New and aspiring motorcycle owners often face tons of words and terms that they may never have heard before. Your fork holds your front axle and wheel, not your steak. A knucklehead isn't an insult -- you might want one for your chopper. That being said...ape hangers are exactly what they sound like.
And, choosing the right suspension can be the difference between a nice smooth ride and needing an ice pack on your butt. But what exactly is "suspension?"
Suspension -- what does it do?
Essentially two things. First, it contributes to the handling and control you have over your bike. Second, it provides safety and comfort during your ride. It is a system of springs and shock absorbers that work to keep your bike's wheels on the road at all times.
Originally, motorcycles had no rear suspension, and were built with a solid, rigid metal frame. This provided a clean look, and a very uncomfortable ride. Bikes with this type of suspension are often referred to as a hardtails.
Nowadays, most motorcycles employ some sort of swingarm -- a free-swinging fork that attaches to the bike's frame. To absorb shock, the fork pivots vertically as it encounters bumps in the road. This absorbs the shock from those bumps and keeps it from transferring to the rest of the frame. Bikes with swingarms or some other form of rear suspension are often called softails.
Softail design has come a long way, and often can be hidden so the cushiest of rides looks as rugged as a hardtail. That being said, nothing comes close to the feeling of riding a rigid bike.
All things considered, each type of suspension has its upsides, and people will argue pretty strongly over which one they prefer. With that being said, use this checklist to determine the right type of suspension for you.
You might want a hardtail because...
- You don't see any real need for your kidneys
- You open your beers with your teeth/your knife/anything but an actual bottle opener
- Nothing looks as good as a rigid
- Chicks dig hardtail bikes
- You say "garbage barge" and "old timer" about anyone riding a softail
- You're chopping -- rigid frames are easier to build around and fit with a chopper style
You might opt for a softail because...
- You bought your first bike as part of a mid-life crisis
- You say "kids these days" or "back in my day" on a regular basis
- You ride a touring BMW on the weekends as your way to lose the ol' ball and chain
- You screwed up your back real bad riding a hardtail, and now you have no other option
- You were a Skynyrd fan...Back in the days of RVZ (RIP)
- Honestly, you're a normal person, because what sane human being would want to ride a hardtail?
Most importantly, like anything with riding, do what you want and what makes you happy. Plus, Flash2Pass™ works both with hardtail and softail bike, so no worries there!