Suspension Lowering
The Right and the Wrong Way

Suspension lowering can be a very good thing for short riders (like me) because you gain huge confidence, especially on rocks. When done correctly the bike can even handle better due to the lowered center of gravity. But if done wrong it can cause hectic crashes – so be very careful who you ask to do that job for you!

The Wrong Way

Triple Clamps and Preload

Most people approach suspension lowering by pushing their forks through the triple clamps and/or by removing preload of the rear spring. That is a big mistake!

If your bike is set up right (right spring for your weight, correct sag, serviced suspension etc.) then you will feel that even pushing your forks up or down through the clamps for only as much as 3mm will have a negative effect on the handling.

Lowering the rear by loosening the spring (or removing preload) causes the following problems:

Pushing forks through the triple clamps more than 3 mm either way has the same negative effects and is a no-no. (I rode the first 4 years of my enduro life like that and wondered why I came unstuck all the time. All that good natured but clueless advice I had from my biker buddies…)

Lowering link

My husband often sees in his workshop attempts at suspension lowering by either using a lowering link or shortening the shock internally. The maximum you can lower the rear like this is 1 cm at the seat height. The reason for that is that without lowering the forks internally the max you can push a fork through is a about 1cm before they hit the handle bar.

To lower 1cm at seat height means the shock should only be shortened by 3,5mm internally. There are often shocks in the workshop that have been shortened by 1 cm internally which means 3cm lower at the seat with forks pushed 1cm through the clams. This is a disaster and a sure recipe for broken bones!

Cutting the seat

Cutting the seat for very short riders can be an additional option to give you the extra cm. But it will affect the seat-handlebar position and therefor give you less traction on the front wheel when cornering (read more about handle bar height) . You will also lose lots of comfort due to the reduced foam thickness. So all in all if you can avoid it – don’t do it.

The Right Way

The only safe and effective way to suspension lowering is by shortening forks and shock internally and in exactly the correct proportions.

This is a science in itself and should only be done by a proper suspension specialist. Progression of rear suspension system has to be calculated for each bike. The shock then must be shortened approximately (different for every bike) 1/3 the amount the fork has to be shortened.

Conclusion

The only type of lowering that you can attempt without consulting a specialist is 3mm at the triple clamp and maybe 0,5-1cm on the foam of the seat. Otherwise you will make your ride very unsafe. So if you are interested in lowering be very selective who will do the job for you.


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