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Replacement rear shocks for 1980 Maxim

Discussion in 'XJ Modifications' started by Prosper50, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Hi folks. You have all been super helpful along my journey of converting my stock 650 to a bobber. I think one of the final questions is the following:

    What can I replace the back shocks with to update the looks and styling?

    I do have a functional need to replace the shocks, as one side is totally rusted, and the other side has a nice gouge taken out of the metal next to the upper mounting hole. I have measured the shocks and they appear to be standard 12" or 12.5" shock. However, on the right side of the bike, from the center of the bottom mounting hole to the center of the top mounting hole, it measures 12 1/4", while on the left side it measures 11 3/4". As such, I'm assuming I'm going to need some sort of adjustable shock?

    I performed this search on ebay, and came up with about 440 results:
    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fr...ks.TRS0&_nkw=12.5++motorcycle+shocks&_sacat=0

    Ideally, I would like to go with this, because I like the updated looks and styling:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/12-5-320mm...859088&hash=item34072c0c24:g:QG8AAOSw~SJclsGE

    HOWEVER, I want to make sure that what I get is actually what is NEEDED for this bike, and is adjustable to account for the variation from the left side to the right side.

    Visually, this set appears more similar to the original, but again, I'd like to update the look and feel of the bike:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/RFY-Pair-3...555889?hash=item287836e731:g:-XIAAOSwxDxcXN2H

    Can someone take a peek at the results from that search and give me an indication of something that will work? I would like to stick with a black theme, or a black with some small accents of silver.

    Thank you all VERY much!

    -Dave
     
  2. k-moe

    k-moe Pie, Bacon, Bourbon. Moderator Premium Member

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    The shocks are the same length on both sides. You have one that's sagging is all.
    Both of your linked choices above appear to be cheap Chinese crap. I would reccomend buying a used set of OEM shocks instead of either of those.

    Any U.S. or Japanese name-brand shock manufacturer will have shocks that fit correctly, and are worth buying.
    Progressive has a series that come in all-black, inclding the springs. Other brands offer that option as well.
    EMC, Hagon, and KYB are other brands to look at (among many). KYP in particular has a very good economy shock.
    You should also consider takeoffs from other motorcycles. Many Harley riders swap their nearly-new shocks for some reason that continues to baffle me (Sportster Shocks can be used with a change to the mounting grommets).
     
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  3. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Hey k-moe! Yeah, inexpensive is the name of the game here. While I'm not intentionally looking for the cheap crap, I'm definitely not wanting to spend more than $100 on shocks. I'm not an avid rider, rather, I'm more interested in the creative aspect of converting this old motorcycle into something that has updated/unique styling. I'd say I ride about 20 miles per year (if that), and simply tinker for the remainder of the year.

    Thanks for the clarification on why one side is shorter than the other. I thought there was some important and deliberate reason for this difference. That being said, given all the manufacturers and brands that you presented, are you able to confirm the actual specs that I'm looking for when purchasing a new shock set? Are these indeed 12.5" shocks? Is there a hole/grommet size I should be looking for so that I know the replacements will fit without a major headache?

    THANK YOU!!

    -Dave
     
  4. jayrodoh

    jayrodoh YimYam Premium Member

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    I have a couple sets of good OEM shocks for that bike I can part with cheap, PM if interested.
     
  5. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Hi jayrodoh. Thanks for the offer. I'm actually looking for something other than OEM.... I want something that has a more modern and updated look, similar to what is seen in the links provided. -Dave
     
  6. Sarah

    Sarah maxim-um fun

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    I tried some of those cheap Chinese shocks and they SUCK! They're hard as a rock.

    Start scouring eBay. Like K-Moe suggested, you can actually find a lot of good used Sportster shocks and they do fit on our bikes!

    I have a 1980 XJ650 as well. I ended up winning a bid on a pair of Progressive Suspension 418 series shocks off a Sportster for right around $100. I love these shocks, it made such a huge difference compared to the busted old stock shocks. Only negative, I couldn't use the bushings that came with the shocks. They aren't the right size for our bikes, but it wasn't difficult to find the right bushings.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. Sarah

    Sarah maxim-um fun

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    Oh and yes stock shocks are 12.5" I think, but you don't have to use that exact height. Shorter shocks will fit too, it just lowers the bike a bit.
     
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  8. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Sarah, thanks for that input! Also, thanks for the clarification on the shock length. I was sort of hoping to drop the back an inch. I did some major fabrication and changed around the whole rear of the bike, and with my changes it almost appears now that the back is higher up than it actually is. So I'd like to drop it at least an inch or so. Perhaps I will look into shorter shocks and see what options are available that way! :)

    -Dave
     
  9. Outmode

    Outmode New Member

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  10. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Hi Outmode.. thanks for that link. Unfortunately I'm trying to move AWAY from the stock look, and those appear almost identical to the ones that were taken off. As mentioned, I don't hardly ride the bike, so I'm not so concerned with the details of ride quality as I am with the aesthetic of the bike. I'm trying to find something that looks totally different from what is there right now.... and these look basically identical.

    -Dave
     
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  11. k-moe

    k-moe Pie, Bacon, Bourbon. Moderator Premium Member

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    If your plan includes selling it, the prospective owner will care about how well the shocks function. Don't give a buyer a barganing chip if you can avoid it.

    Also, don't drop the back more than 2". Any lower and the u-joint will end up being damaged.
     
  12. 50gary

    50gary Active Member

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    Always interesting. Sarah, If those Chinese shocks are hard as rock first off you have the wrong springs, way to stiff for your bike and rider weight. Those RFY shocks are available in 7 mm wire and 8 mm wire springs. Maybe others in aftermarket springs?
    Prosper50, I wonder how you got different measurement for left vs. right shock lengths? I would guess that even if the springs were different that they would average out. The stronger spring will only do more work than the weaker one. There is no independent suspension in the rear. One more thing, if you lower the rear with the shorter shocks you may want to do the same to the front by raising the forks in the triple clamps. That will keep the geometry the same more of less. Measure carefully before you change anything.
    Cheers, 50gary
     
  13. k-moe

    k-moe Pie, Bacon, Bourbon. Moderator Premium Member

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    He can't raise (or lower) the shocks without addressing the air collars for the forks. The forks register on the collars. It can be done, but it's a bit of a bandaid approach.
     
  14. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Hahaha, k-moe, you do bring up a valid point about the resale, and if this were a bike that was worth more than a couple thousand dollars, indeed that would be a concern! In the end, all sarcasm aside, I'm naturally looking to do this right so yes, I do want to find some decent shocks but something with a better look. I did check into some of the manufacturers provided in this thread, and sadly most are beyond the price point I'd be willing to pay for an aesthetic change. I think I may end up taking the chance on some of the cheaper ebay specials, and if they don't work out well then I can always revisit the topic.

    Also, the information on raising and lowering components has altered my intent. I'm going to stick with 12 or 12.5" shocks - I don't want to run into any nonsense with geometry issues, or damaged components. I guess the simple fact is that it was built this way for a reason. Sooo.... who am I to argue with that. :)

    50gary.... sorry, but one more piece of sarcasm for the day and I'm done. You asked how I got those different measurements. That one is easy - with a tape measure! Lol. Mounting nut, to mounting nut (center of top mounting nut, to center of bottom mounting nut). One was 12.25", and the other was 11.75".
     
  15. k-moe

    k-moe Pie, Bacon, Bourbon. Moderator Premium Member

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    Now that I know you measured the frame and not the shocks while off of the bike, you really need to inspect the bike very carefully.
    Either the frame or the swingarm is bent (by quite a lot). Those mounting points are supposed to have the same distance between them on both sides.
     
  16. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    k-moe, I'm glad you mentioned that, because that was my first thought - "HOLY COW, SOMETHING IS WRECKED!" So, I put the bike up on the center stands on a confirmed level surface and started taking measurements. I grabbed a tape measure and 2 levels, and I checked everything.... from handlebars to the frame to the "swing arm", the wheel shafts.... everything was perfectly level and true, both level across the bike surfaces, as well as measurements from the parts to the ground, from both sides of the bike. In the end, I truly think it is the shocks. They are rusted and a little banged up, so I do think there is a shock problem and not a bike problem... thank goodness!!!
     
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  17. XJ75082

    XJ75082 Member

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    Have you looked into atv, utv & dirt bike shocks?
    Dirt bikes & 4 wheelers have a finer adjustment set-up in their design. This option would give a different look and a far better ride quality. Spring rates & dampner are set up for the roughest & toughest conditions.
     
  18. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    CONCLUSION:

    For those of you interested, a few things happened over the past 5 days regarding shocks for the 1980 Maxim.

    First of all, there was something fundamentally wrong with the rear shocks that were on the bike, which is what prompted me to look into new shocks - as well as the dated appearance of the existing shocks. Or so I thought.

    I eventually got them off the bike, which should have been much simpler than what actually transpired. Once off, a few giant issues appeared.

    1) The screw lugs attached to the frame that the upper shocks were mounted to were both bent, and at different angles. Some careful torching put these back into place and are once again level and operational.

    2) The rubber and brass(?) bushings in the shocks were missing on both of the upper shock mounts and one of the lower shock mounts.

    I ordered new bushings and pushed them on, reinstalled the shocks, and what do you know? LEVEL AND EVEN.

    Next, to update the appearance of the shocks, I thoroughly degreased and removed the rust from both shocks. I buffed them and gave them almost a brushed silver appearance. As I was down to bare metal in many spots of the shocks, I gave both shocks a couple coats of metal-etching automotive primer, and then a few coats of high-gloss black automotive paint.

    BAM. Shiny and new, and updated.

    I can hear some grumbles out there already about bent shock mounts, and painted shocks and all the rest.... but recall that I don't ride much. A few miles here and there, a few times per year. I've had this bike for a long time and this is more of an arts-and-crafts project than anything else. If the existing shocks last for a year, then I consider it a success. If I have to paint them again in 3 years, so be it. I got the bike for free, fixed it up, and it basically now looks and functions like new. I've always wanted to do a style conversion, and this is what I've done. For those worried about resale of the bike and potential return on investment, please don't worry. This is one of those rare cases were I have zero concern about finances related to this bike. Further, if safety is a concern, rest assured that I'm a Materials Engineer and everything done to the frame, or shock lugs, etc., has been done with the properties of metal in mind - This isn't my first time straightening metal - so be put at ease that it was done correctly.

    Two final projects and this can all be put back together. LED conversion and buttoning up the new rear fender and mounts. I have all the parts and pieces, now I just have to complete the process over the next 2 weeks.

    Thank you all for your input and guidance. Diving deep into the rear shocks has been quite a learning experience. :)
    -Dave
     
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  19. k-moe

    k-moe Pie, Bacon, Bourbon. Moderator Premium Member

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    From the sound of things, somebody once took that bike off of some sweet jumps.
    XJ abuse.

    Glad tht you got it set right.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
  20. Prosper50

    Prosper50 New Member

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    Hahahaha, yeah k-moe.... something certainly happened. You couldn't really see it when the shocks in place, but trying to get them off the upper mounts turned into a major headache - that's how bent the posts were. Once off and fixed though, everything sat nicely as it should, once again. lol.
     

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