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Friday, March 4, 2011

Pitbull Turntable, Revisited

My first encounter with the Pitbull Turntable didn't go well. I then described my problems (No..don't go there. Just the lift problems...not the others y'all think I have) here in long form, but in a nutshell, it just wasn't working out well with my Softail Custom.

Since that post, Mark, from Pitbull's customer support department, called to figure out what the problems were. We talked for a long time, and it was very clear that Mark wanted me to be happy with this purchase. So to be fair, I pulled down my original product review until I try it again using his suggestions.

I'll get to that this weekend.....

I have also learned something new, and it's something no lift manufacturers seem to mention. Like Dynas, Softails also have a quirk that needs to be taken into consideration when lifting. Softail shocks sit slightly lower than the lowest part of the frame rails. On mine, it's maybe 1/8 - 3/16th of an inch. Lift manufacturers (J&S and Pitbull) say it's OK to lift on the shocks, but lots and lots of owners say when doing so, you run the risk of bending the shock shafts. $$$$!!

I'm told that after a bend, you'll hear some squeaking when you ride.

You can just about see the height difference in this picture, taken with my bike on the Pitbull Lift, but without the turntable attachment mounted.

 Lift in a forward position, no frame shims and no turntable mounted


You can shim the back of the lift platform up just under the rails, wrap some tubing around the rails, or Harley even sells a set of bright orange rubber frame protector deals that pop on to make up the gap. They charge you $15 bucks, and that's gotta be the cheapest fucking part number in the whole Harley catalog! I got those, but I'll also suggest a $3.00 length of 1 1/4" PVC tubing split lengthwise and popped onto the frame at the area near the shocks. It ain't orange like the Harley bits, but it'll get you by.

And by the way, I hear those orange deals look like Holy Hell if you forget to take them off. By the way, they come in pairs so get someone to split a pair with you. Take one, cut it in half, and you're set.

Harley Davidson Frame Protectors snapped on. 
Actually these are more like shock protectors instead of frame protectors, but whatever.....
Using these allows you to move the lift back for better balance for certain jobs without stressing the shock shafts or mounts. Moving the lift back also allows the bike to spin freely with the turntable mounted.

This quirk with the shock height is something Softail owners will definitely need to remember when lifting their scoots. This is whether or not you use the Pitbull turntable, and it doesn't matter what kind of lift you use.

Or you could just take your chances. The weight of the bike quickly transfers from the shocks to the frame after the lifting starts. The shocks are simply pushed upwards until the lift pad contacts the frame. One guy swears he lifts that way without a problem, even storing the bike on the lift. Pitbull and J&S also say it won't hurt. But another says he bent his shocks doing it that way, and he had to replace 'em. For about 15 bucks (or even 3 bucks, the price of some PVC pipe), I think I'll shim mine up, and not take the chance. to be honest, though, I have lifted it without shims, and hundreds of road miles later I haven't noticed any damage.

So stay tuned for Turntable, Revisited.