10 July 2012

Ride Height Adjustment

For most people height adjustment on a motorcycle means to lower it to have a chance of "flat footing" the bike with both feet on the ground. This is very popular with the ladies for the simple reason that they often are a little bit shorter than the guys.

Fortunately, I don't have the problem of short legs. Quite the other way around sometimes. I have a 34" jeans inseam and have no trouble riding KTMs, GS Adventures, Tiger XC, and so on.

Now, the Tiger Roadie I have at the moment doesn't give me trouble in that regard - it has a good height, not too high, not too low, but it has one downside: I scrape the foot pegs quite often. I have already shortened the peg feelers on both sides and if I continue to ride like this I fear that sooner rather than later I will touch down with hard-mounted parts. The side stand switch is one of the common victims in that regard.

As I don't want that to happen because it is a) dangerous and b) annoying, I was looking around for ways to raise the bike slightly. I didn't want to go very far with that, just a little bit more ground clearance and therefore lean angle. I found a company in England - Lust Racing - which has so-called "jack up kits" for various bikes, including the Tiger 800. Normally used for racers or wannabe racers to change the handling of the bike, there are various lengths to chose from to optimize just for the situation / rider / required ride change.

After some back and forth, measuring, and discussing this on the Tiger 800 Forum I ordered a +15mm kit. This is the shortest they have and probably just right for what I was looking for. The kit came in today and I installed it right away. These things are so easy to install - it took me about 15 minutes to get them on. Here are some photos:

Originals left, new ones on the right
And yes - shorter "dog bones" make for a higher ride. The concept is that the swing am connects to the bottom of the rear spring with these connectors as can be seen here:

New "dog bones" installed

The longer the connector, the more the bike "hangs down". The same concept is of course used for lowering kits where longer connectors are used. The ones you see above are just slightly shorter than the original ones, but they do create a noticeable change (more than the difference in length).

After I installed them I did a short test ride and noticed no ill effects. I also didn't notice too much of a change in handling which is exactly what I wanted. The bike might handle just a little bit sharper, fall a bit quicker into a corner, but really, there isn't much of a difference.

After that I moved the front forks down in the fork clamps to also gain a little bit of height there. Overall I got 4mm in the front, and 15mm in the back, the bike is now just a little bit higher, when sitting on it I barely notice it. The good part of that small increase is that I have no troubles at all with the side and center stand. When the bike is on the center stand, there is still 10mm between rear wheel and ground, an added benefit is that it goes up on the stand a little bit easier. The side stand is also okay, there is barely any difference in lean.

So far so good, next weekend will be a longer test ride - we will ride to Lake Tahoe on Saturday and back on Sunday. Really looking forward to it!


  1. I didn't realize changing the dog bones would change the height. Good to know.

    Lake Tahoe sounds like fun. I haven't been there since 2001 and the smoke from the fires kept us from seeing to much. Take lots of pics. I'm looking forward to the ride report.

  2. I didn't even know such thing exist. I hate scraping pegs, especially the grinding noise that come with it.
    Looking forward to some pics from the ride to Tahoe. Enjoy and ride safely!!!

  3. Yes, the dog bones are a fairly cheap and simple way to lower or raise the rear of a bike. Both come with implications of course:

    1) Raising the rear means you change the steering angle to be steeper - the bike handles sharper, quicker, might feel more "top heavy" just because it turns in a bit sharper. A slight increase like I have done, doesn't do all too much in that regard and that is actually good in my opinion. Rarely you can also raise the front slightly, but mostly not by as much as the rear.

    2) Lowering the rear can be done with longer dog bones, the bike just hangs lower. You loose ground clearance and get a slower steering if you can't adjust the front with the same value. As long as you don't lower too much, this should be possible by moving the front forks up (so that they stick out a bit) in the fork clamps. Lowers the weight, gets the seat closer to the ground - lots of advantages for shorter people, but it comes with a price (see why I raised mine ...)

    Yeah, we are really looking forward to the Lake Tahoe trip - planning on riding mostly backroads and if we can do it and feel like it we even want to take the route through Yosemite on the way back. I'll post photos!