Seat height, suspension travel, and shorter riders

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

  1. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    Sigh - I already said more than once I'm chasing unicorns. I understand all this but that doesn't mean a girl shouldn't dream. :D I think everyone else here also understands it but thanks for re-stating what has already been said more than once. :thumb
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  2. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    That kind of Harley I can deal with, unfortunately I know some Harley owners who I would describe as handbags suffering permanently from NTPS. As for the Rebel or CMX as it is called here, the tank is too small, limited suspension travel, and seat is good for maybe half a tank with limited luggage carrying options
    There may well be only 20 riders on AdvRider complaining, but how many non riders are not on this forum because they cannot find a bike they feel safe on, and consequently just do not ride, and have no idea that this forum even exists
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  3. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    I have a Honda CB500F, but have sat on the Kawasaki Z400, and found it to be lighter and closer to the ground
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  4. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    Yeah, they look tiny.
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  5. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    Of course it's not coming to the US. A bike with those kind of specs would cost upwards of $10k, which means that no one would buy them here; just look at the 600cc market that has been dwindling for almost a decade now.

    Again, all those low cc bikes are being manufactured for specific countries where the cost of ownership of larger displacement bikes becomes cost prohibitive. In the US where there are no such restrictions there is no reason for these bikes to exist, and they don't. If one wants a high-performance 250cc bike, they can get a 1000c superbike and set the electronics to rain mode.
  6. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    I would love one as a track bike.......thing would be fun as fuck.
  7. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    You should consider that the CRF250L sold in Thailand does not have the same specs as the US-sold one, so even if the CRF300L comes to the US, do not expect it to have the same low seat height as the Thailand model.
  8. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    I highly doubt there are a lot of people that share your enthusiasm. The number of R3 and small Ninjas I see at trackdays is quite small, so imagine what would happen if the price of these bikes doubled.

    Bear in mind that the lowest displacement racing category in WERA is 300cc, so you wouldn't be able to even race a 250cc bike.
  9. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    Didn't say race bike. I said track bike.

    They are only 6800 USD in India, I have more in mods on my fun bike.
  10. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    This is all a big part of the reason I haven’t yet sold my old XL500. It’s light, it’s skinny, it’s got some power, it’s easy to lower. It’s also 6 volts, kick start only, drum brakes, and the wiggliest fork tubes known to man. Perfect it ain’t!

    There was an article recently about the to be released Honda Trail 125 that was well written, from the accidental perspective of matching the bike to the ride. Indeed, for much of what I actually enjoy doing, the Trail 125 would suit me well. I don’t want to carve turns, catch air, etc. I enjoy scenic riding. Riding slower and admiring the scenery. Carrying a picnic basket and enjoying lunch on a scenic overlook.

    Which is equally why I actually enjoy my lumbering beast that I actually do ride, the Road King. With the lowered scoot forward seat, pulled back handlebars, and a reverse gear, I can handle the bike. And since I’m not in a hurry, I can get it down dirt roads and even fire roads just fine. With that reverse gear, I can go backwards while on it. With those crash bars, I can easily pick it up when I fall over (it happens). It’s got a ridiculously huge engine, but, that ridiculously huge engine has huge amounts of torque right where it helps me the most, idling. I can idle that bike along in 1st gear, walking it through things, at a comfortable pace.

    All that said, (praise to the Road King), I can see a Honda Trail 125 sitting in the bed of my truck for some cross country jaunts. The truck ( or a minivan) to get there, in comfort and loaded with “stuff”, the Trail 125 to go exploring with. With a 1-gallon gas can on the back rack, I’d be good for all daylight long! Then load it back in the truck (or minivan), and back to the hotel for a long shower, and air conditioned comfort.

    Heck, the new electric bicycles are even a game changer. They don’t have the range of the Trail 125, but really, how often am I going to use that range? And if my wife is with me, I can toss two electric bicycles on s basic bicycle rack. Hmm.

    Are these observations of myself the same for others? No, of course not. But sometimes we all catch ourselves up in fantasies delusions, losing track of what we actually enjoy and actually do.

    And then there’s scooters.

    And three wheelers.
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  11. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    Response in quotes.

    I wish I had unlimited funds. I'd love to take on the challenge of building you the perfect bike. While I don't believe that manufacturers would be able to pull it off as a production bike, I have no doubts that it could be done with aftermarket and one off parts.
  12. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    I believe may become the most likely solution for better ergonomics for smaller riders since it may allow more design flexibility.
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  13. JETalmage

    JETalmage Been here awhile

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    Not to be rude, either, but this common outlook exemplifies so much of the misconceptions, myths, and mere stylistic pretensions that give rise to the problem. In the following, please understand that my use of "you" is not directed specifically to shinyribs whom I quoted, but to the thread in general.

    It's not about 'beginners' versus 'serious riders.' Watch a national or world championship Trials event. Their bikes have seat heights somewhere around 25". They're certainly not 'paddling' their bikes through the woods (footing is precisely how you lose a Trials event); and the terrain they're conquering is a bit beyond the typical weekend trail ride for the vast majority of us.

    So would you call those guys 'beginners'? No, maybe 'supermen' or 'magic on wheels', etc. But we ride in the real world, right? Trials is a spurious extreme?

    So better--instead of just watching Tony Bou aghast, and thinking it's beyond you--just take a day ride and go observe the nearest club-level Trials event. Watch how briskly and deftly the mid-to-upper-class riders (ordinary guys with ordinary jobs) fly around the loop that connects the scored sections, which--especially in the east--are typically narrow single-track with ditches, steep winding climbs and descents, rock gardens, water crossings, etc., freshly 'cut' just prior to the event. Then honestly ask yourself: Could you ride just those same trails (let alone the scored sections) just as carefree on anything from your 500XC to your girlfriend's TW?

    It's not about geometric impossibility. Trials may be 'small potatoes' in the everything-has-to-be-a-race US; but not so everywhere. Trials bike design is so cutting-edge advanced; so boiled down to the competitive essence, that they are practically identical across brands. Toss a coin. Pick a brand. It won't be the bike that limits what you can accomplish on it (only racing notwithstanding).

    Internet forum 'expertise' (AKA sour grapes reasoning) say's you can't have ground clearance without excessive seat height, and you can't have adequate suspension travel without huge ground clearance. Trials bikes typically have around 13-14" of ground clearance and around 6-7" suspension travel. Yet go out and observe the size obstacles they enable the riders to routinely traverse. Note that the 'short' suspension travel is not due to limitation of the ground clearance.

    Riders from club-level novice adolescents (girls and boys) to world champions ride literally the same-geometry bikes because they are not continually hindered by body English interference with the bike due to ridiculous seat heights.

    Typical modern Trials bikes: 150 lb (2 stroke) to 160 lb (4 stroke). Displacement up to around 300cc. Seat height around 25". Ground clearance 13-14". Suspension travel ~6-8".

    Typical modern 'serious dualsport' (street-legal Enduro; think 500EXC, not WR250R): ~250 lb. Displacement up to ~500cc. Seat height around 36-38". Ground clearance 13-14". Suspension travel ~12".

    It's largely about catering to the Walter Mitty pandemic. Nowadays 'serious rider' conventional wisdom says the profile of any 'real dirt bike' is a straight horizontal line from the top of the rear fender to the top of the steering stem. Why? Because MX bikes are 'real dirt bikes' and MX technique requires sliding your crotch while seated right up against the handlebars so as to weight the front wheel in turns. So too many buyers think all 'real dirt bikes' must be built just like that, even while also touting the oh-so-erudite 'secret' of standing up while riding off-road.

    Yeah, MX bikes are 'real dirt bikes'. But are they real-world dirt bikes? No. They're made specifically for blasting around a completely artificial, manicured track with huge jumps and banked berms. The woods I ride in don't look like that. There are no berms. There are ditches. Vines. Hillary bushes. I've never seen anyone do a triple somersault over a 20' jump there. Even if someone did, I wouldn't. But I routinely cross narrow gullies with practically no approach to their steep 8-12' walls, and logs with wheel-size diameters. And I sometimes get stuck or jammed; which is no big deal because I can get solid footing at any time to man-handle the 150 lb bike out of the most precarious of situations without dropping it or getting off it.

    It's about real-world terrain and common sense. So am I saying everyone should be riding Trials bikes? Well, yes and no.

    First, most any off-road rider of any proficiency level could ride natural terrain better and easier on a Trials bike. Those who never have really should because they seriously don't know what they're missing.

    But second, saying all serious dirt bikes must be built just like a Trials bike would be committing the same fallacy as thinking all serious dirt bikes must be built just like a Motocross bike.

    What I am saying is: There's a world of difference between 25" and 39" seat height and between 7" and 12" of suspension travel. And all that difference is not unavoidably taken up by the physical size difference between a 300cc and a 500cc four-stroke single.
    I'm saying most riders are not racing and many of us are not pretending to be racing. We're not busting berms and doing somersaults. That doesn't make us beginners. I've been riding off-road for over 50 years. And I dare say even most long-experienced riders could actually ride better in the real world on, for example, a 70s-era Penton or Hodaka than on a bike that is absurdly six inches higher than their inseams.

    It's not even a secret. The serious-quality Trials inspired hybrid concept dates all the way back to the Bultaco Alpina. Various levels of 'quality seriousness' and points along the Trials-to-MX purpose extremes range from the Gas Gas Pampera (great bike) to the Honda TLR 200 (blah), the Kawasaki Super Sherpa 250 (decent), the KTM Freerides, and Honda-Montesa 4Ride. None were big sellers. Why? Because too much demand is driven by Walter Mitty fantasy.

    That's why I find this thread rather refreshing. It at least in part suggests there are other long-time serious motorcyclists who are unapologetic for (egads!) being a little shorter than the US male average 5'10" and who want manufacturers to wake up and realize that just being at the front end of very common height range doesn't mean we're skill-less 'beginners' with no common sense who don't know quality components from cheezy consumerish crap--and that money spends just as well from both sides of the average-height bell curve.

    JET
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  14. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    @JETalmage

    You may want to go back through this thread as this has already been discussed and each point addressed. Physics isn't a personal attack.
  15. LashLarue

    LashLarue Been here awhile

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    Just read the thread that says Yamaha is dropping the 150cc S-MAX scooter. Seems like once again, we have a competent low seat height 2 wheeler that failed in the market. I'm not sure anything small, even with more CCs, is a winner in the US market. Small bikes been failing forever.
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  16. wildknits

    wildknits Been here awhile Supporter

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    @Ladybug - "quite the spirit" or not too smart! Running is one of the things I do to keep myself centered and I love long days in the woods. I have always figured being in good physical shape only can help with riding.

    As far as top speed on the TW it probably helps that I am little (110 lbs; maybe 125 lbs with all my gear on) and that I tucked myself down over the tank bag. It was late in the day, getting cold and pretty windy (headwind) and I was trying to get home before I turned into a human popsicle (for a northern Minnesotan I am fairly cold intolerant).
  17. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    The Honda Rebel has been selling quite well, and now there is talk of Honda building a one litre version using the Africa twin engine. I they build something descent, they will sell. Don't confuse scooters with motor bikes. Scooters sell well in some markets, but not in others.
  18. SRG

    SRG Long timer

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    !@#%^& well said!

    Good job.
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  19. Sheik Yerbootie

    Sheik Yerbootie n00b Super Supporter Supporter

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    Exactly so!
  20. e.t.

    e.t. Millenials ridiculed Supporter

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    This was a good thread. I have been riding bikes either too tall or too heavy or too powerful or too uncomfortable for all day riding most of my motorcycling life. There were situations when it was warranted. At 54 -not so much anymore.

    Al I can say when you catch a major break in one of these categories after all this time the "aah" and grin factor outweighs the spec sheets.

    I'll never buy another bike that is not totally comfortable - or the 2/3 of the whole is going to outweigh the 1/3 shortfall.