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Author Topic: FAQ: Short Riders  (Read 68369 times)
somegirl
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« on: May 13, 2008, 01:21:37 PM »

This thread is to provide tips for short riders.

Short bikes:
It helps to have a shorter, lighter bike to ride.  Being able to flat-foot is not a requirement for riding, although it is certainly beneficial, particularly for newer riders.  Your inseam is the critical measurement, not your total height.
Suggestions for sportbikes include:
  • Kawasaki Ninja 250R (aka EX250)
  • Kawasaki Ninja 500R (aka EX500)
  • Suzuki GS500
  • Ducati Monster 620
  • Ducati Monster 695
  • Ducati Monster 696

Lowering a bike:
There are two ways to do this, suspension adjustments or seat adjustments. 
Suspension adjustments (e.g. lowering link) are reversible, but can affect cornering ability.
Seat adjustments include shaving the seat (top and sides) or getting an aftermarket seat.

Boots:
Some boots are especially designed to increase the height of the rider.  Examples include the Daytona Lady Star and Daytona M-Star (for men).

Riding techniques:
Most of the issues faced by short riders are in starting/stopping and parking situations, not actual riding.
  • Realize that you don't have to back up your bike while seated on it.  It is ok to get off the bike and roll it into place.
  • Scan ahead for flatter areas to park and stop in; avoid stopping on hills if you can.  It's better to park farther away and walk if it is more secure.
  • Look out for little dips in the road as well as the camber (the way the road slopes from side to side) when deciding which foot to put down.
  • Practice uphill starts on gentle slopes: keep your left foot down and your right foot on the rear brake.  Slip the clutch and when you feel it start to grab, gradually ease off the rear brake.

Other resources:
Short Bike List (not recently updated)
Short Bike List FAQ (not recently updated)
VTwin Mama's Motorcycles For Short Riders List (not recently updated)
« Last Edit: May 14, 2008, 02:01:38 PM by msincredible » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2008, 02:15:12 PM »

I bought the Ninja 250 for my wife, and had to remove the dogbone links and replace them with adjustable ones. This allowed me to drop the bike 3 inches. She can flat foot it pretty easily now.

She wanted a sporty looking bike and the only thing she fit was the rebel. (A lowered Ninja was a good compromise.) I hear the 696 is narrower and may be able to be lowered easier for the shorter riders.

She is 5' 2" .. but long torso and shorter legs ... if anybody finds a better bike than the 250 for the short peeps... let me know... cause I want to upgrade her at some point in the future.
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2008, 04:03:13 PM »

I'm 5'4" with 29" inseam...I picked up a Suzuki GS500E (1998) some weeks back.  It's a great starter bike. 
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scienceiscool
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2008, 04:45:44 PM »

You should consider seat width and overall bike geometry rather than just seat height.  For example, I manage my husband's Daytona 675 even though the seat is very tall, because it's also very narrow and lightweight.  Learning how to stop with one leg, your ass scooted partly (or entirely!) off the seat, is key - you have to carefully manage the balance as you're stopping.

Seats:  DP gel and Corbin are lower than stock.  Sargent is about the same as stock but wider and the most comfy IMO. [moto]

Short sport riders may be steered toward the Buell Blast, but beware because it is a total crap bike.  The Ninja 250 is hands down best bike for short newbies with sporty aspirations.

Your "managing tall bike" skills will improve along with your overall riding skills.  So if you want something to flatfoot as a starter, it doesn't mean you'll be confined to bikes that short forever.  When I first got my monster, I had it lowered with a dogbone until I was comfortable with it, then put it back to stock height.

You might sometimes need a push when backing up on the bike on rough terrain or incline.  There is no shame in this.

>Nicola - 5'2", 28" inseam
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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2008, 05:47:37 PM »

The Buell 12Scg is also a bike designed for short riders. It has a seat height of 28.6 inches http://buell.com/en_us/bikes/streetfighter/xb12scg/features.asp

Also the M-Star or L-Star Frey Daytona boots - integrated insole raising the heel by 2.5 cm and the toes by 8 mm for higher stand and easier rest on the motorbike. http://www.daytona.de/english/boots_e/gore.html

I have had mine since 2003. They are so comfortable I wear them all the time even off the motorcycle.



Last but not Least I ordered a Custom Corbin seat that lowered the seat height about an Inch. http://www.corbin.com/

See the before and after picture below of my bike





« Last Edit: May 13, 2008, 05:54:20 PM by ROBsS4R » Logged

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ro-monster
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2008, 02:08:44 AM »

(I apologize if this is too elementary for most people, but I have been asked for this advice by experienced riders too.)

1. The way I get on my Monster, which is short enough for me to swing a leg over and has a flimsy sidestand: Leave the bike resting on the sidestand. Stand on the left side of the bike with your hands on the bars. Hold the front brake and swing (or wriggle) your right leg over the seat. (I have to stand on tiptoe to do this.) Slide up onto the seat and push the bike upright with your left leg, putting your right foot down. Raise the sidestand and put the bike in gear.

2. The way I get onto my DR650, which has a sturdy sidestand and is too tall for me to swing a leg over: Leave the bike resting on the sidestand. Stand on the left side of the bike with your hands on the bars. Hold the front brake and climb onto the left footpeg with your left foot. Now swing your right leg over the seat. Once you're sitting on the seat, place your left foot (just my toes reach) on the ground and lever the bike upright by using a combination of pressure on the right handlebar and your weight on the right footpeg. Then slide across the seat, put your right foot down, raise the sidestand and put the bike in gear.

Note that neither of these methods will work well if you're parked perpendicular to a slope. If the left side is facing downhill it will be too hard to get the bike upright. If the right side is facing downhill you're likely to fall over. What I do in that case is walk the bike to a spot where I'm facing directly uphill or downhill and get on there.

3. Another method I've seen but have never tried myself. Your bike must be running and in gear to do this one. Stand on the left side of the bike with the sidestand up, the clutch pulled in, and squeeze the front brake. You'll need to balance yourself on your left foot while keeping the bike vertical with your arms. Work your right foot over the seat until you can reach the right footpeg. Release the brake, roll on the throttle, let out the clutch, and pull yourself up onto the seat as the bike starts moving.
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2008, 04:47:17 AM »

I had a beeyatch of a time finding a starter bike. My inseam is right around 27" - which didn't exactly leave me many options. Even bikes like the Ninja and GS500 would have been too tall for me to start. A lot of you know this already but for those who don't, I picked up a Suzuki GSF 400 Bandit. It's a sporty bike but it has a more standard seating position than some of the other sport bikes, which I believe will lend itself well to learning with minimized fatigue. They are somewhat hard to find, but they are definitely out there and they are a small bike. In doing research on them, I've found that they are actually a better bike than the GS500 in a lot of ways. It helps to have a friend or SO with some mechanical knowledge though, as they are somewhat unique. We also ordered my tires in a slightly lower profile (still a safe acceptable size however) as to bring it down just a tiny bit more.
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2008, 10:22:03 AM »

In doing research on them, I've found that they are actually a better bike than the GS500 in a lot of ways. It helps to have a friend or SO with some mechanical knowledge though, as they are somewhat unique. We also ordered my tires in a slightly lower profile (still a safe acceptable size however) as to bring it down just a tiny bit more.

I would have liked to have had a bandit but already had the license and was too itchy to start getting out on the road.  I wanted something that I could get on and start practicing.  I admire your patience in this project as you will have something extraordinarily unique.  I am just not a very patient person  (ask my 9-year old)!
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2008, 10:49:22 AM »

I can't say I blame you. The funny thing is, I'm not really that patient either. For some reason though, I don't get antsy with bike projects *shrugs* I'll probably take the MSF, hate every minute of it, and sell the darn bike after doing all that work  laughingdp That's the kind of luck I have!  cheeky
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ro-monster
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2008, 01:53:48 PM »

Another good option for a starter bike, one that's often overlooked, is a small dual sport such as the Yamaha XT 225/250 (it got a bigger engine in 2008). Sure it says the seat height is 31.8 inches, but that's deceptive because the seat is extremely narrow and the long-travel suspension compresses quite a bit even with a small rider. It feels much lower.

Little dual sports are great because they're so light you can just toss them around like a bicycle. If you drop the bike (as a short beginner inevitably does) it's easy to pick up, and not likely to get broken. They're cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, and cheap to insure. They thrive on bad pavement. And of course, you can go ride in the dirt if the mood strikes you!
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somegirl
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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2008, 07:01:28 PM »

mangeldbug posted a nice How-To on shaving a stock seat as well as adding a gel insert.

Also I thought of another tip.

I used to have difficulty filling my gas tank, especially in CA, where you have to hold the collar back while you fill.  I wasn't tall enough to hold the pump vertically, so it would splash out a lot.  I then discovered if I hook the hose over my shoulder, and use my thumb to press the trigger upwards, I can hold it vertically and avoid splashing.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 10:45:04 PM by somegirl » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 08:27:35 AM »

Have any of you short riders moved onto biker sportbikes after you've started?  I have all these aspirations of getting myself a fancy 848 or something but the seat height puts me off.  Reading this I can see that it doesn't really matter but I wanted to see what people's actual experiences have been. 

I think I'm going to be getting a pair of those Daytona boots.  They look pretty decent and I wouldn't mind being able to flat foot my bike with both feet.

5'8" roughly 30" inseam.
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 06:13:34 PM »

Thought I'd add a bit.

When lowering the seat height by using the suspension, don't do it by tampering with the stiffness of the shock. This screws up the balance of the bike. (I know, I did this.) Also, once you replace the stock link with a shorter link you should check the lean of your bike when it's on the sidestand. Depending on how much you've lowered the bike you may want to consider purchasing a shorter sidestand as well to make the bike lean more naturally instead of being too upright. Also, lowering only the rear suspension can mess up the handling of the bike as well. Try to lower the front suspension an equal amount to keep the balance correct.

I totally agree with what was said by scienceiscool about seat width being a concern as well as seat height. A common suggestion is to just carve off a bunch of foam on the stock seat but keep in mind that this widens the portion of the seat you have to stand over as well and therefor spreads your legs wider - not necessarily a good thing if you're already having a hard time reaching the floor. So if you're shaving off the top of the seat remember to taper the sides as well but be careful to leave enough foam around the edges so that the hard pan of the seat doesn't rub against the inside of your leg.

Also, I think I had a couple pictures of the different seats on the monster that someone posted and I'll put those up once I get home. Summary was that Corbin is lowest but widest, Sargent is tallest but comfiest. Sargent seats are also tapered away from the tank meaning that they force the rider to sit farther away from the tank. This is problematic because it causes you to have to lean over much more to reach the bars. I'm 5'4 and had to have my Sargent seat customized to remove the hump at the front of the seat and move the start of the passenger portion of the seat up to help keep me from sliding away from the tank.

When a short rider is starting to learn how to ride it's important to practice stopping and putting either foot down. When I started riding I always did what my CHP riding class taught me and always put my left foot down first. Then I came up to a stop on a road where the slope was perpendicular to the bike w/ downhill on the left. I kept telling myself, "Right foot down, right foot down," but habit kicked in and I tried to put my left foot down and fell over. Practicing putting either foot down will help you adjust to slopes in the road better and reduce the chance of you tipping over.

Which brings me to the next important thing for short riders. Learn how to pick up your bike. No offense (I fall in the short category too) but short riders are more likely fall over when learning how to ride than tall riders. Knowing how to pick up your bike is important.

Also learn how to push your bike around while standing next to it. This one's been said before but I've found it extremely helpful to know this skill since walking the bike around isn't practical for short people. Remember, same as with picking up the bike, put your hip below the seat and carry the weight of the bike with your hip, not your arms.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 06:55:04 PM by erkishhorde » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2008, 05:10:30 PM »


Also the M-Star or L-Star Frey Daytona boots - integrated insole raising the heel by 2.5 cm and the toes by 8 mm for higher stand and easier rest on the motorbike. http://www.daytona.de/english/boots_e/gore.html

I have had mine since 2003. They are so comfortable I wear them all the time even off the motorcycle.



Can I ask where you got your boots?  I did some searching on the internet but can't seem to find a US dealer. 
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somegirl
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2008, 06:15:36 PM »

Can I ask where you got your boots?  I did some searching on the internet but can't seem to find a US dealer. 

Helimot carries the Daytona Lady Star and M-Star boots.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 10:45:43 PM by somegirl » Logged

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