Motorcycle Mods For Short Riders | Motorcyclist
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Motorcycle Mods For Short Riders

If nature gave you short legs, these tips are for you!

Unless you ride a cruiser or a small-displacement bike, you’re likely dealing with a seat height of 31 inches or more. And unless you’re 5-foot-6 or taller, you’ll likely find it difficult or impossible to get both feet on the ground. For starters, it’s worth pointing out that while it is nice to be able to put both feet flat on the ground when you roll to a stop, it’s not necessary. One foot is sufficient if you have enough experience and confidence, but if you’d prefer to be a little closer to pavement, here are a few options.

The very first thing you should do is check your suspension sag. If you’re short, you may also be light, and your bike’s shock and fork springs might have too much preload on them. That could make the ride harsh as well as put your suspension higher in the stroke, putting your Pumas farther from the pavement. Checking your rider sag is free, easy to do, and it’s the first step in properly setting up your suspension, so it’s something you should definitely attend to.

Your next best option is a lower seat, and there are a couple of avenues you can pursue here. Plenty of manufacturers offer accessory “low” seats that can reduce the seat height by as much as an inch. Alternatively, you can customize your existing seat yourself by removing the cover and shaving down the foam. There are loads of videos and articles out there explaining how to do this, and while it’s a cheap and fairly easy mod, the end result doesn’t always look great or feel great on your backside since the foam will be thinner.

If you’re willing to spend the money, you could send your stock seat off to companies like Sargent and Saddlemen to have it professionally customized. They’ll rebuild it with thinner, more comfortable foam and can even modify the shape to better fit your butt.

Finally, if a lower seat isn’t getting you close enough to the ground, you could mechanically lower your bike by as much as an inch and a half. Lowering your motorcycle should be a last resort since it will reduce your cornering clearance, likely alter your bike’s handling, and possibly render your sidestand useless since it’ll be too long.

The safest and best way to lower your bike is to have a mechanic shorten the fork and shock internally. It’ll cost a lot, but you’ll maintain your ride quality. There’s also a more affordable DIY route, but it should be approached with caution. Most rear suspension systems use linkages, and installing different-length links, often called “dog bones” because of the way they look, will drop your bike’s back end and lower the seat. There are a couple of different kinds, from links with different hole spacing to threaded setups that let you fine-tune the length. Companies like T-Rex Racing offer a variety of different lowering links as well as shorter, adjustable sidestands so you’ll be able to safely park your bike.

If you’re going to lower your motorcycle, it’s very important that you reduce the front and rear ride height by the same amount to maintain chassis attitude. To lower the front you loosen the triple-clamp bolts and slide the fork legs up. It seems easy enough, but you’ll be giving up precious clearance between the fender and the lower triple clamp and the wheel and the radiator, so be very careful and make sure nothing makes contact when the suspension compresses under braking. Again, lowering the bike should be the last resort, and it’s really not advisable to do yourself unless you have a solid understanding of chassis geometry and riding dynamics.

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