Apr 9, 2011

Too Tall for Me

For years, I've suffered the outrage of being discriminated against by every off-road motorcycle manufacturer in the world. They just don't care about short people.I suspect the dirt bike engineers' favorite song is by Randy Newman.

Well, I don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
`Round here

 36-38" seat heights are normal for modern dirt bikes. I have a 29" inseam, so even if I could get a leg over a 38" seat, I'd be dangling 10" from the ground. Admit it, you feel sorry for me. Michael Jordan looks like a giant spider on a sportbike, but he'd fit perfectly on a 2011 Honda CRF400F.

My WR250X is one of those over-tall discriminatory machines. However, once I'm on it the suspension squashes down to something rideable. The problem is getting on the damn thing. Since I really wanted one of these things, I figured I'd sort out that problem once I had it in my garage.

A month and a half later, I've dropped the suspension about an inch and a half, installed a shorter seat pad, and the bike is a bit shorter. However, I still have to use one of two weird-assed bike mounting tactics to get a leg over that damn giraffe of a bike. I either use the side stand as a step ladder or I get on the bike as I drop the clutch and swing up on the move. We used to call that "pony express style" when I was kid learning to ride a bicycle. I get back off the same way.

Once I'm on the bike, the height isn't much of a problem. I can get the balls of both feet down and I don't spend a lot of time with my feet on the ground when I'm riding the WR anyway. It's just getting off and on that is pretty much a clown show.

They got little baby legs
That stand so low
You got to pick em up
Just to say hello
They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep
They got little voices
Goin' peep, peep, peep
They got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds
They're gonna get you every time
Well, I don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
Don't want no short people
'Round here

Yeah, I got your "little baby legs" right here assholes.

I was feeling pretty lame about my bike mount and dismount style, until I hung out with a friend who has about a half-foot on me, height-wise, and a good bit of inseam advantage. He rides a collection of off-road giraffe bikes and told me that he "always" uses the side stand as a mounting crutch. Paul is a notoriously macho guy and if it's good enough for him, it will do for me.


SonjaM said...

I hear ya. it has been the same most of my life. Not being short, just being your average sized female. Even more so it was only a few years ago that gear manufacturers discovered that there are ladies out there riding. In my beginner days I had to wear over-sized guy gear to be ATGATT.

T.W. Day said...

Well, thanks for being out there on a bike. Last summer, when I was outfitting my grandson for our trip, we had to buy women's gear and modify it because nobody makes road gear for teenagers. We cut out the waistbands and the tags and he was on the road.

Chris said...

I use the sidestand to get on my wr250r too! Doesnt really matter how you get on as long as you can ride it. Might have to learn the pony express technique.

T.W. Day said...

You've probably been doing the pony express mount since you were ten. Plant a foot on the left peg, push off to get the bike rolling, swing over as you let out the clutch.

All those MSF newbie students who buy a cruiser for their first bike because they can paddle flat footed are missing your point. Once you're rolling, touching the ground is not a good thing. You are right about the riding bit. I'm a little concerned about abusing the kickstand bracket, but if the choice is abuse the bracket or don't ride, it's a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

I have to re-adjust the sidestand on my KLR every 3 years or so, but I outweigh you by a lot.

Notoriously Macho.....

T.W. Day said...

Your definition of "a lot" is probably pretty generous. You are a good bit taller than me, a whole world hipper than me, fast than me, and tougher than me, but percentage-wise you don't weigh that much more than me. All to my everlasting shame.

Paul Compton said...

I bought a Gilera XRT 600 on a whim a while back. I thought I might eventually extract the engine and put it in one of my Gilera CXs. It was just a little too tall for me to be confident on with my 29/30" legs, so I traded it on for a Bianchi Cervino (the second CX is likely to go too).

Every time I go back to my 1977 Morini 3 1/2 Sport I remember why it's the bike with the longest tenure in my workshop. It's the prefect size allowing me to get both feet down flat, not too heavy, great handling (annual track-day at Cadwell Park coming up soon) ecenomical and reliable. Italian electrics included! Most importantly, it makes me grin every time I ride it.

I bought a Morini 500 Sei (six speed) last October and that's going to make a nice more touring oriented addition once I've had the tired seat re-done to avoid NBS.

T.W. Day said...


I wouldn't know a Gilera XRT 600 (or any other model of Gilera) from a Hyosung, but it sounds interesting. I tried to look it up, but no database has the seat height listed, so I can't even guess what it was like. Are they imported to the US?

If I had to ride bikes that I could flatfoot, I'd be riding a Schwinn Stingray. I can't get a foot flat on either of my 3 bikes or on anything I really like except the Suzuki TU250X.

I'm with you on the fun factor, though. On the way into work today, I was all but cracking my face grinning my way through traffic on the WR. The ride to work takes 25 minutes by cage and 8 by WR250X. The ride back home, somehow, racked up a mysterious 50 miles as I paralleled the Mississippi looking at the flood waters. Turned out, I live the other direction! Of course, I got lost on the way back and going 15 miles back actually took me 35 miles. My sense of direction appears to be vanishing on the new bike.

Anonymous said...

Im the same way as geezer im 51 been riding the best part of 30 yrs, need a bike i can fit on and not be trapped when i stop or if it stall's with leg's hanging like his off the side's.
reaqlly stupid and dangerous.
will a person that understands this get back to me?
Ive been looking at older Elsinore's Maico's TM Suzuki's,
older YZ's?
Husky's.and CZ's.

T.W. Day said...

The Kawasaki Super Sherpa is a good modern option for a dirtbike with a low seat height and decent suspension.