6 Ways How To Lower The Seat Height On Your 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 immensely boosts confidence in riding ability because you can catch yourself in more situations that you couldn’t with a taller dirt bike seat height.
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.
In this post, we’ll look at the top 6 ways to lower the seat height of your dirt bike. Each option will have will explain how it will lower your dirt bike and how to do it.
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. This mod is popular because it’s cheap, and pretty much anyone can do it with a little patience. The downside is that there is less foam to sit on, leaving you with a stiffer ride, as well as a curved 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.
Lowering The 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.
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.
Adjust Shock Pre-Load/Sag with Locking Nuts
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 great in tight single-track).
Moving The Forks Up
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.
Linking Closer To The Dirt
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. Cost is probably the biggest 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. 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).
Think Before You Act
All of these can change things that require more modifications:
- Kick-stand too tall
- Not enough seat foam
- Lowerground clearance
- Less suspension travel
- Different handling characteristics
- Different gearing (smaller wheel)
Being able to touch the ground with two feet isn’t a must, even when trail riding (although it does help in most cases). Just look at some of the top pro racers that are around five and a half feet tall (Carmichael, McGrath, Stewart).
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. Click here for the top 11 beginner dirt bikes.