If coming to a stop on your dirt bike poses more of a danger for you than actually riding it, several modifications might help get you planted.
Manufacturers build specific dirt bike models like the popular Honda CRF250 or Yamaha YZ450 and the like, the same length, height and width which sometimes causes a problem for shorter riders ready to move on from smaller bore bikes to bigger bore bikes but who can no longer touch the ground with their feet when moving to a bigger bike. This makes stopping the bike a bit harrowing at times as short riders tend to topple over or have a hard time dismounting when using their leg as a kickstand.
The solution is lowering the dirt bike.
Additionally, lowering a dirt bike is also not just for the minimally statured. Those looking to find a better riding balance benefit by lowering the bike because it lowers the center of gravity. This affects the overall suspension by impacting handling and tracking through corners and ruts in the front and stiffening the initial stroke of the rear suspension which allows better control through the whoops and other bumps by helping to keep the bike straight. A lowered bike might improve your overall riding experience so if you constantly fight the feeling of tipping over in corners or experience lots of rear chatter through the whoops lowering your bike might prove beneficial.
Lowering a dirt bike requires changes to the front and rear or just rear alone. You don't want to lower just the front because it forces you into an odd stance but even worse makes the rear more unmanageable. Unfortunately, the front offers the easiest switch because all you do is lower the forks by loosening the fork clamps and moving the forks to the desired height. You get about an inch of play.
Before fiddling with the front, lower the rear by adjusting the rear suspension linkage. The stock suspension linkage probably doesn't adjust therefore you need an aftermarket linkage that accommodates a lower stance. Some aftermarket linkages offer adjustments so keep that in mind if you want to play around with height variables.
MotoSport offers a number of aftermarket dirt bike lowering kits and adjustable linkages:
- Fastway Adjustable Linkage
- Devol Transformer Pull Rod
- Ride Engineering Linkage
- Pro Circuit Linkage Arm
- Ride Engineering Linkage Assembly
- Devol Lowering Link Kit
Any one of these linkages works in the same way and takes about 20 minutes to install. Call one of our gearheads at 1-888-676-8853 to help narrow your choice if you need help deciding.
We recommend upgrading the rear suspension linkages for lowering a dirt bike however an old school method includes modifying the sub frame. This requires special tools and some expertise but you likely accomplish here what you can accomplish with the 20 minute linkage upgrade. *
*We must note that modifying the sub frame does not affect the ride height of the shock unlike switching out the linkage. Therefore, switching out the linkage might require updating the internal valves to ensure the rear suspension works properly. You can update the valves yourself using the Race Tech Valve Shock Kit or send it to a suspension company.
Some riders who can't touch the ground employ a less intrusive and actually quite common option which lowers the seat by cutting it down. However, this technique does nothing in terms of handling and the reduction in padding often results in a sore rear-end and lower back.
Other options include a lighter or softer suspension so the rider's weight compresses the bike enough to touch the ground. This offers only a short term solution for the beginner but as skill increases works against the rider. Finally, adjustments to the fork height above and beyond the one-inch play offered from the normal fork adjustments works however the process requires a professional and lots of money.
Written By: AndrewT