Ever wanted to ride that tall enduro, but when you climbed it you had to tiptoe? Or maybe you couldn't touch ground at all? Or maybe you already have one hell of a tall bike, but you don't feel like you're 100% in control of situation off the road as you can't prop up yourself almost... nowhere? High five! My story is similar.
The story of my fall... and legs too short for enduro
Of course, when I was buying my DR, I tried to sit on it and check, how I fit into the saddle, being just 164cm tall. I could (and still can) rich the ground with my toes on tarmac. No big deal.
But when the terrain gets more difficult, it's more tricky for me to prop up or even stop, when I really need to.
This, unfortunately, led me to many bike drops and legs crushes, which didn't encourage me to ride off road more. Honestly, when DR mashed my ankle so hard I had problems with gears switching for few days, offroad riding started to really offput me. This was suppose to be fun! But it's not, when you drop the bike on nearly all obstacles and when you see the next one, you're already dropped the bike again in your mind.
Generally, it's said that tiptoeing should suffice on an enduro bike. Pro riders don't have the need to touch the ground at all.
But as a plain amateur I decided that instead of crushing my legs and loosing hope for my offroad riding, I will try to lower DR and see if anything changes in my riding comfort and in the frequency of my graceful falls from the bike.
What are the methods for lowering the bike?
In general, there are 3 methods of lowering the bike:
- lowering the seat
- changing links for other sizes in the shock linkage
- raising the fork tubes
I've already tried the seat lowering, but it brought me maybe 1cm closer to the ground. I could have cut more of the meat inside maybe, but I didn't want to make the seat rock hard. I don't have an iron butt and I like to take DR for long distance trips, so for some softener inside the seat I'm always thankful.
So further in this post we will consider using lower links and fork tubes raising.
How low can we go with lowering links?
To answear this question we've made 3 different sizes of lowering links - S, M and L.
Every pair was cut by a waterjet CNC machine from the best aluminium alloy ( PA6/2017A) used in the automotive industry. Apart from the links, we've also had to cut out spacers, also from the same alloy.
The saddle at the beginning was 87cm high (counting the seat lowering I've made earlier).
The saddle height after installing each of the 3 different lowering links pairs we've made, looks like this:
|Seat height [cm]
|Change from original [cm]
However, for safety, we've also checked the suspension travel for every of those links to see if the rear wheel would hit the fender during more aggressive offroad riding, when the suspension would get fully commpressed. (Check video at the post end for details of this test.)
To summarize, the L-sized link failed this test. Although, it can still be good for less hardcore riders as you really have to try ride hard to fully compress the suspension.
But when it comes to M-sized link, there's no option you would ever hit the fender with the wheel. So we lost 3cm of seat height safely.
What about fork tubes raising?
Forks tubes also impact the seat height, although maybe it's not intuitive. So it's worth to try raising them, when you want to loose few centimeters more.
However, there's a maximum value you can raise the fork tubes. The spot where the tubes start to get smaller in diameter is a start of a no-go zone. Keep the triple clamp up this point.
In my DR I've raised the fork tubes as far as I could (2.2cm) and that made me loose another 1cm of height in the saddle.
With M-sized lowering link and fork tubes raising, DR lost 5.5cm in seat height! So with this I can lay my feet flat on the ground now.
Was lowering DR worth the effort?
I've tested the bike on Trans Euro Trail in Serbia and Monenegro this year and the difference was tremendous! I’ve covered sections with which I had problems earlier and somehow, knowing that I can prop up myself anytime made me feeling so comfortable that I... rarely even tried to pull out my legs to prop up ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This is one of the best DR upgrades we've done so far for me. Finally I'm having all the fun that comes from offroad riding (งᗒ‿ᗕ)ง
So if you're a short rider like me - I can definitely recommend this. Of course, the suspension travel is also shorter with the lowering link, but for my riding it’s still more than sufficient.
More details, please!
If you want to see more details on how we measured the seat height and tested the suspension travel, when the lowering links are installed, check our video:
Where to get lowering links?
If you're also considering lowering of your DR, you can check our lowering links: [ (∩ᴗ‿ᴗ)⊃━☆ﾟ.* link will be here when we will have the lowering links for DR available]