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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Platinum Air Suspension

Platinum Air Suspension

Today it is common to find air suspension systems on motorcycles, even as OEM equipment, but one of the forerunners in the market is Platinum Air Suspension. AMD takes a closer look at the Fullerton, California based business to discover more about the company’s history and product development

PLATINUM Air Suspension was founded by Oscar Sanchez when he began working on a custom bike project and developed his own air ride system. Others saw the work he’d done on his bike and the improved ride, and asked him to work on their bikes too. So in 2004 Oscar went into business full-time building his air ride systems under the name of Platinum Air Suspension.

As the company grew Oscar employed Mike Ferris to take care of sales and assembly, in effect doubling the workforce, and when in 2007 the opportunity to buy the business became available, Mike took the step of becoming the owner rather than an employee. Under Mike’s control Platinum Air Suspension moved from Santa Fe Springs, added staff, and is now turning over almost a million dollars a year as it services 600 dealers worldwide with fitment options that cover not only H-D but also Victory, Indian and Boss Hoss, and also street and custom applications.
One of the company’s bestselling packages is its ‘Bleed Feed’ system, with which the rider can control both ride height and rebound. The system is controlled by positive pressure at all times and can easily be adjusted at the flip of a switch for complete comfort for the rider’s weight or road conditions. The Bleed Feed system includes air cylinders machined from 6061 T-6 billet aluminum, air-control valve, DOT- approved 1/4in line and fitting, plus switch harness, air compressor, hardware and line cutter.
The Bleed Feed is not the only system in the Platinum Air Suspension line-up and also offers the Simple system, which features the same high level of componentry as the Bleed Feed, but does not offer rebound control. However, users are still able to control the ride height through pump and release pressure. The most popular of the Bleed Feed kits is the unit designed for use on FL Bagger models, and like with all of Platinum’s products, there is a wide choice of finishes on the shocks. As standard there is the option of chrome, polished, powder coated or satin finishes, and by special request powder coating in the specific color choice of the customer.
It could be argued that the wide range of choices made available by Mike for his customers is one of the reasons that he has been able to grow his market. Today Platinum Air Suspension makes 80 percent of its sales to the domestic and Canadian markets, with the balance being made up with exports with a particular emphasis on Australia, Germany and France, though Mike is keen to explore new markets and offers dealer direct sales, and while it has an online store the company prefers to retail via its dealers.
Dealers are then able to benefit from the constant product development undertaken by Mike and his team at the manufacturing plant in Fullerton, California. While the business constantly monitors the changes made to bike models year-on-year by manufacturers in order to take in changes to schematics, specifications and even the necessary space for the onboard compressors, Platinum also offers a custom build service for when a stock application is not available or applicable. 

It is not just individual customers that have taken advantage of Platinum Air Suspension’s custom program. Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation has tried various air ride systems over the years before it tried a Platinum kit. The team at Bagger Nation was so impressed with the system it received from Platinum that it now has its ‘Lay’d Out’ kits made specifically for it by Platinum. The exclusive design for Bagger Nation is the lowest traveling shock made by the company, and goes from 12.25in extended to 9.75in dropped, offering 2-1/2in of travel. 

It is development work such as this that drives Platinum Air Suspension and has done for more than 10 years, which gives an insight into how the company is set to continue to grow in the future as it expands its product line and international markets.

Fullerton, California, USA
Tel: 714 871 2424