Is Your Bike Too Tall? No Problem.
Nothing compares to the freedom and exhilaration of feeling the breeze on your face as you reasonably speed out into the highway on your large touring bike. The roar of the engine and that ever familiar deep sputtering sound that your muffler creates. Awesome.
You’re actually back in your garage looking at this big bike and trying to figure how to ride it and be confident about it. The only problem is, it’s about a few inches too tall and you could barely even touch the floor with your toes when you are straddling it. Heck, you can even barely keep your balance, not even for a few seconds.
Here are some of the tips on how to manage and ride a large bike in tandem with an average height rider, who may have some difficulty keeping things in balance.
Tip #1 Choose a Motorcycle that Fits You
Being a short rider doesn’t mean that we are limited in our choices when it comes to motorcycles. So, to avoid any confusion about the kind of motorcycle that a not so tall biker can own, the first thing that we need to look for when buying a motorcycle is the purpose. Yes, the purpose., What do you want a motorcycle for?
It is important that when you go into a dealership, you already have an idea of what you are going to use a bike for. Here are some of the more familiar purposes:
- For commuting ( a ride to work, doing errands, etc)
- Recreation ( Sunday rides, motorcycle mod, enthusiasts, long rides )
- Amateur or Professional Competition (motocross, circuit racing)
- A full-size motorcycle for beginners
Assuming that you might have done a little research and that you already are in the dealership, you can actually let the rep. know of your requirements and what brand of motorcycle is that you want. Right off the bat, that would solve 50% of the height problem.
You see, there is no use teeter-tottering on a motocross grade bike if you are only planning to learn how to ride a motorcycle. On the other hand, it will also help if you do indeed want a motocross-grade bike as your first bike.
Here are some of the more accessible bikes in the market today with a sample of corresponding seat heights:
Yamaha MT07 – 31.7 inches (seat height)
Triumph Tiger 800 – 29.9 inches (seat height)
Honda CB300R – 31.5 inches (seat height)
You can ask your dealership about specific seat heights.
Tip #2 Lower Your Bike’s Suspension
Assuming that you were already able to choose a bike that you want, but it is still a little bit too tall for you to sit on. You might want to consider adjusting the suspension system of both the front and rear wheel.
Caution: Changing the configuration of your suspension will affect your motorcycle’s handling and comfort. It is also dangerous at certain speeds.
Front-wheel- Loosen the triple clamps and allow the fork to rise up which effectively drops the height at the front end. Take care that the wheel doesn’t hit the fender when you bottom out.
Rear-wheel – Generally, you should match any change to the front wheel height with the rear wheel. If you would like to DIY, all you have to do is find a link called dog bone and change it so that it lowers the rear wheel height.
Otherwise, you can opt for a professional custom rear shock set up for rider height and weight. This can be done by expert mechanics, which incidentally is much more effective and safe. It is well worth the additional expense too.
Tip #3 Wear Height Increasing Boots
Generally, an additional 1 inch to the heel of your boots greatly enhances your feet’s contact to the floor. However, do take care to buy a pair that has a space between the ball and the heel of the shoe.
Avoid using boots that are elevated or thick all over the sole area. This is for the reason that you will have difficulty changing gears if the sole has no space in between. Remember to use boots that have a space between the heel and the ball in the sole area and not the one that is thick all over.
Tip #4 Install a Lower Seat
In case you already have a bike, you have the option to install lower seats in replacement of the stock. There are motorcycles that have adjustable seat heights, although it’s not a standard for all bikes.
As for the non-adjustable seat, all you have to do is remove it and replace it with a lower and smaller. A little bit of comfort may be sacrificed but at least your feet get to touch the ground.
Combining this solution with lowered suspension and heel-elevated boots, it could actually create a difference of 2 inches lower overall. That would be enough for you to handle your bike in comfort and relative ease.
Tip #5 Choose a Lightweight Bike
There are several factors that could have your bike become top-heavy. For example, panniers can be very useful for your motorcycle, but it also brings with it a significant amount of weight. Naturally, it would be a little bit harder to keep a heavy bike on an even keel.
It would also be helpful to know how much your bike weighs before purchasing it. Examples of lighter bikes are naked and urban bikes. Heavier bikes include racing and touring bikes. Either way, you can always choose between light and heavy, or for as long as you are happy with your choice. Maybe the height adjustment can come in after.
Tip #6 Install Panniers
One unconventional solution to the height problem is to install panniers. Panniers are dual side bags that serve as storage space mostly located at the back of the bike. Not all riders may agree with this solution, but if you do decide to install them, what they do is add more weight to your bike and lower it just a tad bit.
The difference might not seem like much at first, but this would be very helpful to a tip-toed rider which enables him to finally reach the floor with the balls of his feet.
Learn more: Best Motorcycle Panniers in 2020: Tested Reviews
Tip #7 Places to Avoid Stopping
No adjustments on the bike are to be made here. Just some common sense advice, that’s all. Assuming that you are only able to touch the ground with your toes and not the balls of your feet, the reality is you only have an inch or so to negotiate a balance for you and your motorcycle.
Otherwise, if you stop on uneven ground and your toes are on the deep end, chances are your motorcycle might tip over on its side with you in it.
Places to avoid stopping on:
- Over a manhole cover
- The higher side of a curb
- At the foot of the hill
Train yourself to look out for these places and avoid stopping over them. That includes some other uneven surface that wouldnât allow your toes to reach the ground.
Tip #8 Mount with the Side Stand On
Some riders would mount their bikes with the help of the side stand. First, you twist the handlebar all the way to the right to create an opposing balance.
Next, while keeping the side stand on (be careful to check if the side stand is made out of alloy, chances are it might not hold) you can raise your left foot facing your motorcycle on the left side. And then step on the left footpeg with your left foot.
While holding on to the handlebar, use it to balance yourself as you push up the footpeg using your left leg and hoisting your right leg over the seat to straddle the motorcycle.
Sounds fairly easy? Yeah, but you might need some practice with a friend. The reason for that is, the action has to be done in one fluid motion so that you don’t tip over in attempting such mount. But yeah, it is workable.
One other variation of mounting is standing beside your tall bike and mounting it “on the fly”. Start by stepping in with the left foot on the left footpeg, and release the clutch while throwing your right leg over the seat.
You might have to do a few hops as the bike moves forward and as you straddle the bike in motion. This mounting may take some practice to master. But it will always come in handy whenever you need to make a quick mount for a quick ride.
Learn more: How to Mount a Motorcycle Properly
Tip #9 Pick a Bike with a Narrow Seat
Choose a bike with a narrow seat. One that is narrow enough for your legs to be closer together. This is so that you will be able to reach the ground with the balls of your feet.
Try out the bikes that are on display in the dealership, and see which ones allow you to be comfortably seated with your feet level on the ground.
Tip #10 Check the Weight Distribution
Weight distribution matters. Does your bike have panniers attached to them? Make sure they are even weighted on both sides so that you maintain your motorcycle’s center of gravity.
If for some reason your bike is not balanced you would have more difficulty in putting your foot down, much less keeping the bike upright.
Tip # 11 Install Lowered Footpegs
Lowered seats can cause cramps, but installing lowered footpegs (link to Amazon) could be an ideal solution to give your legs some more room. Take note that large or oversized footpegs may interfere with your foot’s reach to the ground.
Danger: It is possible that your pants may get snagged by the longer and serrated footpeg. This may result in the rider tipping over because he wasn’t able to put his foot down on time as his pants got caught.
A lower footpeg with the same average size can save you the trouble of having to struggle to regain your balance.
Tip # 12 Think Wheel Size
Off-road bikes typically come with either 21 or 19 inch sized front wheels. They are designed for both concrete and off the road. Size 21 means off-road and some other difficult terrain, while size 19 is optimized for normal riding.
Generally, the larger the wheel the stronger and more heavy-duty it is. The smaller the wheel means it could potentially lessen the height profile of your bike.
Tip #13 Handlebars
Modding your handlebar improves control and fit. You can use a bar riser to adjust handlebars up and down, forward, and back. This results in better control and less fatigue. Typically, a wider handlebar gives better leverage, especially on a big bike.
Tip # 14 Electric Starter
Having an electric starter (link to Amazon) on your bike whether for off-road or concrete, is a real advantage. You won’t have to struggle with doing a kick on your right foot while tiptoeing on the left side. We all know how difficult it is, and some may even say it is impossible.
So, whatever model, and whatever brand an electric starter (link to Amazon) may you can trust that it contributes to your convenience and safety.
Tip # 15 Establish Self Confidence
Finally, it is important that you establish some form of self-confidence about your riding ability.
You can either use a mantra or just some triggering phrase that you can use to psyche yourself up. It could be as simple as: “Today I’m going to get on my bike and drive from point A to point B without a hitch and without any problem. And tomorrow, I’ll do it all over again.”
You will just have to keep reminding yourself that it’s not your size, nor the size of the bike that is going to determine your ability to become a better rider. Do this until your actions become automatic, and that’s the time that you will truly enjoy your rides from start to finish.