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October 26, 2011
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WHAT IS IT? The Ride Engineering lowering link is designed to improve the shock and cornering characteristics of the 2011 Kawasaki KX450F.

WHAT’S IT COST? $209.95.

CONTACT? www.ride-engineering.com or (800) 805-1516.

Here’s a list of things that stand out with the Ride Engineering KX450F lowering link.

(1) Problem. Any KX450F model, past or present, suffers from rear-end wallow. Under heavy acceleration the shock squats down, which minimizes straight-line traction and hampers shock damping. Kawasaki has attempted to fix the problem by changing the shock’s damping settings, lengthening the link arm, and raising the swingarm pivot, but the bike still needs help.

(2) Length. The Ride Engineering KX450F lowering link is one-millimeter longer than the stock linkage arm. It might be difficult to understand how such a small increase in length could make a drastic difference; however, for every millimeter increase in the link arm length, the rear of the bike drops six millimeters. Determining the actual length of a linkage arm requires a micrometer and basic math skills. It is measured from center-to-center of each link arm bolt hole. The Ride Engineering KX450F link is 136 millimeters long.

(3) Installation.
The easiest way to replace the linkage arm is with the help of a friend. With pressure on the lower link bolt, carefully remove the lower link nut. Do the same with the upper link bolt and nut. It is critical that you remove the sleeve and seals from the upper link hole of the stock linkage arm, grease the sleeve, and install these parts in the Ride Engineering upper link hole. Line up the Ride Engineering lowering link and slide in the upper and lower link bolts. It is best to raise and lower the rear of the bike to prevent the bolts from binding while tightening. Torque each nut to 44 foot-pounds (59 nM). Finally, check rider sag. MXA recommends 100 millimeters of sag.

(4) Performance. The Ride Engineering KX450F lowering link made a significant difference. The longer link effectively ramped up the rising rate, stiffened the initial part of the shock’s stroke, and lowered the overall height of the bike. The shock no longer wallowed under heavy acceleration, and the KX450F cornered more precisely. A longer link arm, such as the one from Ride Engineering, is a sound investment for any KX450F owner.

(5) Function. The longer link does not change the overall rising rate?only the starting point of where the ratio begins. The longer link rotates the KX450F’s bell crank so that the shock begins to move higher up the curve?where the rate is stiffer initially.

(6) Place of manufacture. The Ride Engineering KX450F lowering link is made in the USA.

The MXA wrecking crew had two minor quibbles with the Ride Engineering shock KX450F linkage: (1) It would benefit Ride Engineering to provide instructions, as some people will forget to install the sleeve and seals. Doing so is dangerous and will ruin the lowering link in quick order. (2) The Ride Engineering arm is the exact same length as the Pro Circuit link arm.

A longer after-market link arm solves the numerous peccadilloes of the 2011 Kawasaki KX450F. Simply put, the Ride Engineering lowering link is a smart buy.


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