A common complaint with dirt bikes is the seats. The manufacturers make it a bit too high making the short rider uncomfortable at times. And if you are a new rider or have a short inseam, tall dirt bikes can be a bit intimidating.
Luckily, several modifications like adjusting the suspension, shaving the seat, using smaller tires, etc can help you to lower that seat and get a tad bit closer to the ground. These are just a few examples, I’ll elaborate on them further below.
Without further ado, let’s check out how to lower a dirt bike seat height to ensure a comfortable riding experience for you.
8 Effective ways to lower a dirt bike seat height
Lowering a dirt bike seat isn’t only for those who have a problem with stature; many riders can’t find the right balance with the stock versions of a dirt bike.
So, by lowering it, they also lower the center of gravity that results in better suspension. If you feel like you’ll tip right over every time you face a corner, then it’d be a smart decision to do so.
Here are eight ways you can lower a dirt bike seat height:
1. Shave down the seat foam
This is the easiest and cheapest option of all. Take the seat off the bike. Pull out the cover by removing all the staplers using a spiked tool. Now take a sharp blade and start curving the seat foam according to your measurement. Remember to make the corners rounded enough while shaving so that your legs go straight to the ground.
After you get your desired height and shape, staple the cover back using an air or hand stapler. If you’re using the old seat cover, you can heat it up a bit so that it stretches and fits easily. Also, after pulling the cover off, reinstalling the foam seat back onto the bike will make it easier to work on.
If you choose to wash your seat, make sure to prop it up against a wall so that it dries properly before reinstalling to avoid molds. You can also replace the foam seat with gel pads or softer foams to avoid stiff and harder seats.
2. Rear shock preload adjustment
This is another inexpensive and easy to do method we can use. We’re gonna start by taking off the seat and body parts to access the rear shock. Using a wrench, we’ll loosen up the jam nut that’s holding the spring. Then turn the collar counterclockwise till the bike is lowered to your desired height. Then tighten everything back up, and you’re good to go.
How does this work? Preload is the tension imparted on the rear shock’s coil spring when the bike is not in use. It comes factory set for an average rider’s weight. And reducing that preload accordingly will help you lower the rear ride height.
However, this method does have its drawbacks. Generally, all springs have their working range. So you should check the factory-recommended sag range before adjusting the preload. Because if you go too low than the recommended range, your ride will bottom out soon.
If the recommended range doesn’t help you get your bike low enough, you should probably get a different spring with more range.
3. Front fork preload adjustment
Some bikes come with front fork preload adjustment. You can use this to lower your bike in the front. It works the same way as the rear shock. Check the factory range and then start working with the low end to see if it’s enough. Just don’t cross the range unless you want to greatly mess up the handling.
Also, if you lower the front height, you must have to work on the rear height to keep everything balanced.
4. Lower the front suspension
Another way to lower the front-end of your bike is by lowering the front forks. We’re gonna start by relieving some pressure from them by lifting the bike under the engine using a lift stand. Then look for the triple clamps in the front of the bike. The triple clamps are two metal pieces that clamp the fork tube in place.
Now loosen the pinch bolts that hold the fork tubes. This will allow the fork tubes to go up, and as a result, your dirt bike’s front end will get lower. Once you get your desired height, tighten everything back in place.
Once again, remember to work on the rear shock too, if you lower the front end of your bike. Otherwise, it’ll mess up with the handling and throw everything off balance. Make sure to move the fork tubes precisely and by the same amount. Don’t go overboard with lowering the suspension. Make one small change at a time.
5. Get smaller tire
Opting for smaller tires instead of the bigger ones can help you with lowering your bike. You can get a smaller diameter rear rim, plus you can customize the amount of rubber that surrounds it. A smaller rear tire not only lowers the height of the rear end of your bike but also helps with quick acceleration.
6. Lowering link
This mod is the most common and easy solution for lowering the seat height on your dirt bike. You can just bolt it into the linkage system, and the rear-end height will instantly go down for about 1 inch. In addition, it increases the sag and has a lesser negative impact on the rear suspension performance.
When using a lowering link on the rear, make sure to raise the forks for at least 2mm to balance everything out. You can also get a revised bell clank for improved shock performance. The whole thing might fall a bit on the pricey side, but it’s worth it if you want to lower your dirt bike seat height with as much negative effect as possible.
7. Lowering the subframe
Lowering the subframe to lower the seat height can get a little tricky. You just cut 5 to 10mm of the subframe and weld it back together. By doing so, you’ll drop about 1inch height. But since it requires some serious skill, it’s best if you leave this particular task for experts. If not welded well, the pieces might crack and fall apart.
Make sure not to go crazy with this method. If you cut too much of the subframe, the tire will end up hitting the fender and the rider’s backside hard.
8. Get it done properly by experts
While most of these mods seem pretty doable by ourselves after watching a tutorial video or two, the best solution would be to leave it to the specialists. Especially when you’re just a new rider or someone who is a little unhandy with this technical stuff.
Each dirt bike comes from the factory manufactured according to a certain height, weight, preferences, etc. So, messing with all the suspensions and subframes in your garage can muddle up the geometry and handling of the bike big time.
Sure it’ll cost us some money, but if we just let the specialists handle it, we don’t have to worry about anything. They know what they are doing. They’ll weigh all the pros and cons and know the best way to lower your bike height with minimum negative effects.
Why should you lower your seat height?
Two of the main reasons for dirt bikes being so tall are ground clearance and increased power. Dirt Bikes are made for uneven terrain. So they need more ground clearance to avoid obstacles.
And, of course, when the engine displacement increases, so does the height of the bike. Room for the engine, large tires, and greater travel suspension also contribute to the size of a bike. Meaning, bigger CC will usually have higher seats.
If you’re looking for dirt bikes for kids, bikes ranging from 50-110cc would be a perfect choice. But when you’re an adult who’s just under 5 feet 6 inches, chances are your bike has the perfect power range but is too tall for you.
This could lead to difficulty with balance and control especially when you’re riding on technical terrains. By lowering your dirt bike’s seat height, you can set it up just right for you and avoid frustration.
Buying dirt bikes with low height seats
If you don’t already own a dirt bike, you don’t have to go through all of these modifications. You can just buy one of the shorter bikes that is suitable for you.
Your height, weight, personal preference, riding style, what kind of terrain you’ll be riding on, budget, etc are some of the things that you need to keep in consideration while looking for a bike.
A great way to see if a bike is fit for your height and weight is by sitting on it. See if you can easily touch the ground with the balls of your fit without tiptoeing. If you’re flat-footed easily on the ground that means the ride is too short for you. So, you don’t want your feet to be planted on the ground completely or tiptoeing.
Your weight is another important factor. I suggest you gear up while properly setting the sag to see how much it compresses. Also, see if you can easily reach the handlebars with your hands and move them side to side without shifting in your seat.
For better understanding, check out our dirt bike size chart here and decide for yourself which dirt bike would be the right one for you. We covered shorter, taller, lightweight, and heavier bikes all in one!
One thing though. Keep in mind that not everybody is built the same. Some of us have a longer inseam, some of us have a shorter upper body.
So this chart may not match you perfectly. In that case, treat it as a rough guide to get an idea about what size your ideal bike should be.
Things to keep in mind
There are few things you need to be mindful of before you even start to entertain the idea of lowering the seat of your dirt bike.
- No matter which mod you use, the ground clearance can not be compromised. Ground clearance is important, especially when you’re riding on technical terrains and have to hop over many obstacles.
- If you lower the front end of your bike, you have to lower the rear end too for balance. You can lower just the rear end and get by, but that doesn’t apply for the front end, because that forces the rider to take an odd stance, ruining the biking experience.
- Keep in mind that, decreasing the bike seat height also means you have to make modifications to fix your kickstand that’d otherwise be too tall.
- Altering the settings and geometry of the bike will alter the handling too.
- If you choose to shave your seat and you’re not confident enough to do it yourself, you can always take it to a mechanic to fix it for you.
- Your weight also plays an important role while setting the sag to adjust to your height.
- Don’t go overboard with lowering the suspension as this will make the shocks spongy, and it will bottom out soon.
- Don’t make drastic changes all at once. Follow the factory manual if available. Go one small thing at a time.
- Practice riding techniques that’ll make you not as much dependent on putting your foot down every once in a while.
- Write everything down. So that you can easily undo the changes if you want to without any fuss.
- Don’t shy away from spending a little money for professional help to lower the bike seat and do it right.
You don’t need to touch the ground if you hone your bike riding skills sharp enough.
However, if you decide to go through with it, I suggest lowering the link and raising the front fork tubes method as they seem the safest. But, it’s your call, really.
My job was to show you how to lower a dirt bike seat height, whichever route you take you accomplish that is solely your decision. Have fun!