Refined Softail Air Suspension


If my memory is good, CCCS () must have launched The SAS (The Simplified Air Suspension system) for Softail about 3 years ago.  It is now offered with an improved air intake filter system.  This addition to the SAS eliminates the chance of debris or water entering the internal compressor. The SAS has no compressor to mount, no pressure hoses to run, no fittings to fail and is very easy to install. Ever experience slow leaks caused by a pinhole in one of your hoses that takes forever (if you are that lucky) to find. Raise and lower your rear end at the touch of a button. Add air pressure to improve ride quality during changing road conditions or while hauling added weight.  There is also an adjustable dampening valve.  Ride height is also adjustable (maximum height is set during installation). 3″ to 4″ of travel. 6″ for custom applications. Comes complete with mounting instructions. CCCS honors a 3-year parts replacement warranty.

9 Responses to “Refined Softail Air Suspension”

  1. 1 Aug 26th, 2009 at 1:25 am

    I installed CCCS’ SAS suspension on my own Softail about 8,000 miles ago, so I figured maybe anyone thinking about doing the same might be interested in some real-life impressions.

    Of all the air suspension systems for Softails, it’s by far the simplest to install. Mounting the unit itself is pretty straightforward, basically like installing OEM shocks. Simply reuse your stock mounting bolts & washers.

    The only thing not included with the SAS is a switch for the compressor and air dump solenoid. You could use two switches, but I used a two-way toggle to save space (forward for up, backward for down). I mounted mine under the left gas tank, but it could go anywhere.

    I ran the wires and breather tube up the seat post, so they’re completely hidden and nothing about the bike’s outward appearance changed.

    The big question is, how does it perform? In some respects, quite well, in others, not so well.

    To go from maximum height to minimum height, you simply activate the switch to open the air dump solenoid, and the rear of the bike drops quickly with a quiet hiss.

    To raise it back up, hit the compressor switch and the air in the rear chamber pushes the rods inward and up the bike goes, though this takes considerably longer than lowering it and is quite a bit louder.

    If you set the [adjustable] rods at their shortest length during installation you will get approximately stock OEM wheel travel when the bike is at maximum height. Naturally the more you lengthen the rods, the lower the bike will sit at maximum air pressure, but you’ll have less swingarm travel, just like with lowered conventional-type Softail shocks.

    At stock-like shock length, the air pressure can be adjusted to deliver a pretty soft ride. The problem is that there’s no air pressure gauge, so if you add or subtract air (like when gaining or losing a passenger), finding that perfect balance again for solo riding can sometimes take a while. All you have to go on is seat-of-the-pants feel (while in motion) and the visual relationship between the swingarm and frame uprights as they scissor.

    Another shortcoming of the SAS is damping. Although there’s an adjustment screw for damping, unlike other air systems (like Progressive’s AirTail), which use oil to hydraulically dampen bumps, the SAS uses air.

    The problem is that air compresses and oil doesn’t, so no matter where you set the damping screw, the unit can’t soak up the bumps as well as conventional hydraulic shocks. The result is a somewhat bouncy ride. I guess that’s why CCCS refers to the SAS as a “suspension system” and not a shock absorber.

    So, if you’re seeking the best ride quality for your Softail, you’d probably be better off with conventional hydraulic shocks (preferably an improved aftermarket version of the OEM shocks), especially considering that the SAS is the most expensive motorcycle suspension system in the world.

    But if ride quality isn’t paramount and you like the convenience of easy on-the-fly height & preload adjustment, no external air lines and a very simple installation, the SAS may be perfect for you. And if going from stock height to totally slammed instantly at the touch of a button appeals to you, this’ll do it.

  2. 2 Brian Aug 26th, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Thanks for the in depth review.

    All that money and they didn’t include a $2 switch?

  3. 3 Aug 26th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    “All that money and they didn’t include a $2 switch?”

    Apparently CCCS’ theory is that different people would want different types of switches, so they leave that up to the buyer.

    Every SAS installation I’ve seen uses two separate switches but I used what’s referred to as an “(on)-off-(on)” SPDT (single pole, double throw) mini-toggle, meaning that pushing the lever either way makes a momentary connection, but then it springs back to the center “off” position when released.

  4. 4 Janitor Aug 31st, 2009 at 11:43 am

    So its call “Simplified Air SUSPENSION” but it doesn’t offer ride quality and it doesn’t offer damping?

    So what I’m hearing is it will raise and lower the bike but it really isn’t a suspension?

    Wouldn’t the term “suspension” imply or mean it can be used and function as a suspension not just to raise and lower the bike? Doesn’t sound like its a suspension does it…

    If your considering spending your hard earned dollars on suspension..make damn sure you buy a SUSPENSION!

  5. 5 Aug 31st, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Janitor, it definitely suspends the rear of the bike, so it is indeed a suspension system. Where it falls short is in absorbing shock.

    For bike owners who only go from the garage to the bar or for people who just want to show others how low they can make their bike go, it’s a very good product. It does the up & down part well.

  6. 6 dragon Sep 4th, 2009 at 3:29 am

    ty for the info

  7. 7 Dec 4th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    good review of the sas, but you imply that air suspension will not work as an effective shock. in
    fact if you trap the air in the rebound side, it will be an excellent shock to absorb energy. this type of system recquires the ability to and bleed air out of both sides of the air piston. the shotgunshock has the ability to contol ride height , compression and rebound. Check out Softail Air Suspension Analysis chart for my opinion of the different technologies used for air suspension.

  8. 8 The Barbarian Jan 16th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    The suspension on a vehicle axle includes a “spring” to compensate the weight over the axle, and a “damper” or shock absorber. These two are embedded in the stock Softail shocks. The SAS is offering only the “spring” functionality, that’s why often you fing these refered to as an “air springs”. If you want shock absorbtion, you will have to add a shock absorber to your bike’s air suspension, but this ofcourse requires a lot of modifications.

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