How tall is too tall?


Most pics can be enlarged! Updated from a previous post

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I have been asked many times “how can you ride such a tall bikes”?  So, I have put together some pics to try to show as close as I can with the specs I know what I might look like on all the recent bikes I have owned or “borrowed”.  My height is 5’5″, well almost 5’5″ 😉 with an in seam of 30.5 inches. 

Riding “tall” bikes within reason is doable for any rider who can ride.  All about your own comfort and instincts.  Trust them and learn.

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So, this post is for the vertically challenged.

I have hopes that a few in seam inches will not deter anyone from buying the bike of their dreams…where there is a will there is a way.  Trust me I should know…I am shortish and I have ridden successfully, comfortably, confidentially and most importantly safely a 2011 Triumph Tiger, 2012 BMW F650GS, 2013 F800GS and my recent 2015 BMW 1200GSW (RIP).  My other bikes were a 2008 Suzuki SV650,2009 Honda CBF1000 and 2010, believe it or not Harley Davidson Fat Boy.  The later bikes were never an issue with height of course.SV

See, no issue with the SV650.  Nice little bike and both Cheryl and I enjoyed them but realized not too soon after buying them we needed more power and comfort.

CBF

Again I fit the CBF1000 with absolutely no issues with my footing.  BTW…we both had these bikes and LOVED them for their sport touring ride.  I took mine out on the track a few times and was actually able to keep up with all the young chaps on the CBR’s.  Great fun but once again we were in search of something more…..

HD

What to say about this bike.  Friends of ours sold their VFR’s and bought HD’s and we impulsively bought my Fat Boy and Cheryl had a Street Bob.  Cheryl really liked her Street Bob and would have kept it if we could.  Single dimensional bike but cool to ride.  One issue had been the air-cooled engine.

The oil tank is right under the seat on the Fat Boy and the few times I rode to work in very HOT weather I had almost second degree burns on my right thigh that went through my riding pants.  I actually hated my bike.  When it rained the brakes would lock up and I would fish tail riding in the city.  No ABS.  Scared the shit out of me.  So, these bikes lasted 3 months at most.  Huge hit in the wallet but we were learning what we were craving at this point.

650

Ahhhhhhhh….BMW sort of Dual Sport 2010 F650GS.  Now we were talking.  Both of us felt at home on this bike so much so I got mine in March of 2010 and we (the we, as in CHERYL and I is NO LONGER) were off and riding across country to New York and back to Vancouver in July.  No planning.  I learned about luggage, packing, etc all online in forums.

Cheryl was our navigator and off we went.  Both dirt and pavement, over 14,000 KM’s later we were hooked on the DS concept.  I fit this bike well…standard height seat, standard suspension no issues at all.  Kept the bike for almost 3 years and sold it with over 60,000 KM’s on it.

Should point out the CBF, HD, Suzuki all were sold with about 10,000 KM’s on them.

T800

The comfy Triumph Tiger 800XC.  Now, this is where we got a taste of more HP, 21 inch front wheel, more of a DS bike than our 650’s and the bonus we borrowed them from Triumph Canada.  Rode from our home in Maple Ridge, BC all throughout BC, the Yukon and of course ALASKA, about 15,000 KM’s!  2011 was a fantastic year of learning better riding skills out of survival 😉  and DS traveling in general.  I had the seat on this bike set to low with the Triumph low gel seat.  My feet not that great when it comes to reaching the earth.

Cheryl had her seat on low with a regular Triumph gel seat and she was pretty much flat-footed. Triumph is a head of the game comparing to BMW when it comes to their adjustable seat.  We loved this feature and would be more appealing to the vertically challenged than the BMW F800GS that we have now.  Smooth triple engine makes this bike a very smooth pavement touring bike.  Off road totally competent but not nearly as fun as the F800.  Just my opinion.  Great bike though.

Few more pet peeves…Triumph should integrate the heated grips instead of an after thought.  Hate those comical BIG white buttons.  The ABS is a joke to turn on and off especially when you are freezing, hungry and tired.  All in all, we still love this bike but when it came time to buy a new model…the pet peeves won out.

F8

Finally our latest bikes which we LOVE too.  ESA/ASC we like and use.  We both are using the BMW low seat and to our surprise find them to be not that bad on the ass.  Might even go as far as saying the low seat is comfy.  Not like the Triumph accessory seat but good enough.  Love the gas tank under the seat…makes it more nimble off-road.  The EASY, and I mean EASY on/off ABS set up makes sense as well as the informatics toggle button I like too. Triumph lacks this…everything is manually controlled by reaching to the instruments and pushing a sequence of buttons that I could never remember on our Alaska Tour.

Cheryl’s Bike

Leslie’s Bike

My feet are pretty up there on this bike.  I got the regular suspension, and I am glad I decided not to get a factory low bike.  The extra height on this bike just makes me more aware when it comes to parking and getting out of tricky situations.  I have to dismount the bike at times to move it, back it up or turn it.  No biggie, well worth sticking with the stock height and by now a year later I rarely notice I am short on this bike.  Confident, not cocky, comfy and can safely enjoy this bike on all levels.

My recent bike which was short lived due to an accident I had on October 17th, 2015.  First real accident (ATGATT) in over 200,000 miles…was a 2015 BMW 1200GSW.  Oh LA LA…great bike.  No need to worry about the height of this bike or ordering a lower suspension.  WHY?

1200 BMW

The Electronic suspension can be used to lower or raise the bike if needed.  I use 1 up for parking and moving the bike around…and then go up from there when riding.  Awesome set and I LOVED this bike.  The fit was great, easy to ride, deceptively nimble and light feeling.  Great on the road and easy for the dirt, 2 track I ride too.  Maybe 2017 will bring her back?

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I will get my 2013 F800 back to replace this beauty for now after I get this CAST off and rehab.

Hope this post shows some insight about the relativity of bike height because I would have regretted doubting my ability to adjust to the F8’s seat height and my ability to learn to live with it and LOVE it.  In the end if riding makes you do this…

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and….this

…then you must be on the right bike!

If you make down to this part of the post feel free to ask any questions by posting a comment.  Thanks.

4 Comments

  1. Anon says:

    Hi, as a vertically challenged 5 footer (just) I found your post interesting but I have a couple of reservations. Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems the ERGO sims only take into account straight up and down measurements? ie bike seat height v in-seam? So how do you factor in wider seats and/or the ‘sticky out’ parts of a bike like footpegs and (especially on BMW) engine casings etc. that can hinder short legs actually reaching the floor safely. Also tall bulbous tanks that add to the problem of reaching bars that are often already a stretch?
    I ride an 09 Triumph Bonneville which is just about ok for me as long as I plan ahead at stopping points. I haven’t a hope in hell of getting on my husbands GS1200 altho I’d love to. I just don’t comprehend how you, and other short girls out there,manage these bikes. Yes I know confidence (which I lack) is a factor but still. I love that you do and I love to follow your adventures, I’m just sorry the GS was so short-lived but best wishes for a quick and trouble-free recovery.
    Welsh biker, UK

    • advgrrl says:

      the Ergo set up is just to get an idea. Won’t account for things that you speak of but gives a pretty good idea. AS for the height, not sure what your inseam is but there are at times a bike can be to tall for ones length and actual height. Most riders are not like Jimmy Lewis who rides anything GREAT. But in the end..the 1200 for me was much ergo friendly height wise than my 800. AS I stated in the post you can lower the bike via the ESA. I called it my high and low rider. Better foot positioning for maneuvering the bike around and go way up for better clearance. SO cool when I started to use the ESA that way.

      The Bonnie is not that forgiving…I find that bike and the Scrambler to have wide seats and my feet fly high as well. At least on the GS bikes the adjustments allow to soften to suspension. Anyway, the ergo set once again is to just get an idea of how a rider would fit on a certain bike. A guideline but recommend always sit on one before pulling the trigger.

  2. Kevin Brent says:

    Us 5 foot something’s are always underestimated. 🙂

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