Motorcycles for New Short Riders
bike?”. I can only speak from experience, but I am going to try and give you all that I know as a 5’-0” tall rider. I have only had a dirtbike, a sportbike and a motard, so if any cruiser riders would like to chime in, that would be great.
Best motorcycle? Sorry, I can’t name every motorcycle with a low seat height, you really just need to go sit on as many as you can. Just be aware, seat height isn’t the only factor. You also need to consider the seat shape as well as the rider’s position on the bike. Both can change your reach, even though the seat height may be the same. I have sat on a stock height Ninja 250 and a newer model GSXR 600 and was able to nearly flat foot both.
Lowering? One of my biggest pet peeves in the biker world is when a brand new “vertically challenged” rider asks advice about lowering their bike and I hear/read from other riders “You should NEVER lower your bike, you’re ruining the motorcycle”. Ok, yes its true, it changes the geometry, and true you’re not going to be able to turn like Rossi, but hey, guess what…you’re not Rossi! You are new rider trying to learn and have fun.
Just get the bike to a height that you feel comfortable, learn to ride it with confidence, and if you want to, you can little by little, move it back up. Most new riders aren’t hitting the race track on day one. They are learning how to shift, how to be aware of their surroundings, how to look through a turn and how to stay safe. In my opinion, the last thing they need to worry about is tipping over at a red light. Now, I do feel that as your riding improves, you will want to raise it up. You’ll start to lean the bike over more, and you don’t want to drag parts. That’s not good.
Now, A few things to try before lowering the bike.
Easiest first. Your boots, there are some riding boots with a bit of a heal. This may help, just make sure it does not impede your foot controls.
Next have your motorcycle setup by a suspension specialist. He will adjust it to your weight and riding style. This may sometimes help with the reach. I had a spring that was way too stiff, when we switched that out, I was able to raise the whole bike up. Also, go to a professional if you decide to lower the motorcycle. The correct setup will make a world of difference even with a lowered bike.
Shave the Seat. All this means is to cut away some of the foam from the underside of the seat. There is not a lot to spare on most sportbikes, but on my motard I was able to cut away 2” and replace with 5/8” of gel. I think its more comfy than stock.
If you don’t want to change the bike, and you must have a bike that is too high, you’ll have to learn to one-foot at stops. Some riders do it with complete confidence. I do it on my motard, but I’m still working on being comfortable with it. Which reminds me of another crucial tip, learn to pick your bike up, you’ll probably drop it (frame sliders are your best friend).
I hope this helps some new short riders feel ok about doing what they need to do to be comfortable. Just remember, even with these adjustments, you may not be flat footed, and that’s ok as long as you feel stable and confident.
If you have any thoughts, or maybe an idea that I missed, please post up, Shorties Unite!