In 1988 Harley-Davidson re-introduced the classic Springer™ front end that was once the industry standard in suspension . Over the next 24 years the Springer front end was a mainstay in the Harley lineup. Little changed about it and the way it operated over those years. Despite being criticized by some as being heavy and clunky at slow speeds, I find the front end handles well and I enjoy riding them, especially cruising on the interstate.
The modern Springer was made up of a “Sprung Fork” and a “Rigid Fork”, the latter being the larger, heavier fork that mounted to the neck of the bike. The Sprung Fork moved with the tire, pivoting off of the rigid fork. Two springs and a shock mounted to the front of the Springer absorb the impact of the tire moving over uneven surfaces. With regular service and adjustment at prescribed intervals, these front ends can be very effective suspension systems.
The primary adjustments on a Springer are the Steering Head
fall away and the Rocker Arm adjustment. Both require specific tools and training to properly perform, particularly the Rocker Arm adjustment that requires a Torque meter, Torque wrench and large crows foot socket. The steering head adjustment can be performed using a homemade adjustment tool and a carpenters plumb bob.
While the classic Springer front end rotated around ball bearings in the neck, the modern Springer utilizes the standard Timken bearings used in most Harley models. Because of the reduced rake and additional weight of Springer front ends the bearings tend to wear faster then telescopic front ends and require a heavier grease when serviced. Up until last year the recommended grease was Harley’s Special Purpose grease, part number 99857-97A. The new recommended grease is Shell AeroShell Grease 14. This is actually used in the aviation industry but is readily available through any Shell retailer.