Motorcycles come in various sizes and shapes, and their height is an essential part of their design. The right height for your motorbike is important to ensure a comfortable and safe riding experience. However, many riders find that their motorbikes are too tall for them. In such cases, a lowering kit can be a great solution.
How Do Motorcycle Lowering Kits Work? The lowering kit of a motorcycle works by modifying the front and rear suspension components or reducing the height of the seat. There are 5 types of lowering kits, including shorter shock absorbers, adjustable suspension links, low profile seat or shaving some of its foam, shorter front forks, and lowering links or springs.
This article will explore the purpose of reducing the height of a motorbike and its different methods. We will briefly explain the working principle of each method and its pros and cons.
Purpose of lowering a motorcycle
Lowering a motorcycle means reducing the distance between its seat and the ground. Its purpose can vary depending on the rider’s needs and preferences, but we will mention here some common reasons.
The most obvious purpose can be that it will be helpful for shorter riders to have good ground control when they stop at traffic signals or on terrain where they require to apply their feet to drag the motorbike. The reduced clearance allows them to easily reach the ground and support the bike with their feet.
Moreover, new riders also find it helpful to reduce its height to lower the center of gravity resulting in better stability at low speeds, making it easier to handle.
Some people choose to lower the motorcycle height for aesthetic purposes as they like how it looks with its lowered front or rear side.
Another less common reason can be it improves the performance in drag racing by providing better traction resulting in more power available to accelerate. Therefore, drag racers can choose to lower their motorbikes to achieve the purpose.
Types of Motorcycle lowering kits and their working principle
There are various motorcycle lowering kits available in the market, each with a different mechanism of its use.
Most work by modifying or replacing the stock suspension or frame components with the ones available in the kit. You can select any of them according to your bike model and intended purpose to reduce its height.
Shorter shock absorbers
There are shorter shocks available from aftermarket manufacturers that you can use to lower the motorbike. They have a specific design to be smaller than the stock ones, reducing the rear end’s height.
Using this method, you can reduce the ground clearance by 1-3 inches, depending on the motorcycle model. Shorter shocks can be more expensive than other methods and can also alter the handling characteristics.
However, they have the advantage that you can easily install them, and choosing a good quality design will also improve the ride quality over the stock ones.
Adjustable suspension links
Some motorbikes come with adjustable suspension that you can lower by adjusting the preload or damping settings. You can change the length or distance that the shock absorber travels for both the rear and front ends.
It reduces seat or handlebar height according to your preference for the front or rear end. You have to do it in steps of a few millimeters to prevent any drastic changes, resulting in handling problems.
Applying these adjustments in smaller steps allows for more fine-tuning of the front or rear suspension and can help to maintain handling characteristics.
Still, it can be more complex and time-consuming than other methods. Moreover, it also changes the geometry of the motorcycle.
Lowering the seat
You can lower the motorcycle seat in several ways besides the mentioned methods, as their indirect consequence is reducing the seat height.
One of the simple and inexpensive methods is trimming the seat cushion to lower the tallness of the motorbike. In addition, it involves removing some foam from the seat to reduce the distance between the rider and the ground.
Moreover, various low-seat options are available from the manufacturers and aftermarket solution providers to replace the stock with a new one.
This method does not alter the suspension or handling characteristics but can reduce the seat’s comfort. You can recover the comfort using a gel pad or other aftermarket seat cushions of good quality.
Lowering the front forks
Lowering the front forks of a motorcycle can reduce the overall height of the bike because it effectively lowers the front end of the motorbike, which lowers the position of the handlebars and the front of the bike.
This modification can help to make it more accessible and easier to manage for riders who have a shorter inseam or who find it difficult to reach the ground when stopped.
It works by moving the front forks upward inside the upper triple clamps. You can also achieve this by reducing the preload on the fork springs.
You can also get the shorter fork tubes available with the manufacturers, but it is an expensive option requiring a few hundred dollars.
Alternatively, You can shorten them by sending them to an expert machine shop to cut and thread them.
It can also affect the motorcycle’s handling characteristics and stability. It can be particularly noticeable as lesser stability in high-speed riding or tight turns.
Lowering Links and springs
Lowering links are aftermarket parts that replace the stock suspension links to reduce the height of the motorcycle.
The links are typically shorter than the stock links, which reduces the distance between the swing arm and the frame, resulting in a lower seat height.
Lowering links are relatively easy to install, but most experts advise not to use them due to safety concerns. An alternative to these links is lowering springs.
They are shorter and stiffer than the stock springs, which reduces the distance between the frame and the ground. However, they are difficult to install and are expensive to purchase due to their quality and material of construction
What are the benefits of lowering a motorcycle?
It can offer several benefits, depending on the rider’s needs and preferences. Lowering the motorcycle’s center of gravity can make it feel more stable and balanced, especially at low speeds or when stopped.
It also reduces the chances of toppling a motorbike compared to one with more height. In addition, lowering it can make it easier to manage and maneuver, especially at slow speeds or tight spaces, due to improved handling.
You can also achieve braking stability by adequately adjusting the height or hiring the services of an expert.
What are the drawbacks of lowering a motorcycle?
It has potential drawbacks if you don’t do it correctly or make excessive changes.
It can reduce ground clearance, making it more prone to touching the ground or over bumps. It will be difficult to ride it in off-road conditions.
It can alter the performance of the suspension system resulting in loss of warranty or comfortable ride.
By reducing the height, you make changes in the motorcycle’s geometry and face stability issues, especially at high speeds.
Doing this without proper adjustment can affect its stability, balance, and handling characteristics, increasing the risk of accidents or loss of control.
Before deciding to lower a motorcycle, carefully consider the potential risks and benefits and consult a professional mechanic or experienced rider to ensure that any modifications are safe and appropriate for you.