Topic: My Impressions of the Devol Lowering Link (2002 XR250R)
Posted: 04/25/2003 06:06:03 AM
I didn’t like it. I drove around for a few miles and all I could think of was returning to the Honda shock link arm.
I purchased it with the needle bearings and four dust caps installed so I could easily and quickly install and remove it. The quality is top notch.
The lowering link brought the swing arm 1-3/8” closer to the fender as measured at the center of the rear axle. It lowered the center of the bike 3/4” as measured at the countershaft. Because the swing arm is now being pushed into the shock 1-3/8” more, that means that I’ve lost at least one inch of rear suspension travel. I don’t like that at all.
When I first installed it, I said Boy, that rear wheel looks a lot closer to the fender. The bike also looked a lot different being lower to the ground, even if it’s only by 3/4".
Because the bike is lower to the ground, the side stand now holds the bike up at a steeper angle, meaning it’s easier to tip over than at the stock height. I had to be more careful just starting it for fear I'd tip over. Not a big point, but a point nevertheless.
I found it affected the handling negatively. For lack of a better word I'll say "squirrelier" (if that's even a word). Going in a straight line it felt less stable on numerous occasions, and I'm by no means an advanced rider.
The only thing I gained was enough lowering of the bike to be able to touch the ground with the balls of my feet vice the tips of my toes. Maybe I’ve just become accustomed to the stock height, but it's no longer an issue. I tried to not let that influence my impression. I really wanted this to work out. Regardless; I removed the Devol link arm after only about 20 miles of use and replaced it with the Honda link arm.
I believe if I want to lower the bike, the best way is to cut an inch or so of seat foam off. This will have no affect on the suspension, only the angle of my knees and arms to the handlebars – period.
I may get another piece of seat foam to experiment with cutting, but as it is now, it’s no big deal. I’m going to adjust the shock preload to give me about 1.5” of free sag which should give me 3.0 or so of race sag. This will lower the bike a tad more than where it’s currently set. If I can find a spring with the correct rate for my weight, I’ll be able to achieve a 4.0” race sag, which will probably negate any need to even mess with cutting seat foam. Well see.
$130 wasted for the Devol link? Not really. The experience was worth something...
Reply by brucecha on 04/25/2003 08:46:53 AM
Stu, You really should have tried lowering the forks in the triple clamps.By dropping the rear you increased the "trail" in the front end.By dropping the front you would have corrected this.As for the bike standing up on the side stand I guess an added right side stand is in order.I am not criticizing your work,just giving you something else to do.
Reply by Stu on 04/25/2003 8:18:06 PM
You may be correct, but I keep remembering the posts I've seen here saying how lowering the forks negatively impacts the suspension/geometry.
Even if this corrected the handling problems I experienced, I'd still be losing some suspension travel by doing do, even if it's only 0.5 or 0.75".
Right side side stand? Never heard of that one. Perhaps it'd work, but now it getting complicated. These may be acceptable solutions for others, but (1) I've become accustomed to the height so it's no longer an issue for me and (2) cutting the seat foam is what I believe is the best, as in correct way to "lower" the bike as it will have absolutely no effect on the suspension other than lowering the center of gravity an inch or so when sitting - a good thing.
Of course, correctly tuning your suspension to achieve a 4.0" race sag is the best way to lower the bike. If you're light, you'll never get proper sag (free AND race) using the stock spring - you'll need a softer spring, which is difficult to locate other than having one custom wound. If you've obtained 4.0" race sag and you still want the bike lower, I believe the best/correct way is to remove an inch or so of seat foam. It's cheaper (by about $80-130) but most important, does not affect the suspension at all - stability or travel.
My opinion, my impressions, my feelings, right or wrong. I just don't want anyone thinking that this is "gospel". Just my take.
Reply by NorCAL XR on 04/25/2003 9:19:18 PM
I feel your pain, I have short legs to go with my short body. I've gotten used to the height, and it's only a problem on the hills for me at this point. I just wanted to give my quick insight on the posts you may have read in the past regarding that it making your bike more unstable when lowering the forks. Take into consideration that when you do this, you're changing the geometry of the overall package. If you lowered the rear without lowering the front, you have in essence done the same thing, but on the opposite end. Take the negative results of the lowered fork and compare it to the negative result of the lower rear end and perhaps they would have complimented each other. I also agree that you have minimal front end height adjustment, but look at the angles that are changing from lowering it comparatively to the rear. Perhaps one other thing you could put into your equation is changing the wheelbase. Either add links or remove links to your drive chain so the angle pivot points are relocated.
Again, just a thought. I would hate for you to go through that amount of trouble again for an unstable machine but if you ever got curious, maybe you could give it a try. You did a good write up of it, stating all of your reasons why you didn't like it. It was nice to read as opposed to reading something to the effect of "I don't like it, don't buy it because it sucks." At least now other riders know why you didn't find it in your best interest.
Reply by HCWHunter on 04/27/2003 12:01:45 AM
Hi Stu; I think you tested the lowering link incorrectly. You had already tried to set the sag for your weight and then combined the lack of pre-load with the lowering link.
I am getting a lowering link machined for my older XR (I'm selling some extras on the classified section) and fabricated a template to test the ride height. Like you, I had already decreased the pre-load on the rear spring as far as it would go which lowered the height some but not enough. My sag was something like 5 inches. When I put in the template the bike was definitely lower and would almost fall over on the kickstand like you described. It also felt kinda funny, although NOT "squirrelly" going over bumps.
I realized that the combination of the lack of proper pre-load and the change in geometry from the link was a bad one. I increased the pre-load to the proper amount (for my weight) and the ride feels fine now and the seat height is still about an inch lower but not as low as it was with no pre-load.
I'm afraid that you're not going to be able to do the same thing since you just don't weigh enough to set the sag to spec. I would suggest that you just set the static sag and forget about the race sag until you can get a proper weight spring for your weight. The link will work well with the proper pre-load.
As for losing your suspension travel, I'm not sure that you are. Remember that the tire normally doesn't go all the way up to the fender even when you bottom out the suspension unless you have an oversized tire or a paddle installed. There's some clearance built in for mud and stuff and so you don't tear up the fender. When you install the link, you change the arc of the tire movement and lose some or all of the clearance depending on your sag setting. There's also a small change in the leverage of the suspension, but that's compensated for by re-setting the sag. You might want to consider re-testing the link with the factory setting on the static sag. HW
Reply by cntryby on 04/27/2003 09:50:03 AM
Stu, Take the cover off the seat use a sharpie marker and a straight edge to mark where ya want the height of the seat. Then use a power disc sander / grinder to remove the foam ya don't need. The sander will eat the foam away quick and easy, so go slow until ya get a feel for it. Wrap the cover back on it and staple it down, if ya plan on keeping the bike use stainless staples. Warm the cover until its soft and stretchy before ya put it on and it will be much easier to get the wrinkles out of the corners.
Reply by Stu on 04/28/2003 06:19:59 AM
Cntryby - thanks. I think I'll try that, but I'm going to buy some seat foam first to experiment on. That's the second time I've seen someone mention stainless steel staples. Never knew that even existed. Have to hunt for some 1/4" now. tks agn
Reply by hotwheels on 08/25/2003 08:40:59 AM
The sidestand issue on the lowered XR650L is eaisly solved by filing the sidestand where it contacts the bracket on the frame. By moving the fork tubes up 1"(25mm) in the clamps and lowering the rear preload to 4 to 5 turns from "free spring I have lowered the unleaden seat height to 36", it lowers even further when I (6', 170#) sit on it.I am running Michelin S12 140/80x18 rear, 90/90x21 front, I have no stability problems to 75mph on the pavement, the bike turns better than ever on the trails, the front tire bottoms on the front fender(braaaaap!) letting me know that it's time to slow down! Best of all it's free! I filed a 1/16" groove in the sidestand where it contacts the bracket on the frame(not the tube, just the flatstock clevis that mounts the sidestand to the frame), I can make picture if any confusion exists, e-mail me. The sidestand now supports the motorcycle without any tipover dramas.
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