Fork and Wheel Installation | Big Wheels Keep On Turning

Upgrading From A 21 To A 23-inch Wheel

Wheel Parts Components

Changing our Road Glide’s whole attitude was accomplished without a truckload of parts or lengthy downtime.

Road Glide Frontend Swap

These days, it’s absolutely impossible to visit any bike night, show, or rally without swimming through a sea of machines sporting plus-sized wheels. Everything from the diminutive Sportster to the V-Rod and on up through the FLT lineup has been treated to the affliction sweeping the scene. Bigger wheels, and the necessary larger rubber, are one of the most easily attainable modifications to separate your bike from its stock counterpart. As such, many custom bike builders have taken to the extremes to separate their wares and set the bar high for others to follow. Think of it as a “catch me if you can” complex. But, what if your bike already has the basic bolt-on, plus-sized rolling stock? How do you get to the next level? We’re about to show you.

Our Black Denim 2012 Road Glide has seen plenty of action as of late, and it was time for the next level in visual cues to be applied. Slipping a 21-inch wheel under the front fender had already been done, and without much issue, but it just wasn’t putting off the right vibe to keep us happy. After a brief stint with our thinking caps on, our list of demands was complete. We wanted something as simple as possible that was still a bolt-on, did not make permanent alterations to the H-D, and could be handled by a competent guy at home with his own tools. Fitting our demands all the way across the board was Pickard USA’s bolt-on bagger trees ($899). Cut from billet aluminum, Pickard’s trees kept the correct frontend geometry and came with a wobble-free guarantee. Raking the forks afforded clearance for the 23×3.75-inch Pickard High Rolla wheel ($1,599) and matching 13-inch polished rotor ($320). Installing the new triple trees required opening up the forks, and that was the perfect time to add a pair of Smooth Hot Legs ($599.95) and Retro Fork Boots ($229.95) from Arlen Ness. Leaving well enough alone just isn’t our style.

Handling the installation of our fork and wheel components was Huntington Beach Hogs & Choppers in Huntington Beach, California. With an extensive background in performance engines and two-wheel drag racing in the AHDRA series, Ed Syer and crew are available to handle all your V-twin needs, large or small. With a full line service bay and in-house dyno, it’s a one-stop shop to get all your service, performance, and custom parts needs handled by professionals.

1) The 21-inch spoke wheel and dual front brakes looked great on our Glide and could have served us well for a very long time, but we wanted to show you how easy it is to go from big to bigger.

2) It was with a heavy heart that we said goodbye to the 21-inch wheel and factory front fender.

3) Since our new High Rolla wheel had a single brake, the dual calipers, junction, and all the hoses attending to them were unbolted and removed.

4) To gain access to the original equipment triple trees, the inner and outer Road Glide fairing was completely removed. Every connector in the harness was unplugged to allow the components to be taken from the bike.

5) Each of the forks was dropped from the bike and set aside over a pan to allow them to completely drain.

6) Pulling off groups of parts together allowed the teardown process to move quicker. The upper tree was taken off with the handlebars still attached, while the lowers still had the fork bells clinging to them.

7) Once the fork innards were exposed, we swapped the original fork stops for the Pickard extended fork stops; they provide additional travel inside the forks when using the raked trees with a 1-inch lowering kit.

8) Both tubes were dropped into the Arlen Ness Smooth Hot Legs with new fork seals driven home.

9) Pickard’s raked tree kit required a bit of pre-assembly, utilizing both new (included) and original parts.

10) The upper tree dropped through the neck using the factory upper neck bearing and washer.

11) Adjusting tension on the stem and bearings was handled from the bottom of the new trees.

12) Arlen’s Retro Fork Boots have all the looks of an old dirt bike fork boot, but were machined from a solid chunk of aluminum for modern day machines.

13) Each of the Ness adorned fork legs was cinched into the Pickard raked trees. We were sure to place the leg with the brake caliper brackets on the left side for our single disc conversion.

14) Four of these adapters were included with the triple tree kit. They allowed the Road Glide’s upper fork fairing to bolt back on correctly.

15) Even new urethane handlebar bushings and hardware are included just in case your bike still sports the soft rubber ones, such as ours.

16) Pickard’s High Rolla wheel was wrapped in 130/60R23 Avon rubber. It stood 1-1/2 inches taller (3/4-inch more radius) than the 120/70R21 Avon we removed. That is something to keep in mind when calculating clearance if your bike has been lowered extensively.

17) Holding the wheel in place is this Ness hidden axle system.

18) The magic is in the lower legs themselves. The axle screws into the left leg, while the right leg gets this slick cover with hidden hardware.