To Lower or Not to Lower. - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-27-2013, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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To Lower or Not to Lower.

Hey Guys, Complete Newb question here. I just picked up my 1st bike this weekend. I was able to score a 2008 KLR for a killer price and low miles. The only thing the bike needs is a set of tires. Which brings up the question of lowering the bike. Im 5'9 and right now Im able to reach the ground on the balls of my feet. Im worried that once I put some tires with some better tread it's going to raise the bike more that Im comfortable with for such a new rider.
I already have a custom seat that helped a bit but I am a bit worried about me reaching the ground.
I guess my question is what is the best way to lower the KLR a bit and also the best economical. Im not really worried about bottom out I think since most of my riding will be side streets and fire roads. Nothing too gnarly for this guy.
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-28-2013, 04:11 AM
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I'm 5'9" also and am glad that I had a few shorter bikes before getting the KLR. The KLR isn't HARD to roll around, but there's nothing wrong with starting with an easier task and working up.

You should lower both ends and the side-stand all together. Lowering only front or only back will change the stability and steering twichiness.

The front you can easily and cheaply lower by loosening the 8 bolts that pinch the fork tubes and the 2 screws that hold up the fork bellows then slide the fork tubes up in the triple clamps. Have the bike well supported when you do this or you'll have a handful.

The rear needs a pair of replacement links in the suspension below the shock. Lowering links. There are some with multiple holes to make the suspension height adjustable. You can buy lowering links now and then sell them later if you decide that you're ready for full-height. You may even be able to find used ones.

I wanted to vote for getting used to riding with something that's not so tall. For a while you'll be learning about how different parking areas and lumpy intersections make the bike "odd" to handle. But the truth is that I've never lowered a bike, only had shorter ones first.

EDIT: You can get some lowering at the rear by turning the "preload" to "1" or full soft. The bike may or may not be full-height when you're not on it, but as soon as you sit on it it'll sink a few inches. Beware the side stand here too since it may not be as stable parked on some slanted surfaces. This is not the "correct" way to lower the back, but it may be enough to help temporarily. This is cheaper, but you'll have to learn to deal with the bike sinking softly on its suspension; lowering links may make the bike more predictable when you're parking or getting on.

Last edited by Grinnin; 05-28-2013 at 04:18 AM.
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-28-2013, 07:23 AM
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I'm 5' 11" with 32" inseam. My 2011 KLR was already lowered when I got it. ( Front forks are up about 1" )
Previous owner must have done it?

I do ride gravel and some abandoned roads, if not to badly washed out. I'm not by any means a "hot-dog" on this bike. I find no handling issues, on or off, road with my bike.

I wouldn't hesitate to advise anyone to go ahead and lower, if they had trouble getting their feet down to where they felt like they couldn't safely keep the bike from going over.

My son has plenty of off road experience, and he refuses to lower his Honda 650.
I know for sure, he's dropped it at least 3 times while we've been riding together.
Each time it was because he was on ground that was not level, and lost his footing.
Not because he was doing something difficult.

As suggested above, go ahead, lower it, and get experience, then decide if you want to put the bike back to original.

You might want to look into crash bars, if you are new to tall bikes.
I've found that doing leg exercises help with my ability to handle a bike.
I also ride a Honda Gold Wing that's plenty heavy. I've even taken that on gravel with out problems. You just have to know how to handle loose ground.
Riding off road is great training for riding motorcycles.

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post #4 of 7 Old 05-28-2013, 05:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWallace View Post
Hey Guys, Complete Newb question here. I just picked up my 1st bike this weekend. I was able to score a 2008 KLR for a killer price and low miles. The only thing the bike needs is a set of tires. Which brings up the question of lowering the bike. Im 5'9 and right now Im able to reach the ground on the balls of my feet. Im worried that once I put some tires with some better tread it's going to raise the bike more that Im comfortable with for such a new rider.
I already have a custom seat that helped a bit but I am a bit worried about me reaching the ground.
I guess my question is what is the best way to lower the KLR a bit and also the best economical. Im not really worried about bottom out I think since most of my riding will be side streets and fire roads. Nothing too gnarly for this guy.
Funny, this sounds exactly like my situation.
I just bought a 2009, and I'm 5'7", 30" or 31" inseam.

I lowered mine 2" in the rear and 1" up front. I'll probably raise the back up to just 1" in the rear shortly, mainly because lowering it seems to soften the rear suspension. I've got my preload adjusted to 5, and it's OK, but couldn't picture lowering it more. It feels like when the bike was stock height and the preload was adjusted to 1.
EDIT: See my thread on the kickstand too. I'm running it without ANY of the removable sections, and it's even still feeling too long sometimes. If I raise it back up 1" in the rear, it'll probably be perfect. Easy route out for you would be to just have a welder take 2.5" out of the kickstand and call it a day, if you are lowering it at least 1".

You can buy lowering links for the rear - the ones I bought have three sets of holes to allow lowering 1", 2", or 3". I can't imagine why you'd need to lower it 3". Installing the links was easy.

Up front, all you have to do is loosen the triple-tree bolts, and move the shocks up. Look for my thread - torque specs for the triple three were provided by helpful forum members.

I'm also about to remove a set of Michelin T63 knobbies that are almost new, as I've chosen to put a tire on it that resembles the stock tire.
I'd consider selling these Michelins. Not sure what shipping would be.
Or, the Michelins aren't cheap tires (well, I suppose they aren't expensive), but the ones I bought were - Shinkos only totalled $104. Even more expensive tires for this bike seem to ring in around $200-$250/set, which is less than the back tire on a crotch rocket.

Lots of people seem to push the SW Motech bars. I installed the Givi bars on my bike, in part because I figured with my first bike, I wanted the most disposable, easiest to replace option. My logic was - I'm already writing them off before I even buy them. So perhaps surprisingly, they seem really solid, they are nice. And no removal of the seat or tank required to install them. And they cost $100 less. I'd recommend them.

Last edited by geolemon; 05-28-2013 at 05:51 PM.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-28-2013, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: May 2013
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Thanks everybody for the advice.
The first few days have been really enjoyable on the bike. Ive just been sticking around the neighborhood for now just getting used to everything. Hopefully by the end of the month I can actually make it out of 3rd gear. LOL.

For those who have lowered the bike, have you noticed that it now rides soft, or the handling is different?
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-29-2013, 08:04 PM
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My KLR came lowered almost 2" when I got it and I rode it for a year. I just raised it to stock and while I am on tippy toes, it does handle the bumps and dips better I find. I would like to find a lowered seat but I am happy with the stock height. Bike looks 8 feet tall at stock


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post #7 of 7 Old 05-29-2013, 08:42 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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You know what - mine has a Sargent seat that's wider and lower, and more comfortable.
It's possible that one reason it was ok at stock height with the preload set to 1... And might be part of the lowering recipe for you
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