In this article, Motorcycles for Short Riders shows you how to lower a motorcycle. As there are a number of methods to lower a motorcycle, we highlight the pros and cons of each method, as well as provide and approximate costs. If you have yet to pick up your first motorcycle, check out our Top 10 Motorcycles for Short Riders. Find out the best way for you to lower your motorcycle today!
There are 2 categories of lowering modifications one can make are:
- Seat mods
- Suspension Changes
Shaving a motorcycle seat is the easiest and safest DIY way to lower a motorcycle. This process involves removing the seat cover, shaving foam off the bottom, and re-installing the seat cover. Done well, this method does not reduce comfort, and retains an OEM look.
The foam should be shaved from the sides of the seats especially towards the front. ideally, once you shave the most foam from the front sides of the seat. Shaving foam from this area makes reaching the ground easier compared to other areas of the seat without reducing comfort. Removing foam from the middle seat will slightly lower the seat, but will reduce the cushioning that seat provides.
Reduce seat height up to 2 inches
Can maintain comfort and OEM look
Maintains performance of motorcycle
Lowest cost option
Shaving seat incorrectly may reduce comfort
The end result may not be pretty
Time: 2 – 3 hours
For more information how to shave a motorcycle seat, check out: diymotorcycleseat.com
For riders trying to find the easiest way of how to lower a motorcycle, buying a shorter seat is the answer. Aftermarket seat manufacturers such as Corbin, Sargent, Seat Concepts, and Touratech make seats for certain bikes that are up to 2 inches shorter than OEM. These seats are generally designed with comfort and style in mind, and could be at your doorstep in a few days.
Plug and play – easiest way to lower seat height
Quality fit and finish
Known level of comfort – most aftermarket seats are designed with comfort in mind
No downtime from riding – use your stock seat now, replace when the new one comes in
Price- expensive compared to shaving a seat
Time: <1 hour
Some companies such as Seat Concepts offer kits which include new foam and covers for the seat pans already on your motorcycle. These kits can lower the seat height up to 2 inches vs stock. At the time of writing, seat concepts also offers installation service for an additional $25 on top of the seat kit price. This way, you send in your seat, they install the kit, then a new seat shows up at your door a few weeks later.
Lowers seat, takes the risk out of shaving the seat yourself
Competitive prices compared to aftermarket seats
Turnaround time can be long if sending in the stock seat for upgrade
Time: 14+ Business days turnaround time
Corbin, Sargent, and many other companies offer custom motorcycle seats. As they’re custom, these can be designed to be lower, with greater comfort using more advanced (see: pricier) materials, and to look however you like. Some manufacturers also can mold seats to conform to your body, improving comfort and allowing for support where needed without significantly increasing seat height.
Greatest reduction in seat height
Looks – great, just the way you want them to
Comfortable – can be molded specifically for a rider
Cost – the priciest way to reduce seat height
Turnaround time longer than most other methods
Time: 21+ Business days
Getting a bike’s suspension set for your weight improves handling, braking and acceleration; all key aspects to most safely controlling a motorcycle.
Even a cruiser riders stand to benefit from such as setup, and in my experience, is well worth the ~$40 most suspension technicians charge for a 1 time setup. As part of the suspension setup, a train mechanical sets ‘sag’, a setting allowing the bike’s suspension to function in the range it is most effective.
Alright, that’s nice and all, but you may be thinking I was trying to figure out how to lower a motorcycle, how does this help? Suspension technicians start by setting ‘sag’ to the bottom of its recommend range, helping keep one’s bike from being unnecessarily tall. Adjusting suspension preload, and changing springs can also make a difference. As suspension tuning is one of the more complex aspects of motorcycling, this is an area I recommend entrusting to a professional when starting out.
In the SF Bay Area, there are a number of reputable suspension tuners including Catalyst Reaction Suspension Tuning in San Carlos and Evolution Motorcycles in Santa Clara, as well as Dave Moss Tuning, who often teach suspension courses at Moto Guild in San Francisco.
Can slightly reduce seat height
Improves safety – makes the bike handle better and react more efficiently to your inputs
Going to a suspension shop or bike night, being around motorcycles and experienced riders could be intimidating
Time: ~30 minutes
Lowering links physically lower the rear suspension bringing it closer to the ground, which in turn reduces the seat height. However, this also reduces ground clearance, which may cause problems going over speed bumps and dragging hard parts when cornering at higher lean angles. As most new riders are unlikely to be pushing motorcycles anywhere near lean angles where hard parts start dragging, the increased confidence of being on a lower motorcycle may be worthwhile. If just cruising around, a new rider would be unlikely to notice significant difference in handling.
Additionally, lowering the rear suspension using lowering links drastically affects the handling of the motorcycle. The suspension was designed with a certain geometry from the factory. As such, to help the suspension work as well as possible with lowering links, one should also lower the front forks in the triple clamp the same amount the rear was dropped.
Additionally lowering a motorcycle with this method may lower the bike to the point that an aftermarket kickstand is required. Given then downsides, I rarely recommend this route to friends who ask about how to lower a motorcycle.
Lowers motorcycle .5 – 2 inches
Negatively affects handling of the bike, significantly
Decreases ground clearance
May require shortened kickstand
Most labor intensive lowering method
Time: 1-2 hours
Cost: ~$80(parts), 1-2 hours of labor at a reputable shop
Now that we’ve covered how to lower a motorcycle, feel free to leave comments or questions, especially if you aren’t sure what will be the best fit for you.