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The Role of a Motorcycle Swingarm in Suspension Systems: Explained

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If you're a motorcycle enthusiast, you likely know that the suspension system plays a crucial role in your motorcycle's performance and ride quality.

However, many riders need to pay more attention to the importance of the swingarm in the suspension system. The swingarm is vital in absorbing bumps and vibrations on the road, making your ride more convenient and safe.

In this guide, we will explore what is a swingarm on a motorcycle, explore the different types of swingarms available, their functions, and how they affect ride quality. 


What Is The Swingarm On A Motorcycle and How Does It Work?

People new to the world of motorcycles may be wondering what the swingarm on a motorcycle is and what it does.

The swingarm is a crucial component of a motorcycle's rear suspension system. It connects the rear wheel to the frame, allows for vertical movement, and helps get the impact from bumps and vibrations. It works by pivoting on a point near the motorcycle's engine, allowing the rear wheel to move up and down.

This movement is facilitated by the shock absorber, which is typically mounted to the swingarm and connected to the frame. 

When you hit a bump or pothole, the shock absorber compresses, absorbing the impact and preventing the wheel from bouncing.


Single vs. Double-Sided Swing Arms

When it comes to the swingarm on a motorcycle, there are two main types: single-sided and double-sided.

Single-sided swingarms for motorcycles are often used on high-performance motorcycles and provide a clean, streamlined look. They attach to the engine on one side and the wheel on the other, making removing the wheel easier.

On the other hand, double-sided swingarms attach to the frame on both sides and are commonly found on touring bikes and cruisers.

While they're a more traditional design, they offer excellent stability and a smoother ride. 

Choosing between single and double-sided swingarms often depends on personal preference and your riding type.

Motorcycle single swing arms can be more expensive, but they provide a distinctive look and continually improve handling.


Components and Features of a Swingarm

Understanding the various components and features is essential for proper maintenance and upgrades.

  • Pivot bolt: This bolt holds the swingarm in place on the motorcycle frame and allows it to pivot.

  • Bearings: The bearings allow the swingarm to pivot smoothly on the pivot bolt.

  • Axle: The axle connects the swingarm to the rear wheel and allows it to rotate.

  • Shock absorber mount: The mount is where the shock absorber is attached to the swingarm and helps to dampen the movement of the swingarm.

  • Chain adjusters: These bolts adjust the tension on the motorcycle chain, which is essential for proper motorcycle operation.

  • Reinforcement plates: These are typically located near the pivot bolt and help strengthen the swing arm for motorcycles. 

  • Styling: Swingarms can have various styling features, such as curved or straight designs, and may be made from different materials for aesthetic purposes.

Some swingarms come with features such as adjustable ride height, preload adjustment, and damping settings. These features help fine-tune the suspension system to your riding style and preferences.

Proper maintenance of the swingarm is crucial for ensuring its performance and safety. You should regularly inspect the swingarm for cracks, wear, or damage and lubricate the pivot points to prevent corrosion and ensure smooth movement.


How Does the Length of a Swingarm Affect Your Motorcycle Performance?

A longer swingarm can improve straight-line stability but may negatively impact cornering ability. Shorter swingarms provide better cornering ability but may reduce strength at high speeds.

The optimal swingarm length depends on the motorcycle's weight, power, and riding style. 

Riders prioritizing high-speed stability may opt for a longer swingarm, while those who value agility and cornering ability may prefer a shorter swingarm. It's worth noting that changing the swingarm length can also affect the motorcycle's overall balance and handling, so it's essential to consider these factors before making any modifications.

Looking to upgrade your motorcycle's suspension system or add a custom swingarm? Let Full Throttle be your partner in enhancing your ride. Call us now to discuss your options and get started.


What Are Swingarms Made of?

Swingarms can be made of various materials, including aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, and titanium. The choice of material usually depends on the motorcycle's intended use and the rider's preferences and budget.

  • Aluminum swingarms. They are popular due to their lightweight and durability, making them a common choice for high-performance motorcycles.

  • Steel swingarms. They are heavier but provide better rigidity and strength, making them popular for touring and cruiser bikes.

  • Carbon fiber. Often used in racing motorcycles due to its excellent strength-to-weight ratio.

  • Titanium swingarms. Popular for its strength and corrosion resistance. 


Importance of Regular Maintenance for the Swingarm

Regular maintenance of the swingarm is crucial for ensuring its proper function and extending its lifespan.

Neglecting maintenance can lead to wear, corrosion, and cracking, affecting the motorcycle's handling and safety. Maintenance tasks for the swingarm include:

  • Inspecting it for damage or wear

  • Lubricating the pivot points

  • Checking the shock absorber for leaks or damage

Ensuring that the swingarm is appropriately aligned and adjusted is also essential, as misalignment can cause uneven tire wear and affect handling.

If you need more confidence in your capacity to perform maintenance on the swingarm, it's best to take it to a professional mechanic. Regular motorcycle maintenance can help you avoid hefty repair costs and keep your motorcycle running smoothly and safely.


Should I Upgrade My Suspension if I Change My Swingarm?

Upgrading the swing arm suspension can significantly improve your motorcycle's overall performance and ride quality.

If you've changed your swingarm, upgrading your suspension to match the new component is worth considering.

A new swingarm may alter the geometry of the suspension system, which can affect handling and ride quality. Upgrading the suspension can help compensate for any changes in geometry and ensure that the motorcycle's handling remains stable and predictable.

When upgrading the suspension, you can choose from various options, such as new shock absorbers, fork springs, and damping settings.

It's worth consulting a professional mechanic or suspension specialist to determine the best upgrades for your motorcycle and riding style. 

Contact Full Throttle today to schedule an appointment for routine maintenance or repairs on your motorcycle in any of our locations in Houston, Texas. 


Keep Your Motorcycle Swingarm in Top Shape

The swingarm is an essential component of a swing arm suspension system, and understanding its function and maintenance needs is crucial for keeping your motorcycle in good condition.

At Full Throttle, we're committed to providing the highest quality service to our customers. Our team of experienced technicians is ready to assist you with simple maintenance or repairs and more complicated and technical service work.

From swingarm inspections and adjustments to complete suspension upgrades, we have the expertise to keep your motorcycle running smoothly and safely.

Located in Houston, we serve the entire area and are devoted to providing reliable and affordable service. 
Get in touch with us if you need assistance with any motorcycle repair or maintenance, or visit our locations in Houston today!