In our never-ending search for that ultimate Softail ride, we have looked far and wide, scanning the horizon for components that will satisfy our desires. We have successfully tried many different components, each with its own unique features and capabilities. This month we checked out a system manufactured by Platinum Air Suspension, located in Santa Fe Springs, CA. Platinum's air-suspension kit is designed to fit both Evo and Twin Cam Softails, as well as many custom Softail-style applications. A kit is also available to fit Harley FL and V-Rod models. In addition, the folks at Platinum build a kit for '00-and-newer Victorys and even a handful of metric bikes. The Evo and Twin Cam styles (for Softails) have an MSRP of $1,314, while the FL and V-Rod units go for $1,560.
Platinum's Softail setup consists of a simple design utilizing a single 12-volt compressor controlled by two toggle switches that vary the ride height and rebound dampening. The air cylinders are manufactured from 6061 aluminum, while the rods and end caps are machined from stainless steel. Also shipped with the kit is a stainless-steel splashguard complete with the air-control valve assembly fastened to it. Platinum's system utilizes a DOT-approved quarter-inch air line coupled to nickel-plated air fittings. The air line is designed to slip into the fitting with a distinct two-click audible and tactile sensation, thus assuring you that the connection is sound. To assist in making up the air-line connections, the kit even includes a tubing cutter to ensure the ends of the tube are cut square for better sealing capabilities.
Once installed, operating the kit is a simple matter of filling the lift side of the air cylinder until the bike reaches full ride height, then holding the switch for an additional 10 seconds. Next, you flip the other switch, forcing the bike back downward. When the bike reaches the desired height, let the switch go, and it's ready to ride. Unlike other systems, there is no air-pressure gauge plumbed in. While at first this may seem like a problem, in no time you will be able to easily make height and rebound adjustments on the fly. After riding around town with the system installed, we liked the way it felt. Having the ability to add or subtract rebound really is a great feature that allows you to set up the ride just the way you want it. Ride-height adjustability is just what you would expect: the ability to raise or lower the rear of the bike to any height within the shock's range. Out on the road, the shocks do a good job insulating the rider from any irregularities in the pavement. We tried the system with it set to many different combinations (both height and rebound dampening), and found it was able to easily absorb bumps while still having the ability to dampen the ride without the bike pogoing down the road. Setting the system to its limits yielded good results as well, even at the hardest rebound setting or in the fully lowered position.
This month we invited a couple of the guys from Platinum, Mike Ferris and Edgar Araya, to come down to our shop and install one of their systems on a '99 Fat Boy while we took a few photographs and jotted down some notes.