Tips and Tricks for Vertically Challenged Motorcyclists

Am I too short to ride? I hear this question several times throughout the year and the answer is always the same… No! Your stature does not limit your ability to ride. While it does limit the motorcycles you’ll be comfortable on, there are still plenty bikes to choose from. Motorcycles come in all different sizes and a lot of them are great for the shorter-than-average human.

 

Finding confidence

The larger challenge lies in your confidence to ride. When learning to ride, the feeling of not being able to touch the ground and concern over the weight of motorcycle need to be overcome. Learning the proper skillset will mitigate these challenges. For example, when a rider comes to stop with the wheel turned, the weight of the motorcycle will fall towards the lean. This can be too much weight to hold up. If the wheels are kept straight while coming to a stop, the weight distribution will much more even. An even weight distribution will make it easier to keep the motorcycle upright comfortably.
Another issue many shorter riders face is managing the bike on uneven terrain. When stopping on uneven terrain (such as pulling off on the side of the road or while in parking lots), always be aware of the surfaces around you and avoid stopping in places that could cause the bike to lean too heavily to one side.

Lowering the bike

There are two ways to lower the seat height of the motorcycle: changing the suspension and customizing the seat.

Changing the suspension—Changing the suspension will lower the motorcycles up to a few inches. This might be enough to make the bike comfortable for you. However, keep in mind that changing the suspension does change the handling of the motorcycle somewhat. Also, you’ll want to remove the feelers on the foot pegs. The risk of these grinding the road is greater if the suspension has been lowered.

Customizing the seat—An easier option is customizing the seat of your motorcycle by changing the way it is designed and removing some of the padding. This will give you a little help reaching the ground. There are specific seats made for this or you can use a custom seat designer such as Slims Signature Seats.

Gear to increase height

An essential part of motorcycle riding is safety gear, so if you are worried about being shorter and maintaining control of the bike when at a stop or in parking lots, consider buying bigger-soled motorcycle boots that add an inch or two of height. Companies that make gear realize that with more motorcycle riders on the roads every day, there are great opportunities to bring new products to the table that appeal to certain riding groups. Be sure to check out some of the big online motorcycle gear stores and your local dealer. Rest assured—you will not be the only one looking for more height with motorcycle boots.

The top bikes for shorter riders

Since the best motorcycles to learn on are typically smaller, these bikes are often great choices as long-term bikes for shorter riders. The Honda Rebel 250 and the Honda CBR125R are not only great to learn on—they’re also great bikes if you’re a vertically challenged rider. The seat height on these motorcycles is 27.6 and 31.0 inches, respectively. With the Honda Rebel having one of the lowest seat heights available, it is rare to find someone it doesn’t fit. If your feet are firmly on the ground with most dining room and office chairs, you’ll be just fine on the Honda Rebel 250.

However, if you’re like most riders, you’ll eventually want to upgrade from your first motorcycle. Below is a list of motorcycles that will fit most people between the height of 4’11 and 5’4. If you’re curious about the seat height of a different motorcycle than those listed, go to http://cycle-ergo.com/

We’ll see you out on the road!

Motorcycles with the lowest seat height
Harley Davidson Sportster 883 low – 26.3 inches
Honda Rebel 250 – 27.6 inches
Harley Davidson Street 500/700 – 27.7 inches
Kawasaki Ninja 250R – 28.1 inches
Suzuki GS500F – 30.3 inches
Kawasaki Ninja 300R – 30.9 inches
Ducati Monster 696 – 30.9 inches
Honda CBR 250R – 30.5 inches
Yamaha FZ6 – 30.9 inches
Honda CBR 125R – 31.0 inches
Triumph T100 – 31.3 inches
Yamaha FZ07 – 31.6 inches

Edited by Tonya T.

Four of the Most Agonizing Choices in Buying Your First Motorcycle (and Some Advice to Make Them Less Agonizing)

Lots to choose from!

Lots to choose from!

You’ve just completed a motorcycle training course, you have your motorcycle safety gear and you’re ready to start riding on your own. Where should you begin? Here are some suggestions for making the best decisions for three of the most agonizing choices new riders have.

Choice #1: What to buy first?

Since it should be part of every motorcycle ride you take, a good place to start is buying your motorcycle safety gear first. It’s very easy to go over your budget buying a motorcycle. This may delay the purchase of gear. Since responsible riding should always be your first priority, make sure that doesn’t happen and get geared up first.

Choice #2: What engine size should I start with?

250ccs to 500ccs is an excellent range to start with. You’ll have enough power for any road you choose to ride and this amount of power is much more forgiving. The most important factor to riding motorcycles is your health and safety. The smaller the engine size, the easier it will be to ride.

Regardless of how well you did in training, motorcycling takes practice like any other sport. Your motorcycle skills will need to develop over time, so give yourself the best odds and setup to make it through your first several thousand kilometers without a major accident.

The higher the engine size, the higher the risk. Big bikes demand respect. The moment you take it for granted is a moment you may regret. The main argument for starting with a larger cc motorcycle is it’s a size you can grow into. I also hear it is a waste of money to buy a small cc engine, as the rider will just grow bored of it quickly. While these are valid points, they should not be traded for your health and safety.

Riding motorcycles carries a higher risk than most forms of transportation. The odds are against you when you are learning to ride. Almost all accidents and injuries are preventable. Start small and work your way up. The costs associated with trading up motorcycles is small compared to the costs of an accident.

Choice #3: New or used?

Buying a used motorcycle is recommended if you are a beginning rider. As you are learning and getting more seat time during those first few months, the chance for errors is higher. A motorcycle with a few minor bumps and scratches is perfect for these early trips. You can always blame those imperfections on the person who sold you the bike! An additional benefit is that the cost of a used bike is often much less than the cost of a new one, so you can use that extra cash to buy motorcycle gear or fund trips. A used, beginner motorcycle retains its value, as the market of buyers is the largest. This is the one type of motorcycle you can ride and not lose a lot of money on.

Buying a new motorcycle is both a fun and frustrating experience—fun in that it is shiny and new, frustrating in the fact that associated costs and taxes can quickly add up. When buying a new motorcycle, try to work with an ‘Out the Door’ price. There will be fewer surprises at the end. When you arrive home with your new and shiny motorcycle, you’ll want to keep it that way. If you happen to drop it, it will be devastating. It takes money and expertise to keep a motorcycle looking immaculate, and as a new rider, it is especially a challenge to do this. Expect a large drop in value when selling your new motorcycle with a few scratches.

Choice #4: Which bike?

When looking for a starter motorcycle, if you’re into sportbikes, starting with the Honda CBR 250cc or 500cc is a good choice. The Kawasaki Ninja 300 is an excellent choice, too. Do not underestimate the power behind these smaller engines. They are very capable on the highways and on any twisty road. If you absolutely must have a Ducati as your first motorcycle, look into the 621cc Ducati Monster.

If cruisers are your motorcycle of choice, have a look at the Honda Rebel 250, Kawasaki Vulcan 500, or a V-Star 650. The larger cc engine on a cruiser does have gentler power than sportbikes of similar displacement, but be aware that it will be a heavier motorcycle.

Good starter adventure motorcycles include the Suzuki V-Strom 650, BMW F700, and Kawasaki Versys 650. These are larger cc engines but they deliver a different amount of power than sportbikes do. When you have found the motorcycle that suits you, go for it! It’s exciting and the open road is yours. No motorcycle is the one you have forever. In fact, some riders change motorcycles every year. Make the safest choice for your first motorcycle. You, your family, and friends will respect it.

The 1st Gear, 1st Motorcycle program

We understand buying a first motorcycle can be quite the process so we are going to try to make it easier for you. With our all-inclusive motorcycling package, we will not only train you but also provide you a motorcycle to start on for 30 days. Here’s how it works:

Once you complete the MSA and upgrade your learner’s license, we will give you the keys to a motorcycle for 30 days. During this time, you will ride it as much as you want to get the practice you need. At the end of the 30 days, you’ll have a much better understanding of riding and you’ll be more prepared for a larger cc motorcycle. Consider the expense of the program to be less than the cost of trading bikes soon after you buy one because it’s not what you want. Tell us what you think about this program and we may very well implement it!

1st Gear Motorcycle School & Training

Editted by Tonya T.

Do you have a great motorcycle for new riders? Tell us about it below!

The Zero S: Let the debate versus gas and electric begin!

2013 Zero S

Electric motorcycles have arrived and will only become more popular as time rolls forward. At the first twist of the throttle I feel confused yet my smile continues to widen. It is incredibly hard to pinpoint what my initial thoughts are on the 2013 Zero S. In a way, I feel like some of my motorcycle senses are missing. Yet, the other senses have become heightened! As I take off, there is no need for the clutch as the engine is a clutchless drive direct. All you need to focus on is not reaching for the clutch. The Zero S will take care of the near silent rapid acceleration. As you effortlessly and quietly zip through time and space you can’t help but think something like this should still belong in the future. It did not take me long to realize that the Zero S is a serious threat to my drivers license. This is when you realize where one of your motorcycle senses has gone, your discipline.

At my first stop I let everything sink in and this motorcycle is quickly becoming one of the most exciting test rides I’ve been on. The incredibly powerful, smooth and quiet power delivery is as close to flying as I will get. The silence is only strange as motorcycles are typically noisy. With such a quiet ride your sense of fun and exhilaration are brought to new levels. Leaning the bike over and into corners is easily done and done with confidence. The light weight and my 190lb body work well enough together to be one with the road. Some bumps do upset the suspension but since the bike was not setup for me, I’ll blame it on that.

Towards the end of my 24 hours with the bike, I spent the last hours figuring out how to bring this bike into the 1st Gear Motorcycle School fleet. At $16,000 new (The demo model I had was $14,000 used) it does put it outside the price range for now…

Zero S, test, ride, ridefar, 2013

Zero S, test, ride, ridefar, 2013

Zero S, test, ride, ridefar, 2013

Riding through the National Parks of Utah. An unforgettable experience.

On June 8th I flew down to Phoenix AZ to complete the 7th part of my motorcycle storage experiment. I would ride to Kanab UT from Phoenix and spend the next three days exploring the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and other incredible locations in Utah. 2007 was my first trip to Utah and I had very vivid memories of it. It is an experience. From a sport tourer’s perspective it is not a state made up of race track highways. It is the most scenic state you can ride in. The scenery is so incredible you’ll have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road.

Route Map – Phoenix AZ to White Rock BC, 4168kms total

Baja Motorcycle Trip. Good idea or bad idea? You decide…

baja

“We’re  going to ride our motorcycles in Mexico”

“Really? I heard/know of/This will happen *insert disastrous horrific story here*”

“Well, the Baja is alot safer than the mainland…”

“Uh Sure… That’s not what I hear! HAVE FUN!”

It became pointless to tell people that we were going to ride our perfectly good motorcycles down through Baja Mexico. So we did it anyways. Does anyone have anything to be worried about riding your motorcycle through Mexico? Yes, but the same concerns exist with any ride. The major differences to be very aware of are; You are far away from immediate help. Ensenada and La Paz are the only cities that can help with Motorcycle issues. The people we encountered were very, very helpful and friendly. We had a great time and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any of our two wheeled friends. For street bikes it is perfect blend of adventure and touring.

When you make the journey be sure yell out WE MADE IT.

I’d like to do more of a thorough write up about the trip but peoples attention span isn’t what it used to be. I may do a full write up as I have started one below. Feel free to contact me with any particular questions below
It became pointless to tell people that we were going to ride our perfectly good motorcycles down through Baja Mexico. Despite this our enthusiasm and excitement approached Fiesta levels. As we crossed into Mexico via the Tecate Crossing, anxiety decided to show up to the party. Riding through the border is easy. You do need to park the motorcycles and go get your mexican travel visa. Relatively easy process, it just can be confusing on where you should go.

When we finished with the border we headed south along Mexican wine country on a very decent road. The further we rode south the more comfortable we felt. So far our impression of the roads were pretty good. Our first stop was in Ensenada for street tacos. Carrying on we slogged our way through one of the more boring parts of the Transpeninsular Highway. Alot of small towns, alot of speed bumps (Tope!), and nothing much to see. Before arriving in El Rasario we were treated to some very nice, well paved corners. The first place we stayed at was the Baja Cactus Hotel. It was one of the nicest of the trip and nicer than most places we stay at in USA. Cheap too! Dinner, drinks and breakfast was at Mama Espinozas. This is a well known spot to Baja Racers. Beer was cold, food was ok.

On the second day