear, springs,& new oil for both ends, will be better than stock ever was,least cost wise, the best thing to do. & you still can add air,to help with heaver loads.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Mon Aug 25, 2014 7:58 pm

To me the rear shocks are not worth fixing on my bike. The air linds and bushings are in horrible shape.
it would cost just about as much as buying a set of those heavy duty 11 inch shocks but with a lot more work. I'll keep the oem shocks for possible future refurbishing though.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Tue Aug 26, 2014 7:03 pm

Well I just found a set of rear shocks with air lines that a guy nere me was selling. Hd says they work fine and don't leak so we will see. For $30 I figured I couldn't pass it up.

I still might try the ebay shorties and see how they perform.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby RBGERSON » Wed Aug 27, 2014 1:51 pm

Cutting some foam out of the seat edges may help too.
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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:19 pm

RBGERSON wrote:Cutting some foam out of the seat edges may help too.


If I can find some to reupholster the seat I might do that. Its starting to tare on a couple seems.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby glasshead » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:52 pm

I also have a 29 inch inseam. I have an 83 1100. At best, I can get the balls of my feet on the ground if I scoot all the way up on the seat. Even wearing boots I cannot sit flat footed. This is the third year I have had it after more than 30 years of not riding. (I turned 62 this June).
The first summer I had it, I would balance the bike from one toe to the other at stops, seeing if I could find that balance sweet spot. It was kind of a game. This is now my 3rd summer with it and I don't even notice that I can't stop flat footed. I even go out occasionally in tennis shoes. The one thing that I did have to train myself to do was to make sure I could feel the foot pegs on the insides of my legs close to my ankles when I put my feet down. That way I knew that if the bike leaned over, my legs weren't too far apart that I couldn't hold it up. I actually dropped it three times at stop signs (side streets, fortunately) on the first day I got it because I put my feet down so far apart (which wasn't very far) that by the time the bike leaned over and touched the inside of my leg, it was past my balance point and I couldn't hold it up. Like I said, now I have no issue at all. If it is not too late, you might consider giving yourself one riding season before making changes.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Thu Aug 28, 2014 1:59 am

glasshead wrote:I also have a 29 inch inseam. I have an 83 1100. At best, I can get the balls of my feet on the ground if I scoot all the way up on the seat. Even wearing boots I cannot sit flat footed. This is the third year I have had it after more than 30 years of not riding. (I turned 62 this June).
The first summer I had it, I would balance the bike from one toe to the other at stops, seeing if I could find that balance sweet spot. It was kind of a game. This is now my 3rd summer with it and I don't even notice that I can't stop flat footed. I even go out occasionally in tennis shoes. The one thing that I did have to train myself to do was to make sure I could feel the foot pegs on the insides of my legs close to my ankles when I put my feet down. That way I knew that if the bike leaned over, my legs weren't too far apart that I couldn't hold it up. I actually dropped it three times at stop signs (side streets, fortunately) on the first day I got it because I put my feet down so far apart (which wasn't very far) that by the time the bike leaned over and touched the inside of my leg, it was past my balance point and I couldn't hold it up. Like I said, now I have no issue at all. If it is not too late, you might consider giving yourself one riding season before making changes.


Its not really a problem riding at stock seat height, I'm fine with not being able to flat foot at stops. The reason I wanted to get opinions on the short shocks was because I was going to replace my shock with new ones, but I didn't want the gl to sit higher than stock like it would with the progressive shocks. Now I have a stock set that is in good working order so I'm going to try those and how I like them. I'm still wondering if anyone has tried the shorties though. I might still get them just to try them out.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby glasshead » Sat Aug 30, 2014 10:00 pm

I didn't think about new shocks making the bike taller. That could be a problem. I have an air leak and have not had time to check them out. If I DO need to replace them, I am interested in what options I have.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:51 am

glasshead wrote:I didn't think about new shocks making the bike taller. That could be a problem. I have an air leak and have not had time to check them out. If I DO need to replace them, I am interested in what options I have.


That was the reason I posted this. It was either replace my shocks with the progressive suspension set, the heavy duty shorty set from ebay, or completely rebuild my factory shocks. The progressive suspension shocks would rase the bike and make it even harder to touch the ground. So I was trying to find out if anyone has tried the HD shorty set from ebay. I found a factory shock setup with air lines that work, so I can use those for now. But if the HD sorties are good I might try those.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby Johnyy Smoke » Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:33 am

I wonder if the short set of rear shocks would adversely affect any wobble on the front end?
If one has to go to such efforts to lower the bike, perhaps you need a smaller bike to begin with.
I redid my 1980 front and rear with progressive.
412s in the rear and new springs in the front. While it did raise the overall height somewhat, it wasn't raised WAY high- perhaps an inch or so.
Progressive shocks are the way to go- MUCH better than rebuilt originals. Regards, Johnyy

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Sun Aug 31, 2014 5:16 pm

Johnyy Smoke wrote:I wonder if the short set of rear shocks would adversely affect any wobble on the front end?
If one has to go to such efforts to lower the bike, perhaps you need a smaller bike to begin with.
I redid my 1980 front and rear with progressive.
412s in the rear and new springs in the front. While it did raise the overall height somewhat, it wasn't raised WAY high- perhaps an inch or so.
Progressive shocks are the way to go- MUCH better than rebuilt originals. Regards, Johnyy


I modify every vehicle I buy, whether its a car, bike, or atv. The companies can't make them exactly how I want them so I buy the one that has the most of what I want then change the rest to fit my needs. Also I dont know many touring bikes that are much shorter except a harley, and they are out of my price range at the moment.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby WingAdmin » Tue Sep 02, 2014 3:38 pm

Johnyy Smoke wrote:I wonder if the short set of rear shocks would adversely affect any wobble on the front end?
If one has to go to such efforts to lower the bike, perhaps you need a smaller bike to begin with.
I redid my 1980 front and rear with progressive.
412s in the rear and new springs in the front. While it did raise the overall height somewhat, it wasn't raised WAY high- perhaps an inch or so.
Progressive shocks are the way to go- MUCH better than rebuilt originals. Regards, Johnyy


If you raise/lower the rear end without doing the same to the front, you are in effect also changing the front wheel geometry, by altering the amount of trail. This in turn will change the natural stability of the steering system and can increase wobble or give you other undesired handling characteristics.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:10 pm

For now I'll probably just go with the stock rears until I figure out what to do with the forks. I'm putting new seals and 15 weight fork oil in this weekend. I am using the stock springs to see ho ws it rides first. After that I'll make a decision on how to proceed.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:03 pm

Well I got the used set of rear shocks on and replaced the fork seals yesterday and road about 150 miles today. The forks with the stock spring aren't to bad, but they do still sag a lot. I have the air at about 20 psi. The rear shocks feel great when its just me, but with a passenger it feels squishy and still bottoms out on good bumps. I have the rear at 55-56 psi. I think some progressive fork springs are definitely in my future. The thing I need to know is how are the progressive rear shocks? Will they still be squishy and bottom out with a passenger on? Me and my passenger weigh about 450 lbs together.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby Johnyy Smoke » Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:56 am

The progressive 412s non air are adjustable , and will handle a passenger. A wrench to adjust them is included. Go for it! Regards, Johnyy

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Mon Sep 08, 2014 7:53 pm

Johnyy Smoke wrote:The progressive 412s non air are adjustable , and will handle a passenger. A wrench to adjust them is included. Go for it! Regards, Johnyy


Thanks man. I'm probably going to go that route. I might consider rebuilding these stock rears with progressive springs. Gotta do some more research on that.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby triwing » Mon Sep 08, 2014 11:07 pm

Springs are a great improvement,over a good set of stock shock's, dampers would probably be better yet,for your shock's,but springs are best bang for the buck, single improvement to do!!!

Been use'n Progressive's,front & rear,for years on all my bikes, & have been very happy with them.But no longer employed cash is in shorter supply than before, & being unable to ride my new 84 to me standard, any real distance, (bad back) ,wondered if springs & seals would suffice for shocks, as springs in front end, were already switched to Progressive's by P O.Very happy with results, when i have the( extra??) cash dampers would probably be an improvement, but for now, i'm very comfortable in comparison to the other mount's in my garage,for ridding longer distances, back don't complain like before the spring's addition, & ride is MUCH better than before,& the shock's, worked well for stock shocks.Never leaked a drop of oil or lost air,& never bottomed out or malfunctioned at all.If you added dampers,you would have Progressive shocks,in Honda shock can's. Good Luck

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby sleepy3103 » Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:45 pm

Thanks for the reply triwing. I think if I can afford it this winter I might just do the 412 or 416 shocks from progressive suspension. I kind of like the idea of air in the back for easy adjustment for the load, but the 412s would make it more simple. I have a lot of stuff on the "to do" list for the gl this winter though so if I can't afford it I'll just put springs and seals on the stockers. Thanks for all the replies. Love this forum.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby FM-USA » Wed Oct 01, 2014 11:35 am

Maybe look at this problem from a different direction. Instead of changing the bike, change you.

Have you considered "in the shoe" lifts or adding a thicker sole or both? It might feel odd at first.

One of our (short) team mates said he found adding 3/4" inside his shoes made leaning over the pool table SO much easier. Before he said he had to shoot on this tip-toes. He now orders his shoes with the lift built in.
I asked him if he felt like Frankenstein. He said at first ya but he got used to it.
IF I remember, he added about an inch.
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Taste testing as the miles flow, souring as that acid grows.
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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby rebelbob » Sat Nov 01, 2014 1:26 pm

I cured the short syndrome by installing a sportster type seat on my 1978 CL1000.

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby bikommuter » Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:49 pm

I just got my GL1100 a few months ago. I bought it because the PO said the shocks were adjustable, and in a way they were. If you let all the air out of the shocks, I could comfortably reach the ground. I'm 5'6 in my boots so seat height has always been an issue. Problem was that both the forks and rear shocks were shot so letting all the air out made it unsafe to ride. (I tried once). I re-built the forks with new Progressive springs and 20w oil, and replaced the rears with Progressive 412's. Ride height came back up to factory normal. Bike handles like a dream now. Problem was that my legs didn't get any longer. By the way, 412's do not "raise" the rear, they just return it to where it was when Honda built it. After much research, I decided I didn't want to screw up the steering geometry so I looked for other ways. I just tried a pair of 1/2 inch insoles in my boots, and I'm overjoyed. Now I won't have to sell my Wing to buy a shorter bike. Of course I might still buy a cruiser anyway 8-) , but now I don't have to. Before you spend a lot ofmoney on other solutions, try just adding some lift to your riding boots. Seriously, it works. :D :D :D

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Re: Opinion on rear shocks for us short folk

Postby Slowride84 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:11 am

Just installed the 412, heavy duty 13" part # 4222c. Haven't rode yet but sitting on the bike was the same. I am 5'7 and still have same reach to ground as with stock air shocks. My air shocks were really bad hope these 412 have a nice ride.
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