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How to ride a tall motorbike if you are short.

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Picture of How to ride a tall motorbike if you are short.
Riding motorbikes can be tricky if you can't put both feet on the ground. 
Short people usually tend to be limited to cruiser or sports bikes because of the low seat hight. But if, like me, you want to be able to use your bike anywhere a dual purpose bike is the ticket. So even though I can just about put one toe on the ground when I slide off the seat I'm able to ride around quite happily. 

To get the ground clearance necessary off road these bikes are a lot taller then their road oriented cousins. This extra height is also great in traffic, letting you see over most cars. The downside is, unless you are tall you cannot put both feet on the road and this can be unnerving. But it doesn't mean you can't ride them - with a little practice you will be able to handle one better than your not so vertically challenged friends.

Over the years I have been using these techniques I have never had an accident, come close a couple of times but have never done any actual damage to bike or rider. The low speed of the manoeuvres make ego damage the most likely.

As with any riding you go where you look and if you are not confident you tend to look down. For this reason I highly recommend practising the component movements whilst stationary and always in a safe place away from traffic.

Disclaimers: 
  1. Always wear full protective gear, I know I am not wearing gloves and my jeans are not armoured but I did not exceed running speed.
  2. I would not recommend a tall bike for your first motorcycle - become proficient at general handling first.
  3. If possible practice on grass first, it is softer (see #1)
  4. If you do fall off trying this remember #3 before you fall and hope that you remembered #1 before you got on the bike and finally as with anything that you do of your own free will I cannot be held responsible for it.

 
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Beenay252 years ago
I'm going to put this as nicely as I can... but riding a bike too big for you just makes you a chalk outline waiting to happen...
cfishy Beenay258 months ago

Too tall and too big are two very different things. We're not talking about riding a liter sports bike - that's too big for most people. Not being able to get on/off a bike doesn't really post any real danger. The worse is that can happen is that the bike gets dropped, so what? Just jump off the bike.

expatty (author)  Beenay252 years ago
Some say that riding any bike makes you a chalk line waiting to happen. It is true that bikes are a lot more dangerous than other forms of transport and therefore take a lot more training and practice to survive.

As far as a tall bike is concerned, once you are up and moving the size of the bike does not make a difference. Personally I am not concerned that both my feet can't touch the ground when I am riding down the road, in some ways it is a bonus! On the other hand, I am mildly concerned when setting off and stopping as falling when stopped is really embarrassing and sometimes will cost a little for repairs. That is why I concentrated my instructable on these slow speed manoeuvres.

My experience for producing this instructable comes from 10+ years of riding tall bikes every day. I'm currently doing 45,000kms / year on the bike in the photo's and being 5'4" need to use the techniques shown every day and they are fun :-)
jsadler12 years ago
One of the funnier scenes is seeing a guy on a harley that is too tall for him start to pull out of his driveway and there is a dip such that the front while is on an incline and the back whell is on the downside of the incline in back of the bike. That adds another 4, 5 or even six inches before the toes touch the ground on one side. Sadly with an 850 lb. bike once it starts to lean it is going to go down. It will be an expensive thud when it hits. And it may take several people to pick the bike up. If one tries to lift it it will cause more harm and more expenses. A side drop on some sports bikes at zero speed does enough damage to the plastic that they actually write the bike off as a total loss.
Also there is no excuse for designing bikes that weight 850 lbs.
cfishy jsadler18 months ago

Yeah, they are essentially small unreliable cars. Or a flying lazyboy. A very expensive and ineffective fashion accessory. A 300lbs dirt bike dual sport supermoto is meant to be dropped and dragged and that's my ride. I don't understand how a grown man can be too short for a Harley. unless if he's less than 5' with a 23" inseam or something.

expatty (author)  jsadler12 years ago
Ah yup, been there too!
Forward planning is useful there, identify the places you can and can't stop - before you get to them.

Also slow riding helps too so you don't actually have to stop. If you have to then use the opposite to walking on the bike so you can stand next to it when you stop.

Being short you do have to develop your slow speed skills a bit more and become creative in their use.
cfishy8 months ago

But most of the time I have to ride into traffic, meaning, immediately turn while starting. These look cool but doesn't seem practical for urban stop and go riding - or maybe I'm not not happy that us hoppers being called "silly." These moves do seem to be something I wanna practice on. But hopping is still the essential in urban riding!

I also wanna point out that one of the very first thing I do when I get a new bike, before even riding, is adjustment at the suspension shop. They can work magic with half hour of adjustments.

I'm 5'3" with a short inseam for even my height - 26.5" and my Husqvarna SM610 is about 34" height. European dirt bikes side stands are very weak and I don't dare sitting on it. I can ride any bike that I can ballet tip toe on one foot while my other foot hangs on the bike - most of the time not able to reach the other peg. As long as the bike is narrow and light enough for me to hop, it's no problem. It does mean my bike's tail gets kicked everytime I get on and off, though.

Hack42Moem2 years ago
Excellent tips from the looks of it. I haven't needed most of them yet, but I'm sure they'll help encourage shorter people, and we all know most of those are women, to ride with confidence. Kudos!

Personally I kickstart my bike on the side stand. It's easier for me than finding a suitable kerb every time and gives me more leverage to give it a good kick.

Here's a little tip of my own:
I find that making the seat narrower, especially in front where you don't normally sit anyway, helps more than making it lower. You'll be able to stick your legs straight down and reach the ground more easily.

Also, I prefer boots that aren't too stiff, so I can stick my toes out further. I can flatfoot my bike, I just can't flatfeet it. As long as I can usually set the balls of my feet down on either side, I'm fine.

And the kind of falls that result from not being able to put your foot on the grond are the ones that happen at low or no speed. Not the dangerous falls in most cases. So like you, I'm not too worried.
toezter2 years ago
Even with my seat shaved down, I can just barely get both the balls of my feet down on the ground. However like you expatty, one foot is good enough. Looks like you've been riding well enough to know what you're comfortable with. I honestly never seen anyone get on/start a bike like that! :D