Seat height, suspension travel, and shorter riders

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

  1. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

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    Some good points.

    My wife is 5'3"-5'4", she isn't comfortable riding anything bigger than a Kawasaki KLX140L offroad. Some day I may have to get a TW200 to do some easy/fun dualsport rides with her.
    #21
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  2. Malamute

    Malamute Low speed adventurer

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    Old GF on her 1952 H-D, shes 5'3". She used to ride her exes 77 Superglide with no problem, and when we did a road trip once on my 47 in the swingarm frame she drove part of the time.

    PP 52 pan 1.jpg
    #22
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  3. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    I always wondered if it would be possible with either a single or parallel twin to tilt the engine forward which would possibly allow the airbox and frame to be lowered to get a lower seat height. Ya, airflow and horsepower might be compromised some. But just a couple inches would help a bunch. I just got a Huskie 701 LR and the 36+" seat height can make things interesting with a 30" inseam. I still need ground clearance as I ride in rocks and over downed trees frequently. But I'd be willing to drop some horsepower if the seat was dropped as well.
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  4. Nurse Ratched

    Nurse Ratched Been here awhile

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    I always wanted a KTM EXC. But with seat heights over 37”(!), it ain’t gonna happen.
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  5. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Works for the Monkey.

    upload_2020-11-15_22-44-23.png
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  6. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    So Norty01 essentially wants to see an unrestricted 450cc MX engine stuffed into a chassis with street bike suspension travel and ground clearance, with cruiser seat height? :hmmmmm
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  7. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    Few other things and thoughts.

    Everyone should be learning from Can-Am about how to make a bike that can be changed to fit. In particular the Ryker. That is heaven sent when it comes to adjustability!

    Ducati Diavel. It’s a big, heavy bike that a small person can easily handle. Why? Because the frame was designed in a way that lets the seat be low. Most frames do not. Especially the jap bikes. Their frames have a high backbone.

    Alternative seats and lowering “kits”. Few make them, and they’re usually garbage when they do.

    The jap four offer nothing. Never have. You’re purely on your own in the aftermarket if you want to make a jap bike fit you.

    Harley is the king of this realm. Heck, they have a whole fitment world, with dealers having seats, bars, pegs, shocks, all to make the bike fit. For a price. But, the seats for short or tall riders are pretty bad. Harley simply scoops foam out for short riders, and piles it on for tall riders. Harleys approach to suspensions has always been weak. Their lowering units have you slamming into the suspension stops on mere roadway expansion joints. Going up is not a Harley option.

    BMW and a few others quietly, and almost secretly, offer some alternative seats, lowering kits and such. BMW’s apparently actually work well. Advertise it! Have something to demo! This should not be regarded as something embarrassing that one does not talk about in public, but it is.
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  8. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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    This is true, but it doesn’t properly address the bulk of the female riders. It’s still a heavy high cg bike that doesn’t do much for confidence.
    The market needs a 3/4 scale, highway capable, 200mi range, bike with capacity for luggage.
    #28
  9. shinyribs

    shinyribs Thumpers for life

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    I think you're the first person to mention ground clearance so far.

    One of my buddies rides a WR250F and he is short legged. He shaves the seats down on all his bikes. I'm tall and don't have the same problems, but I see him genuinely struggle with the bike in certain situations. I asked him about lowering the bike and he said he owned low bikes in the past and getting high centered on stuff wasn't option anymore. To him, the performance was worth the struggle. It's always going to come down to a personal choice.

    Not to be rude, but if someone's main concern is being able to paddle their bike through the woods, then I can understand why bikes like TeeDubs work so we for them. Someone serious about riding [hard/competitively/insert your adjective here] is going to be more concerned with the performance of the chassis over their ability to dab. I think that plays in to why we get the models we do.
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  10. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    Hilariously, the Japanese average male is 5'6 and something around 140lbs. They somehow manage, and most of these dudes have well short of a 30" inseam.

    There is also a significantly higher rate of women riders in the Japan than the US, and these chicks are seriously "fun size" average 5'1 @110lbs, and I see them on bikes with 32" seat heights stock all of the time.

    Its a technique thing, from and I was screwing around with bikes that had 34" seats when I was 11, all of a 4'8"
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  11. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    My post was a bit tongue in cheek with little snippets of inescapable truths. There are just so many myths, fallacies and flat out impossibilities in threads like these that addressing every point would be exhausting. Your post touches on several points and I agree with you and your buddy.
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  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    That just sounds like a Honda Rebel or Shadow.

    But I’ll disagree with you about the lowered BMW’s. Now I’m not talking about the likes of the 1250 adventure, which is indeed a top heavy brute bike. I can’t even get that bike off the kickstand while on it.

    But the like of the F750, in lowered form, is very manageable. Almost astonishingly so. A few years ago a local dealer had a lowered F700. Gave me great pause on BMW. I found myself seriously considering it.

    And how were they showing this bike (at the big bike show)? It was at the very back, tucked into a corner. With no indication it was lowered. The sales staff didn’t want to talk about it, and didn’t like me coming back to it over and over again, showing it to some friends and such. They kept trying to get me to buy into the monstrous 1250.
    #32
  13. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    Not everyone wants to slide off the seat for every stop in traffic. Sure it’s a technique, it’s also inconvenient as hell to most people.
    #33
  14. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    If the Nort comes over, I'll let them explain it better, but I don't think something that extreme was proposed. Set up a bigger thumper with a little less suspension travel and/or with a frame that allows the option for a near 30" seat height. Something approaching that seems more doable.

    The CB500X is a good starting point at 32.7", but it's a bit porky at 430 lbs. If Honda could keep that seat height but drop 100 lbs, it might be a more interesting option for a shorter person that wants a more dirt oriented bike. The V-Strom 650 is another possibility with a seat height of 32.9", but it's just too heavy. Changing either bike to a thumper would save weight and still allow for plenty of power. It'd cost more to cut that much weight, and that's probably the biggest hurdle when it comes to the conservative approach seen from the Japanese brands.

    Instead, we have tall DS thumpers like the XR650L (37"/ 350 lbs), KLR650 (35" / 340 lbs), DS400 (35" / 320 lbs).
    Are the Europeans much lower on seat height for lighter, dirtier bikes?

    I have a short friend with a GS that's really too much bike for him, but he's been able to make it work by taking advantage of BMW's options. It's still tall, and still a big bike, but he can at least ride it as opposed to the "normal" version. I saw him try a test ride on a full height model and he didn't go far.

    I don't want to invite thread drift with a typically hot topic, but I can't help but think about semi-auto pistol manufacturers that offer different grip sizes so their users can make the most of a pistol. They use a modular grip design so that it can accept different inserts, right from the factory. That's a relatively simple accomplishment compared to designing a motorcycle to a similar end, but the need is there.
    #34
  15. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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    I’ll counter your disagreement with this. In Sept my 5’4” wife did a 2 day BMW school on an F750GS low. She regularly rides a Rebel and has ridden a lowered Street Triple and a lowered CB500x. While the 750 was manageable, it was large, heavy and not confidence inspiring.
    Is it technique, experience, willingness to balance on the edge while learning? All of the above, but they add stress and make the experience less enjoyable for our partners.
    #35
  16. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    Yep. I think it's worth restating that this is about road legal bikes, not pure dirt bikes.
    #36
  17. RatBikeRandy

    RatBikeRandy n00b

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    Amen. Even street bikes have gotten taller with a high passenger seat section. It can be tough to swing a leg over without climbing it like a horse (how I mount my V-Strom and I did lower it a bit. Look at practically any bike until sometime in the 1990's and look at the lines versus today's bikes.
    I'm put off by some and my 5'2" wife definitely is. She had a V-Strom, and now a Honda CB500X lowered 3/4" As light as the bike is, she is more at home on her H-D Dyna LowRider.

    Both of our dual-sport bikes are Yamaha XT225, which are great bikes with good ground clearance, decent suspension (not great), good power for the size but would like something like a 350 stuffed into it. Zero reason that couldn't be done; I had an XL350 that was nearly perfect for me but kick-start only. Some days with my bum knee, I just wouldn't think about riding it. Sold and got the XT225 but miss the extra power.
    #37
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  18. jmq3rd

    jmq3rd .

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    The below video starts with me on my KDX80. As you can see, it is totally possible to learn on a bike way too tall (although this was my second bike- first was a Honda z50).

    Problem is, its way easier when you're a kid, and even then, not every kid would be comfortable with learning that way. Note that I had to put the kickstand up and down while transitioning left to right.

    I still have short legs, and I personally still go pretty aggressive off road, so I probably would stick with taller bikes if there is any dual sport aspect. But I totally think there is a market for a 40-60 hp dual sport with a seat height in the 32 inch range and 8 inches or so of travel. How big a market is the question.

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  19. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    I thought it was implied that some sacrifice on ground clearance would be expected, with the trade off being less suspension travel to get the seat height down. We're discussing ADV or DS bikes, not dirt bikes, so ultimate suspension travel is less of a concern.
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  20. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Smoove, Smoove like velvet.

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    If I wanted convenient, I'd just take the cage.
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