Product Spotlight: Legend Air Suspension Air Shocks
We can’t stress enough the importance of good suspension on a UTV. Suspension has an enormous influence on the off road capabilities of a UTV. Don’t misunderstand - we obviously appreciate the engine performance and other attributes of UTV’s, but it seems there is a trend that owners spend lots of dollars on increasing engine performance while ignoring the part of the machine that actually allows it to be used off road in the first place – the suspension. And the fact of the matter is that on some machines the limiting factor is not horsepower but suspension.
UTV manufacturers understand this and most have made recognizable improvements. Aftermarket product manufacturers are also making great strides in developing suspension systems that are more specialized, and make UTV’s more capable in certain situations. One such company is Legend Air Suspension, who has brought to market a unique line of adjustable UTV shocks for 2008, with plans of further development in the coming year.
The background of the company lies in custom street motorcycles. They offer a similar line of shocks for cruiser motorcycles and also a line of frames and components that bike builders can base their custom creations on. The company is based in Rapid City, South Dakota and their proximity to Sturgis (home to one of the worlds largest motorcycle festivals) has allowed them to move into event promotion with their sister company Top 50 Rally Park. The Top 50 Rally Park facility hosts the Black Hills UTV Rally and several other motorcycle events throughout the year.
The Air Shocks from Legend are quite unique and unlike any other shock absorber we have ever seen. Legend has done a great job adapting technology from their years of powersports experience, putting it together into their own innovative shock absorber.
Using a Kevlar air spring (or bag) instead of a conventional spring, the air spring is filled from an air compressor mounted on the vehicle. The air spring concept is similar to the air bag systems used on large trucks. And similar to a conventional coil-over spring shock, the Legend shock has an internal hydraulic dampening system. The Legend Air shock has an air spring and dampening all in one unit that is similar in size to regular coil-over shock.
The beauty of the air bag system is that the pressure can be adjusted by simply pressing a button from the drivers seat. So the driver can adjust air pressure in each shock absorber separately and change the suspension characteristics to match the current terrain or driving conditions.
The adjustability of the air in the shocks has other advantages, as it not only changes the spring characteristics but also ride height. This allows driver to clear specific rocky sections or other obstacles on the trail. Conversely, reducing the pressure in the shocks lowers the ride height of the vehicle. This can be used to clear obstacles above the vehicle like a trailer roof or garage door.
By changing the air pressure the driver is essentially changing the spring rate of the shocks and therefore changing the shocks operating characteristics. Adjustability is limited only by the air capacity of the shock; there is basically no need to have external compression and rebound adjustments, as opposed to some coil shocks. There are advantages to both recreational as well as utility UTV users, with increased load capacity, travel, and articulation with no coil bind. “Serious” sport riders can look forward to even more goodies that will be included on future lines.
We did not witness actual installation of the product, but all elements come pre-wired and are color coded, so connecting electrical lines should not be time consuming. Legend provides detailed installation instructions on their website as well.
The build quality of the Legend shock is impressive, using high-quality materials like a billet aluminum body and Kevlar air spring. This level of technology and craftsmanship does come at a hefty price though - $2,600 for a set of four.
Are the benefits in adjustability and ease-of-use worth this much? As we see extreme customization take off in the UTV market, the answer is obvious that for some users they definitely are.
But this question applies to not only suspension but any form of aftermarket modification. The OEMs build the most versatile machine possible that works for the widest range of users. In some cases this versatility brings with it a compromise in performance and quality of some components, and it is these cases where the aftermarket can help with more specialized parts that make machines work even better.Video Courtesy of Legend Air Suspension
Legend Air currently has air shocks available for the Yamaha Rhino, Polaris RZR, Kawasaki Teryx, Polaris Ranger (rear only) and they will be adding more applications as manufacturers release new models.
For more information on Legend Air Suspension visit www.independentcycleinc.com