Am I too small for this motorcycle?

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Here is the simple procedure to determine if you're too short: If, when holding the bike up with your right leg, you cannot reach the sidestand to put it down with your left, you are too short. It's that simple.

The preceding quote is from an actual 4'11" club member. Take a look at the start of a MotoGP race, right before the lights go off. Many of the riders are small, wiry guys, and there's a lot of tippy-toeing going on. Flat-footing a bike is highly over-rated. Once you get a feel for the balance of the bike, it's not hard to keep everything upright.

Some remedies for the inseam-challenged

  • 120/80-16 and 100/80-16 tires (Pirelli MT75, Avon AM63 Viper Stryke) will lower the bike a bit. The difference in ride height between 80 series (MT75) and 90 series tires (BT45F/ME880R) is a little more than 1" (1.5" in the rear). The difference between stock tires and 80-series will be less.
  • You can shave some of the foam from the seat, although many people report the stock seat being uncomfortable enough as it is.
  • Wear boots with thicker soles. You'll probably have to raise the shifter.
  • "You only need one foot down when you stop. Get used to it." (Name withheld to protect the innocent, but this is the REAL answer.)
  • There is a mailing list devoted to short riders, with a very good FAQ.
  • Motorcycle Larry makes bar risers that will give you an extra 1 1/4" of bar height. You keep your stock bars, cables, and brake lines. These give you a more upright seating position and are easily installed in less than a half hour, using only an allen wrench.
  • GenMar makes similar risers that raise the bars 1 1/4" and move them back 3/4". They are well-made, fit snugly, have the right hardware, and are just the right length to use all the available slack in the lines.
  • To go higher than the M/C Larry or GenMar risers, you can install bars from a Kawasaki Concours. They are a direct bolt on. The whole bar/riser assembly must be swapped. The Concours risers are about 2" taller than the 250's. The bars themselves are not swappable, so you must swap the entire riser/bar.
You'll need to extend the control cables a couple inches. Barnett does this. So does Motion Pro. You have to send them your old cables, and they use the parts to make new cables. It costs ~$130 for the 4 cables (2 throttle, clutch, choke). You can get an SS brake line in any length you want. This is about $100.
The Connie bars are open where the fork tube comes through (the 250's are covered), so you can put something in the holes to make it look nice if you care.
  • As long as you're willing to change your cables and brake line (see Concours bars above), you can convert to standard bars. This will give you a large number of bends and heights to choose from. You need to bolt or weld a pair of bar clamps to your upper triple clamp, and then it is just a matter of finding bars you like. Shown is a conversion made on an older 900 Ninja.

Duke's tips for the shorter rider

Duke, longtime club member and Iron Butt Rally finisher, is only about 5'2" and doesn't have a problem, even though he can only touch the ground with the ends of his toes. Here's what he has to say, based on many miles of EX250 experience:

The issue for height-challenged riders (of all shapes and sizes) is parking lot maneuvering. That's the area to give your attention.

Try getting into the habit of picking which foot you'll always put down. You'll soon always shift your hiney to one side, which makes it easier to plant your foot securely on the ground. For me, it's always the left foot. I keep my right foot on the rear brake in case I need it.

Here is an illustration of proper technique. Left foot down and stable, right foot on the peg. (Note: Duke not pictured.)

Am I too small 2.jpg

Be cautious of the 'tipping point of no return'. With a little practice it's completely possible to balance on two tires and one toe. You should strive to keep the bike as vertical as possible at all times when stopped. Learn how far it can go to one side until you can't save it from falling. Once you know this point, avoid approaching it at all cost.

As you get more confident, don't take chances in parking lots. If you feel shaky, put the sidestand down and get off. It's much easier to push the bike while walking beside it than to drop it trying to make things work. If a car has to wait for you - big deal. I always walk my bike if I need to back out of a parking spot, even if I could have tiptoed it out. I may look silly, but I don't drop my bike (usually).

If possible, park your bike where you don't have to back out of the spot. For instance, if there are two adjacent parking spots, always do a U-Turn and park your bike pointing out of the spot. Then you won't need to move it again to exit.

Try to anticipate where you're going to stop when parking (or stopping at a traffic light, etc). If for some reason your down side has an issue (off camber hill, hole, etc.) you can anticipate using your off-foot and get prepared for the transition from your normal habit.

Lastly ... If/when you drop your bike, don't sweat it much. We've all done it. Get back on and keep riding - hopefully you haven't hurt anything more than your pride.


PinkTinkRider is under 5' tall, and she rides to work every day. You can, too. In fact, she got so comfortable on her 250 that she recently bought a bigger, slightly heavier bike.

Am I too small.jpg