LOWERING YOUR BIKE | Making your bike fit for you!
When buying a new bike it can be a bit intimidating trying to find the bike "for you." Dirt Bikes are a little different, where when you're buying a Mountain Bike you can buy a bike in different sizes. With a Dirt Bike it is a one size fits most off the showroom floor, but that doesn't mean it doesn't fit. We're here today to give you some tips on making that bike fit for you, by -
LOWERING YOUR BIKE
Now there is a misconception for a bike to fit you, you must be flat footed touching the ground, sometimes that it totally unrealistic.
It may seem like there is a big size gap jump from mid sized bikes like a Yamaha TTR 125 to a KTM 250 SX-F, but you're just at that point from moving into a bigger wheeled more power bike. Well for the most part bikes once your in the full sized models almost all have the same Seat Height. So don't base your decision off of "I need a KTM 125 SX because it's smaller", only the CC is smaller in that 125 but it is the same seat height from a 250 SX - 250 SX-F - 450 SX-F. So when finding that bike for you, look for that CC and power in a bike and then make that bike fit for you.
For a bike to fit you, you need to feel comfortable and confident to ride it. Sometimes confidence can come from being able to touch the ground. In order to do this you may need to lower your bike. There are 3 stages of lowering your bike.
STAGE 1 - Rear Shock
Setting your bike up with the proper spring for your weight is a huge must do for any rider. Usually bikes come stock with a rear shock spring that is rated for a 170 - 190 LBS rider. When getting your proper "spring rate" you'll be able to properly set the SAG of the bike. Your bike will be working with your rider weight now. The softer/lighter spring will also squat the bike more easily with your rider weight, making it easier to get on and off your bike.
STAGE 2 - Lowered Seat
Just to get that little bit more drop down, a lowered seat is a great next step. You can actually shave/cut down your stock seat. To do this you remove the seat cover, and use a bread knife or electric knife to cut the foam down. Start with small cuts to get your desired shape and height. Or you can purchase a lowered seat. These can usually be purchased straight from your OEM like KTM/Husqvarna or aftermarket distributors make other options like Seat Concepts.
When doing a lowered seat we recommend also adjusting your bars. When your seat is lowered then you are sitting further down, and your bars will feel higher. You want to keep this rider triangle the same (Triangle = Hands/Bars + Feet/Pegs + Bottom/Seat)
You can either get a lower bar, or adjust them lower in your clamps.
STAGE 3 - Lowering Kit
This would be the next step for lowering. At this point we'd recommend you bringing your bike to a Certified Suspension Technician, since you will be changing the internals of the bike. Check out the full video as Boston Calder from BFD Moto walks you through what they do to your suspension to lower it.
You may loose some suspension travel and performance with a lowering kit, but you may gain that back in confidence. Its a balancing act and finding what works best for you.
Another popular option that is used to lower bikes is a Lowering Link. We've been advised by suspension professionals to avoid these as a lowering option. Some bikes like them and need them, but some bikes it can really throw off the geometry of the bike. The length of the lowering link will change the linkage ratio, and can negatively effect the performance and life of your shock due to increased shock shaft speed. If you are going this route please discuss with your local Suspension Technician.
Don't ever feel like you're stuck with these changes. As you get more confident and want to go back you can remove the suspension lowering kit, or put a stock seat back on. These are changeable parts meant to be used, and evolve with you as a rider.
Thank you to BFDMoto for having us in shop, and Boston Calder for walking through the Suspension Lowering process!