How to Lower a Motorcycle's Rear Suspension

With the exception of a custom-built machine, most motorcycles are designed to fit as wide a variety of body types as possible. Unfortunately, some riders may still have trouble planting their feet solidly on the ground while at a standstill. To compensate for this, the motorcycle's rear suspension can be lowered, bringing the seat height closer to the ground. There are many ways to do this, but be sure to select a method that is attainable for your skill set and budget.

Reduce the rear shock absorber's preload adjustment. This adjustment changes the amount of compression placed on the shock absorber's spring and can be adjusted on most motorcycles by turning the shock absorber's threaded collar with a spanner wrench. To reduce the preload and lower the rear suspension height, turn the collar counterclockwise.

Replace the rear shock absorber's stock linkage with an aftermarket lowering link. The link connects the shock absorber to the motorcycle's rear swing arm; replacing it with a lowering link changes the rear swing arm's angle to lower the rear end of the motorcycle. Installing an aftermarket link is a labour-intensive ordeal, requiring the motorcycle to be lifted off of the ground to disassemble the shock absorber and its link.

Replace the shock absorbers with a set of shorter shocks. This method is ideal for older motorcycles or cruisers that use twin rear shock absorbers, and can be done using parts taken from other motorcycles or new aftermarket components. Some aftermarket shock absorbers can lower the rear end of the motorcycle by up to 2 inches.


Lower your front forks to compensate for the change in your motorcycle's rear ride height. Adjust the shock absorber's compression and rebound damping to improve its responsiveness to bumps and road surface irregularities.


A lowered motorcycle is more likely to drag its frame, exhaust or foot pegs while in a turn. Use caution to avoid a loss of control that could result in a crash. Lowering your motorcycle's rear suspension will also alter its steering geometry and affect the suspension's ability to handle changing road conditions. After completing the project, ride your motorcycle carefully until you are aware of these changes.

Things You'll Need

  • Spanner wrench
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About the Author

An avid motorcyclist, Chris Gilliland has immersed himself into the two-wheeled world while balancing work life and raising three daughters. When he is not managing the parts department of a local, multi-line motorcycle dealership, Gilliland can often be found riding, writing or working on his motorcycle blog, Wingman's Garage.