The location of my 2013 F 800 GT’s foot pegs seemed unremarkable when I first got it. All of my previous on-road motorcycles had been sport bikes, sport-tourers, or sport-nakeds, so I was used to having my pegs relatively high and rearward; indeed, I considered such placement routine and advantageous. It was only as I settled more deeply into this bike’s mission (for me) as a long-distance mount that I became dissatisfied with its ergonomics. After installing handlebar risers that repositioned my torso more upright and replacing the stock windscreen with a taller one to match my new height in the saddle, I started to feel like my legs were oddly cramped by the proximity of the pegs to the seat – perhaps in part because I’d also chosen an aftermarket saddle slightly lower than the OEM to accommodate my short (30”) inseam.
Scanning owner forums for information about potential solutions revealed consistent praise for Suburban Machinery’s foot peg lowering kit. While alternatives also had fans, SM’s setup struck me as the most promising because it included a means of adjusting the shift lever to coincide with the revised peg location and it didn’t substitute non-hinged, purely metallic pegs for the rubber-insert-equipped stockers, a move which would have gone in the opposite direction of my intent – I was looking to maximize comfort, not extract the last little bit of feedback through the pegs valuable in hard-core sport riding.
SM’s Ohio-made kit (the DL-9 for my bike) is straightforward. CNC-machined adapters replace the foot pegs and provide new mounting brackets that work just like the originals, except they’re (by my awkward measurements) 1.8” lower, 0.5” forward, and 1.4” outboard of their prior locations; the stock pegs mount and fold upward exactly as they did from the factory. A third piece gets added to the gearshift linkage, allowing a greater range of adjustability and accommodating the lever’s relocation lower and further outboard (hinging on the adapter instead of the stock bracket).
Installation instructions from SM were complete, clearly written, and included helpful illustrations. I had just one small problem: the bore for the left adapter’s retaining pin (the one securing it to the OEM bracket) was very slightly out of place, so the pin could not pass through both holes in the stock bracket. The pin slipped readily through the top bracket hole and the adapter’s bore, but then fouled the edge of the bottom bracket hole. This was easily remedied using a Dremel tool with a grinding bit to relieve the bottom hole of a small amount of material (cast aluminum) on the edge blocking the pin. It only needed 0.5mm of additional clearance, but this was an unexpected irregularity in a kit otherwise extremely well-crafted. For all I know, the problem could have been imprecise alignment of the factory bracket holes, rather than a defect in the SM adapter. After all, in the stock configuration, the foot peg was more loosely situated than the adapter and didn’t require perfectly aligned holes for its pivot pin.
Installation involved two more challenges, neither of which reflected any fault in SM’s engineering or fabrication. First, adjusting the shift lever height required some trial-and-error. Because of the somewhat convoluted arrangement necessitated by the lever’s design, it must be removed for each change. Hence, you can’t make fine adjustments with the lever in place and immediately see what you’re getting. Each change must be some number of full rotations around a threaded rod with the shifter dangling off its pivot. This is not a horrible inconvenience, but it does mean getting the lever where you want may take several multi-step removals and replacements. Tip: If you don’t have an E8 Torx socket for the linkage arm pinch-bolt, a quarter-inch socket will work.
The second challenge was relocating the brake pedal, which (on this bike) does not feature any adjustability from BMW. Changing its height is possible, but this procedure is potentially dangerous because an error can severely compromise rear brake function, leading to dragging brake pads, overheated/damaged parts, and a locked-up rear wheel. The critical factor is ensuring the brake fluid return valve is not blocked by the repositioned master cylinder plunger. It will be easy enough to determine if the pads are dragging due to the brake being partially engaged after making a change. But the fluid return issue won’t come into play until the brake has been activated and released a number of times. A blocked return circuit will make the brake work like a ratchet – tightening but not fully returning to its open position, and eventually remaining engaged without pressure at the pedal.
Not everyone will feel the need to reposition their brake pedal after lowering their pegs. Such ergonomic considerations are idiosyncratic and depend on the rider’s preferences and footwear dimensions. If you determine pedal relocation is necessary, proceed with extreme caution through the following steps. Of course, if your bike’s brake pedal features built-in adjustability, the process will be much simpler and safer; refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Here’s how to lower the F 800 GT’s brake pedal. First, loosen the locknut on the master cylinder plunger; it’s the hex nut on top of the clevis attached to the pedal. Now the plunger can be rotated and its threads will move it in and out of the clevis, altering its effective length. You can probably do this with your fingers, but there’s a small hex shape for a wrench at the top of the exposed plunger shaft. If the pedal is relocated lower, the plunger will have to be shorter or it would activate the brake in the pedal’s resting position. The plunger is shortened by turning it so its threads draw it into the clevis. It should not be screwed in so far its tip contacts the pedal tab within the clevis. Before making any adjustment, rotate the rear wheel by hand with the bike on its center stand so you have a sense of how much effort it takes to turn it in its “free” state (you may be surprised by how much friction exists in the system before the brake adds more). Also note how far the pedal must be depressed before you feel more resistance to wheel rotation as the pads engage the disk. Now go ahead and screw the plunger further into the clevis so the pedal has room to go lower without activating the brake.
You’ll notice there’s a problem: No matter how much more room you give the pedal to go lower, it still returns to the same height, defeating your purpose. There’s a stop built into the nearby bracketry where a slender tab extending inboard from the pedal arm comes to rest. To hold the pedal down in a lower position, the relationship between the stop and tab must change. It’s much easier to make the tab taller than to lower the stop (which also incorporates the brake light switch, so lowering it would either negate the switch or require very complex restructuring). I used wheel balancing weights to increase the height of my tab. They’re sturdy, just the right size, and have a strong adhesive backing to keep them in place. A stack of two yielded an increased tab height of nine millimeters, which put the pedal tip where I wanted it; your preference may be different. Keep in mind you can’t adjust the pedal much further than this, as there’s only so much change possible at the plunger. Also, whatever you use to increase the tab height must extend the full length of the tab to activate the brake light switch, which is nearly invisible up inside the bracketry.
The tricky part is adjusting the plunger to provide normal brake operation with the pedal in its new position. Turn the rear wheel with your hand. Does it feel like it did before, or can you already feel drag from the brake? If the brake is dragging, the plunger is too long (too far out of the clevis); turn it in until the wheel spins “freely” (meaning as freely as it did originally). Once brake drag is eliminated with the pedal in its resting position, check the amount of movement at the pedal tip before you detect brake drag during wheel rotation. How does this compare to what you felt before relocating the pedal? If there’s more slack, turn the plunger out of the clevis to make it longer; less slack indicates you should turn it in. When you have restored the pedal’s original range of motion in its new position and cinched down the locknut, you’re ready to do some testing.
With the bike still on its center stand, pump the brake repeatedly and check to see if the wheel spins freely after multiple pumps; you’re looking for the ratcheting effect described earlier. Do this at least a dozen times, as the ratcheting effect can accumulate in small increments. If all seems well, go for a very limited test ride in a safe location where you can stop frequently to check the rear brake for signs of overheating. It will get warmer in normal operation, and warmer parts expand and behave differently. An infrared thermometer will let you quickly and easily determine if the brake disk and caliper warm up and plateau, or continue to get hotter and hotter. Stopping frequently to check will allow you to catch an overheating brake system before it causes lock-up. If you detect dragging/overheating, the plunger must be readjusted, so have the required 10 mm (locknut) and 6 mm (plunger) wrenches handy.
In the event of overheating, the plunger is still too long (too far out of the clevis), even if it didn’t cause brake drag from the start. The plunger must have room to exit the master cylinder far enough to open the valve allowing fluid return; this is a bit further than what is required to simply relieve active pressure on the system from the pedal when everything is fresh. Move the plunger further into the clevis to shorten its effective length and allow it to move further out of the master cylinder. The only downside of it moving further than necessary out of the master cylinder (further into the clevis) is you’ll have to depress the pedal further to get the same amount of braking pressure.
The sheer length of the above procedural description is misleading. None of the brake pedal adjustment process is difficult, but the stakes are very high and careful attention is needed to avoid catastrophic consequences. Likewise, take care when reassembling and tightening the shift lever linkage, as a malfunction there could also cause loss of control. If you have any doubts about your ability to perform the above procedures, have this work done by a qualified mechanic.
There’s one final consideration: whereas the shift lever moves outboard with the adapter, the brake pedal remains on its original pivot. Given the stubby dimensions of the pedal tip, this means the rider may now have to turn their toe slightly inward to reach it. Whether this is bothersome depends on individual factors, but some may want to add an extension to the pedal tip. Keep in mind such accessories will also raise the pedal’s surface level.
Dire warnings aside, installation of the SM foot peg lowering kit was simple and delivered excellent results. I was amazed at how much difference it made in my comfort level to move the pegs a short distance. I consider the kit well worth its price of $219.95, given its effectiveness and high-quality appearance. The pegs now fit the rest of bike’s ergonomic package. The seating position feels relaxed and spacious, and my knees are no longer at such an acute angle. If this kit made a big improvement for someone with short legs, it would almost certainly provide even greater benefit for anyone with longer limbs.