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Gary Semics

Top 5 Bike Setup Adjustments

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It doesn’t matter if you’re riding a 65 or a 450, there are many adjustments that are necessary in order to have your bike fitting you like a glove.  Here are the top five.

1. Setting the rider sag on the rear shock spring.

2. Setting the pre-load on the front forks.

3. Adjusting the angle of the handlebars in the bar mounts.

4. Adjusting the angle to the levers (clutch and front brake).

5. Adjusting the height of the rear brake pedal.

The reasons these are so important are…

1. Setting the rider sag on the rear shock spring.

2. Setting the pre-load on the front forks.

Numbers one and two are critical for balancing the chassis. For example, if the rear shock spring has too much pre-load on the shock spring, the rear of the bike will be too high, which will make the front too low. Not only will you be handy caped from the action of the suspension not work as well, but also the bike will not steer well eight.  In this case the front will want to turn too sharply, maybe knife in and tuck.  The frontend will also be more likely to headshake.

On the other hand, if the pre-load on the rear shock spring is set too soft.  Of course, the rear of the bike will be too low, which will make the front too high.  With this setup the bike will not steer well, and will be likely that the front wheel will push out in the corners. The bike will also want to stand up in the corners. Of course, the same goes for the front suspension’s pre-load adjustments being set too high or low.

The rear shock spring on full size bikes, like, 125, 250 and up should have between 105 and 110 mm of rider sag.  Rider sag, means with the rider sitting or standing in the central location.  Free sag should be between 15 and 35 mm.  Free sag is just from the bike’s own weight.  Of course, the first measurement for both of these adjustments have to be measured while the bike is on the stand with the suspension fully extended. For smaller bikes, check your owner’s manual for the recommended setting.

3. Adjusting the angle of the handlebars in the bar mounts.

This will affect what is known as the “Rider Compartment”.  This is the distance between the foot pegs and the handle grips. To start with the way the handlebar is made, the height and bend of the bar should match your preferences for your height, arm length and just what you prefer.  The problem is, most C Class riders don’t know what they prefer.  The only way to know is to try a lot of different bars.  These different bars will also depend of the chassis of the bike. Even if a bar doesn’t fit a C Rider, but he using it for a long time anyway, he will get used to it and think it’s the best bar for him or her.  For example, let’s say, he bends these bars and has to buy new bars.  He gets lucky and gets the perfect bars for him.  He will not like them on the first day of riding, but by the second day he will like them better. 

Whatever bar you have, adjust them in the bar mounts so the grips are parallel to the ground when the bike is on the ground with you sitting in the central location. This “Central Location” is when you are sitting in the front pocket of the seat and your eyes and straight up over the handlebar mounts.

4. Adjusting the angle to the levers (clutch and front brake).

If you are having trouble keeping your elbows up and out away from your sides, this all starts with your hand position on the bars.  If your hands are not grabbing the grips high enough (known as a high over grip) you will not be able to ride with high elbows.  In this case it’s better to adjust the levers down at a lower angle (about 45 degrees down).  The front brake lever should be a little lower then the clutch, because of using the front brake while you go from the braking hand position, to the accelerating hand position (known as the “Re-Grip).

Once you have mastered the “High Grip and the Re-Grip) you should begin to move the levers up, in order to find your sweet spot.  But remember, the front brake should always be set a little lower then the clutch.

5. Adjusting the height of the rear brake pedal.

While the bike is on the ground, the rear brake should be adjusted about a ¼ inch higher then the foot peg.  This is because you have to be able to apply it hard, while your foot is pivoting on the foot peg from the arch of your foot. You have to be able to do this while you are standing with your weight back as far as possible.  If you are used to having your rear brake adjusted lower, at first, you will not like this higher adjustment, especially when you are sitting down. Especially, if you were using the rear brake, while sitting, and keeping your foot on the peg. This is one of the things where you can’t have the best of both worlds, instead you have to compromise a little.  If you have the rear brake adjusted low enough, so you can keep your foot of the peg and use it, while you’re sitting on the front part of the seat for a corner, you will not be able to reach it when you’re standing with your body weight back.  And this is the body position where you should be braking the hardest.

There are many other “Bike Setup” adjustments that every rider should make according to their height, weight and skill level.  Settings like;

- Fork and shock springs for rider weight and skill level.

- How to test and adjusting the compression and rebound clickers on the front forks and rear shock.

- Testing and adjusting the high-speed compression adjuster on the rear shock.

- How to test and adjust the height of the front forks in the triple clamps.

- How to test and adjust the jetting of the carburetor (2 strokes only).

- Setting the tire pressure.

I would much rather race a stock bike that is adjusted properly, then race a full-on Works Bike that is out of adjustment.  You probably don’t realize it yet, but your bike setup is extremely important.  Why do you think the top pros spend sssooo much time TESTING!!!

If you really want to get your bike dialed in and fitting you like a glove, you may be interested in my Bike Setup DVD which is on sale now for just 9.98. https://gsmxs.com/shop/motocross-bike-setup/

 

Ride hard, ride smart and have fun,

Gary

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Gary, the new bikes are coming with 4 bar mount positions. Can you comment on how to position bar front to back?

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On 2/27/2019 at 4:20 PM, gatorfan said:

Gary, the new bikes are coming with 4 bar mount positions. Can you comment on how to position bar front to back?

I'm not aware of 4 bar mount positions, only 2.  Please explain? 

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Posted (edited)

There are 2 sets of holes in the top triple clamp - forward and back - in which to mount the bar clamps to the triple clamps.  In addition, the bar clamps themselves are eccentric, so if you rotate the bar clamps 180 degrees the bars can be moved forward or  back in this fashion as well. So 2 holes in the triple clamp and 2 positions for the clamps themselves nets you 4 ways to position the bars in terms of front to back before you even think about rotating them.

https://www.kawasaki.com/products/2019-KX250?cm_re=MPP-_-PRODUCTTRIMLIST-_-VEHICLEDETAILS#features-scroll

This has become standard.

Edited by gatorfan

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On 3/4/2019 at 3:38 PM, gatorfan said:

There are 2 sets of holes in the top triple clamp - forward and back - in which to mount the bar clamps to the triple clamps.  In addition, the bar clamps themselves are eccentric, so if you rotate the bar clamps 180 degrees the bars can be moved forward or  back in this fashion as well. So 2 holes in the triple clamp and 2 positions for the clamps themselves nets you 4 ways to position the bars in terms of front to back before you even think about rotating them.

https://www.kawasaki.com/products/2019-KX250?cm_re=MPP-_-PRODUCTTRIMLIST-_-VEHICLEDETAILS#features-scroll

This has become standard.

Oh yes, I realized that, but never thought of it as two more adjustments, beside the two holes in the top triple clamp.  But, you are right, that is actually 4 adjustments. Of course, these 4 adjustments allow forward and back adjustments for the handlebars.  These adjustments effect, what is called, the rider compartment.  The other part of this rider compartment are the foot pegs. Imagine two vertical lines straight up.  One up from the handle grips and the other up from the foot pegs. I say, the handle grips bc the sweep of the bars also effects this measurement. Then measure, horizontally the distance between those two lines.  This is your rider compartment. Taller riders, especially with long arms, require more rider compartment.  Of course, shorter riders require less. 

In case you, or anyone, is interested, all of those and much more are explained and shown in my Body Positions and Movements DVD.

 

SZ_VO3_DVD1_front_cover.jpg

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