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6 Ways How To Lower A Dirt Bike Seat Height & The Effects

Do you need to lower your dirt bike seat height? There are many ways to lower a dirt bike, but what is the best way to do it?
Dirt bikes are tall these days, and being able to touch the ground is important if you’re a beginner because it will give you more confidence learning to ride.

In this article, I’ll show you whether or not it’s possible to lower your bike, why you should or shouldn’t lower it, and then the different ways it’s possible and their effects – both good and bad.

Can you lower a dirt bike?

Yes, I’ll show you the top 6 ways to lower your dirt bike seat height, but they aren’t all easy to do and change back if you want it taller again later. We’ll look at how each option will lower your dirt bike, why it may or may not be good for you, and how to do it.

How many inches can you lower a dirt bike?

At the lowest point of the seat, most dirt bikes can be lowered 1-2 inches pretty easily without major modifications. At most, you can potentially lower the seat about 3-4 inches, but you’ll have to invest more time and possibly money to get it that low. You might be able to go lower if you have an older dirt bike with a really high seat foam.

Should I Lower My Dirt Bike?

Lowering the seat height on your dirt bike can greatly help your riding. Being a short rider, or just having a short inseam (leg length) makes it hard to touch the ground.

Being low enough to the ground on a dirt bike can help your confidence on a technical trail in case you need to put a foot down.
Being able to touch the ground on a technical trail can boost your confidence

Not being able to touch the ground creates more of a challenge if you’re a new rider or you ride in technical terrain.

Being able to touch the ground more easily boosts your confidence in riding ability because you can catch yourself in more situations that you couldn’t with a taller dirt bike seat height.

With that said, you still need to learn all of the basic techniques to stay in control riding off-road.

Transitioning to a full-size dirt bike

Going from an 85cc motocross bike to a full-size dirt bike is a big jump in weight, size, and height. It can be intimidating when you’re racing against adults and you can’t touch the ground with your feet.

Even if it’s a 125 2-stroke, it still feels night and day different than a little 80. If you’re like me (5’6″) and you can barely touch the ground with one foot, an extra inch or two can be the difference between crashing and staying on the bike in a corner or tight single-track trails.

How to lower a dirt bike

There are several ways, from modifying the seat to adjusting the suspension. Read through each process and determine which way or ways are right for you based on the pros and cons, as well as the difficulty of them.

Shaving the Seat Foam

The most common (and cheapest) way of lowering the seat height is by trimming the seat foam. This is a good time to put on a new seat cover as well!

Just take the cover off, trim the seat foam down to the desired size (you can usually take off 1-1.5″ from the middle of the seat and still have enough left). Then you simply stretch the seat cover back over and staple it.
For example, a Yamaha YZ125 has a stock seat height of 38.6″, but after cutting the seat foam down you could get that height down to 37-37.5 inches.

This mod is popular because it’s cheap, and pretty much anyone can do it with a little patience. There are two disadvantages to shaving the seat foam.

First is that there is less foam to sit on, leaving you with a stiffer ride, as well as a curved seat.
Second, the seat to footpeg distance is shorter, making it harder to use proper body position while sitting and riding.

YZ125 Shaved Seat 6 Ways How To Lower A Dirt Bike Seat Height & The Effects
YZ125 With Shaved Seat

When you are trimming the foam, there’s a key tip that I learned when I first started shaving my seat heights. Remember to blend out a large enough radius on the edges of the seat foam.

It’s easy to just trim it to the height that you want and forget about how rounded the corners should be. If the corners aren’t rounded enough, it won’t form to your legs/thighs, thus making it uncomfortable to sit down.

Tutorial on how to shave your dirt bike seat foam down

Smaller Tire Lowers The Seat Height?

Not only can you get a smaller diameter rear rim, but you can choose the amount of rubber around it. Motocross bikes come with a 19″ rear wheel, but some off-road/enduro trail bikes have an 18″ rear wheel.

Swapping for the smaller wheel will lower the rear-end of the bike. Depending on what you have already, going from a 110/100-19″ to a 100/90-19″ rear tire can help lower the bike as well.

How To Lower Suspension On A Dirt Bike

There’s a few ways to lower your dirt bike’s suspension. The forks can be raised in the triple clamps and the rear shock height can be changed.

Lowering By Adjusting Shock Pre-Load/Sag

Lowering your dirt bike is easy by adjusting the shock pre-load, but I would not suggest this to be the first way to lower the suspension, even though it’s simple and can lower the bike close to 2 inches.

If you look on the rear shock assembly, there will be two locking ring nuts holding the spring compressed.

If you haven’t already set your sag/ride height (more on this in a future article), I suggest you do that first. Your race sag should be about 100mm (4″), but if you keep loosening the nuts and spring, it will eventually stop, and that’s where you will have the most sag (lowest seat height). You can use a shock spanner wrench (Amazon) to easily loosen the locking rings without damaging them.

Like I said before, if you are racing or riding hard, I would not suggest going past the proper ride sag because the suspension will be too low and soft. Trail riders can often get away with this (I have tried this personally and it works well in tight single-track).

How To Lower Front Forks On A Dirt Bike

In addition to the other mods, you can (or need to) move the forks up in the triple clamps. This will lower the front-end of the bike, and may be required for some of the previous mods because the rear-end will sit lower.

Raised forks to lower dirt bike seat height
Extreme case of raised forks on a front end conversion.

Be careful though, and do one small adjustment at a time, because changing things around like this can mess up the geometry and handling of your bike.

Take note of all the specs you’re going to modify as a starting point in case you want to go back to it.

Dirt bike lowering link – is it right for you?

A lowering link is another common mod to lowering the ride height on your dirt bike. It’s an easy solution for short riders stepping up to a full-size bike. It’s a direct bolt-on, and lowers the rear end 1/2″ – 1 1/2″ on most bikes.

A lowering link adjusts the height of the rear shock. It moves the shock linkage location, which is a very small amount.

The shock linkage is geometrically designed for a certain height and angle of compression for the shock. A small change will make a larger impact on shock height and rate of compression.

Cost is certainly a factor when considering a lowering link, but it also changes the handling and suspension of your bike. Many riders complain that the pre-load is quite a bit softer, and that the front-end sits higher, changing the rake angle.

Handling isn’t affected so much at slower speeds or trail riding, but experienced riders may notice it on the motocross track or at higher speeds.

It will feel longer and slightly heavier, making it more stable, but harder to turning. If you’re a new rider, you may not have the experience and knowledge to notice the difference.

Overall, it’s an easy-bolt on mod that immediately lowers your seat height up to about 1-1/2″, and that can make a big impact if you’re riding a full-size dirt bike, such as a YZ125 or YZ250F. To order your lowering link now click here (Amazon).

Lowering Link
Yamaha Lowering Link (Amazon)

Lowering Your Dirt Bike Subframe

If you really want to go crazy, you can get a chunk of their subframe cut and welded back together to lower the seat height. There are more downsides to this modification, so I wouldn’t suggest it to be first on your list.

The more pieces that have to be welded together, the more likely it is to crack or break (so make sure you get a professional to weld it, especially aluminum).

Since the subframe is holding mostly the back half of the seat, that’s where most of the lowering is going to happen. Also, if you chop too big of a portion out of the subframe, it may end up causing the rear tire to hit and rub against the fender when the suspension is compressed.

Summary of lowering your dirt bike

Here are 6 ways how to lower a dirt bike seat height:

  • Shave the seat foam
  • Use a smaller tire
  • Adjust rear shock
  • Lower the front forks
  • Install a lowering link
  • Cut & lower the subframe

Think Before You Act – Consequences of lowering your dirt bike

All of these can change things that require more modifications:

  • Kick-stand too tall – bike can tip over more easily
  • Not enough seat foam – harsh on your bum!
  • Less ground clearance – more likely to hit rocks/logs with frame
  • Less suspension travel – less performance and comfort
  • Different handling characteristics – longer and slower steering
  • Ergonomics – different cockpit feel while sitting
  • Different gearing (smaller wheel) – small change in acceleration vs top speed

With that said, instead of doing all that work to lower the seat height, you could just start out on a lower bike to begin with. Having a low seat height, as well as a bike that’s easy to ride will make you learn quicker and ride faster in less time.

Do your feet need to touch the ground on a dirt bike?

Being able to touch the ground with two feet isn’t a must, even when trail riding. Just look at some of the top pro racers that are around five and a half feet tall (Carmichael, McGrath, Stewart).

In fact, it’s actually poor riding technique if you’re using both feet on the ground. You need to learn proper balance so that you can keep both feet on the pegs to give you more control.

Want to learn how to ride trails with more confidence and control even if your dirt bike is tall? Click or tap here to get started with all the basic off-road riding techniques.

Joseph

Tuesday 19th of July 2022

I'm about 1/2" shorter than you. I have a CRF250F and my kids are riding a CRF125F Big Wheel and a KLX140R. My CRF250F is at my limits for comfort when stopping or starting. It's seat height is 34.8" The bike I want is a KX250XC but a seat height of 37.2" Is it possible to lower a bike like that by 2.5-3" ?

Kelley Fager

Saturday 23rd of July 2022

Hey Joseph, thanks for your comment! It's definitely possible to lower the seat height by up to 2-3", but you'll have to do some internal changes to the forks and shock, as well as potentially using a lowering link and shaving what little seat foam is there. The big downfall is that it won't handle as well - it will feel longer and steering will be heavier/slower. What's your goal with this bike?

Sequoia

Monday 10th of January 2022

Hi, i've always ridden on the back of a dirtbike with my husband, but recently wanted to buy and learn how to ride one myself. But can't seem to find my perfect sized bike that'll suit me. The 125s are just way too short (like a couple of inches passed just being able to sit on one with both feet completely flat. The 150 wasn't any better. But the 250s leave me with both feet 4+ inches from the ground and are far too heavy for me to even hold up. I'm 26 years old, 5'4 and somewhere around 138lbs. Do you have any recommendations? I'm not afraid of starting out on a stronger bike, but I don't want to set myself up for failure and fear from something that's too much for me. Any advice would be deeply appreciated.

Kelley Fager

Tuesday 11th of January 2022

Hey Sequoia, great question, and thanks for reading! At your height, a large wheel 125 with the 19/16" wheels shouldn't be too small because my wife is an inch taller and likes her KLX140L. The KLX140G has full-size wheels and is slightly taller, so that might be even better for you. Otherwise, I'm 5'6" and like my CRF230F, so that (or TTR230/KLX230R) would work well. I know you say that you don't mind a "stronger bike", but I always tell new riders to start on a smaller/lighter/less powerful bike because it makes it MUCH easier to learn on. Then, once you build your confidence from learning the proper techniques, then I would recommend upgrading. You don't need a fast bike to go fast, if that makes sense...

Hope that helps, and don't forget to check out my Free guides that go more in-depth to help you become a better & safer rider faster.

Alexis Robles

Friday 2nd of April 2021

Hey Kelly I wanted to lower my bike aswell as both of my feet can tap the ground but the bike is to heavy for me to support it with just the tip of my toe anything you would recommend?

Kelley Fager

Monday 5th of April 2021

Hey Alexis, thanks for reading my article! What kind of bike do you have? Shaving the seat is probably the easiest to make a bike 1-3 inches lower. Using your body weight to balance at low speeds will also help. One foot on the ground is enough. Simply shift your butt to one side of the seat to make it easier for that side foot to touch the ground. That's what I do when I'm riding taller bikes that I can barely touch with one foot on.

Lauren

Friday 15th of January 2021

i just got a crf150f for my first bike , ive always been on a quad or doublr riding with my bf hes got wr450 hes 5'7 . we ride some pretty gnarly trails hes a pro rider and he thinks that my crf will be fine but im only 5 feet tall and 117pds - im strong but i feel like; learning to ride two wheels, ill def need it lowered to feel secure (i also didnt sit on it with my boots on so i may gain the inch im looking for wearing them) i have like a whole - to- 1 1/4 inches - touching my tippie toes on ground but... should i start with seat shaving & then sag etc??

Kelley Fager

Saturday 16th of January 2021

Hey Lauren, thanks for the comment, and that's awesome how you've gotten into riding. The CRF150F is a great beginner bike, and at 5 ft. tall I think it's a pretty good fit. One foot on the ground is all that's needed to balance (that's how I do it on full size bikes). With that said, if you feel that lowering it will give you some needed confidence, then it's probably worth doing until you get some more experience. Practicing some clutch control and balancing drills will greatly increase your skill and confidence. As for shaving the seat and adjusting the sag... Yes, those are good options to start if you don't mind a seat with less cushion. Adjusting the sag will effect the suspension, but probably not enough for you to notice at the beginning. If you have some spare cash, a lowering link is an easy way to lower the seat height. You can swap the stock shock linkage back in when you're ready to raise it back up.

Glenn

Sunday 13th of December 2020

Hi bike has adjusted rear mono shock that seems to twist the whole spring can I lower inch by loosing the spring left or right doesn't seem have any lock-in nuts I can twist the whole spring?thanks

Kelley Fager

Sunday 13th of December 2020

Hey Glenn, what model bike do you have? There should be some sort of locking ring or collar or else the shock spring is going to damage the shock. To adjust the pre-load to lower it, you turn the spring counterclockwise.