How Do I Know If My Motorcycle Rear Shocks Are Bad

How Do I Know If My Motorcycle Rear Shocks Are Bad?

Having difficulties with your riding comfort but don’t know how do I know if my motorcycle rear shocks are bad? Rear shocks are an essential component of your motorcycle. This is because they directly contribute to making your ride comfortable and saving you from fatigues caused by road bumps and uneven terrains.

But when you ride too much, your body begins to get used to the bumps on the road. And most of the time, you don’t even know your rear shocks have gone bad and need replacement. You only know about them when your body starts to ache, especially your tailbone and lower back area.

This brief guide will discuss if your rear shocks have gone bad and how you can replace them yourself.

How Often Should Rear Shocks be Serviced?

Rear Shocks service

Most people have the same question “how do I know if my motorcycle rear shocks are bad.” Don’t worry; this review has got you covered.

The most important thing you need to know is how often rear shocks should be serviced. This depends on how much you ride. Ideally, you should service your rear shocks every three years.

You can go up to five years without service, especially if you ride the road more often. Racers have to go for a service every couple of years, which is similar to the riders of the off-road conditions.

How Do I Know If My Motorcycle Rear Shocks are Bad and Need Replacing?

Bad Rear Shocks Need Replacement

You might be wondering, “how do I know if my motorcycle rear shocks are bad.” An easier way to tell is, you will notice some excessive oil leaks from the shocks and rubber seals.

Some shocks tend to get rusted along with the coils. You can see by trying to polish them and see if the rust is just on the surface. If the rust has costume coils, your shock can snap, and it’s not safe to ride your bike.

Some of the shocks are built hard, while other shocks are tender. The softer ones are there in dirt bikes. For a roadster, your shock doesn’t need to be bouncing around too much. You will notice your bike is bottoming out a lot, even on more minor bumps. This is the time when you need to change your rear shocks.

How to Change Rear Shocks – Step by Step

Thinking about how to change the rear shocks? Changing your rear shocks is simple and straightforward, and you won’t have any problem if you know how to remove your bike wheel from its body. Some older bikes have tough linking systems, and disconnecting the wheel might take longer than you think. But newer bikes have solved this problem significantly.

While you are taking your wheel off, look for any rusted areas and wear and tear as well. You will only need a decent tool along with a torque wrench. Make sure to have some grease for lubricating those moving parts.

Have a good look at your new rear shock

New rear shock

You need to have a thorough look at your new shock and examine it closely. Based on your model, you might have to remove other parts like the battery case and panels to get to your rear shock. But in most models, you will only have to remove the wheel and its linkages to get to the rear shocks.

Support your bike with its rear wheel off the ground

It’s time to get to work, and you must provide support to your bike with its rear wheel off the ground, so you can conveniently work on the back end and take the wheel out of the rig. You can always use a paddock stand as this way, the swingarm will be free to move around, and the bike won’t fall. You need to support it from beneath. Make sure the bike leans forward.

Removing the wheel

Removing the wheel

Remove the wheel spindle along with the rear wheel. Some bike models will allow you to check from the frame rails without removing the wheel. But removing it will take some load off those linkages. You will also feel it easy to access those spanners and sockets with the wheel out.

Undo the bolts

You need to undo the bolts easily accessible from the top to the bottom while holding your shock in place. If both the bolts are easily accessible, remove their nuts but leave those bolts until you are all set to pull them out.

Jiggle that swingarm as you pull your bolts free. You can ask someone to help you push the bolts from the opposite side using a thin shaft like a screwdriver. If any bolts are corroded, you might need a hammer to take them out.

You can use WD-40 for this purpose to get them undone. If they are still seized, you can go for localized heat using a gas torch, but it would be better to ask your local dealer for that.

Removing the shock

Now it’s time to carefully remove the shock but keep in mind how it goes. Do notice all those spacers and bushes too that might drop on the ground and vanish. You need to be very careful to avoid any scratches or any paint off the parts. Try it out a few times and from different angles before you can wiggle it free from the body.

Fit in the new shock

It’s time to fit in the new shock, and you need to check and corroborate if it’s the same size as the original. The fittings need to be the same as well. If you use the old bolts with your new shock, make sure the bolts are free from corrosion and rust. For that, you will have to clean them properly using grip paper. If they are too corroded, replace them.

Grease everything

Apply Grease

Before you begin reassembly, make sure you grease up everything. All the bushes, bolts, and hardware need to be adequately greased. Also, lubricate those swingarms or other exposed parts for the prevention of corrosion. You can also check around those linkages and squirt the grease nipples with your grease gun.

Set the base settings

Before you begin with the reassembly, you need to take your rear shock in your hand and set the base settings for the damping adjusters and spring preload. It will enable you to save your knuckles from skinning when you are holding your shock tightly. Preload adjustment shocks should be set to match your rider’s weight.

Go with the assembly

Now it’s time to fit the new shock into the assembly by wiggling it in there just like the way you took the old one out. Just be careful not to scratch it and push the top end of the shock into the mount and refit the mounting bolt. By raising that swingarm, you will line it up and fit your remaining bolts by moving back and forth.

Fit in the securing nuts

Fit the nuts

You will need to fit in those securing nuts by first finger tightening them and then tightening them up to the correct torque figure with the help of a torque wrench. Professionals suggest that you go for a day of Loctite or thread locking compound to ensure that the fitting remains in place.

Twin rear shock bikes

The bikes that come with twin rear shocks are much easier to handle. You need to swap the old shocks with the new ones, piece by piece. But you will have to check if the fitting is the same.


Is it tough to change rear shocks?

No, changing rear shocks is relatively straightforward. You only have to disconnect the lower and top mounts. In some models, you might have to remove the other parts. These include panels etc., but it’s not that difficult.

How long do these rear shocks on motorcycles last?

In most cases, you have to replace a rear shock after three years if you have used your bike quite frequently. But if you haven’t used it regularly, you can go for five years as well.

What will happen if the rear shocks are bad?

Your riding comfort will jeopardize significantly. You will notice that your bike is bottoming out. This happens even on minor bumps, and your body will feel those bumps a lot. Your riding experience won’t remain pleasant as once it used to be.


If you are thinking, “how do I know if my motorcycle rear shocks are bad,” it’s time to start taking action. You will experience a bumpier and uncomfortable ride. It will make riding your bike a pain in your lower back and tailbone area.

Therefore, you need to replace your rear shock. This is to make sure that your riding comfort stays where it was when your bike was all new. Just make sure you go for the rigid rear shock size and fitting to make the replacement process smoother.

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