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Lowering a K1200GT (pre-2005)


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I currently ride a '98 R1100RT and have gone to great effort to make it manageable while stopped and during slow-speed maneuvers. The bike is primarily used as our two-up touring ride and want to feel safe both for myself and my SO, when putting my feet down. This bike has served us well for 5 years but as the miles accumulate, we are considering a K bike to replace it. My questions then deal with the possibilities of lowering the K1200GT (2002--2004 models; not interested at all in the new K engine design).


I recently had the opportunity to sit on both a 2006 GT and a 2004 GT. It was immediately obvious the '06 would be entirely out of the question based on seat height alone. With the bike perfectly vertical (with the help of the owner and couple others) I could not get even the very tips of my toes on the ground when centered on the seat and had to slide WAY too far off to get just the tip of my left foot down. Yesterday a friend showed up at a ride with a '04 GT that I got to sit on. He had a slightly taller custom seat in the lowest position. While I was able to get both toes on the ground, it wasn't anywhere near solid enough to consider this bike as a future purchase. Is it possible to lower the stock seat and keep it comfortable? Are there suspension modifications that allow one to gain (or lose) maybe 1 to 1.5"? I need to have a seat height of about 29" to get enough of the balls of my feet on the ground to even back one up safely on level concrete, so something in that range is pretty much a requirement. Then if you consider all the unusual places ( gravel lots, uneven or slippery pavement, etc.) one encounters while touring, keeping safe at low speeds and when parking become a big deal for the inseam challenged.


I have been thinking about the K bike for a while mainly for the comofort of ride for my SO with the 4 cyl. vs. the 2 cyl. engine. Any helpful hints and/or personal experiences are appreciated--smart remarks are not, so if you can't be constructive then don't waste my time or yours.

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Two points.


The standard K12RS seat height is only about 30" to begin with with the seat in the lowest position. Consider swapping the comfort seat that comes on a GT for that seat. A little work with a local auto upholstery shop and you can have them narrow the area just in front of your thigh/buttocks junction and maybe replace some of the stock foam with a gel or higher density foam and you should be fine. Quite often it is not the actual height of the seat but the amount you have to spread your legs to straddle the bike the presents the real challenge to reaching the ground.


I would be hesitant to recommend lowering that particular bike via shocks/springs. Ride height and suspension component angles are an integral part of the handling equation and you mess with those relationships at your peril.

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You can order Wilbers shocks through Pirate's Lair and can specify up to 1.5" lower below stock. However, as Ed points out, changing suspension geometries is not something to be taken lightly. When I ordered my Wilbers, I was adamant to specify no change from standard ride height. You should call Jerry at Pirate's and discuss. He is quite knowledgeable about this stuff and what your options are.

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I'm alive & well (OK, some will question that) to tell you that you can lower a GT & suffer little from it.

I installed Wilbers -1.5" on my wife's 03. Sometime after that she stopped riding it due to a non riding related arm break. I rode the bike with those shocks for a year + until I finally gave up on her & put the stockers back on. I ride fairly aggressive but they were set up for her (heavier then me) weight. It is much easier to scrape the hard parts(I learened that "Hanging off" in the turns helps) but if you can live with that in order to have firm footing at stops, so be it.

I also shortened the side stand with a tube in tube/jack screw arrangement. P.M. for details.

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I'd encourage you to try to solve the problem with a different seat first, before messing with the suspension.

If the seat you tried was a Corbin, they're higher than stock. The GT seat is also 1" higher than an RS, unless you can find an optional 'low' (heated), which is the same height as a stock RS.

So try sitting on an RS, and if you can't reach comfortably, then you'd have no choice but to mess with the suspension. I have a Sargent seat, and it's about the same as stock, by the way. Good luck.

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