Seat height, suspension travel, and shorter riders

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

  1. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    I was wondering if someone would make a comparison to 4 wheeled off-roadable vehicles. The stuff I take my truck through is relatively tame compared to what a true rock crawler does, and that's fine with me. I think that difference applies to what's being asked for in a bike that's set up for shorter riders.
  2. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

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    Again, this is where with a few compromises and an understanding of needs, a person can find a bike that will work. I took my FZ07 through some terrain (atv and Jeep double track) that I thought for sure would have me using my come along strap, at the very least. Never needed it and in fact, never got stuck and that's on a bike with less than 6 inches of ground clearance. If all a person needs is a bike that will handle forestry roads and tame double track then virtually any bike can do it. That means there is a great market for ADV touring, even for short riders! Perhaps it won't have the ADV looks but it also won't have the long travel suspension and its resulting height limitations. Something like the rebel 500 would be a great bike for this sort of riding.
  3. RowBust

    RowBust Long timer

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    True, for anything other than real off road you don't need really long travel suspension, I've got a Honda XBR 500 it has about 4" of travel front and back, twin shocks, and on the crap roads around here it actually is better than all of my other bikes. And I can flat foot unlike the others
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  4. LittleWan

    LittleWan You can do it!

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    I wish these threads had answers. They just reinforce the lack of options for the truly short.

    I am 5'0" with a 26" or 26.5" inseam (I'm never clear on exactly how to measure inseam).
    Finding the right bike(s) has been tough.


    I've found that my best bet for gnarly singletrack or technical trails is a trials bike.
    I have a Beta Evo 200 2t - 12.2" of clearance; 6.5" of travel in the front, 7.1" of travel in the back; 145 lbs.
    The "seat" height is 26" - easy to put a foot down in even the most effed up places.

    I also have the Beta seat/tank, which increases the range but makes the seat height closer to 30"
    Unfortunately, 30" is enough to increase tip overs, but it does allow me to ride 50+ miles (vs 25-27 mile range without tank)

    [​IMG]

    sov.jpg



    Finding a plated bike (in CA) has been more difficult.
    I have a 2005 XT 225 (31.9" seat height), and it works pretty well.
    At almost 270 lbs, it's lighter than some options but it's still about 30lbs HEAVIER than BigWan's KTM 350 exc-f.
    That's just wrong! :dirtdog



    Like @Ladybug I ended up shaving my seat a little, and while that helps for stop signs/lights,
    it's still a bit scary when you know you can't put a foot down in the rocks.
    Everything has to be ridden trials-style with feet on the pegs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Yea, us short folks have heard that some people are really good at riding bikes that are too tall for them...
    But it's rough when you didn't learn to ride as a kid. I learned as a fearful, mid forties chickenshit.
    BigWan taught me how to slide one butt cheek off the side, etc... and sometimes it works,
    but usually I have problems where there there's no hope of putting a foot down and :muutt



    I've tried riding his Beta X-trainer (35" seat height?) and his KTM 350 (37" seat height?) and I can get around but it's not exactly fun.
    Maybe I'll be able to find a big rock to stop next to, or maybe I'll just eat shit.


    At one point, I thought the Beta 125RR-S (street legal) would be an option, but NOPE.
    36.4" seat height! I sat on a factory lowered one and it was still way too tall.
    Also, it was heavy, used cheaper components, and has a horrible turning radius.
    BigWan rode it since I was too short, and he said it was inferior to my XT in every way (except looks. The 125RR-s is a pretty bike). Darn.


    As GingerBeard mentioned earlier, even the Honda Montesa 4 Ride has a 34.8" seat height. Boo.


    It sucks to be short.
    Earlier in the thread, someone mentioned MTB - this summer I got a new e-mtb and we had a hell of a time finding one small enough.
    I ended up with a small frame (no extra smalls in the full suspension bike I was looking for) and it's a little tall for me.
    It's not bad, but I do fall sometimes when I'm in rocks or whatever and can't put my foot down.
    Hit a boulder and took a tumble off the trail on monday and now I have poison oak :(


    I guess I'll be able to stay on 2 wheels as long as I am fine with falling on a semi-regular basis.
    That's okay. I think anyone who rides off road is kind of in the same boat, right?
    But it would be nice if us shorties had a *few* more options.
  5. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    As longs you aren't riding a Harley, I promise not to jam a stick in your spokes. My latest bike is a Himalayan, and as long as you promise not to laugh at my antics of climbing on and off we could meet up and bury the hatchet. [ Just not in each others backs ].
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  6. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    The Rebel was the first bike I bought after being away from bikes for 26 years. The only bike that I can flat foot on. I have taken this on some forestry type roads with no problems with the possible exception of the wide road tyres in loose soft sand, and also deep gravel roads making the front end a bit skittish.
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  7. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    After spending a weekend on one, I can see how it'd be more comfortable for a smaller person. I'm not sure how well it'd work off-pavement, though. It's heavy (418 lbs), and the pegs/controls aren't positioned well for standing. In stock form, I found the bike to be relatively crude compared to my CRF450L, which is understandable given the price difference.
  8. AwDang

    AwDang Enabler

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    I’ve threatened to take my wife’s up the MABDR several times now. I’m gonna have to next spring.
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  9. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    It might be great. I guess you'll find out.

    Another "never going to happen" thought would be for Honda or another OEM to take a bike like the Rebel and rework it into a much lighter package. 27.2" seat height isn't bad, but it's a little thick so I'm not sure how much impact that'd have.
  10. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    Definitely not a bike designed for off road as evidenced by the wide street tyres, and placement of foot pegs, but can be done. I have taken mine on a 10KM or 6 Mile soft loose gravel road on a few occasions. Not pleasant, but doable.
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  11. AZbiker

    AZbiker Crunkin' with crackers

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    LMAO

    His Harley has probably done more miles off the pavement than your dirtbike.
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  12. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    WOW, this thread sure has been active today. To me, that shows there is an interest in bikes that short people can ride without a lot of modifications.

    For me, I would like to see a bike with a seat height about an inch or even better two inches lower than my DR200 is now without the bike or seat being wider. To go with the lower seat a little more power would be nice, something that could go about 75 mph if there's a need to ride an interstate for a bit. The WR250 can run at interstate speeds with no issue but it is wayyyyyyyyyyy to tall for this shorty.

    For a dual sport bike I don't need a suspension that is adequate for single track trails, log hopping, etc. I have a dirt bike for that, it's not perfect but it's fun.

    My F650 is good for dual sporting on dirt and gravel roads but it always feels big when I use it for that application. Something between my DR200 and my F650 with a lower seat height would be nice.

    There are motorcycles made closer to the type of bike that would work for me but they aren't brought to the United States. Other countries have a better selection of smaller bikes but in those countries they don't use the monster motorcycles we have in the United States. That means there is a lot more demand for smaller bikes so the manufactures are more willing to build them.

    Of course, cost consideration also enters into it for me. After buying a bike and then have to throw more money at it to try to make it work sucks. I will admit it is what it is and I have done what I have needed to do to keep riding. I also have to consider dependability and maintenance since I'm not good with the mechanical side of motorcycles.

    Like @little Wan, years ago I went out to buy a mountain bike 20+ years ago and was shocked to find out I had a difficult time finding a bicycle that fit me. I finally did and bought it. Over the summer I brought it out from years of storage and its controls were gummed up. I went to a friend's since he was going to help me with it. He wasn't sure how to ungum it since he wasn't that familiar with this bike and he didn't want to mess it up. We went to his favorite bike shop and the owner took one look at the bike and said "you found a small bike, keep a hold of it since they are difficult to find now".

    I know Little Wan and I aren't the only short people out there but dang sometimes it feels that way. I know there are other people, mostly women, that are less than tall that don't even try to ride because it's too difficult to find something that works. There have been times I have gotten so frustrated with it I thought about giving up riding but that idea always passes through rapidly.
  13. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    I can't help but think those models won't make it to North America because they might undercut sales on some taller, more expensive bikes. Manufacturers are in business to make money, so I can understand that rationale, even if I don't like it.

    There's also a limit to how many models they can support in a market. I just wish they'd make room for one or two more, and let them not require a ladder to mount.
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  14. wildknits

    wildknits Been here awhile Supporter

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    At 5'1.5" (on a tall day) I am feeling like a relative giant compared to @Ladybug and @LittleWan!

    I took my MSF course on a Suzuki cruiser because, of all the bikes offered, it was the only one I could flat foot. And as a new rider that was really important to me mentally as I felt more in control.

    I remember looking at bikes and being told to "put my weight on it" to help lower it down. Well, I weighed 120 lbs at the time and most bikes are set up for an "average" male so my weight was not going to make any impact on the shocks.

    My first motorcycle was a 1984 R65, which I couldn't flat foot. I loved that bike but there were times when I got into situations that were uncomfortable due to it's weight and height, especially for a newer rider. I live in a very hilly town with several roads that have interesting angles to them. Think uphill in two directions. Learning to get one foot down and one on the rear brake was key. And it helped that I had driven manual transmission vehicles in the past.

    I eventually bought a TW200 4 years ago and that has worked out well for me. It's nearly 200 lbs lighter then the R65 and has allowed me to do more off road/gravel road exploring. I have had it up to 70-75 mph (per it's speedometer) for short stints on the local expressway. But I wouldn't want to travel long distances on it at that speed.

    I think I saw it mentioned, but one barrier/obstacle for many women is that we have relatively less upper body strength then men, even those that are about our size. I am very physically fit (can easily lift and carry 50 lbs and have been known to run 100+ miles at a time). But when the bike tips beyond a certain degree I can't always muscle it back up. This has been the cause of more then one drop with the R65 and has happened with the TW as well. Luckily I have gotten pretty good at picking my own bikes back up over the years.
  15. Malamute

    Malamute Low speed adventurer

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    I think its easy to get hung up on what "type" of bike one has. Almost anything can be used offroad in some degree. Some never gave it much thought, just went out and did what they wanted, the bikes were whatever they had, so off they went. No log jumping or large rock hopping, but you can still cover a lot of ground on about anything that rolls. Using whatever you like and are comfortable on is higher on my list than what type the bike may be. You can always change the tires and odd bits and pieces to help the machine be more useful in unusual circumstances, but still, almost any bike will get you out there.

    Some food for thought, https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-original-adventure-riders-and-bikes.29723/
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  16. ZoomerP

    ZoomerP . Supporter

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    True, but then again, it can be nice to start off with something purpose built that's closer to the ideal.

    Cool thread. Some or all of those guys in the OP probably saw service in WWII. I doubt they had trouble shrugging off any fears about their riding.
  17. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    @wildknits it looks like you have quite the spirit. Running 100 miles!?! WOW! Very impressive. Being in good physical shape helps with riding. I wasn't aware TW200s could get up to 70 mph.

    @Malamute seeing those pics of the riders back before there were dual sport/adventure bikes is very cool. I did notice the riders have their feet firmly planted on the ground and knees bent too. Long legs were mentioned a few times as well. :lol3
  18. little ackman

    little ackman Adventurer

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    I don't have a dirt bike, so if he has done any miles off pavement then he sure has done more than mine.
  19. heirhead

    heirhead worlds worst mechanic

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    Hello,
    Rode my t dub from Boise to Yellowstone with my lifelong friend Charlie.
    Lots of dirt roads up and back as he knows lots of them.
    Riding around the Parks I got 89 mpg on TW. Gone for 12 days camped every night.
    Went over Dollarhide Summit between Ketchum and Boise, 9,000 ft, coasted for hours,
    camped on Boise River, just like Yellowstone.
    Great fun
    Just sold T-Dub as couldn’t clean carb one more time, loved that bike except SoCal freeways.
    Just bought 2017 CRF250L Rally without ever riding one.
    Has power for my needs and FI which I wanted but is tall and feels so heavy, it is!
    Cut seat, forks up, drilled shock, set pre load so it is lower but can’t get over the fact it weighs 30 lbs over a DRZ 400!
    Had 4 xt225s, 4 tws, 3 dr650s, 3 drz 400s, 3 nx250s, 6 BMWGS 1 was 650.
    Would love an xt225 with FI and 35 hp, UNICORN!!
    TW at 70 is wide open, 100 lb rider, 50 mph wind at his/her back!
    hh
    wwm
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  20. johnkol

    johnkol Been here awhile

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    Could you list those bikes? My suspicion is that you're referencing bikes for the Asian market where environmental regulations are practically non-existent.