The Low-Down on How to Lower a Motorcycle: Is it Safe?

If you've always wanted to ride a motorcycle but felt that you were too short or light to make it work, rest assured, there is an answer for you. Learning how to lower a motorcycle is not something that should be performed by anyone without the proper experience.

That said, if you've been scouring the internet looking for bikes or even shopping at your local motorcycle dealer and you're under 5' 7" you might require a few modifications.

There are some essential things to remember, and even if you're taking the bike to a shop to get it lowered you still want to go in with the right amount of knowledge, so you know what you're doing. Some shops will talk you out of a bad decision but some won't. Inform yourself first, so you don't make any mistakes.

How to Lower a Motorcycle: Which Section to Lower?

Whether you ride a 3 wheel motorcycle or a standard two-wheel, the first thing you'll do when you start researching how to lower your motorcycle is you'll need to decide on a section to drop. Something that a lot of people love is the idea of lowering their seat before getting involved with anything complicated.

Lower the Seat First

Lowering the seat can help you make your motorcycle more comfortable to ride, and it makes it easier to reach the ground. By shaving off a portion of the seat, you'll make it easier to firmly plant your feet because you won't have to spread your legs so far around the bike.

The best part about lowering the seat is that you have the freedom to customize it exactly how you want. You could thin out the section in the front which is perfect for shorter people. While you do that you can also leave plenty of space in the back for comfort. Not to mention the fact that this strategy requires the least amount of work and money to complete. 

Lowering the Bike

If lowering the seat didn't do the trick for you, there are other options available. Many people teach you how to lower a motorcycle, but one thing they always say is that you shouldn't lower one end without the other.

While that may be true, we still see people do it all the time. When you lower a bike, you impact it's handling and clearance on the ground for obstructions, you want to make sure this is what you want to do and that it's vital before going forward with the process.

Most bikes come with something called a rising rate rear linkage, and this piece looks like a mashup between a bone and a fidget spinner. You'll want to use this component of the bike to lower it but be careful.

It doesn't take much of an adjustment to change the height of the bike dramatically. It will also impact the way the bike rides due to the spring rate. Even the smallest 10-millimeter change can cause the bike to ride much more rough, which is not something that any rider wants.

Lowering the bike using a lowering link is a budget-friendly way to go. The link kits generally cost less than $100.

The amount you lower it will depend entirely on your needs. If you're going for appearance rather than functionality, then feel free to read up on how low is too low, but for shorter riders who are looking for comfort, you don't want to go any lower than necessary. Find that sweet spot and leave it alone.

If you're not interested in messing up the spring rate or ride of your motorcycle you could shell out $200-300 for shortening the rear shock. This process requires a professional touch so you will have to take your bike somewhere to have this done. It can cost a lot more money than lowering it yourself, but you won't have to worry about impacting your ride at all.

Matching the Height

Many people like to play around with the height of their bike by leaving the front or back higher than the other. We don't recommend this because it messes with the weight balance causing the steering to slow down, which affects the quality of your handling.

At higher speeds is when you'll feel this the most and it's precisely when you don't need any negative impact on your handling.

Motorcycle experts will always advise against lowering the front of your bike for both safety and functionality. You can get away with lowering only the back if you're going for function, but for appearance, many of you will want to lower the front to match it.

The main problem with the front comes with the small front fork adjustment. You only have a little room to work with before you hit the front fender and it's not hard to do.

The best thing you can do for your safety and your bike is to talk with some local professionals or motorcycle manufacturers before making any modifications. Making a mistake here is not only dangerous for your motorcycle, but it can turn into a trip to the hospital for you as well.

Advantages of Lowering a Bike

The first and most obvious advantage is that you'll have a bike that is more comfortable for your height. If you're on the shorter side, you likely have to tip the bike quite a bit to get your foot planted firmly on the ground. Lowering your motorcycle the right amount will allow you to get both feet on the ground for stability and comfort.

Another advantage is appearance. Having a bike that sits low to the ground looks great. As we said, many people like to lower their motorcycle entirely for appearance. Beware of one thing, though. Lowering your bike doesn't look as great if your 6 feet or taller. You'll look kind of funny if you lower it too much.

Disadvantages of Lowering a Bike

Even if you follow all the right steps when lowering your bike, you're still running into some issues with handling. You've lowered the center of the bike's gravity, so you've now caused a few different problems.

First, you'll now face more obstructions like speed bumps and curbs. You may limit yourself on where you can go with the bike.

Second, you've also limited yourself in the distance you can travel on the bike; not because you damaged it but because the comfort will go way down when you lower the bike. This factor occurs because the springs are not much stiffer to prevent the bike from hitting bottom. Since they are much stiffer, you're getting a lot less play in the ride.

Third, the next thing you'll notice is your cornering ability. Since you've lowered the bike, you've also lowered the amount of ground clearance on cornering as well. If you've ever dragged a peg at the factor height, imagine how much you'll drag when you lower it.

This compromise might not seem like much, but it will impact the level of enjoyment you experience when you are always scraping.

Gettin' Low

We wanted to send you off with a few final thoughts. You now understand how to lower a motorcycle, but there are a few things to keep in mind. If you have any used motorcycles, be sure to test lowering out on it first before performing the job on your new baby.

You also want to understand that lowering will always have an impact on performance and ride quality. If you go an inch on front and back that should be more than enough without having to sacrifice your good ride.

Lastly, don't go cheap on things and hire someone who works out of their mom's garage in the alleyway. Use the most reputable sources to find modifications and remember that less is more when lowering your bike. If you haven’t purchased a bike yet, you might be able to find a motorcycle that is low enough to meet your needs and expectations.