Best Dirt Bike Mods & Riding Tips For Tall Riders
Tired of riding a dirt bike that makes you look and feel like a giant? Find out what the best mods for a taller rider are so that you can feel comfortable and look like you know what you’re doing.
In this post we’ll look at the best mods, bike setups and riding tips you should be using if you are a taller than average dirt bike rider. If you need help choosing the right size dirt bike check out this chart.
Can You Make A Dirt Bike Taller?
You can easily make a dirt bike taller by changing the seat height and adjusting certain parts on the bike to make it feel bigger. There are also riding techniques that will help increase comfort and confidence if you are a taller rider.
Bike Setup Tips & Mods For Tall Riders
There’s a number of things you can do to your bike setup to make it fit “YOU” as a rider. Any time I get on a new dirt bike that I plan on riding for a while there’s always a few things I adjust to make it easier and ultimately safer to ride. I’m shorter, so I like a lower seat height, but if you’re a taller rider then you’re limited on how big of dirt bike you can buy. To make dirt biking more enjoyable and comfortable you need to setup and modify your bike, as well as adjust your riding style.
Here’s the complete list of tips and mods for tall dirt bike riders:
- Body positioning
- Bars & controls position
- Brake pedal
- Shift lever
- Setting sag
- Fork height
- Seat size and foam
- Handlebar risers
- Offset triple clamps
Riding Tips For Tall Riders
There’s a few things you can do to help control your dirt bike better. Gripping the dirt bike with your knees is important to keeping the bike under your control. It also greatly reduces the chance of getting arm pump because it takes a lot of pressure off your arms and hands.
Point Your Toes
Riding with your toes against the bike cases is helpful for two reasons. It not only adds a little extra grip to hang on to your bike, but your feet are also tucked in and out of the way. If you don’t pay attention to where your feet are pointed, they’ll often just relax and work their way out.
Your feet are much more likely to hit or get caught on something if they are pointed outward. It is not fun to get your foot ripped off the bike from a tree stump or a rut. Keep your toes in and you’ll improve your riding and you may prevent a potential major injury!
Lastly, you need to form a habit of riding on the balls of your feet when you aren’t using the shifter or rear brake. Keeping your feet back gives you more room, which is needed if you have larger boots.
You will also absorb impacts better because your feet act as another small suspension component. If you ride on your heels then they will take the full force of an impact.
You’ll be less cramped if you stand often. And most of us sit far more than we should when dirt bike riding. Correct body positioning when standing can help make things more comfortable for your tall frame while riding.
You should be slightly crouched, with your lower legs vertical. This puts your ass out to the rear which helps weight the front wheel and centers your weight over the bike nicely. Elbows should be raised and slightly bent too.
Before you buy new handlebars, try rotating your bars forwards or backwards at a slight angle. Some bars have lines where the triple clamp bolts on to them to show you what angle they’re at.
If you’re taller or have long arms, rolling the handlebars forward will make a good difference, but be careful not to rotate them too far. Most bars sweep back at a slight angle to make them more ergonomically correct when in the standard position.
Don’t Cut Off The Blood Flow!
If you rotate them too far forward, that sweeping angle will start to point up and be extremely uncomfortable. Not only that, but it can cause your hands to go numb because the circulation of blood is being cut off by the angle of your wrists.
We’ll look at more handlebar and triple clamp options later in this post.
Once the handlebars are set in the position to your liking, the next things you want to adjust are the brake and clutch levers.
Don’t Be THAT Guy
All too often I see dirt bikes setup with wonky-looking controls to the point that I wonder how they even reach the levers. Not only does that look ridiculous, but it’s extremely inefficient when it comes to actually riding and improving your technique.
Each rider will have their own preference, so you need to figure out what works best for you, but a good place to start is with the controls pointed at a slight angle down from being parallel with the ground.
Levers In The Attack Position
Being a tall rider, you’re probably going to have your controls in a different position than me (who is only 5’6″). So, go and hop on your dirt bike while on its stand and get in the attack position (butt is off the seat but your knees are bent and ready to move or absorb any impact) like you would when riding. Now tweak the levers until you get them in the most comfortable position for your finger(s) to reach.
You Need To Know Before You Move On…
Make sure your cables are actually adjusted with the proper slack if they are cable operated, or the proper preload if it’s hydraulic. You want the levers to be as close as possible to your hand without needing to crush your other fingers when pulling them in.
Brake Pedal Adjustment
The more you ride, the pickier you will get about how your dirt bike is set up. Having long legs or big feet will have you dragging and wearing out the rear brakes if they aren’t properly adjusted.
Whether they’re disc or drum brakes, the arm or pedal can be adjusted to suit your riding style. It’s usually a locknut and a threaded rod to turn in or out to change the angle of the pedal. I usually have my pedal set at about the same height as the footpeg.
While the shift lever is adjustable by removing it and rotating it on the splines, I generally don’t touch them as often as the previous controls mentioned.
Don’t Miss Your Shift
With that said, you should always keep an eye on your shift lever and the bolt clamping it tight. This will loosen over time simply due to vibration. The shift lever will eventually get loose and may even fall off, making it virtually impossible to shift gears.
Rotating the shift lever a tooth or two may make it easier to get your boot underneath it to shift. Just make sure you can easily shift up and down while riding.
Offset brake levers are a great option if you have larger than normal boots. The tip is offset for a longer reach, which may be exactly what you need if your boots are over size 11 men’s (44 EU).
While not always the case, the taller you are the more you will weigh. To prevent your dirt bike from sagging more than it should, you need to have the correct spring rates installed in your forks and shock.
Proper race sag is generally close to 30% of the total suspension travel on your model bike. So if there’s 12″ of travel, your dirt bike should drop about 4″ when you sit on it with your gear on. If it’s more than that, you need to adjust the preload or buy stiffer springs.
How Can I Make My Dirt Bike Taller?
We’ve already looked at ways you can setup your dirt bike to make it more comfortable to ride if you are a tall rider, but now we’ll look at the best mods to make the cockpit and riding position less cramped.
Raise Seat Height To Increase Butt To Feet Distance
If you have long legs, you probably make a full-size dirt bike look like a mini bike when sitting down on it. You could re-locate the footpegs to a lower position, but finding/making a bracket might be troublesome. That will also lower the ground clearance and cause your feet/pegs to drag more easily when riding through deep ruts.
Can You Raise The Seat Height On A Dirt Bike?
Installing a taller seat or seat foam is an easy and very effective way to raise the seat and overall height of your bike. Your legs will thank you in the long run because they are less cramped.
You can buy a complete aftermarket seat if you want to keep the stock one for later, or you can buy aftermarket seat foam that’s taller. Seat Foam can come in different densities.
Soft or Hard Butt?
A high density foam will be firm and keep your body up higher. A low density foam will be softer, allowing you to sink in more to your seat. What you buy will depend on your weight, as well as your preference for how soft or firm of a seat you like.
Seat Covers Make A Difference
Remember to factor in the material of a seat cover into how firm you want a seat to be. If it’s a thick, hard seat cover, this will increase the stiffness of your seat. A soft seat cover will be more plush, but it will generally wear out more quickly.
Installing handlebar risers may not increase the height of a dirt bike, but they can improve the ergonomics of your bike.
Handlebar risers will raise your handlebars up, and they can also move them forward. If you have long arms, installing risers that move your bars up and forward can improve your comfort and allow you to ride much longer if you sit down often while trail riding.
With that said, I would recommend buying taller handlebars before getting risers. Risers are not quite as reliable because it’s adding one more point of attachment that could potentially become loose over time.
I’m not here to scare you away from them because I have personally used risers on my bikes, but I would recommend upgrading your handlebars first and then decide whether or not adding risers is necessary.
Best Handlebars For Taller Riders
Most stock handlebars are pretty low and neutral as far as height and position go. Even if they have a good bend (bend is the sweep and angle that the handlebar is pre-bent to), they’re just not high enough for a tall rider. Older dirt bike handlebars are also very weak compared to a good quality aftermarket set of bars. One quick tip-over and the stock bars are bent.
Handlebars with a ‘high’ bend are an awesome upgrade if you’re tall for a few reasons. One, you probably won’t even need bar risers unless you want them extremely high. Upgrading to a bend that you like makes riding more comfortable if the stock bars have an awkward style bend. Pro Taper makes high quality handlebars that are stronger and won’t bend as easily. Plus, they look great without an ugly crossbar. The Pro Taper CR/High bend handlebars are a popular choice for tall riders.
Oversize Handlebars Need An Adapter
However, these bars are an oversized 1 1/8″ handlebar and will need an Adapter like this here if your dirt bike doesn’t have them already. Stock bars are only 7/8″ in diameter and going to 1 1/8″ diameter greatly increases strength so you can crash harder and not worry about bending them as easily.
You May Need Longer Cables
Factory brake and clutch cables/lines are specifically designed for each bike, so there may not be enough extra length if you install handlebar risers. Look at your current setup and tug on the cables to see how much the bars can be moved before causing problems. Remember to turn the handlebars to full lock both ways to see if the cables bind up.
Remember to order the correct size risers for your triple clamps and handlebars. Standard diameter size is 7/8″, and oversize/fatbars are 1-1/8″. An easy way to tell what size you have is to look at the diameter of the handlebars where the grips and controls are, and then where the triple tree clamps on to the bars. If the diameter is the same then they are standard 7/8″. If the diameter is larger at the triple clamps then you have 1-1/8″ oversize handlebars.
Lowering Fork Legs In Clamps
You can raise the front of your dirt bike up by adjusting the fork height in the triple clamps. Be careful with this modification because it can cause major changes to the way your dirt bike rides and handles.
Before you adjust the fork height, measure the length they stick out from the top triple clamps, and then measure again after you adjust them to make sure both legs are at the same height. Record your settings so you can go back to the original setting if don’t like how your bike handles.
Offset Triple Clamps
Triple clamps that have multiple offsets make it very easy to adjust the position of your dirt bike handlebars. There’s usually 3 offsets to move the handlebar clamps. Standard, which is the middle position, and then a forward set and back set position.
Moving the handlebars back can actually improve certain riding techniques for tall riders. Setting the bars back, closer to the center of the bike, will also move your body mass backwards. Pulling up to unload weight off the front-end or wheelie over a log or a g-out will be physically easier because you have more leverage.
Trial and Error
If you want to continue improving your skill and technique, do not be afraid to try new things. Don’t worry about screwing up the handling of your dirt bike. Just remember to take a picture and write down your original settings before making a change.
Even if you don’t think moving the handlebars back would help your riding, I encourage you to give it a try when you have some free time when riding. Stay close to home or your rig in case any issues arise. If you don’t like it, simply return the settings to the way you previously had them.