Original equipment /5 shock absorbers (usually recognizable by their long shrouds) are slightly shorter (7-10mm) than the later /6 and /7 OEM 13.35" suspension units (337mm eyelet to eyelet) spec'd to bikes starting in the 1974 model year. The top eyelet of the later shocks was machined taller, and the heftier /6 and /7 shock mounting plates on their uprated subframe were drilled higher to accommodate the change. As a result, most /5 shocks will not mount with proper clearance on later Airheads, although /6 and /7 units can be retrofit to /5s. Most replacement units available for '70s Airheads today are 13.25", and they offer short-wheelbase /5s very pleasing handling characteristics as well as modernized damping and adjustability.
On the front-end suspension, BMW changed from a single-piece fork bushing to a three-piece model during the /5 production run, starting in the fall of 1971 for the '72 model year.