Short riders, beginning riders: which bike?

You might remember a couple of years ago I compiled a spreadsheet showing the seat-heights of the lower major-manufacturer cruisers. This was an effort to help identify good bikes for short riders, and it had the added benefit of suggesting some lower-cc bikes for beginning riders.

I’ve recently come across a couple of sites that provide some excellent, more current information, so thought I’d share the links with you so you can investigate further. Important to note that the bikes on my original list are likely well-represented in the used bike market these days. So if you’re looking for a good first bike, or a good used machine, this list will still help you narrow your choices!

Carla King at Motorcycling Misadventures offers her thoughts on the question of “What’s a Beginner Bike?” and states in no uncertain terms, “flat-footed, no more than 250 cc’s.” (My article, “Start Small or Go Ultimate” offers the pluses of starting on a smaller bike vs. larger. I’ll be offering something a little more definitive – meaning: opinionated! LOL – next week.)

Being able to “flat-foot” the bike is one of the most important aspects of safe handling. Why? Well for one thing, you want to be able to ‘walk’ the bike into or out of a parking spot if need be. You can’t do that easily if you’re on tippy-toes, because you can’t get a good footing. And for another, when you roll up to a stop you want to be sure your footing will be solid as you take your feet off the pegs to support the stopped bike.

Women Riders Now has a fairly complete list of (mostly) cruisers with low seat heights, but there are two points of discussion that are missing from the article (mentioned in the comments):

1. There are some beautiful choppers, and many other bikes with forward controls shown that shorter women can easily straddle, but we’d have no hope of ever reaching the foot controls. (Perhaps the Roar WildKaT, with its modular control-positioning, solves this problem?)

2. The seat width often makes these “low” bikes impossible to straddle flat-footed, because your shorter legs have to stretch out and over a wider area.

Finally, Raven at Ravenbladerider covers the sportbike angle with some great sportbikes for shorter women.

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