Here at HOT BIKE, we strive to stay on top of the most innovative parts to hit the American V-Twin industry, so we're bringing you a new tech piece entitled "First Look." With this series, we will search out the newest parts and get you the inside scoop on what they are and how they work. Then we will follow up in a future issue by actually installing the part(s), explaining the install process, and giving an evaluation.
The progression of air ride suspension technology, as applied to motorcycles, has enabled enthusiasts to enjoy their rides through improved comfort and handling, quick adjustability, and most importantly for some, the ability to lay their bike to the rails when they arrive at the bar. "Hittin' the switches" (the raising and lowering of an air ride system by pressing a button or switch) can be cool and impress your friends at the local bike night, but when it comes time to really ride, oftentimes you'll find people fidgeting with their system increasing and decreasing air pressure trying to find the perfect ride height. There's also the pesky task of figuring out where to hide or mount the adjustment switches.
But what if there was an air ride system that would automatically set up to a pre-determined ride height once you jumped on the bike? No adjusting, no fidgeting, no switches to mess with, just riding. Guess what, we found one through Alloy Art.
You've heard the acronym KISS (keep it simple stupid) right? Well that's what Alloy Art's new A.L.L. (Automatic Load Leveling, $1,850.95) system for baggers is all about. It removes the thought process when it comes to airing up your ride. The unit helps prevent operator error of over- or under-inflation of the air ride system and the distraction of adjusting a manual switch while riding.
Once installed on a bike, the A.L.L. system is designed to maintain Alloy Art's pre-determined, static ride height. The ride height sits from 1/2-inch to 1-1/2-inches lower than stock (depending on model) and maintains that height no matter if the bike is loaded or unloaded. It accomplishes this with an onboard compressor and leveling sensor. The leveling sensor is what determines the ride height and is designed to rest parallel to the ground. With the ignition switch on, if the sensor arm is not parallel to the ground for more than 25-30 seconds, the sensor knows the bike has either been loaded or unloaded and is not sitting at the established ride height. It will automatically increase or decrease air pressure in the air bags to get back to the static ride height.
This means you can just hop on the bike, turn on the ignition switch, wait for the compressor to air the rear back up to the correct ride height, and go-no fussing with air bag switches or ride height adjustment.
1. The A.L.L. system comes complete with everything necessary to install on H-D Touring models. Included is (A) air compressor, (B) leveling sensor, (C) Bilstein shocks with FireStone air springs, (D) air hose, (E) shock mounting bolts, and (F) wiring harness.
1. The A.L.L. system comes complete with everything necessary to install on H-D Touring mo
2. For a smooth ride and safe handling, Alloy Art worked in conjunction with Bilstein to have the shocks properly set up and valved to handle the load of H-D touring bikes. With safety in mind, in the unlikely event that there is total system loss, the shocks have an internal mechanical stop built into them that will keep the fender from dropping down onto the tire. Alloy Art also developed their own components to mount the 50mm Firestone air springs to the shocks (similar to coil over shocks, but instead of springs, they use air bags).
2. For a smooth ride and safe handling, Alloy Art worked in conjunction with Bilstein to h
3. The top shock mount features a spherical bearing to aid in the shocks' self-alignment so it won't bind, while the lower shock mount has a urethane isolator to help reduce vibration.
3. The top shock mount features a spherical bearing to aid in the shocks' self-alignment s
4. As simple as it looks, this is the leveling sensor that is connected to the brains of the operation, the Delphi-built control unit housed in the wiring harness. Attached to the arm is a threaded link rod, which comes preset for what Alloy Art feels is a safe ride height. For most touring models the bike will sit at about (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches) lower than stock. However, the Street Glide and Road King Custom already sit lowest of the touring models, but with the A.L.L. system installed they will sit about 1/2 to 5/8 inches lower than stock height. Unloaded or completely loaded with rider, passenger, and luggage the system will maintain a static ride height.
4. As simple as it looks, this is the leveling sensor that is connected to the brains of t
5. If the leveling arm is the brain, then the military/industrial grade compressor is the muscle. The compressor has three mounting holes, and comes with standoffs/spacers to mount the unit to the bottom of the transmission pan.
5. If the leveling arm is the brain, then the military/industrial grade compressor is the
6. Here you can see the shocks/air bags mounted in place. The leveling arm bolts to the upper saddlebag bracket and the front of the lower saddlebag support mount.
6. Here you can see the shocks/air bags mounted in place. The leveling arm bolts to the up
7. With the top end of the threaded link rod mounted to the leveling arm, the lower end of the rod is secured to the swingarm. Correctly installed, the arm rests parallel to the ground. The link rod is what establishes the ride height. With the link mounted to the swingarm, which is constantly floating up and down with the bumps and potholes in the road, you would think it would continually tell the system to inflate and deflate the air bags? However, that's where the brain of the leveling system comes into play. (It has a 25-30 second delay, so that it won't over-adjust as you ride.)
7. With the top end of the threaded link rod mounted to the leveling arm, the lower end of
8. For those who like to show off at the local bike night, Alloy Art offers an optional dump switch, seen here mounted to the side cover. The dump switch allows you to override the leveling system and drop the bike to the stops. As stated before, the shocks feature built in safety stops. Alloy Art says that even with a 160/70-18 on the back, the fender still won't hit the tire if the system were to fail.
8. For those who like to show off at the local bike night, Alloy Art offers an optional du
9. The air compressor (A) mounts on the left side of the bike under the primary and in front of the trans pan. You simply remove the three trans pan bolts and install the compressor/mounting plate and supplied bolts/standoffs. Side note: here you can also see Alloy Art's new Touring XR stabilizer (B). Look for an install in an upcoming issue. Lastly, since you are lowering the rear of the bike when you install this setup, Alloy Art recommends lowering the front of your bike as well for safe and all around better handling.
9. The air compressor (A) mounts on the left side of the bike under the primary and in fro