Are you a Harley-Davidson biker struggling with the seat of your bike and want to lower it but don’t know how to? If yes, then you have just found the perfect blog for you.
How to lower Road King is a common question that many short bikers or women bikers have. It’s actually pretty easy once you know the right ways to lower the seat of your bike. Lowering your bike involves raising the fork tubes in the triple clamps, adjusting the suspension preload, installing the lowering links, shortening the suspension, or installing a shorter seat. However, remember that you shouldn’t lower your bike too much, and otherwise it’ll become uncomfortable to drive.
In this article, you will get to know all about lowering the seat, how to lower Road King, are there any drawbacks to lowering your seat, and more. Stick around to get all the answers that you are looking for.
How to Lower Road King
It is a fairly common complaint from bikers that when they are sitting on a Harley-Davidson Road King, their feet barely touch the ground. This doesn’t just apply to short riders, but also for a few tall riders. While being vertically challenged doesn’t necessarily impair veteran riders, they simply slide their butts off the seat and stand on just one leg at a stop, not being able to get your feet solidly on the ground could be quite intimidating.
While it isn’t possible to make the rider taller, it is always possible to lower the seat of the bike. It is possible to lower the seat of your Harley-Davidson bike. Each method has a few advantages, including a lower seat height, but they also have a few shortcomings.
1. Raise the fork tubes in the triple clamps
At the front of your Road King, there are two metal pieces known as triple clamps (upper and lower). They are responsible for clamping the fork tubes in place. The triple clamps will pivot on the steering stem, which allows the bars to turn.
You will notice that on most motorcycles, including the Harley-Davidson Road King, as they come from the factories, the fork tubes stick out slightly through the top. Loosening the pinch bolts on the upper and lower triple clamps will allow you to slide the fork tubes up, which will effectively lower the front-end of your bike.
You should make sure that you move both fork tubes up by the same amount. Make use of a ruler to be precise. There aren’t exactly measurements that you are shooting for. However, it would be best to be conservative (1 inch can be a lot) to avoid any major changes in handling. When you are done adjusting, you should re-tighten the pinch bolts by utilizing the factory torque specs for your specific bike.
Drawbacks to this method
Lowering the front end in relation to the rear will change how your bike handles. Manufacturers set the fork height for neutral handling. By lowering the front end, you will be manipulating the motorcycle’s rake and trail settings. Without getting too technical, it’ll make your motorcycle quicker turning at the expense of reducing high-speed stability.
If you stay conservative, you might not notice any handling differences. Go overboard, and it could start upsetting the balance of the Road King, or worse, the front tier could hit the fender over big bumps (or with the low fender, the fender might hit the lower triple clamp), which could cause you to crash. For checking the front wheel clearance, you could use tie-down straps for compressing the front suspension until it bottoms out.
2. Adjust the suspension preload
If you have lowered the front end significantly in comparison to the rear, you’ll have to get the chassis back to a neutral attitude. The easiest way of doing this would be by adjusting the rear shock preload. Preload is essentially the amount of tension applied to the coil spring of the rear shock as the bike is sitting without a rider on it. By changing how much, the spring is compressed in the static state, you’ll be able to adjust the height of the rear of the bike.
Preload will come set from the factory for an average weight rider. Lighter or heavier riders compress the spring more or less than average when they’re sitting on the bike. When you’re adjusting the preload to the factory recommended range for your weight, this will ensure good handling characteristics.
Adjusting the rear shock preload should be done by loosening the pinch bolt of the threaded collar located at the top of the spring and then turning the threaded collar counterclockwise. Some motorcycles come with a preload adjuster dial that you can easily turn manually. By reducing preload, you will be able to lower the rear ride height. Start off by lowering your seat’s height to the lowest possible setting that falls within the factory recommended Sag range. If you still aren’t happy with the height reduction of the seat, you can continue to lower the seat further. However, you should be aware that it could negatively impact the handling of the Road King.
Some bikes with more sophisticated suspensions will also come with a front fork preload adjustment. This is another method that you can use for lowering it further, you should just be aware that you will be sacrificing your ride.
Drawbacks to this method
Springs have a working range that is determined by numerous factors like the weight of the rider, luggage, passengers, and more. If you’re staying within the recommended Sag range for your motorcycle, your motorcycle will continue handling the way it was designed to. You should check the sag settings of your bike for determining how long you can go. If you cannot get the bike low enough by reducing preload in the spring’s limits, you might require a different spring. If you decide to go lower than the recommended range, you will bottom out sooner and increase the harshness of the ride.
3. Install lowering links
Many bikes come with a single rear shock connected to the swingarm through a linkage system. The link arms will multiply swingarm movement, which will allow for a rising-rate of shock damping. The first movement could be soft for small bumps and be progressively harder for larger hits. Longer “lowering” links will effectively move the bottom shock mount closer to the ground, hence reducing the seat height.
Lowering the links will allow you to lower the bike anywhere from 0.5 inches to 2 inches, depending on the bike and lowering links available. Lowering links could be a fairly cost-effective way of lowering your rear end, and they’ll be easy to install. Suspension travel isn’t also affected by installing the lowering links.
Drawbacks to this method
The linkage system is an integral part of a bike’s rear suspension. Each linkage system is specifically designed for working with specific shock damping, ground clearance, spring rate, and more.
When you’re adding longer lowering links, it’ll change the leverage ratio, which could cause all sorts of problems. You may find that the rear shocks are bottoming out sooner and feel softer in the last portion of the stroke. Sometimes, the effects could be unpredictable.
By lowering the shock position, you will also end up making it more vulnerable to impacts on the trail. Another issue to keep in mind would be that you have moved the rear wheel closer to the rear fender on big hits, which could lead to a potential crash. You should check with the lowering link manufacturer for ensuring that the lowering links offer enough rear fender clearance for your bike.
4. Shorten the suspension
Most bikes come with more than enough suspension travel for casual off-road riders. You might be willing to sacrifice the suspension travel in an effort to gain a slightly lower seat height. Shortening the front fork and rear shock will require disassembling delicate components and need specialized tools. This is a task that requires the expertise of a trained suspension technician. You will need someone who thoroughly understands how to lower the bike properly. When done correctly, it could be one of the safest and most effective ways of reducing seat height.
Another option to shorten the rear suspension will be an aftermarket shock. Some aftermarket shocks come with a “low” version that can lower the rear of your bike by 1–2 inches. Swapping the rear shock will be a fairly easy task, and aftermarket shocks are of higher quality than the stock units.
The advantage of having the suspension professionally shortened is that the shop will customize the height, damping, stiffness, and more to match your height, riding style, and specific weight.
Drawbacks to this method
Getting the suspension professionally lowered at a suspension shop won’t be cheap. You will have to spend anywhere between $200 and $300 for lowering either the front or rear suspensions. Meanwhile, aftermarket shocks would cost anywhere between $500 and $1,500. Moreover, keep in mind that if you reduce the suspension travel significantly, you should reduce the motorcycle’s ground clearance and its ability of soaking up big bumps, rocks, and holes in the trail.
5. Install a shorter seat
A shorter motorcycle seat can help you avoid any unintended consequences of lowering the bike’s suspension, such as less suspension travel, reduced ground clearance, or a harsher ride. You’ll be able to lose up to 2 inches with a low seat, and it’ll be a quick and easy installation.
Some “low” replacement seats can be purchased right off the shelf. Further, there are custom seat makers who have expertise in crafting a lower seat from your stock pan. All you have to do is send them your stock seat, instruct them on what you’re after, and wait for them to send the seat back. Further, you can also get low seat kits for some models that include a foam and seat cover that you can install yourself.
You can also try to mod your own seat. Like many other things in life, this type of work is easier said than done. These staples, for one, are driven into hard plastic using an air stapler. You will require something similarly heavy-duty for getting them back in. How to know how much foam should you shave off? What will you use for shaving it off? Will it be possible to stretch the cover tight enough such that it doesn’t look baggy and wrinkled?
If none of these things put you off, you should do a bit of research on the basic kinds of foam used in motorcycle seats, look for a foam supplier and go for it. This is the cheapest way to go.
Drawbacks of this method
Complete aftermarket seats can be quite expensive and they range between $160 and $600. Further, there are a few companies where low foam kits start at around $140 and add $20 if you wish to install it on your seat pan.
If you want to fabricate your own low seat, you will require a few special tools and your seat might end up looking like a first-grade art project once you’re done.
Another thing that you should be careful of when installing low seats is the thinner foam, which could be uncomfortable on long rides. A deeply “scalloped” seat could end up trapping you in one position, restricting your body movement and causing discomfort during off-road riding.
Does lowering the motorcycle affect speed?
By lowering the front end of your bike, you are essentially manipulating the motorcycle’s rake and trail settings. Without getting too technical, this will make your motorcycle quicker turning at the expense of reducing high-speed stability. If you’re careful and don’t make any major adjustments, you won’t notice any differences in speed or handling differences.
How many inches can I lower my motorcycle seat?
The ground clearance factor will mean that there is also a limit to how much you’re able to lower your Harley-Davidson bike. Generally, it is recommended that 1.5 to 2.0 inches is the limit that you can lower your motorcycle seat.
How to lower a cruiser bike?
There are two ways bikers can lower their Harley-Davidson cruiser bikes – by changing the seat or replacing the shocks, or the bike’s suspension. Trading out the stock shocks for the aftermarket shocks that lower your bike beyond the factory setting will alter the handling of your motorcycle and must be considered with this option.
Will a lowered bike give better handling?
When you are lowering your bike, you are also lowering its center of gravity. This means that your bike will handle slightly better in certain circumstances. However, the negative is that your initial ground clearance will be decreased. Further, things that you used to clear like speed bumps or curbs could be a problem now.