Ever heard your fellow dirt bike riders talk about the dirt bike fork height? Or how the dirt bike front fork adjustment works and wondered what all the fuss is about?
Well, we got you. In this in-depth post we will show you how to lower and raise dirt bike forks. We also cover how the fork height affects the riding performance and how adjust them to fit your riding style.
The fork height adjustment is simple. Set the dirt bike on a center stand and loosen the triple tree bolts that hold the forks in place. Next, rotate each fork leg and slide the forks either up or down on the triple trees. Finally, tighten the fork crimp bolts to specifications using a torque wrench.
All in all, it will take about 30 minutes to adjust the front fork height. You can also change the fork height trailside with ease to test out different settings.
Let’s get started!
The Theory Behind Adjusting the Front Fork Height
Sliding the forks up or down on the triple tree changes few important things. In short, the fork height in triple clamps affects the balance and stability of the dirt bike. But it also changes how the dirt bike turns.
Furthermore, adjusting the fork height changes the rake angle, trail, and height of the front. So, the combination of these three factors affects the turning of the dirt bike and the high-speed stability. Even so, it’s a trade-off. In combination with other methods it greatly affects the rider feedback and the dirt bike behavior.
Adjusting the Fork Height Affects How the Motorcycle Turns
When you raise the forks on the triple tree, the dirt bike will turn easier and vice versa. This is because the front drops and the rake angle changes also make the trail shorter.
Wikipedia explains the motorcycle geometry theory in detail if you are interested in learning how it all works.
When the rake angle changes, it also changes the trail. Think of a long frame chopper compared to a street motorcycle. Which one turns easier? Changing the trail makes the dirt bike turn faster OR more stable at high speeds.
Most factory forks have three to five rings on the top of the fork. Additionally, each ring is about 1mm apart and they make it easier to adjust the same fork height for both forks.
When we say that the fork sits high on the triple tree, we mean that more rings are visible on the top of the fork. Basically adjusting the front fork height higher means that the triple tree is sliding down on the forks.
Why Should You Adjust the Fork Height?
The answer is simply because the front fork height greatly affects how the dirt bike controls. Additionally, the dirt bike front fork adjustment is also an easy way to tune out some unwanted feedback and instability in higher speeds.
Factory dirt bikes are usually set to the middle position and most riders never touch the fork height. However, we all should.
If you are riding in a very tight single track around second and third gear speeds, setting the forks higher on the triple trees will greatly help.
Likewise, desert style, fast, and open wide tracks require a more stable setup and you should set the forks flush with triple trees.
For tracks with both slow and fast sections, you need to find a good compromise. Test out different combinations with other settings to find the sweet spot.
Since it only takes about 15 minutes, adjusting the front fork height should be on your list of things to do when prepping for a riding weekend.
Dirt Bike Fork Height Options and Running Flush Forks
The forks usually have three to five rings or marks where to set the fork height. But often you can experiment with either flush forks or even going slightly lower on the ring settings.
In the picture above, you can see how the fork height is currently set to ring two. In this KTM XC-W 300 dirt bike and the WP-XPlor fork, it is the middle setting out of three rings. This is a good overall setup for most trail riding.
Keeping safety in mind, we regularly run flush forks (when the forks are level with the top triple tree) and sometimes drop the triple tree 2 to 3mm below the lower ring on the forks.
Next, let’s take a closer look at how to lower front forks on a dirt bike for quicker turning capability or how to raise the forks for better high speed handling and stability.
How To Adjust the Dirt Bike Fork Height?
The fork height is adjusted by loosening the triple tree bolts and sliding the fork legs up or down in the triple tree. Let’s take a closer look on how to adjust the fork height.
Recommended Tools for Fork Height Adjustment
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We highly recommend using a torque wrench. Typically, most bolts can be hand tightened close enough to a correct torque specs. However, over-tightening fork legs on triple tree can cause serious damage to the forks and cause suspension sticking.
1. Set the Dirt Bike on a Center Stand
Lift the dirt bike on a center stand. Raise the front wheel off the ground by placing a wrench or wooden stick or similar under the skid plate.
If you are adjusting the front fork height trailside or if your dirt bike is dirty, clean the upper parts of the forks and around the triple trees. A clean triple tree area and clean fork legs makes sliding forks easier.
2. Loosen the Top Triple Tree Fork Leg Bolts
Loosen both top triple tree bolts on both sides. The bolts don’t have to come off but they need to be fully loose. Do not loosen the lower fork bolts near the front wheel axle.
3. Loosen the Lower Triple Tree Fork Leg Bolts
Loosen the lower bolts. Don’t worry, the front forks will not slide off even if you have the front wheel in place.
If you hear crackling or clicking when opening these top or bottom bolts, it is usually an indication of tension or misalignment on the forks. This is normal, however, you should make sure that you align the dirt bike forks correctly when tightening things back up.
4. Adjust the Dirt Bike Fork Height
To adjust the front fork height, grab one of the fork legs and start rotating it. Furthermore, you will notice that rotating the fork leg towards the opening in the triple trees will make it turn much easier. When rotating the fork leg, push the fork leg up or down on the triple tree to adjust the front fork height.
Begin the dirt bike front fork adjustment in small increments. It is recommended to start with the factory height settings or the middle ring. If you choose to adjust for better turning, move it to the ring three from the top. For faster speeds and increased stability, set the fork height to the first ring or flush from the top.
Use the fork rings to precisely set the height and make sure you position the fork facing forward. The air bleeder screw needs to be pointing forward. If needed, rotate again to get the height correct with the fork facing forward.
Repeat the procedure on the other fork leg. Check that both legs are at the same height setting by looking at the rings and make sure that the forks are facing forward.
5. Tighten the Triple Tree Bolts
You should use a torque wrench when tightening these bolts. This is important because incorrectly tightening the bolts will affect how the forks function.
The top bolts usually have a different torque spec than the lower triple tree. Make sure you check the tightening specs from your user manual.
If you over-tighten the bolts, it can result into an increased friction inside the fork, bending the fork sleeve, or slowing down or binding the parts moving inside the fork. Be sure to check out our step-by-step guide for how to correctly align dirt bike forks.
Tighten the top bolts on both fork legs using a torque wrench. Keep alternating the top bolts when tightening in order to avoid bending the clamp. Continue until both bolts are torqued to specs.
Continue with tightening the lower fork bolts. Don’t forget to check the torque spec since the lower bolts usually use a lower torque setting than the top bolts.
Testing and Finishing Up
Once you have tightened the bolts back to spec, take the dirt bike off the center stand. Rock the front up and down using the front brake and pushing down on the handlebars. Check for any cracking sounds or binding in the forks. If you have any alignment issues or sticking forks, be sure to check out how to reset and realign forks with our how to align dirt bike forks instructions.
Test the new fork height settings by riding a short loop. Pick a track that resembles the riding style and terrain that you wish to tune the suspension to fit best. Remember that only 1mm or one ring adjustment can make a big difference on how the dirt bike performs.
Adjusting the dirt bike front fork height is an easy, fast, and very effective way to tune your dirt bike performance. We strongly recommend testing out different fork heights for better performance and dirt bike balance and stability.
You really want to adjust the front fork height because it is one of the 7 best mods to make your dirt bike turn faster around tight corners. Check out the six other methods too in order to take the full advantage of your dirt bike on tight single tracks.
See you out there on the trails!
- How to set up dirt bike suspension for trail riding
- Setting up dirt bike handlebars for trail riding
- How to align dirt bike forks – aka twisted forks
- Ultimate brake and clutch lever positioning guide
- Single track riding tips for beginners
Last updated: February 24, 2023