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Old 26 Jan 2013
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KLR650 - lowest seat height possible

Getting ready to drive North to South across the Americas with my girlfriend. We'll each ride bikes, and are looking at KLR650s. I'm 5'11", but she's 5'2", so we're worried about the standover height.

From what I can tell, we can gain up to 3" by lowering the suspension, and installing a thinner seat. She could gain an inch or so with solid boots.

Will she be able to use the bike like that? Or should it be even lower?
Unchanged, she can't use the bike well - its heavy for her, and tips to the side too much when she puts a foot down.

First post. Have read the forums and can't find an actual answer for this.

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Old 27 Jan 2013
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You may want to start by backing up the decision making tree a bit. Starting from scratch, I'd make a list of bikes that are commonly used by smaller riders. A person can gain quite a bit on the safety and security front by starting with a properly fitted bike.

You'll see more than a few couples where the wife/girlfriend rides a F650. As one example, you may want to read the blog of Ekke & Audrey and fire off any questions to her about how she finds her bike. She is very experienced and has ridden long trips in Africa on the old model and now in Asia on the new model. Another blog to look at would be the two motos kiwis who were both on DR650's but have recently switched to two up on a KTM.

Not sure if you are considering the older model KLR or the newer model, but I don't think that they would make that list and you wouldn't have to spend so much time and energy to retro fit the bike just to make it an ok solution. Once you do find the best match for her, then you can try to look for another bike for you that ticks some of the items on your list of secondary wants, which I assume includes the desire to have a similar manufacturer so that the possibility of sharing some parts and maintenance exists.

Anyways, just my two bits.
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Old 29 Jan 2013
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Thanks for the reply. And smart idea for me to back up the tree a little.

Tomorrow we're swinging by the BMW store to have her sit on some bikes and get a sense of what standover height works.

Will check out the blog you recommended also.
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Old 4 Feb 2013
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KLR 650 lowered seat

Early last year I rode KLR 650 model 2009 from Colombia to Ushuaia, ARG and return to Colombia. I am small size and shape (5ft 4 inch). I lowered the front fork by about 1" and cut the seat about 2 " by local a Colombian motorcycle shop in Cali. With normal riding boot, side panniers and top bag loaded, I can flat foot. The bike served me well and suffer no altitude problem when I rode into Bolivia ( La Paz).
I am planning to ride my KLR from Germany across Russia in 2015.

Pic - Me and KLR. The cut seat height in relation to my height.
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Old 4 Feb 2013
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This past summer I spent several thousand km. touring on a Kawasaki KLX250s which in stock from is just as high as a stock KLR 650 (the seat height is 35"). In the past I avoided high bikes and, in fact, cannot flat foot the KLX.

Yet I was completely comfortable and secure on the KLX and this was because it is so light (100 lb. less than an KLR).

So my observation, for what it's worth, is that weight can be just as important as height if not more so. A lowered KLR is still a heavy machine for someone 5'2'' and doesn't seem like an ideal choice.

Good luck.

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Old 15 Jan 2014
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Lightbulb Cheaper KLR seat lowering alternative

This is a super late reply, but meant more so for future KLR riders , I've met a bunch of riders over time with the same issue , not just on KLR's

I tried this cheaper method - though it may not work for you, I was content with it

Check out. http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...er-style-71956

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Old 16 Jan 2014
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Dead Thread ... but ...

You're right ... might help future riders considering the KLR or other oversized and overweight 650 class bikes.

IMHO, no 650 class bike is well suited for a Women 5'2" ... and a lot of not so strong guys could have trouble too ... I know I did. I've known a few Women riding KLR's ... all are over 5' 9" and HELLA STRONG ... with BIG strong legs.

Unless the girlfriend is a Russian weight lifter she won't be happy when the KLR tips over ... or when it pins her to the ground. I once owned a '98 KLR ... and struggled picking it up when loaded in the dirt. During those years I could bench press 230 lbs. (5' 6", 150 lbs. back then).

No matter how low the KLR is ... it's just not right unless the rider is very experienced on heavy bikes and good in the dirt ... and I would include the iBMW in the NO column ... and it's twice the cost and around 40 lbs. heavier than the original KLR.

Discover 250's and don't look back. There are several really good ones ... and none are as expensive as BMW's.

The Kawasaki KLX250 was mentioned above. I had one briefly as I sold it for a friend. Great little bike if you stay off the freeways. Look for Kawi in introduce a 300 version soon. (to fight off Honda's latest CRF250L)

Yamaha WR250R. Another really good one, but this one is quite expensive at around $8000 USD new. But has F.I. and more power and better suspension than most of the competition and is pretty tough and travel proven.

Honda CRF250L: This Thai built Honda (Honda have been in Thailand for over 20 years) is an all new model, just came out about a year ago. Folks rave about it. As a travel bike ... I would give it serious thought. Simple, fairly light, durable and affordable.

KLR250 or Super Sherpa 250: Both these older Kawasaki's are work horses and can do the job. Proven but not as modern as bikes listed above.

Yamaha XT250: Not available in street legal form everywhere but also a good choice if modified for travel.

Suzuki DRZ250: Not much known about this bike ... but it's a Suzuki ... so I'm betting its super good.

Why a 250?
A 250 will give the rider confidence. This is important for a lot of reasons, beyond the rider being only 5' 2". They'll have more FUN! Less stress!

If the 250 rider is traveling with a partner on a bigger bike ... well, he'll have to carry most of the gear and slow down a bit on big highways ... makes sense, right?

The old school nonsense about using the same bike to have common parts, IMO, no longer applies. Modern bikes are strong and reliable. I carry very few spare parts on my DR650 Suzuki beyond spare tubes, fork seals, spare master link, plugs and levers. That's it. 55,000 miles ... never a problem.

Besides, if the bike blows or has a serious issue ... you won't be rebuilding it on the side of the road anyway. You'll need to get to a shop for help and order needed parts.
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Old 22 Jan 2014
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New 2014 KLR special edition narrower seat

Well said ,

Small bikes are always more fun, thanks for writing a good smaller cc alternative list - I think the larger fuel tank and better cruising speed on the highways helps sell the larger bikes.

I think Kawi are starting to do something about the seat height with the new special edition 2014 KLR.
A review at
2014 Kawasaki KLR 650 special edition preview - Motorbike Writer

Quote from article: It is narrower and more-tapered at the front so shorter riders should be better able to reach the ground and manoeuvre at low speeds.
Meanwhile, the pillion section is wider.

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Old 26 Jan 2014
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I would think a bike like the little Suzuki DR200 would be better suited for a lady of shorter stature. Also you see many of them around SA so spare parts and repairs are easy to acquire so you wont need to carry that many spares.
The KLR650 is a big heavy handful of bike especially in overloaded South America travel trim.
Also the little DR200 will get much better fuel economy.
Running both a KLR 650 and a DR200. Use the KLR to carry the weight and leave the DR in light weight trim with soft wolf man saddlebags and a single 49 liter Ortleib rack pack bicyclists use.
Fit the KLR with the big Happy Trails aluminum panniers and large trunk, then a wolfman tankbag and aerostich tank panniers.
That set up would leave you plenty of room to lock things up when you need to, and you girlfriend much happier on the little DR.
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