The 3 Best Shocks for The Harley Softail


In this guide, we’ll be covering the best shocks for Harley Davidson’s Softail series of motorcycles.

In our decade long experience, the best shocks for the Harley Softail are the ones that are made from durable materials, improve your bike’s ride quality, and offer good value for your money.

Not every suspension company can incorporate all of these factors into a single shock.

Progressive is one of the few companies that managed this with their 429 Shocks for the Harley Softail. Producing useful, high performing shocks, earning them the top spot on our list for best shocks for Harley Davidson Softail motorcycles.

Read on, to find out more about the best shocks for the Harley Softail.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Progressive 429 Shocks For The Harley SoftailProgressive 429 Shocks For The Harley Softail
  • High pressure nitrogen charged damper
  • 40mm monotube construction
  • High performance MCU joust bumper
  • Deflective disc valving
  • Hard chrome precision ground damper rod
  • Internal floating piston
  • Threaded preload adjuster
  • Progressive rate spring
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Progressive 422 Shocks For The Harley SoftailProgressive 422 Shocks For The Harley Softail
  • Nitrogen charged dampers
  • Great improvement in ride quality
  • Makes the bike handle better
  • Adjustable ride height
  • Preload adjustment 
  • Chrome finish on the case
  • Shocks can be adjusted as much as 2” lower than stock
  • Resistant to heat induced fade of components 
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Legend Suspension AIR Shocks For Harley SoftailLegend Suspension AIR Shocks For Harley Softail
  • Best ride quality
  • Durable anodized aluminum 
  • Kevlar air springs
  • Adjustable spring rates
  • Ride height is customizable
  • Soft and comfortable for everyday use
  • Great for longer journeys 
  • Easy to install
  • Built-in compressor and control unit
  • Controls are bolted right onto the handlebars
  • Fitment is compatible with 12” and 13” configurations
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Progressive 429 Shocks For The Harley Softail

Overall best

Progressive’s 429 shock for the Harley Davidson Softail makes use of a high pressure nitrogen damper and a steel monotube design with an internal floating piston to yield one of the best performing setups available. It smoothes out the ride of your bike, improves handling, and lasts a long time thanks to its durable construction.

Progressive’s shocks offer a lot of features, including a high pressure nitrogen charged damper, better spring rates, deflective disc valving, and a high performance MCU joust bumper, all of which combine to give your Softail the smoothest ride imaginable.

We tested this setup on our Fat Boy and we’re happy to report that the bike was more comfortable than the stock configuration, handled more easily, and felt more confident while riding at highway speeds.

Even with the full payload of rider, pillion, and some light luggage, the 429 still performed well. Our bike was more stable and the ride quality was noticeably better. Bumps and other imperfections on the road surface were less obtrusive, small potholes were crossed effortlessly, and even larger speed breakers felt insignificant.

Another useful feature of the 429s is preload adjustment. Calibration is done via a threaded preload adjuster and does not require any additional tools. The preload adjustment feature allows riders to customize the bike’s riding dynamics and height on the fly, helping account for changes in weight and also changing up the bike’s handling to suit the rider’s needs.

Pros
  • High pressure nitrogen charged damper
  • 40mm monotube construction
  • High performance MCU joust bumper
  • Deflective disc valving
  • Hard chrome precision ground damper rod
  • Internal floating piston
  • Threaded preload adjuster
  • Progressive rate spring
Cons
  • May cause rear end sag in some models

Progressive 422 Shocks For The Harley Softail

Worthy Consideration

The second Progressive shock on this list, the 422s share some of the 429’s best features. Nitrogen-charged, monotube dampers offer superior performance and comfortable ride quality. This set of shocks also looks better than others with a premium chrome finish that fits right in with the Harley Softail aesthetic.

Fitting these shocks to our Fat Boy, we noticed quite the difference in ride quality. Even larger bumps were no longer a problem for the bike, which passed over them effortlessly. Small, unavoidable potholes were similarly easy to traverse, with the rider barely feeling anything at all.

Improved spring rates and nitrogen charged dampers help these shocks react instantly to obstacles, while also having the added benefit of eliminating internal oil cavitation which not only harms the components but also degrades the ride quality. Nitrogen charged dampers also help in avoiding heat induced fade, a common issue for bikes that are ridden thousands of miles at a time.

Preload adjustment is featured on the 422s as well. This allows riders to easily change up the bike’s riding dynamics on the go. Rebound damping can be tweaked to suit the amount of weight being loaded onto the bike, and thus preserve the ride quality, even when more people are riding or extra luggage is being carried.

Finally, these shocks come with a premium chrome finish that is in keeping with the chrome theme seen on most Softail models. Not only does it match the bike, it also adds a bit of style to the suspension components.

Pros
  • Nitrogen charged dampers
  • Great improvement in ride quality
  • Makes the bike handle better
  • Adjustable ride height
  • Preload adjustment
  • Chrome finish on the case
  • Shocks can be adjusted as much as 2” lower than stock
  • Resistant to heat induced fade of components
Cons
  • May not be compatible with some older models

Legend Suspension AIR Shocks For Harley Softail

Best Premium Option

If you are looking for a quality air suspension setup for your Softail, Legend’s AIR should be on your list. This setup delivers the most plush and comfortable ride, makes the bike more stable, and is easy to tweak and customize.

The AIR package comes with a bolt-in on board compressor that fits right onto the Softail, with minimal changes to the bike required. It allows you to change the bike’s ride height, damping characteristics, and preload adjustment right from a control panel mounted on the handlebars.

Kevlar air springs are used in this suspension setup, allowing you to change spring rates to suit your particular needs and road conditions. The ride quality benefits from the improved spring rates and the increased wheel travel also add comfort and control. Stiction is prevented thanks to Legend’s low friction seals.

Installation is also fairly simple, especially for an air suspension setup. The anodized aluminum shock bodies have spherical mount bearings on top and bottom which facilitate putting the components together.

These shocks gave us the biggest improvement in ride quality for our Fat Boy, and also the most customizability in terms of ride height and road clearance, all using an intuitive control panel integrated into the handlebars, making them our pick for best premium shocks for the Softail.

Pros
  • Best ride quality
  • Durable anodized aluminum
  • Kevlar air springs
  • Adjustable spring rates
  • Ride height is customizable
  • Soft and comfortable for everyday use
  • Great for longer journeys
  • Easy to install
  • Built-in compressor and control unit
  • Controls are bolted right onto the handlebars
  • Fitment is compatible with 12” and 13” configurations
Cons
  • Most expensive option

Author
Cooper Higgins

Cooper Higgins is a motorcycle enthusiast who’s been riding for the last 10 years. He’s passionate about all things motorcycles and started Bikes Future to help other riders make the right motorcycle moves. He rides a pimped out white Kawasaki Ninja 400, and also enjoys adventure riding when out of the City.