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Discussion Starter #1
These may be dumb questions, but here goes:

I love my Vulcan - a lot - but find that it can be a little tough for me to handle if I get just a skosh too far past the center line (upright center). For the most part, it's really not a problem. But I find that if I have to stop quickly - say, in a parking lot - I'm often in danger of dropping my baby. FWIW, I'm just over 5'7" and fairly strong - but this is clearly a leverage issue.

Sooo, I was talking to someone (shorter than I am) about her Sportser over the weekend, and asked her how in the heck she's able to manage that bike (which I think is top-heavy). She said her husband installed a lowering kit on it "and it is easier to handle than the Honda Rebel I once owned." I was stunned - I mean, the Rebel? And she thought the "kit" was just shocks, but was unsure.

So, is there any truth to the notion that lowering the rear will give me a little more flexibility in terms of just how far over the bike can tip before it drops? Intuitively, that doesn't make sense to me (the top-heavy part seems to be the front), but if someone could explain it that'd be awesome.

Secondly, does lowering really only involve changing the shock length?

If true, then finally, any suggestions for lowering the 750? How much? Which shocks? etc? I've been rebuilding the guest bathroom all summer (slow process, but have learned a lot about home plumbing :notworthy), and haven't had a chance to finish putting my engine back together. But this might be just the ticket to get me away from drywall!

Thanks in advance!
 

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Sparky!!!
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Cindy, I just recently lowered my bike... was hopeing for 2" but it came out closer to 3"... the first thing I noticed about the bike after riding was how much better it handles in the twisties.. second thing I noticed it is easier for me to push around the parking lots and the drive way. Stops are a lot less stressful obn my muscles. and lastly I will never go back to stock I love it so much better. I lowered mine with the lowering bracket pdf file found on this sight. I did however mod it a little because of people complaining of the axle length. I used 1/8" steel plate to make my triangle pieces then used another piece of 1/8" plate to make aan outer support bar, then bolted a spacer the width of the shock to make the lowering bracket into a shackle (like found on a leaf spring of a car). for more info check out Lowered the Creep Show. ohh one more thing... i didn't touch the front suspension.. I left it stock hight.
 

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I am about the same height as you Cindy and I lowered the front of mine by dropping the trees down 3/4" below the top of the tubes and retightened the clamps,this is an easy way to find out if a little lower is good for you and completely reversible.There have been people who say not to do this but I rode mine for two seasons like this and loved it,I didn't lower the rear at all.
I am sure I out weigh you considerably and this doesn't affect the load carrying one bit ,it does lower the center of gravity making it easier to muscle around.
I also changed to a lower handlebar,which let me use my shoulder muscles more ,than just my arms.think about it this way,you can exert more force with your arms below your shoulder than above or level with them.
Also wider bars will give you more leverage too.I recommend dropping the front first and the amount I dropped the front of mine makes the bottom of the Frame rail almost level along the length of the bike,I don't know about any more than that without lowering the rear,and you are correct about dropping the rear only it will increase the overall rake of the front end,making it seem more nose heavy.I hope this gives you a few ideas to start with.BTW I sold mine to a woman about 5'3" and she is riding it every where.She loves it and all she had was dirt bike experience.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, Slim and Denny! I'll think I'll give the front-lower a try and see how that works out. I have been thinking of switching to drag bars, so maybe if I did both of those things I'd feel more comfortable. Denny, what bars did you get? And did you have to put on risers or anything?
 

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Thanks, Slim and Denny! I'll think I'll give the front-lower a try and see how that works out. I have been thinking of switching to drag bars, so maybe if I did both of those things I'd feel more comfortable. Denny, what bars did you get? And did you have to put on risers or anything?
I bought a set of bars from JC Whitney That were called a Daytona Bend .They were black and Had about a 2 inch rise on them and the pull back was not nearly as much as the mini Apes.
I didn't ave to use risers but i did have to use a Kz1000 clutch cable that exited straight instead of turning down where it came out of the hand lever ,I also rotated the right hand control back,moving the throttle cables forward to clear the tank,
I chose mine by going to a local bike shop and actually putting hands on new bars and looked goofy holding them out in front of me ,I actually looked in the dirt bike parts to find the ones that had the feel I wanted,but they were 79 bucks so I checked the height and width and pulback measurements and Looked through the JC whitney Cat.and found the ones I used ,with close to the same measurements for 19.99 plus tax.Another cheap rout is to find a dirt bike that some one is parting out and buy used.Good luck!
 

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Hi Cindy,

My 2 cents worth of answers for your questions:

Re: Parking lot tipovers:

Key factors in not dropping your bike when doing slow maneuvers in parking lots - Keep your eyes level, the bike wants to follow where you're looking. (Don't look down or the bike will tend to follow your eyes down too.) Also when you squeeze your front brake and clutch levers, be sure you're squeezing with your hands and not pulling the levers from your arms or shoulders. Just squeeze with your hands. You may find it easier to apply slight pressure from your arms and shoulders with your palms forward like doing a pushup, so that way you can focus on squeezing the controls with your hands only. When you pull from your arms and shoulders you will pull the front tire away from being centered which at slow speeds can to lead to tips overs.

So basically what I'm saying is the standard MSF stuff, keep your eyes up and stop with the bars square.


Re: ride height and bars:

I'm just about 5'3" and have a short inseam. Currently I use the stock seat and stock suspension, although I am toying with the idea of raising the fork tubes in the triple clamps by 3/4" to 1" to quicken steering and lower the seat height slightly.

Last week I completed installing a different set of handle bars that are much lower and much wider than the stock mini-ape hangers http://www.denniskirk.com/jsp/product_catalog/Product.jsp?skuId=&store=&catId=&productId=p592130&leafCatId=&mmyId= and took it out for a test ride last weekend. WOW what an amazing difference in handling! I am sooooo glad I ditched the stock bars!

The handlebar switch housings have what can be described as small pegs sticking out of their interiors that fit into holes on the stock bars. These keep your switches from being able to rotate around on the bars. The new bars that I purchased didn't have any pre-drilled holes so I had to carefully measure and carefully drill them myself (a drill press and a second pair of hands helped a lot).

Luckily these bars work with the stock length cables and wires, as a whole new set can get pricey. The handgrips do however come very close to stock gas tank now at full lock turns (like parking) but that doesn't really cause any problems with normal riding. People with longer legs might find that these bars touch their knees while making tight turns. The mirrors are now way out of proportion though and they need to be swapped for ones with much shorter stems.

If you were to swap out your stock bars I would recommend a few things:

- Take a wire coat hanger and bend it into the approximate position that you would like your new bars to be in. This will help you visualize where your new bars will position your hands etc. and help you take measurements so you can decide which new bars to use. Remember the VN750 uses 7/8" bars, not 1" bars.

- Do what Denny6006 did, go to a bike shop and ask to handle any spare bars they have to get a feel of what you're looking for.

- Have a look at this site for ideas http://www.sideroadcycles.com/ImportedMotorcycles/ImportHandlebars/StockBarsOne.html

- Wider bars give you more leverage and make leaning the bike easier. Narrower drag bars will have the opposite effect.

-Sloppy
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, Sloppy. I appreciate your input on the dropping thing, but it's as much a physics issue as anything. Men have longer legs than women, so how we each handle the bike is actually very different. With more leg, you have better leverage on a lean-over; we're left to try to upright the bike with upper body strength, which is just going to be less - so we can get to that point of no return kinda quickly. Some of the manufacturers are starting to realize that women are a viable market and are changing their specs accordingly (the V-Stars, for example, have a very low center of gravity), but the 750 is still built "old style," if you will. You'll see the same thing with competitive bicyclists - the guys are riding with longer crank arms and shorter stems, women are generally the reverse.

That being said, the stock 750 is close to how I'd like the bike to handle, but it's not quite there; so I'll take you guys' advice and see what I can find to do some mods. Can't hurt!
 

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Seriously I my inseam is about 26" Cindy. The lower wider bars give a lot more leverage.

You can at least get away with wearing high heels ;) not an option for me.

-Sloppy
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Seriously I my inseam is about 26" Cindy. The lower wider bars give a lot more leverage.

You can at least get away with wearing high heels ;) not an option for me.

-Sloppy
Wow! Okay, your legs are shorter than mine by far! But the bars should make a difference, so I'll give 'em a try.

As for those high heels...I would cause myself a whole lot more damage just walking in 'em, much less trying to ride a bike while wearing them!:doh:
 

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Sparky!!!
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Thanks, Sloppy. I appreciate your input on the dropping thing, but it's as much a physics issue as anything. Men have longer legs than women, so how we each handle the bike is actually very different. With more leg, you have better leverage on a lean-over; we're left to try to upright the bike with upper body strength, which is just going to be less - so we can get to that point of no return kinda quickly. Some of the manufacturers are starting to realize that women are a viable market and are changing their specs accordingly (the V-Stars, for example, have a very low center of gravity), but the 750 is still built "old style," if you will. You'll see the same thing with competitive bicyclists - the guys are riding with longer crank arms and shorter stems, women are generally the reverse.

That being said, the stock 750 is close to how I'd like the bike to handle, but it's not quite there; so I'll take you guys' advice and see what I can find to do some mods. Can't hurt!
I f I were in your shoes, I would lower the front and back of the bike proprtionatly.. use some HD 10 1/2" shocks in the rear and drop the fork tubes in the trees, or better yet get 2" lower progressive springs.. you would be happier using the springs.. I have seen some prety nasty stuff from rasing the fork tubes through the trees to achieve a lower stance.
 

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Linkmeister Supreme
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Cindy, you might want to consider having the seat narrowed too.
 

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I f I were in your shoes, I would lower the front and back of the bike proprtionatly.. use some HD 10 1/2" shocks in the rear and drop the fork tubes in the trees, or better yet get 2" lower progressive springs.. you would be happier using the springs.. I have seen some prety nasty stuff from rasing the fork tubes through the trees to achieve a lower stance.
I can tel you from experience,that lowering the front end will not result in a catastrophe if you do it right,and don't get too radical with it and retorque every thing properly,Since the front of the bike is higher than the rear to begin with.If you use the method I told you about Cindy it will give you what you are looking for without costing any thing and if you like it then you may want to spend the money on a set of springs and shocks,I weigh between 280 and 290 and rode mine like that all last year and up until I sold it last week.
I will also point out that I rode aggressively on roads every day that look like winding goat paths that are paved without any problems and I ride with another friend that rides a CBR1000 RR that is one bad machine and he will tell you he did not have to wait on me
.I have more than 30 years of riding experience riding and wrenching on bikes both dirt and street.I Raced dirt bikes on round tracks and street bikes in the dirt drags and part of the setup was raising or lowering the front end while at the track to help plant the front end in the turns,again a lot rougher environment than the street with no equipment failures attributed to raising the tubes in the trees,If you want to know It actually makes for less flex in the front forks because you have in effect shortened the tubes.
A lot of people have claimed this is dangerous and then lay their shocks down at a lower angle than factory increasing the stress and moving the rod more in the shock for every inch of travel that the rear wheel moves .
In the late &0's all dirt bike shocks were almost vertical and then the factories started angling them more and putting longer shocks with more travel so the rear wheel travel could be increased.The first problem they ran into was shock fade from heat,then they went to piggyback reservoirs to increase oil cooling.Monkeying with suspension is always a trade of of one kind or another.
I would like to hear specifically what kinda nasty stuff happened just from a drop of 3/4 of an inch in the trees,done right,without a bunch of other changes,other than some one not testing the bike a little to see how it handled differently before hammering down on it.
Every time I mention lowering the front end with the trees I hear all kinds of people say I wouldn't do it that way,Listen people ,it has been done for years and I am speaking from personal experience, not bench racing.
Go for it Cindy,I am telling you that I would not dare steer any body in a direction that would get them hurt,I also know Cindy is a better wrench than a lot of people on here and does things right when she does them ,she has always been honest and fair to deal with and it would not bother me a bit to ride anything she has wrenched on,Not to mention she is highly educated and not easily convinced of every thing she hears because she is thorough and does her research on whatever project she is working on.
Not picking on you Slim but Iknowthis works,on this bike because I have been there,done that ,with great results,I know shouldn't say this but Trust Me on this,makes me sound like a used car salesman,Y'all have yourself a good one ,Denny Ray
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Slim, I grealy appreciate your input, but would be interested in hearing what kind of stuff you've seen with the triple tree drop. A couple of things I can imagine might go wrong:
1. Person doesn't drop the tree equally - tubes are different lengths and creates a steering nightmare;
2. Person fails to properly tighten the bolts and the tubes completely slip out while the person's riding.

Either of those would indeed be ugly! But are there other things you were thinking about as cautions?

Also, when you said "use 2" progressives" - did you mean Progessive shocks on the rear that are two inches lower than our stock, or did you mean fork springs?
 

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Giggity!
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Don't forget to adjust your head light after all those angle changes. Hate for you to head out one evening (away from home) and realize, $#!* I can't see where I'm going. lol

Seriously, Have you checked in with Bman23777? He used a lowering bracket a few years back. He would be good to see any long term ill affect. Can't imagine it being to bad though.
 

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I've heard stories of people lowering the front end of various bikes too much and when the bike goes over a harsh bump the front fender has made contact with the radiator :BLAM: $$. Putting 2" shorter fork springs in the fork tubes would bring the fender 2" closer to the radiator the same as raising the tubes in the triple clamp 2" would. (I'll never understand people that put heavy metal tools in fork pouches that hang down below their headlight.)

<Edit> actually lemmie think about that. The fender would be closer, but with shorter springs you wouldn't have as much travel so it may not be as bad. But who wants less suspension travel and a harsher ride?

The benefits to moving the fork tubes up in the triple clamps are that of course it's free, easy to do (we have center stands! :rockon:), you can play with changing them 1/2", 3/4" or 1" and it's easily reversible.

Lowering the front forks in any way will change the angle of rake and trail and will quicken the steering of the bike slightly. Notice the angle of the forks on sport bikes versus choppers.

Lowering the rear end will also change this angle (in the opposite direction) and make the bike a slower turner, however it will feel a bit more stable in a straight line at highway speeds.

OK, I'm in for 3 cents now. -Sloppy
 

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Giggity!
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(I'll never understand people that put heavy metal tools in fork pouches that hang down below their headlight.)


OK, I'm in for 3 cents now. -Sloppy
I think that was a poke! lol
 

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Sparky!!!
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as Sloppy said, Tires/front fenders hit the radiator, high speed death wobble, decreced stering geometry, are a few of the things that accounted for the accidents..

I was referring to the Progressive lower fork springs... Now this is where Sloppy and I disagree... The Progressive Spring Company had been in the aftermarket suspension business for a long time in both auto and in the Powersport worlds. The progressive 2" lowering fork kit's springs are actually about 3" longer than stock springs, but the weight of the bike causes the springs to drop and give the springs more preload. I haven't run progressive Fork Spring,s yet, but run a set of Progressive Coils on My cherokee, and on my 77 Bronco. And can attest that their springs offer a lot better suspension than the stock springs.


Here is a quote Taken from Jerry Smith, a bike builder and customiser for over 40 years in the industry.
Lowering the Front End

"First, as a general rule, never lower the front without lowering the rear," Langley says. "You can lower the rear without lowering the front, and what it does is give the bike more of a chopper effect. But if you just lower the front, you unbalance the bike the wrong way." Many bikes can be lowered by approximately an inch in the front fairly easily by modifying or removing the stock preload spacer. Some bikes come with preload spacers that compress the fork springs an inch or more when the fork is unloaded. Shortening the spacer drops the front end of a bike an amount roughly equal to what you removed from the spacer. But be careful not to go beyond the point where there is minimal pressure on the spring when the suspension is fully extended. If you go beyond this point, your bike will be effectively springless when the front extends completely, as when the front wheel drops into a dip in the road at speed. Not a pretty scenario.

If you want to lower your front end more than an inch, says Langley, probably you'll have to do it mechanically. "What we do is put a spacer, which is really a short spring, under the damper rod. That fools the fork into thinking it's shorter, and doesn't let it come back up to full extension." If the fork has a preload spacer on top of the spring, you also might have to remove or shorten it, or the spring will be too compressed when the fork is at rest. Depending on the bike, you may need shorter main fork springs because you've taken up so much travel that the springs will not let the fork compress fully before the coils contact each other, preventing the fork from compressing.
this quote can be found HERE
I found this on a sports Bike tech center.. even though we are talking abouot a cuiser type bike the laws Physics and Geometry still apply
Why Can't You Just Raise The Fork Tubes In The Triple Clamp?

Those of you who use our recommended suspension settings as a starting point have noticed that we often lower the front end to compensate for different tires by raising the fork tubes in the triple clamps. So why not just lower the front end even more by using the same method? The reason is that there's very little room to play with before the front fender and tire hit the lower triple clamp under hard braking. This could cause the fender to jam itself into the tire, resulting in the front tire locking up, and well...you know what happens next. Shortening the suspension basically brings the fork or shock farther down into its travel, while altering the spring rate so that it behaves normally (more on that later).

On most bikes that run the top of the fork tubes flush with the top triple clamp, raising the tubes about 15mm is the safe limit before you'll run into clearance problems with the front fender/ lower triple clamp. If this is sufficient to get the seat height low enough so that you feel comfortable at a stop, you're in luck. Some sportbikes run the tubes slightly higher than the top triple clamp in stock form, and a few have graduated marks on the fork to ease height alignment on both tubes. The lowest mark on the tube is often the limit for raising the fork in the triple clamps. However, ALWAYS CHECK CLEARANCE BEFORE RIDING WITH THE FORK TUBE AT THE LOWEST MARK. The only real way to do this is to raise the bike's front end off the ground with a proper stand (one that raises the bike from the lower triple clamp, NOT the race stands that prop up under the bottom of the fork tubes), remove the fork springs and slowly raise the fork until it bottoms out.
DON'T JUST LOWER ONE END-Maintain The Correct Chassis Attitude

Any time you lower either end of a motorcycle, you must lower the opposite end an identical amount. Unless you want to change the bike's steering characteristics (which should only be done if you have a comprehensive grasp of motorcycle steering geometry), you must maintain the bike's chassis attitude to avoid handling problems. Changing the front or rear ride heights by as little as 5mm can have a dramatic effect on how a bike handles in the corners.This is why it's essential to use the correct spring rate when lowering either end of the motorcycle a drastic amount. Shortening the fork requires cutting the fork springs in order to maintain the correct spring rate, otherwise the fork will ride extremely stiff since it will be at the bottom of its travel. It's also necessary to check suspension sag measurements (like you'd normally do) after modifying, using slightly smaller figures to compensate for the shortened suspension travel; that way the bike will maintain the correct chassis attitude during cornering, instead of riding higher on one end or the other.

The majority of current sportbikes use a cartridge fork, which employs an oil damping mechanism housed in an internal cylinder to handle suspension control. Shortening the fork requires disassembling the cartridge; this is a delicate piece of equipment, and taking it apart requires specialized tools and a person skilled in handling these components. Even shortening a traditional damper rod fork requires some mechanical expertise, so this is a job best left to a specialist. On the West Coast, try Lindemann Engineering (408/371-6151, www.le-suspension.com) or Race Tech (909/279-6655, www.racetech.com); or Traxxion Dynamics (770/592-3823, www.traxxion.com).
further reading can be found HERE And here is a simple brake down of all the Math involved with why lowering the front with out lowering the rear is a bad idea.

If (and I am planning on doing this to my CX500 for my daughter) I were to lower a bike with springs I would go with the progressive for springs and a set of progressive shocks desinged for that particular bike... VN750 Progreessive Suspension 2" lowering parts
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Great info, everyone, thank you. Sounds like Denny's suggestion of a 3/4" change is well within "normal" and shouldn't create "death wobbles" (yikes!). And D's right - I'll do my homework before I do anything, and will triple check everything before I hit the road. Of course, still have to put that rear cylinder head back together...but hopefully I'll get a chance to do some wrenching this weekend. :)
 

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:doh: Uh, sorry there Kanuck69 no offense meant. What do you keep in there anyway? Beautiful bike by the way! Your fork bag actually works well with the lines of your bike looks-wise.

The opposite headlight effect happened on my '94 Sportster. After lowering the rear 2" the headlight could not be aimed down low enough.

Slimvulcan, that's some cool stuff. Lots of good info in your last post. You've obviously done your homework on this one. One thing you gotta admit though, swapping out fork springs is a huge pain in the rear and way more expensive ($118.95+!) compared to raising the fork tubes 3/4" of an inch for free.

Crobins, if you go the spring change route. One helpful trick to use when changing fork springs: Without the spring in the tube, put the fork cap on top of the fork tube then slowly screw it on. Use a marker to mark the spot where the threads start to catch. This way later on when you have the spring in and you're using all of your upper body strength to compress the spring as you screw the fork cap on, you won't have to spin it and spin it trying to figure out the spot where the threads catch.

-Sloppy
 

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as Sloppy said, Tires/front fenders hit the radiator, high speed death wobble, decreced stering geometry, are a few of the things that accounted for the accidents..

I was referring to the Progressive lower fork springs... Now this is where Sloppy and I disagree... The Progressive Spring Company had been in the aftermarket suspension business for a long time in both auto and in the Powersport worlds. The progressive 2" lowering fork kit's springs are actually about 3" longer than stock springs, but the weight of the bike causes the springs to drop and give the springs more preload. I haven't run progressive Fork Spring,s yet, but run a set of Progressive Coils on My cherokee, and on my 77 Bronco. And can attest that their springs offer a lot better suspension than the stock springs.


Here is a quote Taken from Jerry Smith, a bike builder and customiser for over 40 years in the industry. this quote can be found HERE
I found this on a sports Bike tech center.. even though we are talking abouot a cuiser type bike the laws Physics and Geometry still apply
further reading can be found HERE And here is a simple brake down of all the Math involved with why lowering the front with out lowering the rear is a bad idea.

If (and I am planning on doing this to my CX500 for my daughter) I were to lower a bike with springs I would go with the progressive for springs and a set of progressive shocks desinged for that particular bike... VN750 Progreessive Suspension 2" lowering parts
I don't really care who is quoted saying what,what I am telling you is the truth because I have done it for years and I know it affects the balance of the bike ,after all isn't that what this thread is about?The people you quoted make some good points about 2 completely different types of bikes.But your own quotes prove part of what I am saying! It says that lowering the bike much at all requires a mechanical change ,loosening and moving the trees is a mechanical change.Like I said I weigh north of 290 and lowered the front of mine as described ,with no ill effects,no fender hitting the radiator ,no death wobbles,and I was looking for decreased rake and a quicker handling bike,which I got I am not talking about a sport bike with very short for tubes and very little rake to begin with an very little clearance between the fender and radiator.
Have you looked at the Vn's front forks ,even completely compressed at the height I suggested it is over 3" fully compressed,to the radiator.
Now to show you what the guy you were talking about knew what he was talking about and that you are taking it out of context.A lot of the Race Replica style sport bikes are designed with the bars mounted under the trees around the fork tube.There have been those who have taken the tubes ot of the trees,moved the fork tubes up through the trees far enough to place the clip on style bars above the trees(better than an inch)there by lowering the front end rather than buy a different spring spacer setup(which in this case they should) and installed the cheapest lowering kit they could on the back so it would be dropped equally on both ends,
I have seen this setup and it is dangerous
.I know one Idiot who actually trimmed the rear of the front fender to keep it from hooking the cowling when he dropped it back down after power wheelies.If you still don't think I know what I am talking about Google lowering a Ninja 650R and see what the company selling the lowering kits tell you to do about lowering the front.,it has a conventional tube and slider front end Like our vn rather than an inverted front fork like Z1R or a meanie.BTW a cartridge style fork refers to the method of dampening internal to the fork i.e. cartridge vs dampening rod ,not the way the fork is mounted. The 05 Classic I now have uses cartridge dampening and it is conventionally styled with the lower legs sliding over the tubes while the meanies were inverted.
Long story short ,It is this simple if I tell you a Rooster can pull a freight train,you had better start looking for a harness for the Rooster.When I tell you I have done this and it has worked fine for two years on this bike,Believe it.
I have nothing to gain by telling anyone ,something I don't know about and have tried myself personally.And the absolute last thing I would want to do is to tell some one something that could harm them or others.
There is more than one way to accomplish any thing .I agree progressive makes a good product,But one baby step here could solve the whole problem without all the expense and time ,Just saying.
 
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