Air ride systems have been on the market for quite some time now and have gained popularity for every application, from bone stock to ground-up custom. There are many benefits to having an air ride system on your bike: It's easy to quickly adjust your ride height with the touch of a button, or adjust the ride quality-softer or stiffer-as needed, for solo or two-up riding, and best of all, the wow factor of instantly dropping your bike to the stops when you arrive at the local hot spot.
On the flip side, there can be some negative aspects to an air ride system. Two of the most common problems are finding a good place to hide/mount the compressor (you think they raise themselves magically?). This can be especially difficult on custom builds where extra space is often at a minimum. The other problem can be a leaky system, which can be caused by several things, such as loose or improperly sealed fittings and poor plumbing of the air lines. Sometimes, even if you've had a properly sealed system, after time, rocks and road debris can nick or cut into the air lines, causing the system to constantly lose pressure.
With these problems in mind, Custom Cycle Control Systems (CCCS) developed a unique air ride system called the Simplified Air Suspension (SAS) for Softail models. The greatest thing about this system is that it features an internal compressor with no exposed air lines. These two features make installation quick and easy, and the internal pneumatic seals resist leaks. The fact that everything is inside the sealed housing means it will simply bolt up in place of your stock shocks without taking up any more space. This is a key element, especially for those who have or are building custom Softail-style bikes but don't have space to mount an external compressor. Basically, all it consists of is the air ride housing and wire harness for power-it's that simple. We took a trip over to Mercury Customs in Irvine, CA, to photograph shop owner Joe Takai and tech Robert install a SAS unit on a '96 Softail.
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This is the SAS-99 for '99 and earlier Softails ($1,649). CCCS also offers a unit for '00 and later Softails. The SAS system comes with everything you need for installation. A) SAS billet housing, B) Adjustable rod ends and hardware, C) Filtered Air Breather, D) Wire harness and protective shroud, E) Installation instructions, F) Optional CCCS air system controls with housings ($35.00 each).
Joe and Robert started the installation by screwing the adjustable rod assemblies onto the swingarm side of the SAS housing. To help protect from miles and miles of abuse from road debris, the sealed ousing is made of6061 billet aluminum and covered in a hard anodized coating.