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Alien Test Subject
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Bought a set of Progressive 412's from fellow forum member umeanme a while back. Well, between having a 10 month old baby, the weather, and having to run around getting misc. parts for the install, I finally got around to actually installing them.

For those of you who are looking to put VTX shocks on the Meanie, a lot of this may be helpful as well.

First order of business was to make a jack to lift the rear off the ground. Didn't want, and couldn't afford, to buy a jack (see 10 month old above :wink: ). I'll do a write up later of what I built, but basically, I built my own version from jeffs99vulcan's plans or this. Works like a charm!

So, got the rear in the air, and pulled off the stock shocks. Simple job, just remove the bolts from the shock mounts, and slide the shocks off. Keep a hand on the rear of the shaft drive to lift/lower as needed so the wheel doesn't just drop with a thud. Went to put the Progressives on, and thats where I ran into issues.....

The inner diameter of the bushings was too big! I had a few options.
1 - Order new bushings from Kawi ($10 each). You could re-use the stock bottom bushings, so you'd only have to buy two, but I wanted to keep them with the stock shocks in case I sell them. And I didn't want to spend $40 on bushings for shocks I paid $75 for.
2 - Contacted Progressive, and they could sell me new bushings for $2 or $3 a piece. Would gurentee they fit the shocks, but I'd have to order them on a CC. No biggie, and almost did it.
3 - Find an insert to put inside the bushing. This is what I did.

Go to the hardware store. You can buy metal bushings for $1 or 2 each. My problem was, all the bushings I found were just a tad too big to fit inside the shock bushings. Easiest solution is to find copper tubing (like for water lines). IIRC, 5/8" ID is what I used. It fit perfectly inside the bushing, and perfectly over the shock mounts on the frame. I had the guy at the hardware store cut me six pieces at aprox. 1" long. Cost me all of $1. If your buying VTX shocks for your Meanie, try the copper pipe 'insert' before buying bushings. Will save you at least enough money for a case of beer. :biggrin:

Got home, and started to install. The copper bushings wouldn't fit over the frame mounts. The pipe cutter apparently left a little bit of a lip on the inside of the tubing. Just hit it real quick with a file or a rasp, and it'll slide right on. Got everything lined up and put on. While tightening the top bolts, ran into another problem. Just like VTX shocks, the top mount isn't as wide as the stock shocks. You'll need to find/make something to use as a spacer. You could cut the insert from the stock shocks (again, not for me, as I want to be able to go back to stock, or sell the stockers). You could use an automotive fender/body washer and a couple of thick nylon washers. Or find some thick, heavy rubber grommets. Heck, even rubber stoppers for lab beakers would work (the kind that have a hole in the center for tubing). I actually had some leveling feet from a previous project (and I stole them from work, so they were free), that I just sliced the rubber pad off of and used. Works well, and allows me to tighten the nuts down and the rubber compresses a bit, eliminating play.

Original foot (had two black and one grey which I sliced in half):

On the bike (grey is to the inside):

So a few trips to the hardware store, a little ingenuity, and she was ready to ride!

A DYI note. Stay away from the big "box" hardware stores, unless you know exactly what you want, and where it is. Most of the employees, though usually nice and willing to help, aren't really all that helpful. Go to your local Ma-n-Pa hardware store. They guys there are usually more willing to spend some time with you rooting through bins, boxes, and drawers to find what you need. They'll also help you come up with alternate solutions. Can't tell you how many times I've heard them say "don't have that, but you know what might work..." and walk to a drawer and pull out exactly what I need. While the kid at Home Depot usually stands there with a blank stare on his face.

So here are the before and after shots...

The shocks I got from umeanme?

Original shock set-up

After install

And now for my impressions of the Progressive 412's...

Cons (only one really):
The ride is much firmer (this is also a pro, though). It's like going from a softly sprung Buick, to a tightly sprung Corvette. So it doesn't absorb as much of the 'stutter' bumps or road imperfections as smoothly. It's not bad, but like I said, it's like going from a Buick to a sportscar. If you just wanna glide down the road, with that floaty feeling, these are not for you.

The ride is much firmer. It's like going from a softly sprung Buick, to a tightly sprung Corvette, so you get a lot more positive feedback from the suspension. Hit a big bump, mid-corner, and the rear just stays firmly planted, while the stockers kind of bounced around. Even on smooth corners, the stockers would wallow a lot with throttle changes. Now the rear just stays put.

These also soak up big bumps easier. The stockers had too much rebound, and not enough dampening, so you'd hit a bump, the rear would sink all the way down, then bounce you back up, trying to buck you off the bike. The progressives, again, just stay planted. It may be a firmer ride, but at the same time, it's more predictable, and not as harsh in some ways.

And of course, though the stock shocks are a fairly handsome unit, these have about a 1.5" drop. So the bike now has a little more of a 'slammed' look to it. No more big gap between the rear fender and wheel. It's subtle enough that it's not obvious until you compare the before and after pics.

I've only had a chance to ride back and forth to work, but overall, I really like them. If first impressions are correct, the new shocks will make the bike a bit more sporting on twisty backroads! :biggrin:

Sorry for the long write-up. But I did it hoping it'll help someone else get a good install (again, especially those switching to VTX shocks), without some of the stupid headaches I had running around to hardware stores 3 or four times, and scratching my brain over stupid little things.
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