Seat height, suspension travel, and shorter riders

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by ZoomerP, Nov 15, 2020.

  1. Malamute

    Malamute Low speed adventurer

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    Yes, I agree that would be nice, but weve ended up with bikes that are difficult for many to ride. Its possible some manufacturers may step up and build more suitable bikes for offroading for shorter people, but for now, I think that seeing what they used in the past, like hardtail frames, foot clutches, and very low ground clearance, that about any bike someone can ride confidently can be used for mild to moderate offroad riding. If someone really wants to go exploring dirt roads, Im suggesting using what youve got, or whatever is available thats close enough that you can ride well, it just takes the decision to go do it, even if the "right" bike isnt available. At the least, you can get more suitable tires on any bike, but I went a lot of crazy places on regular street tires.

    And a note, in the thread I linked, someone estimated the old H-Ds as being 750 lbs, the curb weight of a 1950 FL was around 580 lbs.
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  2. AZbiker

    AZbiker Crunkin' with crackers

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    Maybe a DR350 or DRZ400?

    Could either of those be lowered enough but retain an acceptable amount of travel?
  3. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    I can't make any promises about not bring my HD but I can promise that it's quiet and a darn capable off pavement tourer.

    [​IMG]

    I do appreciate not having to worry about you putting a stick in my spokes. :D

    Other than laughs around a campfire, I'm not interested in mocking you, especially if you're out doing your thing on a bike.



    That's good to read. I was wondering if anyone had used one for more ADv types rides. They do seem like a viable option to get out and about without having to contend with extremely high seat issues.
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  4. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    I can certainly understand those wants. Which foreign market bikes have you come across that are close? I've looked and have found a ton of small displacement bikes but nothing that would handle interstate speeds or that has a seat height below 31". I wonder if there are US market equivalents or if something could be made to match based upon design and specs.

    I know all too well the struggles of finding small bike frames, having been a bicycle mechanic for over 25 years. I've had to build so many custom bikes because the market is virtually devoid of high spec small framed adult MTBs and road bikes.
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  5. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    A million billion years ago, when 250 Rebels had a front disc brake, I got to spend the summer with one. It was quite capable in stupid conditions. It was the only motorcycle I could ever bunny hop. Seriously, I could bunny hop it over curbs and up onto the sidewalk or yard. It was a little scary on the interstate, but it could do it. That said, that was back in the era of 55 mph I believe.

    Being so low and easy to control, it was one of the few bikes I could, and would, power slide in the grass and such. In really stupid stuff, I could stand over it and basically walk it through. When I’d get throughly stuck or unable to turn around, it was light enough I could drag it around and go back the way I came.

    Bored that one out, or perhaps used the jugs from something else. Being a Honda twin, there was nothing you couldn’t do to it.
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  6. RowBust

    RowBust Long timer

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    A few good bikes over in Olds Cool Metisse thread that would make great ADV bikes
  7. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    I bought an '88 TW200 in June but I haven't ridden it yet. I like that it came with a big aftermarket tank and that year has both kick and electric start. It also came with a Seat Concepts tall seat on it so I needed to have a seat cut down for it. I also bought a Vespa 250GTS scooter in April that is also too tall and the seat needed to be cut down. The ride I bought the scooter for was postponed to 2021 because of covid and I bought the TW to do the NM, UT, & AZ BDRs next summer so I told the person doing the seats there was no rush. The seats were ready the first part of Sept. and I have them now but they're not on the bikes yet. The end of Aug. an F150 pickup backed into me while I was on my F650 in a gas station parking lot waiting for my riding partner to finish gassing her bike. My bike was totaled and luckily only my left leg was injured but it had me off my motorcycles for over two months. Now it's going into winter. . . .

    The TW will be low enough with the cut-down seat for me to be able to be on the balls of my feet and it will be nice having a bike that handles sand better than my DR200 does. I don't know if I will be able to touch on the scooter even with the seat cut down. The seat pan has a storage area for a seat cover built into it so there are limitations to how much it could be cut down.

    With the leg injury, I didn't want to try to hold up a bike and take a chance of dropping it. At this time I'm working on building the strength back up in my legs after being down for two months.

    You're correct it is in the Asian market. I'm not able to list the bikes since when I spot something that isn't available in the U.S. market I don't spend much time looking at it, frustrating myself with something that isn't available to me.

    Per an American Honda executive, I knew many years ago, there isn't enough of a demand in the U.S. market to bring the smaller bikes in. He said the "Bigger is Better" attitude in the U.S. rules since that's where the money is. That was in the 80s when the bikes were getting bigger and taller each year. In the 90s I worked at a dealership for 4 years and I talked with the District Managers about this as well. That was Honda, Yamaha, & Kawasaki and I was told basically the same thing, the wording was different but basically, the same things were said.

    Environmental regulations play into it to a certain degree I suppose. I know bikes in the 60s & 70s would run at a highway speed easier than the small bikes do now. Heck, a Super 90 from back then would run down the highway at about 70 mph hour. Truthfully I can't speak intelligently about the mechanics or environmental regulations involved since that's not my strong point.

    A friend of mine who is 5'5" was told that Suzuki sets up their DR650s in Japan one way which provides a shorter seat height but when they bring them to the United States they are set with a higher seat height. He got a hold of me and ask me about it since I'm always chasing unicorns and wanted to know if I knew about this and I didn't. The person who told him about it didn't know the specifics only the little bit he told my friend. I made a few calls in my area and none of the Suzuki dealers knew anything about it and basically blew me off. Meanwhile, he made calls in his area and received the same response. He then researched the internet and found a little bit of info. My friend bought a DR650, used this lowering technique and it worked for him.

    This describes what can be done: https://drriders.com/seat-height-lowering-t7316.html

    I guess the point I'm making is Suzuki provides an inexpensive option for lowering the seat height of the DR650s yet it seems the majority of dealers are unaware of it. Working in a dealership at one time I can see how this happens. Would similar options work for other Brands and Models making more motorcycles workable for more riders?

    This is what I found for the seat height for those two bikes: DR350 stock is 36.2" DRZ400 36.8" To get them down for someone with a 26" inseam or even a 29" inseam would be pretty drastic.

    The Asian market and yes small displacement bikes. If a WR250 can handle interstate speeds why not other bikes? Why can't that engine be put into a frame with a lower seat height. Of course, it wouldn't have the suspension the WR does but not everyone needs that type of suspension.

    I had a '74 Honda CB400F and I could touch the ground on it fine with no adjustments and it certainly did fine on the highway. The suspension was fine for casual riding and yes, I could ride it fine on dirt roads even though it wouldn't be classified as a dirt bike today. Manufactures built bikes back then with seat heights I didn't have problems with but now they are unable to? As far as a dual-sport bikes I could ride a stock SL350 from that era without modification. Back then about the difference in a street bike or a dual-sport bike was if the bikes were up pipes or down pipes. There was also the CL360, it felt a little heavy for me on gravel roads but it was quite capable.

    Truthfully as much as I don't like to admit it, I think the only reason we don't have the lower seat height bikes is that there isn't a demand for them in the United States. Most riders don't use or need the power or the suspensions they have with their bikes but they want it so that's what the manufacturers provide. I will admit it is nice for the up-and-coming racers that they can buy adequate bikes out of the box but then they end up modifying them too.
  8. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    Or just bikes the US doesn't get.

    They sell them in Japan, and Japan mirrors Euro standards, they are higher emissions restrictions than the US.

    There are a herd of other bikes that are also here that you don't get ER-4Ns, MT04s, GSX400s CB400 Hornets and whatnot. Also bikes like the 690 Duke R, you run into regularly in Japan and they never imported them.

    Why? Most of Asia either follow Europe, or has next to no emissions standards.....US DOT is a island unto themselves, ever wonder why our blinkers are different than EVERY other bike on the market? Its a 60s era reflector size requirement.
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  9. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Honda CRF300L: a new, short-ish model in Asia that might do well in North America.
    I'd much rather one of these than a CRF250L.



    Seat height: 32.7"
    Ground clearance: 9.6"
    Weight: 305 lbs (non-Rally)
    Power: 31 hp

    I'm reading the speculation here: https://advrider.com/f/threads/crf300l-and-crf300-rally.1475384/

    I hope Kawasaki releases a nice 300cc dual sport to compete.
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  10. davenowherejones

    davenowherejones short old guy

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    I had a DR650 before my current scooter.

    I have a 26 inch inseam. I am 5 foot 6 and male.

    The DR had a lower shock mount and a way to officially lower the fork internals.

    My brand new DR was put in the lower shock position but the dealer cheeped out and just raised the forks rather re-work the internals.

    They were supposed to supply a lower side stand but they cheeped out by cutting an inch from the factory stand with a re-welded foot.

    The bike threatened to fall over when on the side stand. I bent it with a 20 pound hammer to get a good lean.

    I had trouble reaching the bars so I installed a 2 inch bar riser.

    The stock seat was uncomfortable to almost everyone so I installed a Seat Concepts LOW seat. It was a stepped seat with the step irritating my ass always.

    The DR650 is called a bush pig and it is heavy. I tried to turn it around on very narrow road with a big cliff on both sides. I struggled a lot and decided old age had ended my bush riding.

    I bought the really heavy Honda Forza 300 and have done 145,000 km on it.

    Short, older and still going but I really need a big lottery win.
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  11. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Nice scooter.
    You live in Hope, so it's not all bad.
  12. hardhat

    hardhat Been here awhile Super Supporter

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    Well, I'm feeling like a tree topper reading this thread. Extremely interesting. I'm 5'8 wth 29" inseam. When i made the move to off-road about 20 years ago (im 65 now), the leg length issue was a big problem for me, since im not a retired hair scrambles racer, and I can't reach the floor on most any dirt/true adv bike, and i like trails riding, but not falling over.

    Ten years ago i stopped fighting it and had a great shop lower the bike properly. - had the shocks changed and the spring rates increased (caus', like', im not 160 lbs any more). Lost 1.5" of travel, but I never did much air anyway. I found out if you ride correctly, and use your knees to land properly, you rarely bottom out. I also took crap for shortening my bike instead of "learning how to ride". Screw 'em! I have a blast, can keep up with most folks i ride with on most any terrain, and feel 100% safer. I've done the suspension lowering on my KTM 530 and 701 and it's just ducky! Will do that to ANY bike i buy that is too tall. (Also added a Rekluse which also makes people think I'm a MUCH better rider than i really am.)

    FWIW I had a buddy that was even shorter (5'2'). He had lifts put in/on his boots. Added about an inch and that worked very well for him. I know it sounds sort of funky, but for sure it helped him a lot. Another friend did a lot of work shortening a KLR250 (I think) so his wife could ride with him. Same thing, HUGE increase in fun with his wife, for a bit of work.

    Important thing is to ride, have fun, and feel safe. Do whatever ya gotta do to make that happen! Losing 1" or 2" of on a bike with 12" of suspension travel matters not a whit unless you are "racing for the win".

    Cheers all.
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  13. davenowherejones

    davenowherejones short old guy

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    Actually I live in Flood near Hope. Today there was an abandoned rail tanker car on the siding containing enough explosive gas to wipe out the neighbourhood. Too dark to see if it is still there. We recently had a huge Potash train go off the tracks closely. What a mess.
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  14. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Hard to like any of that. Better move to VI; less train excitement.
  15. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    The WR250R can handle interstate speeds easily because it has a very high performance (and thus expensive) engine. For comparison, the new CRF300L produces the same horsepower as the WR250R, despite the latter being a 12-year old design.

    There is no point in pairing an expensive engine with low-cost suspension because virtually no one would buy a bike like that. Twenty people on AdvRider requesting such a bike is not a viable market for any manufacturer, that's why the only options available for people wanting short suspension travel is also a low-performance engine, chassis, etc, which creates bikes like the XT250.
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  16. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    I believe her request was more for a higher spec engine to be paired with a lower spec (or height) suspension than is typically found on better DS or dirt bikes. Less travel doesn't have to equal a crap suspension, and ideally, shorter riders shouldn't be relegated to riding low output bikes.

    The CRF300L and whatever Kawasaki reveals in a few days may be steps in the right direction. Not terribly low, but at least around 32", with significantly more power than typically seen in the 250cc class.

    Yamaha recently discontinued the WR250R for 2021, so there's that, too.
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  17. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    No, the reason these bikes don't come to US is because they were produced for the particular idiosyncrasies of certain markets. For instance, the 400cc category that you reference only exists because of the tiered motorcycle licensing scheme in Japan, and the same is true for 50cc and 125cc bikes. 400cc bikes cost essentially the same as 600cc bikes, so there was never any reason to import them to the US because everyone would buy the similar 600cc bike.

    Incidentally, this is also true nowadays for the 600c and 1000cc bikes, that's why the 600cc bikes are being phased out.
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  18. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    That's exactly what I commented on: there is no market for a short-travel/high-spec suspension paired with a high-performance motor. Such a bike would still be very expensive, and the twenty people on advrider that would buy them does not justify the development cost.
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  19. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Maybe, but I don't think the request is as extreme as you're stating it.
    It's not like people here have been asking for a CRF450R with 6" of suspension travel.

    I guess we'll see if there's movement in the 300-400cc range on this front. It's still early, but the CRF300L looks like a better bike than the 250L in every way. It doesn't have a high performance motor, but it has significantly more power than the 250L while meeting Euro5 emissions, and the bike is lighter than the 250L, as well. I doubt Honda will sell the 250L & 300L in the same market, though.

    Team Green is due to make their announcement on Monday, so there's still a little hope.
  20. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    You are talking cost, I am talking size, a few like the ER-4N is a smaller chassis, pretty sure the same applies to the GSX400 it looks smaller and a regularly see women that don't come up to my shoulder riding them. Then you had bikes like the Duke 690R that was never brought to the US though the standard Duke most certainly was....or the MT10-SP etc etc.

    Then it gets even better because you can't grey market import a new bike that isn't available in the US without dropping +$10,000 in escrow to a registered importer.


    Just OOC what is the seat height on a Z400? 30 or 31" those are at least listed by Kawasaki NA.

    Neeto.


    ahem

    https://www.cycleworld.com/2020-kawasaki-ninja-zx-25r-first-look/

    Which is also not coming to the USA.