Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Yamalink Review

I am a skooch under 5'5" with an inseam of 31"--do the math with a stock WR seat height of about 38" and that is a significant gap to deal with. When I first got my WR I could barely touch the ground leaning over on one toe. Helpful long legged people who can touch the ground on both sides told me to skooch and plan my stops and look for rocks and stumps to use for a lil' stepstool. Yeah. That was fun and only worked half the time. It was pretty discouraging to look forward to flopping over if I couldn't find a good place to put a foot down--I ended up automatically throwing my leg up next to the shroud to cushion my radiator from impact.

In an effort to lower my bike the cheap way, we shaved my seat and set the sag and back clickers soft and saggy. Okay for putting around, but as I gained confidence and speed on the full sized bike it got difficult compensating for the distracting boingy energy of the soft suspension.

The stock springs were appropriate for my weight, so I lucked out not having to replace those(springs should always be appropriate for one's weight BEFORE addressing lowering). I decided to try the Yamalink before saving up to redo the suspension(would have taken for-ev-er). Putting it on was easy and straight forward. Though my husband is a great bike mech to begin with(and I play surgical nurse), he was very impressed with the instructions--he declared them well written by someone who knows what they're doing. Since he NEVER reads instructions because he says he knows better anyways and this time he read them to rip them apart, this is quite a compliment.

Next came work on resetting the sag and futzing with the clickers. The forks were set up in the triple clamps, the top edge is 18mm from the top of the clamp. The sag was set at 97mm, and after a year of riding I'll stiffen it up a few mm--about 94-95mm. I also stiffened up both compression and rebound on the back clickers.

When I rode my bike it felt like completely different bike. Right away I felt a difference in where the center of gravity was--definitely lower, which does great things for handling in tight woods and stability over rough technical stuff. It also makes the bike much easier to catch if it leans over in a weird stop because there isn't so much momentum from the cg being higher.

Of course it lowered the bike. At the lowest point my seat is 34" now, when I sit on it it's 33". I still have few inches worth of shaved seat in the mix of course. Cool to be able to get my feet on the ground, but even better is how the link improved the handling of the bike--I would get one just for that difference alone, in fact the handling is SO much more intuitive and effortless I could care less about how well I can touch the ground! I've made huge progress in my ability(well, part of that *was* the better everything of the WR of course!) The folks at Yamalink were fast to reply to my questions and very helpful with sag setting suggestions. Don't cut the kickstand until you have your bike set up with sag etc, we cut an inch off the bottom of the kickstand after installing the link and in the end didn't need to do that after all.

I'm so happy I didn't have to slice and dice my bike up to make it fit me better, the link was all that was needed, and I'm a believer in non-invasive remedies. My frame is solid, my suspension guts are all intact and I have full use of their resources as I get more aggressive. If I were to sell the bike(NEVER FREAKIN EVER!!!!)I don't have to find a buyer to fit the lowered bike, I can put the stock link back on and sell it stock. On the other hand the Yamalink will become great bling because of what it does for handling.

The parallel to the ground position of the yellow pole shows how my bike is NOT choppered up by the link changing the geometry. Sag and forks have been adjusted. Chopper=BADBADBAD for handling.

Toe down before Yamalink installed, my heels are way up inside my boots too.

Toes down after Yamalink installed, flat feet in my boots too.

Before Yamalink installed, I have to push down my toes and actively reach for the ground.

After Yamalink installed, no more straining to reach the ground, legs are relaxed.


Anonymous said...

Great review,nicely written.I had a koube lowering link on my crf250x and found it very helpful on tricky terrain.I sold the honda and am now looking for a link for my yamaha wr426f.Live to ride! v.

Andrenik Y. Sergoyan said...

I found it to completely throw the geometry of the bike off. And according to the reps who sold me it, if you're over 160lbs then you need to buy a new spring and have your forks redone regardless. If you're going to spend $500+ on getting your suspension redone and tuned just for your weight and style, having them lower it professionally at the same time costs $0 more, and won't muck with the geometry of the bike.