How To Adjust Dirt Bike Fork Height and Why

Ever heard your fellow dirt bike riders talk about the dirt bike fork height and 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 dirt bike forks or adjust them to fit your riding style.

The dirt bike fork height adjustment is simple. Place 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 triple tree bolts to specifications using a torque wrench.

It will take about 30 minutes to adjust the front fork height and it can be performed trailside with ease.

In this article, we will focus on the front end of the dirt bike and teach you how to adjust the front fork height. We will also give you tips for typical riding conditions and explain how adjusting the front fork height can help with your riding.

Let’s get started!

The dirt bike fork height can be adjusted to fine-tune suspension performance and balance.

The Theory Behind Adjusting the Front Fork Height

Sliding the forks up or down on the triple tree changes few important things. The fork height in triple clamps affects not only the balance and stability of the dirt bike but also how the dirt bike turns.

It changes the rake angle, trail, and height of the front. The combination of these three factors affects the turning of the dirt bike and the high-speed stability. It’s a trade-off and in combination with other methods it greatly affects the rider feedback and the dirt bike behavior.

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.

Drawing of a bicycle with front fork geometrics

When the rake angle changes, it also changes the trail. Think of a chopper and a street bike. 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. 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. Adjusting the front fork height higher means that the triple tree is sliding down on the forks.

Why Should You Adjust the Dirt Bike 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.

Left front fork of a dirt bike with rings and flush showing on top of the fork

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.

Read also: How To Clean Leaking Fork Seals On a Dirt Bike

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.

Top of the front fork of a dirt bike after adjusting front fork height to second ring setting

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.

Read also: How To Set Dirt Bike Sag

How To Adjust Dirt Bike Fork Height?

The dirt bike 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 Dirt Bike 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.

Placing a wrench under the skid plate to lift front wheel off the ground
Place a wrench under the front of the skid plate to lift the front wheel off the ground.

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.

Top of the triple tree of a dirt bike with two right fork leg bolts circled in red
Both top triple tree bolts on both sides need to be loose in order to adjust the front fork height.

3. Loosen the Lower Triple Tree Fork Leg Bolts

Loosen the lower triple tree bolts. Don’t worry, the front forks will not slide off even if you have the front wheel in place.

Bottom of the triple tree of a dirt bike with two right fork leg bolts circled in red
Both bottom triple tree bolts on both sides need to be loose before adjusting the front fork height.

If you hear crackling or clicking when opening these top or bottom triple tree 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.

Rotating dirt bike fork leg to adjust the fork height
Adjust front fork height by rotating the fork leg. This will help move it up or down on the triple tree.

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 the triple tree bolts. This is important because incorrectly tightening the bolts will affect how the forks function.

Tightening dirt bike fork triple tree bolts
Finish adjusting the dirt bike fork height adjustment by tightening the triple tree bolts to the recommended torque.

The top triple tree 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 triple tree 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 triple tree bolts usually use a lower torque setting than the top triple tree 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 dirt bike 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.

Conclusions

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!

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Last updated: September 9th, 2022