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"Baggers", June 1, 2012

Ridin’ On Air

Legend Air Ride L1 Install

WORDS: Eric Ellis

Here’s everything that came with the L1-B air ride kit George ordered; airline with cutter, handlebar adjustment control, in-line fuse and relay, Y fitting, compressor assembly, mounting hardware, and installation instructions.

PHOTO: Eric Ellis

A few years ago a friend of ours, George Carvalho, scored a good deal on a used ’99 Road King. While the bike was in pretty good condition and came with some decent upgrades, one aspect of the King that had been neglected over the years was the rear suspension. Having spent many years in the low rider custom car scene building tricked-out and air-bagged four-wheel rides, George wasn’t about to let his Harley “sit” in one place — he wanted that wow factor of airing his bike out at the local bike night, plus he loves the in-the-weeds look when fully splayed out.

After doing some research George came across Legend Air Suspension’s (LAS) L1 Air ride kit for ’86-07 Touring models. Legend offers the L1 kit with shocks in either a shiny chrome finish (L1-C) or durable black (L1-B), for $1,600. Comprised of mostly USA-made components, the L1 kit comes with a compact air compressor assembly, exclusive Gates air springs with billet shock bodies, a handlebar-mounted air adjustment control, 5/32-inch high-temp/high-burst air lines, an in-line fuse and relay, and the necessary wiring and hardware. With its color-coded wiring and easy-to-follow directions, LAS designed the L1 to be an easy setup which could be installed with basic handtools in a few hours. The L1 shocks feature Vibra Acoustics Kevlar-impregnated rubber springs (the only part of the kit not made in the US) which provide 3¼ inches of height adjustment as well as some bump absorption. Connected to the air springs are billet shock bodies that house velocity-sensitive, deflective-disc damping to help offer a smooth ride and eliminate pogoing. The upper and lower mounting points of the shock assemblies have spherical bearings to prevent binding. Designed to provide on-the-fly adjustment with a simple two-button operation, LAS provides its switch assembly in for 1-inch and 1¼-inch handlebars in standard black to match the OE switch housings, or an upgraded chrome version is available for an additional $160.

01 The first thing George did was secure the King to his lift, then he removed the seat and disconnected the battery.

02 George had already installed 18-inch apes on his King and ran the switch wiring in the bars. When it came to installing the handlebar control on the left side of the bars, he wanted to stick with the clean look of running all his wiring inside the bars so he removed the stock switch housing and the clutch assembly from the left side of the handlebar.

03 Next, he removed the headlight assembly and disconnected the Deutsch connector from the wiring harness for the left side switches so that he could pull the wiring out and run the switch wires and air ride control wires through the bars together.

04 Once he had the switch wires out, George wrapped some string and tape around the switch wiring and control wires, then thoroughly lubed the protective sheathing on the wires to make it easier to pull them through the bars.

05 With the bars removed from the clamps, it came in very handy that there was a storage rack mounted to the ceiling above the lift. By securing the bars to the rack with a tie-down, George was able to push the wires into the bars while his friend, Ryan, pulled the wires through the hole in the bottom center of the bars.

06 Once all the wires were pulled through, the handlebars were bolted back in place and the switch wires were reconnected back to the stock wiring in the headlight nacelle. With the switch housing back together, George replaced the stock clutch clamp with the LAS handlebar switch mount using the stock screws. The top button adds air to the system and the bottom button lets air out.

07 Next, the front of the tank and the rear of the tank were unbolted so that the LAS switch wiring leads could be routed along the backbone/under the tank.

08 Some string was used to pull the wires along the backbone towards the battery tray.

09 In order to install the air compressor, the battery had to be removed.

10 George then installed one of the air lines into the fitting on the compressor. The fittings are push-to-connect, so he simply pushed the end of the line into the fitting until it bottomed out.

11 This is the topside of the compressor mount. The compressor secures to the underside of the battery tray via the two raised flanges.

12 Looking over the top of the bike and into the battery tray you can see that the battery tray has four flanges that point downward on the underside of the tray.

13 With the right side cover removed, George was then able to slide the compressor into the battery tray flanges.

14 LAS provides a screw that threads into the compressor mount through a hole in the top of the battery tray, which ensures the compressor won’t slide out.

15 George then found a place to install the in-line fuse and relay under his seat, then began connecting the wiring for the compressor and handlebar switch assembly.

16 LAS has made wiring the system a breeze by making all the wires color-coded and plug-n-play. No cutting, splicing, or soldering required.

17 The battery was reinstalled and the final wiring connections were made.

18 Next, with a jack installed under the bike for support, Ryan and George disconnected the stock air-adjust system, then unbolted and removed the stock shocks.

19 Next, they began installing the LAS shocks. They made sure to place the supplied spacers between the shock body and frame (at the top and bottom shock mounts), then with some thread locker applied to the fasteners that were included in the kit, they secured the shocks in place.

20 Once the shocks were installed, all the fasteners were torqued to spec.

21 The airlines were then inserted into the fittings at the top of the left and right side shocks.

22 George then routed the airlines towards the battery box where the Y fitting joining the compressor and shocks will sit.

23 Once he was sure the airlines were free from any moving parts and wouldn’t get cut or nicked by anything, he cut the lines to length using the supplied cutter.

24 All the airlines were then connected to the Y fitting. To prevent leaks, it’s important to make a square cut to ensure the lines fully seat into the press-to-connect fittings.

25 After installing the 20-amp fuse, the project was complete.

26 Before removing the stock shocks, George had taken a measurement from the center of top and bottom fasteners. The stock measurement was 12½ inches. With the LAS system installed and the system aired out, the measurement was 9½ inches. With the system aired up, the measurement was 12¾ inches providing 3¼ inches of ride height adjustability. To ensure the safety of its system, LAS incorporated compression bumpers into the shock in the case that if the system was to lose all its air while riding, the fender won’t bottom out on the tire. However this safety measure was intended for use with stock diameter wheel sizes, so if you are running a larger wheel and lose air pressure, the fender may rub on the tire.

27 Here is George’s Road King with the system completely aired up.

28 And here it is with the ass dropped. As you can see, it is quite a bit different look. Aside from the ability to show off at the local bike night, the system is great for those who might have a short inseam and want to be able to easily adjust the ride height so they can be flatfooted when stopped. As for George, he was really impressed with the L1 kit, he said it was really easy to install and aside from messing with rewiring the left side of his bars again it took only a few hours to install. He also really likes the ride the system provides. He said it’s a much more plush ride than the stock setup, the bike doesn’t seem to bounce as much when hitting repetitive or hard inconsistencies in the road, he can make the ride stiffer or softer as needed with the simple push of a button, and when riding with his wife he can add more pressure to the system so they both experience a comfortable ride.




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