Replaced my softail’s rear shocks

I often drag my HD Heritage softail on roundabouts when I am not paying attention just with my left and right sides across the street.

This can be solved by giving the bike a slightly higher position.

To do this, you can lengthen the front fork slightly at the front and you can also raise the rear slightly by shortening the shock absorbers slightly on my Heritage softail. This is because a softail’s shock absorbers are not PUSH but PULL versions, so shorter shock absorbers mean a higher seat. If you make the shock absorbers longer, you lower the bike.

At Midwest motors in Australia a while back, I ordered 2 new chrome shock absorbers that have a wide adjustment range.

I adjusted these shock absorbers to the shortest setting and then fitted them.

This raises my bike about 3 cm higher at the rear while riding.

All done!

Harley Davidson Heritage lifted front fork 2 inch overstock

First, the light housing/ shroud’s rear parts are removed, the brake line to the front caliper loosened and the headlight’s internal unit has been removed.

Then,  the top BIG screws can be removed from the front fork units.  For this, I used my large socket wrench kit:

Then, I loosened the 2 bolts that clamp the front fork units in the lower steering plate.  Then, I upped the bike a bit with my Harley center lift unit:

With a little effort and use of some lubricant in the area around the lower forkplate at the place where they are munted, the forks will slide down. I let them slip down around 2 inch under the top steering plate.

The, remove the large bolts and be aware that there is quite some pressure under these bolts, due to the fork springs.  I put a steel plate between the bolt’s top and the hole where they were previously bolted.  The bolts come off with a bang.  The, they are captured by the plate.  Ater both bolts are loose and held by the steel plates, you can slowly upp the motorlift so the springs can move freely. The bolts will fall down so be arare to either catch them of prevent damage to your front fender and gastank.

NB: My HD Heritage model holds 2 identical springs so the procedure is the same for each of the fork units. In other models, you can encounter different situations like 1 spring on 1 side and no spring on the other side. This is normal.


Now, the new extenders can be mounted. Put them between the spring and the plate with bolt from a pulley pull-off device, as shown in the picture:

Then, drive the pulley device’s bolt through the bottom and push the spring in the fork, at the end screwing the new overstock bolt in the fork.  It should then be like this:

Secure the bolts in the foeks on both sides, push the forks up OR lower the lift and wiggle a bit until the bolt’s topsides are in the upper steering plate’s holes.

Then, put the  endbolts with new rubber rings in and mount everything back, Don’t forget the front brake’s line!  I refilled with new brake fluid, Dot 5.

So- I was searching for new 2 inch overstock shrouds but could not get them anywhere nearby.  Eventually, I ordered a new set with 4 inch overstock.  If it is too long, I will machine them down to 2 inch overstock on the lathe.  But that will be another post.

This is how it looks in real life:

And with the full package installed:

Raise the HD Heritage FLSTCI (2004) 2 inches for improved ground clearance

Whenever I drive off something higher than 4 inches,, I crash into the ledge that I drive off with the frame of the bike. Also, When driving on- and off the small typically Dutch roundabouts I often crashj both the Left- and the Right hand sided floorboards and also the jiffy on the pavement.

Coming from my previous bikes (HD-FXRS and my last was a Buell Ulysses), I never experienced these problems with those older bikes.

Therefore, I decided to raise the Heritage a bit and see whether this solves my problems. If not, I’ll sell the bike and buy me something else.

For the rear opf the bike I bought me a pair of adjustable “Ultima softail 2000-UP 116=233” shocks that I hope can be adjusted to be a bit shorter than the standard shocks.

For the front, I bought me a set of Zodiac 2 inch 41mm front forks lengtheners.  See the attached photo’s:


Silencing my HD Heritage

If you look at the current rules for noise and noise pollution from motorcycles, it seems like a jungle that you can’t get through.

What is clear is: If you do not meet the noise standard, there is a chance that your motorcycle will get impounded OR your registration of the bike gets invalidated and you will no longer be allowed to drive on public roads.

Noise and older engines
For older engines it is in usually not known what the maximum noise allowance in dB(A) is.

This does not mean that you can produce an unlimited level of noise.

Therefore, general guidelines for this type of vehicles  have been drawn up  y the Dutch government.

The cylinder capacity of the motorcycle is leading in those guidelines.

These sound values are of course always dependent on engine revvs.

For example, in the Netherlands the sound of engines built before 1960 should be measured at 2000 rpm (4-stroke) or 2250 rpm (2-stroke). For motorcycles built after 1960, these rpm’s are respectively 4000 and 4500. For a Harley, at 4000 rpm it is actually only possible to stay under the standard of 106dB(A) with well damped exhausts.

Measuring motorcycle noise by the police
The Dutch police measures sound output stationary.

The microphone is placed at 50 cm from the exhaust mouth at an angle of 45 degrees (may deviate 10 degrees).

The rpm sensor is placed on the spark plug wire. If that is not possible the police measures the pulses of the ignition coil.

The RPM is entered into the measuring equipment.

The law-enforcer then turns up the gas three times and the highest noise level counts.

Just to average: If you get above 110 dB(A) with a heavy engine at 4000 RPM, it costs money.

An after market exhaust may (according to the rules) not produce more sound than the original exhaust.

But in practice, especially in the past, many open exhausts were sold and mounted.

And with such exhausts it is impossible to get below the legal noise standard with any kind of dB-killer.


And now what?

If you want to avoid all this misery, it is better to make your exhaust system meet the required test standard or at least the standard that applies to your bike.

This can be done in various ways:

  • Either you mount on your motorcycle an original exhaust system, as present at the original delivery and stay within the license plate related standard;
  • Or you make sure that exhausts are mounted with the E4-Dutch approval standard, appropriate to the year and type of motorcycle and stay within the vehicle’s registered standard;
  • Or if there is no testing standard for your motorcycle: Make sure the exhaust meets the ‘general’ Dutch testing standard of 106 dB(A) at 4000RPM (for engines of more than 1000cc).


My solution for less noise:

My 2004 HD Heritage FLSTCI originally had European approved exhausts  with E4(NL) approval when delivered.

But when I bought it in 2019 it had an aftermarket ‘real dual’ V&H eliminator 400 open exhaust system mounted without baffles:

I tried reducing the noise by mounting an original baffle set from V&H with silenced baffles, including a damping pack with fiberglass mat, rolled up around the baffles.

Then I mounted everything and indeed much less noise, but above 1000 RPM still much more noise than the allowed 106 dB(A) as stated in the licence papers of the bike.

So, this did not solve the noise level in the end.

Final solution

Finally I was able to get my hands on a used set of original HD cruiser exhaust silencers, one of E1 (German origin)  and one E4 (Dutch).

These I will mount, even though the mounting brackets have to be moved on the silencers.

Many of these silencers have been intentionally demolished internally, so you should be careful what to buy!

The bike, still with the V&H silencers mounted.

Below the existing mounting points of the Vance&Hines Eliminator 400 brackets and mufflers are shown:

With these HD Catalist E1 marked exhausts I am now in whisper mode, which is very much appreciated when driving through big cities

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