compiled & edited by Kristian #562
Please read the Disclaimer before attempting any work in this FAQ.
Installation Instructions (Thanks to Tom#654 & David#888)
Custom Lowering, Koubalinks etc.
Lowering Kit FAQ
For the F650ST and F650 - Not for GS or PD models, and all the kits ARE different.
If you don't have the BMW F bike shop manual, get one. The instructions that come with the lowering kit continually refer you to it.
F650 and F650ST: Lowering kits are available to lower either of these models by 50mm (approximately 2 in.). The kit costs $268 plus installation. It has been a popular accessory – especially on the F650ST – for those with shorter inseams. Changes to ride quality are minimal – especially for lighter riders.
Q. Does the Classic F lowering kit work on the ST?
A1. The ST has it's own separate lowering kit, so I would guess that the Funduro kit would not fit. Mason#631
A2. My wife has a lowered ST. The side stand and the center stand are different from the Funduro. The lever arms change on the center stand and that is the hardest bike to get up on the stand I have ever dealt with. She basically never uses the center stand. Claude #312, Annapolis.
The Lowering Kit comprises:
A Lower Side and Center Stands (though my local dealer wanted to charge me extra for the lowered center stand)
Longer Rear Linkages (Idler Arm Close-up viewed from underneath the bike, the linkages are either side of the Middle Bit) that go on either side of the assembly holding bottom of shock onto Rear Fork assembly.
A Two-piece “block” that goes into the shock to reduce its travel. This step REQUIRES a workshop shock-absorber compression device to install it.
Since the F650 lowering kit (linkages
and stands) fits a Pegaso, its only makes sense that a Pegaso center stand
will fit a F650. Also, the F650 kit is available from
http://www.blackmans.com/ for $268. mtiberio
What you can do easily:
Install new lower center and side stands:
Installing the lower center stand FIRST (original, taller side stand height helps to install new, lower center stand)
Rear linkage replacement requires taking off and reinstalling rear tire and re-tightening chain. See the Rear Wheel Removal FAQ for details.
Install the block in the shock.
Then Raise the fork tubes through the clamps. (Upper Clamp, marked yellow, Lower Clamps) (Does not require disassembly of entire fairing / instrument cluster of bike). You must prop the bike before undoing these clamps.
The BMW book shop labour on the entire job is about 3+ hours.
We bought a bike with a lowering kit and Annette complained of a rough ride. Investigation showed that with the kit there is noticeably less rear suspension travel. This is due to the bit in the shock mentioned above. Of course if you don't use the spacer the travel may be limited when the tire hits the fender. We were able to get the stock parts and converted back. Then I dropped the front about 10mm and we run only a small amount of preload. This works better for us than the kit. With this setup the bike wasn't as stable on the side stand as desired, so I shortened the stock stand about ¾ inch (19mm). A friend also had Sergeant do some shaping on the seat which helped a lot. Charlie#814.
To the best of my knowledge, and I have never actually seen one, the (Classic) lowering kit has two shorter suspension linkages, a 1 or 2 piece shock insert, maybe a side and centre stand. The front forks are the same, just lowered in the clamps by about an inch or two. This also changes the dynamics of the forks slightly, I guess also changing the sensitivity to harmonic vibration. Adding the extra 50ml of oil (Manual states 600ml per leg Standard, Lowered is 650ml) should make the forks a little stiffer, a tiny bit less springy, since there is less air space to compress. Plus the extra oil might increase dampening slightly (I don’t know for sure as I have not seen the inside of the forks yet). Or it at least changes the point that the suspension is subject to harmonic vibration. The standard fork setup is a bit springy and firming it up a tiny bit obviously helps with the lowered geometry, I don’t know why. Glad they mentioned it in the Manual or we'd never know about it. HsN.
I have an original BMW lowering kit for it. Links for the rear shock and lower side/centerstand. Takes about an hour to lower/rise it. The springs on the side and centerstand is the trickiest part to attach. All in all easy to do. Aridriel
So far I'm considering the following options to lower the bike: 1. BMW low seat $190 2. Wunderlich very low seat $500+ 3. Having Mr. Ed's or Rick Mayer modify stock seat $100 - $225 4. BMW factory lowering kit $278 5. Kouba Links $150 RubberDown '97 F650ST (hers)
How do I know my Bike is Lowered
Most Grateful for the Lowering-Links Photos provided by Langlois
These suspension components are from 2 different 1997 BMW F650's, YMMV if you have a GS or a newer bike!
Standard Link, normal ride height
Standard link, center to center
Standard link on a complete suspension system
Complete NORMAL suspension (unlowered)
Long and short sidestand compared, note that the shorter one has a sharper bend in it.
Short Center Stand (on bike) normal one (dirty)
THIS is the lowering link IN the bike
Another view, note that the link is LONGER than the "normal" height one! I could not get a measurement (but will)
A Short( I think) sidestand.
Q. My wife has a new to her 1999 f650. I ordered a used lowering kit and the 2 shock linkages appear to be the same length as is already on the bike. The distance between the holes is 2 inches. Can anyone tell me if this is stock or lowered. I am really confused now. Also what is the approximate length difference in the side stand. I am new to the f650 and I have read the FAQs but could not find this information. The person that I got the bike from said it was not lowered and the person that I got the lowering kit from said it was a lowering kit. Mike McSwain 99 F650 (Wife's)
The sidestand on my lowered 2000 classic is EXACTLY 8" from the center of the pivot bolt to the bottom, not including the flat bottom plate. Art 884
Have the front fork tubes been raised in the triple clamps? That would be the "easiest" indicator, assuming that the COMPLETE lowering was done. Of course, the front forks could have been altered without dropping the rear, and vice-versa. Marty #436-Chicago-97 F650F
The lowering kit
that was dealer-installed on our 97 ST included a shortened sidestand, shortened
centerstand (11.375 inches from pivot-hole centerline to bottom of pad),
different shock links (dogbones), a machined, aluminum split collar that
installs around the rear shock shaft under the plastic cylindrical cover (to
limit the suspension travel), a new set of handlebars and a replacement throttle
grip. A lowering kit dogbone is 4.125 inches long with 2.75 inches between hole
centrelines. As stated in other replies, the front fork tubes should extend 50
mm above the top triple-clamp (45 mm for an ST) when lowered per BMW
instructions. The kit also include a sticker that is supposed to be placed on
the fuel tank to advise the operator that a lowering kit is installed and the
cornering clearance is reduced. The replacement grip is for the left side of the
handlebars. It dawned on me later that the throttle side grip will slide off
intact on the plastic bearing tube on which it rotates. Getting a left side grip
off intact usually involves a lot of lubricant, poking, prodding, swearing, and
possibly 125 psig air. Thanks.
Lowering Kit Installation Instructions. (This is a multi-page tif file, with all 4 pages in one file). Use a Graphics Reader like Irfanview or similar to read, and use the green down/up arrows to scroll between pages. (Thanks to Tom#654 & David#888)
Lowering Kit Installation:
I bought the lowering kit parts here near Sacramento at A&S (really
Roseville). The kit cost around $250 or so as I recall (276 list less 10%
discount). Add to that a quart of fork fluid ($10), and $58 to put the
spacer in the shock (as labor cost). Labor was going to cost around $240
or so -- I saved about $200 in labor costs. Kit includes: - new lower shock linkage Installation was fairly easy after decoding the instruction sheet with
the kit and using the factory maintenance manual (both were used). Basic
tools required: Metric combination wrench set, metric 3/8 drive sockets,
torque wrench, and very important -- 3/8 drive metric hex wrenches. The
I lowered mine primarily so both feet would touch the ground at a stop. Before I was on tiptoes and sometimes off to one side. The slight loss in ground clearance and potential bottoming out was a good trade-off for more stopped stability and even ride stability. I'm not sorry I did it.
- shock spacers (internal to shock pushrod)
- new side stand
- new center stand
I bought the lowering kit parts here near Sacramento at A&S (really Roseville). The kit cost around $250 or so as I recall (276 list less 10% discount). Add to that a quart of fork fluid ($10), and $58 to put the spacer in the shock (as labor cost). Labor was going to cost around $240 or so -- I saved about $200 in labor costs. Kit includes:
- new lower shock linkage
Installation was fairly easy after decoding the instruction sheet with the kit and using the factory maintenance manual (both were used). Basic tools required: Metric combination wrench set, metric 3/8 drive sockets, torque wrench, and very important -- 3/8 drive metric hex wrenches. The basic steps:
Reversing a Lowering Kit Installation
Above Procedure, in reverse.
Other than the shock, it's all pretty easy bolt on stuff. Support the back wheel when you pull shock links, then drop it a bit to line up the new ones. Loop a string around the sidestand springs to pull them off the old and onto the new. The shock is a pain to remove and you need a compressor to get the spacer out. I didn't bother, I just left it in. It costs an inch of travel, but I haven't bottomed it out, so I'll probably just leave it. Alan #442
Don't forget to go back to the stock amount of fork oil (extra 50ml/leg on lowered bike). Not critical, you may like the stiffer feel with more oil, even on stock height. Mark #403
I ended up with a
97 ST after I decided I need a commuter more than a 600 and my neighbour decided
the opposite . I had only taken it around the block a few times so I'd thought
that the lowering kit he had installed upon buying wouldn't be a big issue after
I cranked the preload . Silly me found out otherwise the first time I tried to
corner the thing and levered it up at the apex . I also thought it was pretty
comfy compared to my other rides ( see sig. ) but having some more knee room
would rock .
I checked out the FAQ's but wanted to make sure of a couple points : it was mentioned that leaving the blocks in the shock would limit the travel , but that it wasn't a big concern . Does this view still hold true ? If so , I only need new linkages and center stand ( I never use the sidestand on it ) ? Where's the best place to find them ? I'm hoping there are piles of them stacked as high as OEM Ducati exhausts at dealers ! Joel, 97 F650ST *Suzy* , a couple Hawk GT's , MZ Skorp Sport Cup , ZX7R
I unlowered my 97
ST several years ago and blew off removing the shock inserts since I didn't have
the patience and tools to do it right then. After several years of riding and
having my spine fractured while going over railroad tracks and speed bumps and
thinking the shock had failed, I finally recalled the inserts were still there.
I shortly thereafter jury rigged some spring compressors and tackled the job. It
was worth the effort. I made spring compressors by sacrificing two old
ratchet-type tie-downs. I carefully removed the stitching that holds the hook on
the 1" nylon strap to the short end of the tie-down that has the ratchet on the
other end. You can just cut the hook off if the strap is long enough after being
cut to snake down between the spring and the shock body and loop back around
through the ratchet. Check before you cut - I needed that 1.5". As previously
indicated, snake two straps between the spring and the shock body, 180 degrees
apart and then loop back and thread through the ratchet. Put a piece of plastic
or thick cardboard between the ratchets and the spring to protect the paint.
Mark the orientation of the set screw (torsion lock) at the upper shock mount
and loosen it. Start ratcheting and stop when you have sufficient play to drop
the top spring retainer and remove the circlip. Note order of parts as they
slide off the shock body. The inserts reside under the plastic collar that is
under the spring. It took considerable force to pull the collar off. The rubber
shock cushion that resides in the collar was relieved to have the inserts
removed too. Reverse process to reassemble. Be careful to point shock in safe
direction when undoing ratchets as the circlip may fail if the spring impact it
too hard. Teddco.
There are some issues with the factory kit, mostly around ride quality. One of my projects this winter is to fiddle with the shock to improve the ride. If I'm successful, it'll go in the FAQ. You will need shortened side - and Centrestands, longer links in the suspension, and to shift the forks in the front clamps. If you use the stock setup, there is also a spacer in the shock that requires spring removal and installation. The spacer may be the limiting factor for ride quality. Harl #380
Custom Lowering #2 - Koubalinks
For opinions of these on the GS/Dakar, see the Dakar Lowering FAQ
If the saddle/peg relationship is good, you might consider lowering the whole bike. IIRC, somebody makes a shock link to lower the back, then just slide the fork tubes up to compensate in front. Such links usually run a little more than $100. I'd expect used ones to be available, too. Alternatively, you might find a shorter shock. Shoot, for $500 you can get a shock that's better than stock. That would do more for the bike than a new saddle! Lowering a bike changes the handling, typically for the better. And while you're at it, you can tune the ride height--the front/rear bias--and get just the handling characteristics you want. It's fun. Okay, don't want to herd anybody outside of his comfort zone, but seriously, I'd be a lot more afraid of the stock handling than of a lowered ST. Cornering clearance? I doubt it will be a problem, but I suppose it could. Stephen
Custom Low Seats
See http://www.bmwscruz.com/SHOP/BMW/index.html. Expensive Though.
Better option, get Someone to Take your Seat and Make it Lower. See the Seats FAQ
Short Biker Opinions
Well I am 5'8" 29" inseam and my Classic 98 F650 came lowered. Lowered I could put both feet flat on the ground. I raised the bike and like the way it handles better. Now I stop and am on the balls of my feet ut that is fine. I am actually thinking about selling the lowering kit. I will definitely not put it back on. MasterITRIT#1231
I have the lowering kit on my '99 F650 and it works well for me--the loss in suspension travel is not too much of a problem--when in the dirt, I'm not going at a racers high speed so it doesn't bottom out too often. The lowering kit is one solution to short inseam. Bill No. 391 Las Vegas
Donna is 5' 2 1/2" inches tall. She has a 97 F650ST with the factory lowering kit installed. Don't know her inseam, but she does not have long legs for her height. She touches with both feet, but not flat. She is extremely happy with her F650. DaveJ#888
5'8", but short
for my weight. The F650 is still around because it is about 2" lower (and 150
pounds lighter?) than my K75RT. I've always felt
that holding the bike up under adverse situations was greatly aided by having enough "leftover" leg to be able to "triangulate" for stability/leverage (and avoiding the falling bike if not). Lighter weight and lower weight makes this less of a concern. Yes, one can ride anything, given the desire. The problem is that (in most parts of the world) you MUST also stop, which will require a lot of gyrations to be able to support the bike, and eventually these gyrations will misfire. The bike won't stand up by itself (but it WILL fall over on its own). Higher weight, higher seat and higher center of gravity all raise the probability of the bike ending up on its side. In 7 years, my K75RT has been over on its side more times than I want to count...in 3.5 years, my F650 has been over ONCE. And the F650 suffers much less damage in a tip-over. I didn't buy a bike to lay on its side. Marty #436-Chicago-97 F650F