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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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  #1  
Old 11 Oct 2007
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Question 5Ft rider seeks low seat bike models.

Firstly apologies if this HAS been addressed previously, but all my searches brought up similar, but not same, requests / information, so I’m trying now for a specific question.

My wife is 5Ft (or 5Ft half inch in her terms!) which leads to problems finding a travel bike.

I’ve seen information on folk 5’ 6” looking for bikes, but that really isn’t small or a problem in comparison.

I’d be very grateful if anyone of near 5Ft can advice what models they have found suitable for travel, so far in our fairly comprehensive search we have found only 2 models. One she rides presently (Serow XT225) and the other is modified F650. In fact I’d go so far as to say the F650 with lowering links and forks dropped is the only model we’ve seen that does appear possible – almost possible to get feet ‘flat’ on floor. The problem is the F650 is a heavy bike (before loading), (current Serow is a little too underpowered - loaded especially).

What we’d like is around 400cc or so, and in an ideal world about 150-60kgs max weight in standard trim. Off road capable (ground clearance and low seat height may prove tricky), and a solo – ruling out side-cars.

We’ve looked at loads of options, and would prefer new, or newer model bikes. Older models can be cut and chopped to some extent, but more modern bikes have a nasty habit of placing air-boxes or petrol tanks under the seat meaning it’s not possible. Another thought is to actually build two bespoke bikes, like Simon Millward’s Rotax. This is actually looking an option.

To throw something else into the hat, I also need to be able to ride the same model (but not same actual bike!) as we are after a bike each for long term travel.

If anyone has first hand (foot!) experience of using bikes this low I’d been very grateful of details – not interested in thoughts or ideas, just practical experiences.

There are lots of women in this situation so results could make a good resource.

5Ft IS a problem when it comes to finding a bike to ride, even on tip toes.
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Old 20 Oct 2007
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Bikes are for big people

Well your lack of responses doesn't supprise me having trawled the internet with a similar question. There really does only seem to be one option...the BMW F650GS. However I highly recommend going for a factory lowered one rather than buying a normal one and trying to convert it. Once you have a factory lowered GS you can also try skimming a bit off the seat and, if you lovely lady isn't already wearing them, a pair of Daytona Lady Star boots...they'll give her an extra inch.
My girlie is about 5' 2" but is very short in the leg compared to some of her 5' 2" friends and the factory lowered GS + Lady Stars have made touring with full luggage possible for her. She's still a bit nervous on rough ground but on the flat she can get both feet to the floor and even push the bike about on the flat while sitting on it.

Good luck in your search...
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  #3  
Old 20 Oct 2007
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No problema....

Fritz,
There are a few possibilities.

Have you considered the XT250? I am not sure just how low you can make either of the XT but I am pretty sure it can be lowered at least an inch or two...which may help. Also look at the DR650, if you decide a 650 is what you'd like.

Cutting the seat down is an option but can compromise comfort if not done right. Try Custom boots with an inch added to the heal/soles. Don't go too thick or she won't wear them....unless you're going to a 70's Disco's Yes, this really does help!!

The key thing here is your partner is going to have to learn to ride on tippy toes on a loaded bike at least some of the time. Even a 250 will get heavy when fully loaded. Much of this can be solved by the rider learning how to handle a heavy bike on tip toes or with only one foot down. Balance, practice,
and body position all play a part here.

Sounds daunting right? It's really not so bad but will require some practice and some strength training certainly would not hurt.

Start with the bike unloaded and go into the dirt and uneven ground. Teach her to turn round at slow speeds, figure of eights and such, (gently drag rear brake, steady throttle) Practice parking the bike, and mount and dismount. (always in horse style!). In a month or so she should see progress. Parking is where most shorties fall. She will need to learn how to position the bike correctly on uneven ground when parking even at weird angles (avoid them when you can).

Always make sure the side stand is not too long. After lowering the bike you will need to buy another stand or cut the stock one down. Not hard at all and a must to make the bike usable.

Technique while riding/parking is critical here. She can't expect to be sat in the middle of the seat, bolt upright, and get both feet flat, never happen. A shorty needs to use one bum cheek slid over onto to one side of the seat, and put (for example) the left foot down. (so you've got the right bum cheek on the left side of the seat, the left cheek is hangin off a bit and your left foot is on the floor) Clear as mud, right?

The right foot stays on the right peg, using the brake as needed. Also, its critical for her to slide ALL THE WAY forward on the seat. This reduces the distance from the seat to the ground. Get it? With practise all this get much easier, even with a loaded bike.

Getting back to bikes for a second....

She could also look into lowering something like the DRZ400S Suzuki. Problem here (and with other modern 400's) is they start off pretty tall (for off road capability) so getting them down really low is tough.

Also consider street bikes. Ninja 500 or 250, Suzuki GS500, Honda Rebel, or other of the multitude of lower seated, lightweight street bikes.

In the 650 single dual sport class there are certainly better choices than the F650 BMW, IMO. Not only is the F650 about 65 lbs. heavier than its competition, it is about double the price (as least here in the USA). Most of the dual sports are tall....with one exception.

The Suzuki DR650 is the ONLY dual sport 650 that is adjustable from the factory to be set lower. The rear shock has a two position adjuster to lower the bike by about 3/4". On the forks you simply turn over a spacer inside the fork to lower it 3/4" up front. All dealers know about this and its in the manual. Suzuki even make a shorter side stand for the lowered bike.

Want to go even lower? No problem!
Now, you can change the "Dog Bones" (shock links) to go down an additional inch or more at the rear! In the front you simply slide the fork tubes up in the triple clamps an inch (you can go TWO inches if you want!) So, now you are down nearly three inches from stock! And BTW, the DR is the lowest in class to start with. And remember, it's 65 lbs lighter than a BMW f650. 65 lbs. represents ALL your luggage and gear on a long trip. Weight is the enemy of the short of inseam.

A dealer friend (sells Honda, Suzuki and Kawi) has sort of become the short rider specialist in my area, selling brand new DR650's already lowered down. Several 5ft tall women have purchased these bikes and are very well pleased with them. A friend has one, now has 33,000 miles on it. She is 5'2".

You can get the Corbin seat which , if you scoot forward, makes it even easier for shorties to get both feet down with a 200% improvement in Bum
comfort. (I have one on my bike).

Sadly, apparently DR650's are not sold in the UK.

Best,

Patrick
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Old 21 Oct 2007
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This site Starting Small is probably worth a quick browse as you may get an idea or inspiration from it.
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Old 22 Oct 2007
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You could always have your legs extended like in the movie Gattaca

Gattaca (1997)
It might sting a bit, but at least you would be able to ride ANY bike.

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  #6  
Old 22 Oct 2007
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"However I highly recommend going for a factory lowered one rather than buying a normal one and trying to convert it"

Thanks that's exactly the sort of practical guidance I was - factory lowered are scarce on the ground too unfortunately...bummer

"after if you lovely lady isn't already wearing them, a pair of Daytona Lady Star boots...they'll give her an extra inch"

Thanks again, heard of these (al positive) so will have to find a dealer.

Great advice, thanks ;-)
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  #7  
Old 22 Oct 2007
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Luckily the wife is gaining lots of experience on the humble Serow (two weeks in Iceland help) so she's up to speed on the handling side - met a lass in S America on KLR650 who could only tip toe and she just used the balance, and if unlucky on floor dip - stepped off!

"Also look at the DR650" Very good tip thank you will look into that - sounds ideal and possible solution.

"Sadly, apparently DR650's are not sold in the UK." Well surprise, surprise eh - what a market they are missing. Will have a look for Jap imports or similar, same spec' I would assume due to average heights.

Many thanks!
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  #8  
Old 22 Oct 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler View Post
This site Starting Small is probably worth a quick browse as you may get an idea or inspiration from it.
Will check it out thanks.
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Old 22 Oct 2007
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Try this

Fritz,

An ex of mine was about 4' 11" and the only bike she seemed comfortable on was a Suzuki XF650 Freewind. Now I am not sure if they are available in the UK but in Australia there were a few of them. They have the same engine as the DR650 but are built in direct competition with the F650 (but a lot cheaper).

Take a peek at Motorbikes For Sale – Search New & Used Motorbikes For Sale – BikePoint Australia and it is under Suzuki.

Hope this helps.

Cheers
Ivan
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  #10  
Old 23 Oct 2007
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a friends wife

rides a pegasoII 650
with a customised saddle & some rear shocks lowering.
& an extra inch boots too. shes about 5feet 2inch.

ride safe
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  #11  
Old 23 Oct 2007
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The enfield electra stock seat is 30 inches ( 750 mm) they do a low seat which takes it down to 720 if that helps... incidentally the bike weighs 160 kilos. also a number ( see hitchcocks site) of singe seats which are narrower atthe fron as well as being lower. This makes it easier to fit carry frames.

Mabe visit a dealer to try one??? Haywards in Cambridgeshire do test rides..

Alternatively the moto guzzi 750 weighs in at 180 or so kilos and also can be had witha low seat.. I am not keen on the fuel injection personally, but that is getting dificult to avoid.
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Old 24 Oct 2007
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Thumbs up Lower still

A New Zealand couple have done the trip overland to Europe twice on a pair of VT600 Honda Shadows

Honda VT 600 C Shadow 2005: technical specifications
So you don't need a dual sport or similar for overlanding.
How does 27inchs seat height sound?

Regards

Nigel in NZ
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  #13  
Old 25 Oct 2007
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easy riders maybe...

Thats one of the reason its call easy riders.... Right?
A HD Sportsters maybe?

Met Thomas Weilecki a pro photgrapher in Broken Hill, Australia in '96 doing an OZ tour on a postie bike with very large (40litres maybe) fuel tank.


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Old 25 Oct 2007
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Thanks all, hopefully this will be a good reference for future shorter rider options. The BM650 - too heavy - will be best option in UK for accessability by look of things for next move. Following that (good to experience something that is not quite right then move to lighter easier option, more appreciation...by me too!) will be seeing if a DR650 can be got hold of in new or near new condition over here. Planning to go again two years hence so fine. The DR (or freewind) looks ideal as have experience of friends using them, and it would suit me as well as wife. Will update thread if we get experiences.
For availability it looks like F650, 1" Kouba link, forks dropped and Daytona Ladystars for now...that's the wife not me ;-) Many thanks
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Old 25 Oct 2007
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Take a look at the buell blast. My girlfriend of 5'1" had a hard time finding a bike that fit her. She settled on the blast. I used to be a bit anti harley, but the blast changed my mind. It is a 500cc single. A bit underpowered, but jet kit and pipe help. I have had hers up to 80 and I am 250 lbs, so it can carry you. Low maint and low weight make it an option. It isn't a duel sport, but is light enough to take on a dirt road. Ground clearance isn't great, but again, it will make it just go slow. The first couple of years had a couple of problems that have been ironed out so steer clear of the older ones. Best of all they are inexpensive brand new.

BTW for all us folks looking for the perfect bike, adventure rider used to have a thread of photo's from the 50's. These guys were taking their harleys on single track trails, jumping them, into snow and accross streams. I think of that some times when I wish my bike was better off road, on road etc .
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