Chopper Swing Arm Basics!

chopper swing arm

Chopper swing arm assemblies or motorcycle swing arms offer a softer, easier ride than those using hard tail frame assemblies.

They allow the use of shock absorber assemblies and the pivoting swing arm action permits the set up to smooth out bumps in the road to provide a comfortable ride, even when you are on the road for many hours. 

Avoid The Pain!

This is not to say that hard tail cycles and choppers aren't great. I've ridden for many years, and as a younger person with a healthier back, I had fun with hard tails.

The downside, however, is that each and every pot hole and bump in the road causes the shock to be transmitted through the frame, into the seat, into the rider's butt, hips, spine, shoulders, and neck.

Over the years, injuries have left me with a less than perfect spine. In fact, this is the case with many people as minor injuries, arthritis, and simple wear and tear from life result in minor physical problems which can become aggravated by riding a hard tail. Even the young riders who have experienced sports or other injury may have this same problem. 

The Switch!

When my body was in perfect health, I could easily ride a hard tail for three hours or more without a stop, and make a road trip lasting all day long without any soreness or pain ensuing the next day.

After experiencing some back problems, I can only ride a hard tail for a short time without causing pain and discomfort. This led me to change over to only riding a swing arm or soft tail bikes.

More Riding!

With the chopper swing arm and shock absorber assembly combination, I can easily ride again for several hours without a break and put in a full day in the wind in total comfort. The next day, my body doesn't even complain about the previous day's ride, leaving me ready to tackle another day on the highway. 

The whole idea behind the swing arm assembly for motorcycles is just that - it swings. Actually, the arm pivots, causing the shock absorbers to absorb the movement cause by uneven pavement or riding surfaces, bumps from pavement joints, and ridges or dips in the pavement. A swing arm assembly fits onto a motorcycle or chopper frame which is made to accept the assembly.

Unlike the hard tail, which is stiff all the way back to the location of the rear wheel attachment, the pivoting swing arm attaches to both the shock absorbing system and the rear wheel, allowing the rear wheel to move up and down as needed to prevent hard bumps. 

If you are buying a new, dealership-sold motorcycle, you can be nearly certain it will come with a swing arm, whether you purchase a stock configuration or a chopper.


Buying A Swing Arm.

The kit shown below is a great example of what you can get if you shop around. This wide tire conversion kit is for a 2004 and up 240/250 XL Sportster. It includes the spoked wheel, tire and an unpainted fender. This is a great deal for under $2000. You can see this and other chopper swing arm kits here.

swingarm kitSwing Arm Sportster XL Kit by Bitterend old school choppers.

The same is pretty much true for purchasing a used stock configuration motorcycle. It's the custom designs and custom choppers that often are sold with the hard tail frame and configuration. You can easily look at the rear of the motorcycle and determine whether the frame is rigid all the way back to the rear tire or if a pivot arm, called the chopper swing arm assembly, is present. 

Whether you choose to ride a motorcycle or chopper with a swing arm or a rigid frame is really up to you.

Before you decide which to purchase or build, it's a really great idea to test out a few. You can go to your local dealership and ride a swing arm motorcycle for a test drive easily enough. In order to test out a rigid frame hard tail, you might ask a friend who rides one to allow you a short test or you can visit a custom motorcycle shop and see if you can arrange a test drive as a potential buyer.

You'll immediately see the difference as soon as you go over the first drive entrance that isn't perfectly aligned with the road pavement (read most entrance/exits to any business or store).  Then you can make an informed choice about which type of chopper swing arm (suspension) is right for you and your riding needs.