Dropping the forks and adjusting rear Ride Height

Ride Height adjustment

First of all let’s explain why we may want to play with the ride height.

Bike geometry is set at the factory to roughly suit all riders, but if you want to tailor your bike’s handling to the way you ride this is where to start. Before any other adjustment is made get the ride height right!
The principle is simple:

  • Lowering the front ride height (dropping the forks) will speed up the steering (and vice versa).
  • Raising the rear ride height will also speed up the steering (and vice versa).
  • Also you must bear in mind that any lowering of the ride height will give you less ground clearance, but unless you drop the forks something crazy you should not have a problem.
  • If you significantly alter the ride height you will change the weight distribution of the bike (dropping the forks and/or raising rear ride height will push the weight forward) and probably need to tweak your suspension to cater for that.

Most ZXRs and ZX7Rs benefit from some sharpening of the steering. The P models benefit particularly as, on stock settings, they steer a little slower than previous models.

A couple of points worth remembering:

  • Any preload adjustment you might also make will have an effect on the overall ride height of the bike, hence after you have adjusted the preload (unless the preload adjustment was very small) you may need go back to tweaking the ride height to compensate for that.
  • The “preload adjusters” on J, L and P models (not sure about H models) are ride height adjusters only and not preload at all. Don’t believe me? Try this test then. In some cases these may be all that you need to adjust without having to drop your forks, otherwise they can be used to fine tune your fron ride height requirements.
    K, M and N models have proper preload adjusters.

Dropping the forks to lower front Ride Height
This really ought to be called “raising the forks through the yokes”, but there you go…

It is easier if done with the bike on a paddock stand, but you can do it on the sidestand too. The procedure is the same for all models.

DO ONLY ONE FORK at a time!!!

  • With the bike on the paddock stand remove the fairing sidepanels. If you have a car jack and a wooden block it can come in handy if you drop the forks too far and want to come back up easily, but it is not necessary and you can still remedy the situation on your own or with the help of a friend.
  • On the top yoke loosen the allen bolt that clamps the handlebar to the fork tube and the one that clams the yoke to the fork tube.
  • On the bottom yoke loosen the bolt/s that clamp the tube.
  • Now with some pressure on the top yoke the fork should gently slide up. Sometimes it is easier and sometimes it seems to stick a bit. try with small gentle pushes and measure after each push. If you go too far pull on the top yoke to bring it up (in extreme cases the jack might be useful, but not essential) make sure you don’t kick the bike off the stand though.
  • Once you are happy tighten all of the bolts up to the required torque settings and repeat the procedure on the other fork.

One point to note is that sometimes electrical cables from the handlebar switches are “cable tied” to the forks. Not a major problem, but when you push the forks through just make sure that these cables are not getting pulled or kinked.

You can start with 5mm or less of fork tube showing above the top yoke and I would not recommend going to more than 10mm.

Rising the rear Ride Height
All ZXRs and ZX7Rs apart from the H models have a rear ride height adjuster that is separate from the preload adjuster. The ride height adjuster is found where the shock clevis (on top of shock) mounts to the frame. Not to be confused with the preload adjuster which is composed of two collars compressing the spring.

  • On ’91/’92 ZXRs (J, K) the upper locking nut is visible without removing the tank, though if you want to adjust it you would be well advised to remove a few bits out of the way.
  • On ’93/’95 ZXRs (L, M) it looks quite similar to that of the ’91/’92 models. To reach the top nut you will have to remove tank, battery and battery housing.
  • On ’96 onwards ZX7Rs (P, N) if you look at the shock you will see the clevis, the lower nut above it and the frame mounting point. To see the upper locking nut you would have to remove the tank and the rubber boot covering it.

K, M and N models (the race versions) come as standard with some rear ride height already dialled in and they have a spacer placed on the adjuster bolt between the nut and the frame for extra rigidity (though it should not be strictly necessary).

If you want more rear ride height do this:
make sure you can access the top locking nut (you may have to remove the tank or the battery or both depending which model you are working on).

With the bike on the sidestand or paddock stand (paddock stand is best):

  • Remove cotter pin and loosen the upper locknut.
  • wind up the lower locknut until 5-8mm of thread are showing (good starting point).
  • Tighten the upper locknut and put a new cotter pin in place

If however you have a stand that supports the bike at the swingarm pivot (no load on shock) do this:

  • Remove cotter pin and loosen the upper locknut until 5-8mm of thread are showing above the LOWER nut.
  • tighten lower nut up (in this situation this acts as the locknut)
  • put a new cotter pin in place

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