Suggestions for a short beginner rider?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by CaptainCrunch, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. CaptainCrunch

    CaptainCrunch Been here awhile

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    This is kind of a counterpoint to the "Taller Rider" thread.

    My wife is on the short side, though she prefers to be called "fun-size". At 5 foot 1 and 5/8 inches (my pops always told me once they start talking fractions, you know they're lying), she struggles to swing a leg over most anything taller than this
    [​IMG]

    I'm 6'3" if I stand up straight, so 13" taller. What works for me shouldn't even be a factor, really. My airhead looks comical when she's clambering around on it.

    She currently has a 150cc FI Vespa copy that she loves, and is taking an MSF course in the spring. If she catches the motorsickle bug, as I hope she will, I'd like to surprise her with a big-kid bike in the summer. Nothing against scooters, mind you. An actual Vespa w/sidecar is also on my personal shopping list...

    I was hoping to get some opinions from the ladies or the shorter-inseamed gents here as to what would be on their wish list in this situation. Is there a clear winner in the less-tall-newbie-rider class that leaves all others in the dust? She has specifically mentioned that fully-faired bikes such as the CBR250 or Ninja 300 leave her cold. Seems to like 'em nekkid.

    The only unkind thing I've read about the Guzzi V7 is "low on power" and "better for shorties", so that's high on the list. I like the HD 48 and Iron models because 'Merica. The baby Monster wets many a panty and is pretty affordable for exotic Eye-Talian iron. The Suzook TU250 is very traditionally styled, but also very manageable, so she might go for that.

    Let the voices of the Less Tall be heard!!!
    #1
  2. MODNROD

    MODNROD Decisions, decisions

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    I'm 6ft1, but hey, I'm an inch at least "less tall" than I was in my twenties! :lol3

    Make the bike light is my only suggestion, well under 200kg. Makes the first "big bike" experience more enjoyable when you can manouvre the thing a bit, and far less intimidating.
    #2
  3. Bravo Sierra

    Bravo Sierra Plan What Plan?

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    Well if she has not ridden on the the road any great distance then a 250 is the place to start. I really like the TU250 but have not ridden one. My wife is 5'2” before I met her she had ~10,000 miles on a rebel but it was 10 years prior. She bought a Ninja 500. It was a bit tall but she could get both feet on the ground. Lots of trials and tribulations but she rode it to others states and on a 50 mile (each way) commute. She now has a factory low F800ST, a lowered R1100S and the good old Ninja 500. The bike you get her should build confidence and be capable of more than the scooter. Chose well!
    #3
  4. ArmSC

    ArmSC Been here awhile

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    Is looking at a standard or cruiser? One of the best features of a cruiser is that they are low. Any sporty in the current HD line up is going to be low or "super low". All most all of other smaller displacement cruisers will also have a lower seat height as well. I would look at a used kawi 500 Vulcan or savage 650 from suzuki. They can usually be picked up for about two to three depending on the year etc. If she likes the more standard look the tu250 is ok but the new gw250 really seems like a nice package. Naked but not small...I have not ridden one but have done the seat test and so far I'm impressed. Good luck finding something that she likes. That sometimes can be the hardest part. :D
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  5. ZZ-R Rider

    ZZ-R Rider Captain Fantastic

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    Hard to beat Suzuki's LS650 Savage/S40 Boulevard as a good beginner Bike for the vertically challenged ... low seat height and weighs in at around 350 lbs ... plus, the 650cc thumper is a capable (enough) engine that can handle most duty a newb Rider will require of it and will not outgrow as quickly as some of the 250cc Cruisers ...
    #5
  6. Grainbelt

    Grainbelt marginal adventurer Super Moderator

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    My GF is a couple inches taller, but really eying up the CB500F as the replacement to her ancient CX500.

    [​IMG]


    If you want a rough idea of how things will fit, hit up cycleergo.com
    #6
  7. Moonshiner

    Moonshiner aka "B-dog"

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    I've seen some pretty diminuitive people riding the Savage; quite well, too, I might add. They can be fairly inexpensive as well.

    She's already riding a step through, so she could keep going that route, meaning something like the Honda 500 Silverwing, or one of the Suzi Burgmans. A little spendy new, but used ones are out there. They can also keep up with traffic on the freeways and some even use them for long distance travel.

    Something else to think about.
    #7
  8. boatpuller

    boatpuller Been here awhile

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    Often people suggest low displacement motorcycles for new riders, and I used to also. No longer do. What IS important is a gentle motorcycle with a NON-twitchy throttle, a large sweet spot in the RPM range, and ideally good torque off idle so clutch management is not as critical.

    Now, a lighter, narrow motorcycle is also good for a short new rider. I wonder how the new water cooled Harley's will work for your wife. Also, don't forget the Honda Shadow 600 and 750. The 600 really is sized for smaller folks, has the power to ride the highway, but lacks a 5th gear.
    #8
  9. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    To start out with, I recommend a used 250 Rebel. They are specifically built for shorter people, much moreso than any other small bike. I fit fine on a TU250, a V-Star 250, an S40, and even the little Kawasaki Eliminator 125. But the Rebel has a very low seat, and high mounted pegs. My knees stuck up above the gas tank. But I am 6' with a 34" inseam. I was able to modify a Rebel so I could ride it a couple hundred miles at the time by moving the pegs, shifter, and brake 4" forward with homemade brackets. The reason I wound up with a Rebel in the first place is because I bought one for my 5'4" daughter, who grew up on dirt bikes. She expressed an interest in street riding, so I got her the Rebel. She got her permit, and rode it around for awhile, but never did overcome her fear of traffic.

    But for someone around 5'1", it would be an absolutely perfect fit, and should be very comfortable. It has a super low seat, and is very lightweight with no handling quirks. Very confidence inspiring. Yes it's a cruiser, but even if she doesn't like cruisers it would be an ideal bike to get started on, and you can get them cheap. By the time she gets everything down, she may have a better idea of what she wants. BTW, faired sportbikes leave me cold as well. And in a great deal of pain.
    #9
  10. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    Don't rule out a TW200. Kinda underwhelming performance but low seat,light-n-easy to handle little bike and bullet proof. Not much of a performer on or off pavement but adequate and a lot of fun.
    #10
  11. pagomichaelh

    pagomichaelh Been here awhile

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    Just out of curiousity, my wife is not just 5' tall, but she has a 26" inseam (no kidding, my feet are longer than her shins). Are there any bikes that she can touch the pegs on?

    PS: That doesn't start with a rope
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  12. CaptainCrunch

    CaptainCrunch Been here awhile

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    She seems to actively dislike most "croozers", and once went on a 20-minute rant about why ape hangers shouldn't be allowed to exist (there's a guy in our neighborhood with some kind of Super-Mega-Ultra BaggerGlide with a 26" front rim, zillion-watt stereo pumping out Aaron Neville boner jams, more neon than a Reno whorehouse, and sky-high apes. It's hard to argue if she calls it tacky), but she also went out of her way to say that the 48 was a really handsome bike. She likes Monsters, but says they would look nicer with wire wheels. She says that about all bikes, actually.

    While I think it would be awesome if I could yell "TAH-DAH!" and pull a tarp off her dream bike, I probably should do the practical thing and have her with me to pick it out.

    But the "practical" thing is no fun, right?
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  13. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    I consider the bike you just described as both ugly and dangerous. It is not a cruiser, it is a homemade piece of junk that is probably not even street legal.

    Here are some pictures of my former Rebel, which has been modified to fit me better. Notice how the pegs have been relocated forward. On the stock bike they are about 4" back

    https://plus.google.com/photos/107243579383727476129/albums/5539604278464939777?banner=pwa
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  14. CaptainCrunch

    CaptainCrunch Been here awhile

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    The riding school she's going to uses 250 Nighthawks and Rebels, along with a couple of 125 Eliminators. If she falls in love with any of those, of course I'll happily go that route. They're a lot of fun to toss around.

    The school also has one of these available. I liked it! She is.... less kind about modern dirtbike styling.

    I absolutely concur that a good-natured steed is more important than a small one. But I think light weight is really what people mean - you've got to have enough power to get yourself out of trouble, but if ya can't pick it up when it tips over in a parking lot, you're up shit creek.
    #14
  15. bdonley

    bdonley Been here awhile

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    There's always the Sportster Low. *And*, when she's comfortable with it, it's not real hard or expensive to give it more/better suspension.
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  16. rider33

    rider33 Long timer

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  17. CaptainCrunch

    CaptainCrunch Been here awhile

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    The neons are a ticketable offense, but the bike itself is high-zoot. This kind of thing, but with ridiculous bars.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Poor sumbitch probably has 40,000 clams into looking like a goofus. But I guess if he's happy, I'm happy.
    #17
  18. Canuman

    Canuman Crusty & Unobliging

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    I agree with your Missus - cruisers leave me pretty cold. I personally can't fathom riding a bike where it's near impossible to stand up on the pegs. Our roads are rough enough around here so it's a valuable thing to be able to stand.

    The TU250 seems to be one of the best of the little standards, although you're still stuck with a 30" seat height, which might be a little tricky with a 26" inseam. You could probably pare an inch or so off of that by fitting shorter shocks and dropping the forks in the triples. I've had shortened shocks made up by Klaus at YSS USA in the past. They really aren't stunning shocks, but they work, are very reasonably priced and Klaus' customer service is hard to beat. He stands by them if there's any problems. http://www.yssusa.com/

    For a small, light rider, I think they'd be fine.

    The TU is really good looking, fuel injected, and gets ridiculously good mileage. I also like the tire sizes better - 18" and 19" wheels give a much better selection of tires than on the Rebel. It's also lighter, has a few more HP, and a bigger tank than a Rebel.

    Really, the Honda Rebel is the low-seat leader at 26.6" A Shadow has shorter seat height still, but it's a lot wider, and a great deal heavier, and both have cruiser styling. For a smaller rider, weight makes as much of a difference as anything.
    #18
  19. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    The TU250 could work with the right boots. Thick non slip soles make a world of difference when you can barely touch the ground. I have had a couple of KLR650s, and even with a 34" inseam, could not get my feet on the ground very well. I would sit there at stoplights rocking the bike from left to right. I would have almost certainly dropped it if I had been wearing shoes with thin slippery soles.

    You might also be able to cut the seat down a bit. But I do not recommending lowering a street bike. They already barely have enough ground clearance, and lowering them can make them dangerous in corners. The KLR could be lowered quite a bit and still be rideable on the street. But it would be unsuitable for dirt, and there are far better street only bikes.

    Look at the pictures you posted. Those things are completely unrideable. They have zero ground clearance. They don't even need a sidestand to hold them up. And the fact that they are so ugly and cost a fortune makes even less sense. They look like they might be from the same culture that puts 40" wheels on cars. They would not be considered roadworthy by any state that has inspections. As far as I know, they were built just to look at. Kind of like a statue or sculpture. Some people have strange tastes when it comes to "art"


    As for displacement, I don't think that is the main thing. A 250 Rebel is freeway capable. I think the bike should fit the rider. And most small bikes are also small displacement. You can ride around the world on a Rebel. It is a perfect fit for a shorter person. I definitely would not recommend one for someone my size, it's almost like riding a pocket bike. A larger person needs a bike that physically fits them. I found the perfect bike for me in the Kawasaki Vulcan 750. I have worn out two brand new ones.
    #19
  20. n8dawg6

    n8dawg6 krunkin'

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    I started out with a Honda VLX600. they weigh about 450 lbs, and they have 4 gears. a lower seat you will not find, and it was a very benign and predictable machine. not made anymore, but used examples are out there for cheap. its a little more of a handful than a 250, but a good trainer.
    #20