Thruxton Page 1
After my second spill in as many years I decided that I needed to try to do something to lower the Thruxton. While both incidents were notably different they shared one issue. Both involved me finding myself unexpectedly stopped on a slope with the bike falling over to the down hill side. Given the combination of my short legs (5'6"), the relatively high center of gravity of the Thruxton, the clipons, and my lack of brawn, by the time I realized what was happening the bike was so far over that I lacked the strength to catch it. I got away with out any real damage the first time but this time I broke a foot peg which was way more expensive than what would seem reasonable. It seemed time to try to address this issue.
My first effort involved lowering the front end by sliding the fork tubes up through the trees. This cost nothing and it lowered the front end approximately 3/4". I could feel the difference immediately, my feet were definitely flatter on the ground. It also changed the way the bike handled; I found that I didn't need to hang out near as much in the turns, which I liked.
But, I felt I needed more, so I went looking for shorter shocks to lower the rear. What I settled on were Ikon adjustable shocks from NewBonneville.com.
These seemed to be about the cheapest shocks available that had adjustable dampening. While I don't think I will ever ride hard enough to utilize the performance of adjustable shocks I wanted that feature incase I needed to adapt them to my application.
I found that they came in several different lengths from the 360mm length of the stock Thruxton down to about 300mm. We are fortunate in that there are several stock shock lengths for different models of Triumphs and so the market supports that. The length that I chose was 330mm.
Cost was $310.10 to the door, I ordered on Friday and UPS was there with them on Wednesday. I should note that before I agreed to buy I asked that they confirm that they actually had them on hand. If they had to be ordered I'm sure that delivery time would have been longer.
The new shocks are noticeably shorter.
Instillation was a breeze. One tool needed, a 13mm combination wrench, and removal of the 4 attachment bolts was accomplished. I supported the bike on the center stand and chocked the rear wheel with pieces of wood. I found that the lower attachment would not clear the muffler but by rotating the shock to the rear I was able to get it clear and off it came.
I should note that I have Epco mufflers which are smaller than the stock mufflers as can be seen here.
If you have stock exhaust or perhaps another brand of after market exhaust you may have to remove the mufflers to deal with the lower shock mounts.
For me though, R&R of the shocks would be a 10min. task. Of course, there are always things to be fiddled with. I found that one of the lower mounts was corroded making removal a little annoying.
Apparently water had gotten in.
A little work with a brush and some white lube resolved that.
The next thing that I noticed was that now, with the swing arm positioned higher due to the shorter length shock, the bolt for the lower mount could not be inserted because of the muffler. This just necessitated removal of the shock from the upper mount, lowering the swing arm to gain clearance, and inserting the bolt.
I left the bolt loose to ease installation of the upper shock mount.
Adjustment of the dampening is accomplished via this little wheel just below the upper mount. There are 4 settings with #4 being the most firm. I set them at the #2 position for starters.
During normal riding, this is covered by a rubber boot.
At this point I noticed that there was much less clearance between the rear wheel and the fender. I have an FEK so don't know how a stock fender would be affected.
The first thing that I did was to bend the tag mount out a little bit. This gave me a little more clearance.
I then added this skid plate just incase the tire actually contacted the tag, mount and wiring. So far I have not seen any evidence of contact.
At this point I rocked the bike off the center stand to see how it felt. I noted that it was clearly lower and found that I was flat footed with my knees slightly bent. I put it back on the center stand and found that this was doable albeit with notable effort on my part. However, with technique, the center stand was still completely serviceable and for a larger, stronger rider than myself, would not be a problem at all.
Then I got greedy. I went back and lowered the front end again to a total of
I had measured the seat height after lowering the front end by 3/4"initially but before mounting the shorter shocks.
At the second stripe on the seat, approximately 5" from the front edge, I had a seat height of about 31 3/8".
After the new shocks and lowering the front end a second time I had a seat height of 30 1/2".
The last concern that I had was how the stands were going to perform with this new height.
I find that the side stand is completely serviceable. While a little more attention will have to be paid when setting it (obviously if you are not on level ground you could get yourself in trouble) I don't see a problem here. Plus there should be fewer problems with it embedding itself in a soft surface like grass or dirt or hot asphalt.
The center stand is another story. With the front end this low, I cannot set the center stand. Even if I get a really good roll to the rear, the stand just skates across the surface. On a rougher surface such as asphalt or brick maybe. But the amount of hoisting I would have to do would probably be beyond my abilities. Perhaps a bigger, stronger rider, but not me. I found that I could set the center stand in grass. It embeds itself enough that this is doable. I also experimented with several blocks of wood that I could roll the rear wheel up on and this works so when I want to perform maintenance that's not too big of a problem. I am going to have to try this for a while and see if I can live with it or need to raise the front end up to the 3/4" mark.
I will update this page in several weeks/months to let you know.
After more than a year with the bike lowered I have found nothing that would cause me to want to go back to the original height. The bike is so much easier to handle at walking/maneuvering speeds that it is a pleasure to ride. I have, on occasion, drug the pegs in a hard turn. This only happens when I am riding a little too aggressively and so usually expect it and hang my boot off the edge of the peg to feel for it.
On the track this would be a real concern and I would not recommend shorter shocks. I do have the forks lowered about 3/4" on Tweety and this does not seem to be a problem yet. We shall see.
As my skill level with Tweety has improved I have found that dragging the pegs (and numerous other things) has become a real problem. I have moved the forks back up to their normal position and this has helped a little. However, the real solution is to learn to hang off more and more, not relying on leaning so much in the turns. Too bad they don't sell skill in pill form.
Thruxton Page 1