In this week's show, Todd Heslin talks us through his recent Bucket Racing experience. Also,
Lowering your motorcycle is a contentious topic, at least on the internet, as there are many keyboard warriors who will tell you "you don't need to touch the ground" or "you'll ruin the bikes geometry"
But, when your bike is simply too tall for you, this can ruin your spirit, ruin your confidence, and make you not want to ride it. I know from experience. I ride a Yamaha Tenere 700, and it's just a fraction too tall for me. It's fine on the tarmac, I can tip-toe it, or slide off the seat slightly to get one foot on the ground, but if you're off-road, and go to put a foot down, and there's no ground there. you're going to drop the bike, then burn precious energy picking it up. Being able to get your foot down on any terrain, in my view, is important. So I set about looking at the options to gain a precious few millimeters of ground purchase.
Note: This story revolves around the Tenere 700, but the options explored here are relevant to almost any motorcycle.
Firstly, that cushy throne can be replaced or altered to make life more comfortable or gain a few millimeters of foot-down potential. Start by simply checking if your bike has an adjustable seat. If not, maybe the manufacturer produces a low seat option, as was the case with the Tenere 700. If there is no low seat option, you can take it to an auto upholsterer, or someone like Jake and Jane Whitaker at JW Seat Covers and get the foam replaced/altered/some removed to sit lower. It may be that the foam gets completely replaced and the new stuff can be reshaped.
This is the before and after of my T7, showing the factory seat and the low seat. You can hardly see the difference, but you can feel it.
The benefit of lowering your seat is that you retain the factory ground clearance, which if you go off-road might be important, but speaking of ground clearance, our 2nd option is lowering links.
If retaining ground clearance is less important to you, then Lowering Links could be the way to go. Before you read any further, check to see if your bike has adjustable ride height. Bikes like the Suzuki DR650 have a couple of different mounting points at the bottom of the mainshock which can lower the bike a bit for you. If your bike does not have this option, read on...
In the case of the Tenere 700, Yamaha does supply lowering links to drop the bike around 18mm, but it just so happens YNZ is out of stock. Never fear, there is now an aftermarket option in NZ. The team at Whites Powersports a.k.a bits4bikes.co.nz now distribute KoubaLinks, who make a wide range of lowering links for all sorts of different motorcycles, not just adventure bikes. I was able to source some KoubaLinks for the Tenere 700, they do two variations, one 25mm (1 inch) drop and 38mm (1.5 inch) drop. Given I have the factory low seat, I went for the 25mm drop.
Installation was easy, jack up the bike, remove the 17mm nuts, take the load off the rear wheel, remove the bolts and factory links, then put it all back together with the new Kouba Links. The chain needed a little adjustment as the swingarm was at a different angle, also the forks up front need to be risen through the triple clamp a little to even the bike up.
If you know me, you'll know that I'm a sucker for a bit of anodized aluminum, and on top of the change in ride height, I reckon these fancy new black Kouba Links look sexy as hell. A nice little bit of bling for the T7 that you wouldn't see if you weren't looking, and will likely be covered in mud in a day or so, but I know they're there and that's all that matters...
Now, call me a Luddite, but I hardly notice the lowering when riding the bike. What I do notice is I can now swing a leg over the bike while standing on the ground, instead of having to stand on the peg first to get a leg over, which is a big difference. Also, I have much more confidence on the bike now, as I can get a foot down easily in tricky situations.
Since installing the low seat and lowering link, I have completed the 42 Traverse. The slight difference is barely noticeable but has subconsciously improved my confidence as I am able to tackle more obstacles and complete more difficult sections than I ever have before. The slight drop in ground clearance has not really been an issue. Not that I have noticed anyway. If you're on an adventure bike and are worrying about ground clearance, then maybe think about a solid bash plate and some radiator protection.
So, there you have it, a series of options for getting a bit more of your foot on the ground. End of the day, do what works for you, don't listen to the idiots on the internet. Some of them are purists, some of them are just parrots, and some of them moonlight as protestors outside parliament with tinfoil hats. 🤔
Do what you need to, to be confident on your motorcycle, and to have fun, that's the main thing.
Massive thanks to Bayride motorcycles for sourcing me the Yamaha low seat option, if you're ever in Tauranga, drop in and see the team, they're an awesome bunch of people.
Also thanks to Whites Powersports a.k.a Bits4bikes.co.nz who sent me the Kouba links to test out for this story. I'll continue testing and post an update to this story after a few more hours of seat time.
Click THIS link to check out the Koubalinks for yourself.
Also check out my Youtube channel for the installation and testing video on both the seat, the KoubaLinks, and a whole bunch more.