Dirt bike rear shock removal

1 This example is typical of most modern dirt bikes. To remove the rear shock, the seat, rear muffler and subframe must be removed. In many cases (as is here), the muffler and subframe can be removed as a unit.

2 If your intake is under the seat, which it is in most cases, you'll need to loosen the intake boot clamp. It is not necessary to remove the clamp, but it needs to be very loose to give the boot plenty of room to flex.

3 If applicable, loosen the muffler clamp. Some are slip on and have no clamp. Others have only an elastomeric boot. Many clampless connections use springs. The best way to remove a spring is using a hook tool so it can be pulled away from the eye.

4 Examine the bike carefully for components that may impede removal of the subframe. On this bike, the throttle position sensor cable interferes with subframe removal. Releasing the connector is all that is needed.

5 In many cases, it is beneficial to loosen head pipe mounting. The reason is to alleviate connection stress between the muffler and pipe that can make removal more difficult and can inhibit alignment on installation.

6 Remove all of the subframe mounting bolts and wiggle the assembly backward. The intake boot is likely to put up a fight and you may need to break the boot loose from the intake. Some intake boots have a tab you can pull to stretch it away from the intake horn. Another option is to use a flat screw driver to work the sealing surface open. This introduces the risk of scratching or damaging the intake sealing surface, so caution is advised.

7 Under the assumption the shock is to be serviced in some way, now is a good time to break loose the lock ring. This is much easier to do now than with the shock removed. A hammer and punch will do the trick, but this method can deform the teeth of the lock ring. A properly fitted spanner wrench is the best method as it does not damage the ring. When turning the ring(s) on an assembled motorcycle, when setting sage for example, it is often not possible to use a spanner wrench. A punch is therefore the only effective option.

Tip: Before attempting to turn the lock ring, take the time to clean the threads on the shock body. Insuring there is no dirt in the threads will make your life much easier later. Before proceeding, plug the intake by tying a plastic sandwich bag around it. You can clean the threads with a plastic bristle brush and compressed air. After the threads are brushed clean, apply some WD-40 to the threads and at the lock ring rim.

8 Remove the upper shock mount. The bolt should come out easily if you unload it by wiggling the rear wheel upward. When the bolt comes out, keep a hold of the rear wheel so it does not drop. Lower the wheel gently. In some cases the suspension linkage will bottom out on itself and the rear wheel may not touch the floor. Drain hoses that route through the front swingarm pivot can get pinched so take whatever precautions are necessary.

9 With the upper shock released and the swingarm lowered, the lower shock bolt can now be accessed for removal. After the bolt has been removed, the shock can be pulled straight up.

If you plan on servicing the shock:

  • Clean the shock thoroughly.
  • Clean away dirt and grime from within and around the bolt attachment holes.
  • WD-40 works great as a cleaner to remove chain lube from the spring and shock body.
  • Do not force debris under the bearing(s) sealing lips.
  • Carefully inspect all crevices and remove dirt.
  • Compressesd air is a great cleaning aid. Use with caution.

Tips for installing the shock:

  • Apply a thin film of grease on the shafts of the mounting bolts.
  • Attach the lower end of the shock first.
  • You can move the rear wheel up and down to align the upper shock mount.
  • If possible, torque the shock mounts with the rear shock compressed slightly, not with the rear of the bike hanging free.
  • If the shock was serviced, set the sag.
  • Check that the spring adjuster lock ring is tight.

Other assembly tips:

  • A film of WD-40 on the inside sealing surface of the air boot will help it slide on.
  • Don't force things. Focus more on aligning the parts correctly than forcing them on.
  • Some exhaust pipe joints use seals that can be damaged easily. Be careful with these.
  • Do not fully tighten any of the subframe bolts, pipe clamps or air boot clamp until all fasteners are in place and partially threaded.
  • Before tightening the air boot clamp, make certain it is seated properly.
  • Tighten subframe bolts before tightening air boot and exhaust connections.
  • Pay careful attention to sensor wiring.


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