Please Help Me Find Comfort!

Discussion in 'General Harley Davidson Topic' started by Riley1967, Aug 5, 2012.

  1. Riley1967

    Riley1967 Member

    Hi all;
    I'm new to the forum, and not a driver (unless back seat counts).

    We purchased a '98 Softail Custom last summer, first Harley ever, and first bike in 20 years. The owner/driver really likes it, but as the passenger, it is horribly uncomfortable :(.

    20 years back, he owned Honda Shadows, the last one being an 1100. Much the same size etc as the Softail, but the Shadow was so much more comfortable. No real difference in the seat or anything, so I'm guessing it is different suspension?

    What should be rolling bounces over bumps in the road feel just like hitting potholes on this bike. The shocks are new, adjusted as much as possible (there is a low-rise kit which I'm told makes no difference to me as a passenger).

    The driver is willing to sell the Softail and try to find something more comfortable for me as the passenger, but wants to stick with something very similar. He has been looking at some Dyna's, '99 and '00.

    Any opinions? Any passengers out there who spend enough time on a Dyna to know if it is comfortable or not? I'm not looking for the kind of comfort that my cousin gets as a passenger on a big Decker (arm rests etc), just something that doesn't make me bite my tongue and end up with a cracking headache.

    Thanks so much for any advice (besides the usual responses I get from friends about getting my own bike lol. I like being the passenger).
  2. FerrousBueller

    FerrousBueller Junior Member

    Having new shocks is probably a good step in the right direction.

    The only suggestion I have for you is a very simple one. Check to make sure the shocks are adjusted correctly. The instructions for adjustment can be found here, on this site, in the "SELF HELP" section. If I remember correctly, the instructions for adjustment can easily be misread and firming up the suspension when you meant to soften it is easy to do.

    Don't forget to adjust tire pressure for two, rider and passenger!

    I would hate to see you sell your Softail, I'm a bit partial to them myself. However, for long touring rides another, bigger bike, MIGHT, be a better choice, (I think).

    Another factor to consider is how much of a load are you putting on your bike. Consider everything including weight of rider, passenger, and any gear you put on the bike. If you are at or near maximum capacity it may make the ride more harsh.

    Someone smarter that I will be along soon and have more/better advice for you, stay tuned!
    I read what you said about enjoying being a passenger. Don't eliminate the idea of having your own bike! If you can manage to take a beginner's riding class you may change your mind. If you take the class and decide you still want to take the back seat you will be a better passenger after the class.

    Meanwhile, Welcome to the Forum, enjoy yourself, ride safe and...

  3. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I also have an evo softail custom which has the same engine and frame as yours and have had no issues with it of the type you describe although i mainly ride solo i have had a passenger from time to time
    The main concern i would have is the low rise kit usually called a lowering kit that is fitted as by fitting a kit of this type the suspension geometry is changed and greatly reducing the the working area of the suspension and makes the ride really harsh especially with a pillion passenger

  4. Bodeen

    Bodeen Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I agree with Fin. The lowering kit can cause ride issues. If getting rid of the Softail because of the ride, I would suggest going to a touring model and not to a Dyna.
  5. Riley1967

    Riley1967 Member

    Thanks so much for the replies :).

    The shocks were brand new last year, that was one of the first things checked. And then adjusted.

    (Keep in mind, I am not mechanically inclined in case I mess up some terms lol).

    The driver doesn't notice anything wrong, neither when riding solo or with me on, but he does try his best to avoid even small bumps in the road.

    He is a little over 200 lb, and I'm about 165, and we never have gear or anything, not even saddle bags. One of the mechanics said that if I looked at the backseat of the Shadow, then compared it to the Softail, I would see that the difference I feel is because of that big spring that the Shadow had to the back tire, that the Softail doesn't. Does that sound right? That was part of the reason he was looking at the years of Dyna's, they have this big spring.

    He won't go for a big touring bike. Cousins have one and they travel all over the country on it, but my driver says he might as well be driving a car ;).
  6. jimharvey1

    jimharvey1 Junior Member

    Go to your local HD dealership and take a ride on the Switchback. Best of both worlds there. My niece-in-law rides one and LOVEs it. That 103" motor in a Dyna, with the touring option is a perfect match. You could always try a different seat. Not too many options for passenger comfort on a bike that is primarily designed as a 1-up cruiser.
  7. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    The softail has the spring hidden within the shock absorber so that you do not see them however the spring effectiveness is greatly reduce by the low rise kit fitted to the bike as it reduces the travel of the springs
    I have a softail a dyna and a sportster and the softail has the softest ride of them all but i do not have a low rise kit fitted

  8. Midnight Reign

    Midnight Reign Active Member

    short of switching to a different bike your only options are, different shocks or adjustment thereof, a different seat, adding a gel pad to the current or new seat. There are enough products out there for you and your driver to be able to tune the ride to an exceptable amount of comfort. Unfortuneatly it may take a little trial and error. One question that may help to narrow down a solution is, exactly what is it that you as a passenger are feeling? when you hit a bump is the suspension collapsing and bottoming out against its stops, or is the suspension failing to give at all thus causing a harsh ride all the time ?

    BUBBIE Well-Known Member


    TO ME, a soft tail means you have to have a Big Soft Tail to ride that bike in comfort. Even then it is tough.:rofl MHO

    I agree going to a different bike, because I have owned Two FXDS, 1997 EVO FXDS and 00 TC FXDS. Both were good and comfortable for our Two up riding...

    They were Both comfortable After Seat Changes made... These bikes have a Longer shock reflex and can be made more comfortable using a different than stock seat.

    I would say that the TC 2000 model, making sure it is a Late 1/2 year model with build date AFTER Dec. 1999,,, date located on the down tubes...

    Many Low mile bikes out there and it's really Still a Buyers market.

    good hunting

  10. rhino 2

    rhino 2 Active Member

    My guess is 20 years ago, Your body was more flexible and you could tolerate more, I know 20 years ago i was,
    Just saying.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2012