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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How Does A Lowering Link Work?
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.
Things To Consider About A Lowering Link
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 turn. 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 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.