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Short riders: bike selection, riding tips & bike mods


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I figured a concise summary might help for those new to the sport. The list of bikes just focuses on the lowest. The specs are just a guideline and may vary between year models. All this info is in the vid below too.

LARGER BIKES WITH LOW SEAT HEIGHTS
Triumph Tiger 800 XRx Low – 29.9 inches 760mm
BMW F 700 GS – 30.1 inches 765mm
BMW G 650 GS – 30.3 inches 770mm
Triumph Tiger 800 XR – 31.1 inches 790mm
Ducati Scrambler, 31.1 inches 790mm (not exactly an ADV though)
Honda NC750X 2021 30.5 inches and on 800mm
Honda CB500X – 31.8 inches 810mm (pre-2019)
Honda Africa Twin – 32.2 inches 820mm (with Honda's lowering link)
Triumph Tiger 800 XC – 32.2 inches 820mm
BMW F 800 GS – 32.2 inches 820mm
Honda NC750X 2019 & 2020 – 830mm 32.6 inches
Suzuki V-Strom 650 – 32.8 inches 835mm
Honda CB500X – 32.8 inches 835mm (2019 & on)



LIGHTER BIKES WITH LOW SEAT HEIGHTS
Royal Enfield Himilayan 31.5 inches 800mm but a whopping 191kg 421lb
Kawasaki Versys-X 300 32.1inches 815mm 386 lbs 175kg 386lb
BMW G310GS 32.8inches 833mm 169kg 372lb
DR650 838mm (lower shock position) 33inches 838mm 166kg 366lb
KTM 390 Adventure 33.6 inches 855mm 171kg 376lb

HOW LOW (& LIGHT) CAN YOU GO?
Some of the dual sport bikes have very low seat heights, especially the Yamaha TW200 and Suzuki VanVan. Quite a few riders take these fat tire wonders across the country. Many of the small dual sport bikes have quite low seat heights, the XT250 and DR200 are among the lowest.

Suzuki VanVan: 30 inches 770mm 128 kg 282 lbs
Yamaha TW200 31.1inches 790mm 127kg 279lb
Yamaha XT250 31.9 inches 810mm 123kg 271lb
DR200: 810mm 31.9 inches 810mm 125kg 276lb

BIKE MODS
There are plenty of experienced adventure riders who are short and want a quality bike with good performance. This is usually when you look at modifying an existing model to suit.

Cut the seat down and recover it yourself. Or buy an lower aftermarket seat. The width of the seat is usually a problem too, so you can taper the seat at the front for when your feet are on the ground. If you can dramatically reduce seat height you may want lower footpegs too so your legs don't feel cramped.

Handlebars. Usually the height will be okay, but some shorter riders trim the bar ends to feel more comfortable on the bike.

Suspension mods. If you are short, chances are you are lighter as well. So softer springs front and rear might give you enough sag to be comfortable on the bike. The cheapest and most basic mod is a lowering link for the rear shock and slide your forks through the triple clamps to suit. It's very easy to change back to stock too. Most riders find this works great, but a few might find the rear shock doesn't work so well, or it might change the handling of the bike. You will probably need a shorter sidestand too. The other option is have your shock and forks both altered to sit the bike lower. Expensive and not easy to reverse.

Riding boots with thicker soles. I can't find any adventure boots specifically made for short riders, but some do get their boots modified.

RIDING TIPS
Get used to just putting one foot down when you stop, not both. If you need to get one butt cheek off the seat to do this, practice putting a foot down on each side of the bike at a standstill until the butt slide becomes second nature.

Get comfortable standing on the footpegs. In rougher terrain, you can move your body around much more to maintain balance.

Work on your balance. Nothing perfects this like balancing at a standstill, see our training vid here. A less ambitious way to do this is with full lock turns, both standing and sitting. Learning to ride very slowly will also improve your clutch slipping skills.

When parking, don't be embarrassed to get off the bike and just walk it into parking spots. Anything that gives you more control and less risk can't be a bad thing.

Edited by OZ DRZ
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  • 3 weeks later...

Ive lowered a bunch of bikes using internal spacers.  Its not as difficult as people seem to think.  Maybe getting into modern twin chamber forks you may need access to a lathe, depending on design.  Race Tech sells shims for the shock or you can make one.  Typically its a 3:1 ratio, so a 10mm shock spacer will lower 30mm at the seat.  Links are easy to install but you may have tire to fender contact.  You should lower the front and rear equally to retain full stock adjustable range.  For forks, Ive found lowering more than 15-17mm you will have excessive spring preload and should cut the spring the same length as the spacer.  Fork spacers can be made easily from pvc, uhmw, etc.  After lowering, you need to determine your sag measurements by the percentage of the new fully extended height.  So if stock is 12in of travel and your sag is 4in (100mm) thats 33%.

 

Almost forgot....you'll need to shorten your kickstand too.

Edited by Jeekinz
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Unfortunately this world is made for taller people. It's not about the skill and how you adapt to a taller bike, it's just piss poor design to ride a bike that tall. I wish all the tall people had to ride a bike they cant even put 2 feet down on. 

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I’m 5’-8”. With 30” inseam. And I’m 67 years old. I had a 10 KLR 650. That I put 15k on it. Found a used 2020 DRZ 400 SM with 185 miles on it.  This thing super fun to ride. Only installed 1” Kouba link and raised the Frt forks about 3/4”. Feet flat on the ground now. I know it’s not a trail bike but with the right tires on it I should have no issues with the forest roads I hope. Spent $60 on the links. No seats to buy at this point. I spent a lot on the KLR trying to get it right for my riding peace of mind. There are a couple different seat options out there. I guess with the COVID stuff going on, nobody is doing a whole lot right now. 

DC4086FA-5425-4FA0-BCB5-A8FC867A202E.jpeg

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I put the Devol 1.75" lowering links on the DR-Z 400 and it helped with the seat height as much as I needed to reach the ground comfortably but it did adversely effect the handling every bit as much as knowledgeable commentators here have warned. Moving the forks up on the triple trees helped more than I expected, that restored some measure of predictability in the handling and enjoyment in the ride.

Moving the forks up on the DR-Z is limited by the back of the ignition switch, exactly 0.500" was all I could get from the top of the fork cap to the top of the triple tree. As was noted here in a different thread (thank you) dropping the front end of the DR-Z 1/4" with stock suspension makes a huge difference, so I'm thinking with the lowering links it might be reasonable to go as much as 3/4" I don't know.

But I am seriously thinking about putting some 1/4" spacers under the bracket for the ignition switch cylinder with longer bolts and trying it.

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm 5'5" with a 30 inch inseam and ride a KTM 1190 Adventure R........without any modification to lower. It is a bit intimidating at first, however, it just takes some time to get comfortable. The most difficult part for me is mounting, but I have a system that works pretty well.

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