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There is something special about the look of a lowered motorcycle. A lowered bike looks fast even when it isn’t moving. Maybe it’s an optical illusion, but lowering a motorcycle makes it look as though it has somehow stretched out in length and has gained a more aggressive stance and meaner attitude.
The improved looks alone are enough reason to lower your motorcycle; especially once you realize how easily and affordably you can do the job. Most lowering kits on the market these days can easily be installed using basic garage tools. Chances are, if you can find a way to lift your motorcycle’s wheels off the ground using the center stand or a jack stand, and you have a decent set of tools and basic mechanical knowhow, you have everything that you need to get the job done.
Companies like Baron Custom, LA Choppers, Arlen Ness, Bagger Werx, Burly Brand and Progressive Suspension all offer a selection of lowering kits for Harley Davidson and metric cruiser motorcycles. The laws of supply and demand would indicate by the fact that there are so many manufactures offering lowering kits, that there are a lot of riders out there lowering a wide range of bike models.
Here at Cruiser Customizing we see riders spending a lot of money on chrome or blacked-out accessories, exhaust systems, custom wheels, intake kits, different handlebars, etc, etc, etc… for their bikes in order to achieve a custom look, but dollar for dollar, lowering your bike is one of the least expensive and most impactful modifications that you can make towards improving the looks of your motorcycle.
There are practical benefits to lowering your motorcycle that go beyond just the way it makes your bike look. Lowering your motorcycle will improve your footing at stop signals or when climbing on and off of the bike. For tall riders, this may not be a problem, but for riders with shorter legs and often times for women riders, the standard heights of many motorcycles can make it challenging and uncomfortable to maintain balance when the bike is not moving.
Lowering your motorcycle also lowers the center of gravity making your bike feel lighter and less top heavy and thereby improving your ability to corner and maneuver your bike. Lowering your motorcycle reduces frontal wind drag and improves aerodynamics allowing your bike to cut through the wind with less effort. It makes your bike less prone to those annoying side gusts that can catch you by surprise and throw you off of your line.
One thing to be mindful of when lowering your bike however is decreased ground clearance. Often times, a shorter kickstand will be needed and you may need to alter your riding style slightly if you have a tendency towards aggressive lean angles in the corners.
Aggressive riders who lean hard into corners may find that they are grinding their floorboards, mufflers or other parts of the undercarriage more frequently. This can be compensated for by hanging off the inside of the bike more in corners similar to a road racer which will keep the motorcycle slightly more upright while still maintaining the ability to take tight corners quickly and aggressively.
That being said, the benefits of lowering your bike far outweigh the loss of ground clearance. Most riders start by lowering the rear end of their bikes. On dual shock motorcycles, this is can be done by using a lowering kit that bolts to the lower rear shock mounts or by using shorter length shock absorbers, or by a combination of the two. Lowering the rear of a twin shock bike is about as easy as it gets because all you need to do is unbolt the shocks from the lower shock mounts, bolt the lowering blocks to the shock lower mounts and bolt the shocks to the lowering block; a simple 4 bolt operation and you are done.
Harley Softails and single shock applications can be slightly more involved and time consuming because they involve more disassembly in order to gain access to the lower shock mount or shock linkage. Once you have access to the lower shock mount or shock linkage, it is a relatively easy and straightforward installation.
Front end lowering kits are also available for many bike models in addition to rear lowering kits. Lowering the front end as well as the back end is a common modification and will help maintain the original steering head angle and give the bike a more balanced look and ride. Many riders opt to only lower the rear end and that is fine, but it is not recommended to install a front end lowering kit unless you have also lowered the rear end. Doing so will steepen the steering head angle and may cause the motorcycle to become less stable.
Installing a front end lowering kit is a more involved process, but still relatively easy and straightforward using the provided installation instructions. Progressive Suspension offers a selection of front end lowering kits for various Harley Davidson and metric motorcycles. Their Cruise Control line of kits contains progressively wound fork springs that are shorter than stock and become stiffer as they compress due to the progressive winding. A progressively wound fork spring works extremely well for a lowered front end because the forks remain supple over small choppy bumps and resist bottoming better than the straight rate fork springs that typically comes stock in most bikes.
The Progressive Suspension Monotube Fork Cartridge Lowering Kit is available for 1997 and newer Harley Davidson FL Touring models. The Monotube Lowering Kit swaps the stock damping rods for more modern and better performing cartridge units that improve damping, braking and overall front end performance. Progressive Suspension currently only offers the Monotube Lowering kit for Harley FL Models, but they do offer standard height (non-lowered) versions of this kit for Harley Davidson Softail and Sportster models as well as for Honda GL1800 Goldwing models.
Whether you want to lower your motorcycle to achieve a certain look, or to achieve better comfort and increased control of the bike, lowering your motorcycle has never been easier with the variety of lowering kit options available today. Learn more by watching this week’s Tip Of The Week and visit us here at Cruiser Customizing to find out what types of lowering kit options may be available for your bike.