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Have you ever looked at the rear end of a performance-oriented motorcycle and noticed that its wheel looks out of place? As if it’s pushed out much too far behind the bike? Don’t worry; you’re not hallucinating. “Stretching a motorcycle” with an extended swingarm or kit is a common practice for bikers. So, what does it mean? 

In most street-riding contexts, an extended swingarm is more of a statement than a practical part of a motorcycle

An extended swingarm acts in a similar capacity to a wheelie bar on a drag racing vehicle. It can cut down on a high-horsepower bike’s inherent tendency to raise its front wheel and lose stability. Take a look at NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Drag Racing. The riders sit well ahead of a wide, sticky rear tire.

For most riders, however, the extended swingarm is a means to achieve the stretched motorcycle look. Think of popular, albeit less-than-practical trends in two-wheeled communities. For instance, some riders install hilariously tall “ape hanger” handlebars on Harley-Davidsons and other cruisers. An argument could be made for comfort, but it’s mostly an image-conscious decision. 

A NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Racing riders on stretched motorcycles designed to drag race.
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Racing | Michael Allio, Icon Sportswire, Corbis via Getty Images

It’s a popular option among Suzuki Hayabusa and GSX-R riders. However, it’s not limited to high-horsepower, full-fairing motorcycles. Perhaps just for shock value and full-body laughs, owners of small bikes like the Honda GROM have stretched their motorcycles. 

To accomplish the stretched ride, owners can purchase aftermarket extended swingarms to punch out the back tire. Furthermore, if owners want to complete the drag racing posture, some aftermarket swingarms will accommodate wider rear tires. 

Still, stretching a motorcycle doesn’t always require an out-of-the-box extended swingarm. Many sportbike owners who want to push their back tire out can purchase a kit. Specifically, the kit will add inches to both sides of your sportbike’s factory swingarm.

However, installing such a kit isn’t as simple as adding the extra lengths. No, you’ll need to include a longer chain and a longer brake line. Moreover, owners who lengthen their swingarm should adjust their ride height to be complimentary, per HowStuffWorks. Consequently, riders who modify a single attribute of their motorcycle’s ride can negatively impact the bike’s geometry. Moreover, you might want to purchase a new kickstand or modify your factory kickstand so your bike doesn’t sit at an awkward angle.