Motorcycle Forums » Lady Bikers

Ladies, what do you do when you're too short!!?

  • February 15, 2010 11:58 AM PST
    My quest for a bike short enough to fit me but strong enough to keep up with my fellow riders has come to a standstill. My hubby tried to make several adjustments to his Honda Hawk 400 so I could reach the ground flat-footed when riding but nothing worked. Seems like the only thing that would work would be unreversible things like cutting it up and making it into a chopper lol.

    Right now my plan is to just take the motorcycle safety course this spring/early summer, get my license to ride, and wait for the perfect bike to find me. Because I am having no luck finding her. I'm only 5 ft, 5'1ft if I cheat with taller boots so I need to find something SHORT lol. I'm going to be very dissapointed if the safety course (they provide the bikes to train on) I want to take doesn't have any bikes that will fit me.

    Guess I'm just feeling like the odd lady out lately. Any other vertically challenged folks out there??
  • February 15, 2010 12:01 PM PST
    I'm 5'5" so not as challenged but my first bike had a super low seat height. I had a girlfriend ride it who is only 5' and she had no trouble getting her feet flat on ground. It was a Yamaha Virago 750. It was light weight and handled great.
  • February 15, 2010 12:04 PM PST
    We just sold our Yamaha Virago 1000. Come to think of it, I could roll that thing around the garage pretty easily...hmm maybe a Virago would be the way to go.
    • 75 posts
    February 15, 2010 12:09 PM PST
    Hey Gina... My wife is only 5'1" and there are a few bikes out there that fit her. The Honda Shadow was a good fit. Suzuki makes a single-cylinder 650 that has a low seat height, a narrow body, is very light weight and has plenty of power but a better fit will probably be a Harley 883. That's what my wife has settled on. Good luck with your quest! Mike
  • February 15, 2010 12:11 PM PST
    I have an 883 and the only reason it works for me is because it is lowered. That is always an option of course
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    February 15, 2010 12:18 PM PST
    Try a Yamaha v-star 950 at a dealership. They were made with seat height low in order to entice women riders. My wife is 5'5" and can flat foot with her legs bent very easy. You would need risers though in order to get the bars a bit closer.
    • 6 posts
    February 15, 2010 12:19 PM PST
    We've still got our eyes on a Honda Silverwing. I think it'll still work, I just want her to have a chance to learn to ride before putting the money down and buying a bike of her own. The one that we're looking at is about 4 hours away, so I'd be riding it home anyhow, but it'll have to wait for spring to come around. If we get a bike that we KNOW is going to be HER bike, I've got some more lowering options, including aftermarket seats, which are a little more expensive, but worth it in the long run. I put a pair of 12" adjustable short travel shocks on my Hawk, (replacing the 13 1/2 inch non-adjustables), and the bike's so low the sidestand barely comes down. I could do more things, but I really don't want to modify my bike anymore just so she can learn. I think if she takes the course, learns to ride, or learns if she really wants to ride, then I'll have a better direction on building her something to fit. The great thing about a bike is that you can do ANYTHING to it, so I'm sure I can get her on that Honda with a few mods and aftermarket accessories. In the meanwhile, I gotta go re-assemble my bike tomorrow. It was almost low enough for her, I HATE the set up completely!! lol.
    • 904 posts
    February 15, 2010 12:20 PM PST
    I'm just under 5'4" and I had to lower both my Suzuki sv650s and the sv1000s with lowering links in the back, had the forks pulled through the triple cams in the front, had to have the foam scooped out of the seats and wear a boot with the wedge heel before I could get both my feet on the ground. All of that is reversible...
    • 904 posts
    February 15, 2010 12:22 PM PST
    OH almost forgot. I took the MSF course too, the kinds of bikes they used (my area: Honda NightHawk & Rebel, both 250s) were an easy fit. No tippy toes, or dangling feet issues at all.
    • 6 posts
    February 15, 2010 12:24 PM PST
    AdventureGirl wrote...
    I'm just under 5'4" and I had to lower both my Suzuki sv650s and the sv1000s with lowering links in the back, had the forks pulled through the triple cams in the front, had to have the foam scooped out of the seats and wear a boot with the wedge heel before I could get both my feet on the ground. All of that is reversible...

    Reversible, yes, but I'd rather do all that to her own bike and not mine lol. Like I said, endless possibilities!
  • February 15, 2010 12:25 PM PST
    Being able to control the bike at a stop is indeed important, but this thing about "I must be flat footed" is a mantra that sounds more important then it is. Being able to plant the balls of your feet so that you can balance the bike is all you need. The BALANCE of the bike itself is much more important. Where I work we not only sell Victory's, but we sell a large number of used bikes, and trade ins. Watching people hop on bikes that LOOK like they would fit; only to find they are awkward as hell to ride slow, or maneuver.
    If you are looking now, and have little experience then the Shadow 650 is an excellent choice. Balanced, light, maneuverable, and low enough to get on the balls of your feet
  • February 15, 2010 12:49 PM PST
    My wife had trouble finding a bike that she was comfortable on because she is aonly5'1". The bike she got and very comfortable on was a Yamaha V-Star 650. It had plenty of power to run down the highway but, was short enough and the center of gravity was low enough, that she was able to handle with relatve ease.
  • February 15, 2010 12:54 PM PST
    i had the vstar 1100 for a while, had a 2" drop in the rear, made the seat height around 18" i'm 5'6" and could sit on the seat with my legs bent quite comfortably, the bike wasn't heavy, but yea, i put on the 4" up. 2" back risers with the stock bars and only hat to re-route the clutch cable, it was a comfortable ride.
    • 6 posts
    February 15, 2010 12:58 PM PST
    The trouble that we've been having in the area of choosing a bike is that what's in her price range is typically 20-30 year old metrics, which are mostly built a little high. The metric bikes are trying a little harder to compete with Harley, and they're building low-slung, balanced, v-twin powered cruisers and touring bikes now. My friend has a 750 Shaddow, and I'm very familiar with the various models and options. Something like that would be perfect, but we can't pick one up for under a grand; I paid $600 for the Hawk and have "dressed" her with stuff that I had, stuff my folks had... I wish I could afford to hit craigslist or a dealership and pick up a used Shaddow, V-Star, or any other more modern model. Heck, I wouldn't mind pickin one up myself lol, I just can't. What really bites is that I HAD two Yamahas, a 650 and a 1000 that she COULD have handled, and if I'd have known that she would want to ride her own, I NEVER would have let go of that 650. (I wonder what the guy's doin with it.... hmm. that's a thought)
  • February 15, 2010 1:27 PM PST
    I never thought about the Maxim 650 after we let her go...maybe he'd be willing to give her back for the right price.

    Anyhoo, you all have made me feel much better about the whole thing. I honestly never thought I'd be comfortable riding (though I was always willing to try it for him) on the back seat but now I'm so used to it I could sleep back there. I definitely zone out! We'll have to work on that in my safety classes LOL.
    • 2072 posts
    February 15, 2010 1:49 PM PST
    OH............... Didn't realize this post was about WOMEN being too short. Was gonna refer to hambone's business for suggestions but guess that's not necessary now !!!!! MY BAD!!!
    • Moderator
    • 17156 posts
    February 15, 2010 11:53 PM PST
    Well Groupie it looks like you have a lot to sort through here. Adding from my experiences, my daughter is 5' 3" and rides a shadow quite well.

    I will respectfully disagree with the comment made by "TheX" regarding being flat footed at a stop. When your feet are flat it gives the legs leverage thus much more strength to hold up in the event of too much lean or push the bike up small inclines. Don't even go on gravel if you can only reach the ground with the balls of your feet. At many intersections the road surfaces are crowned, or there are high spots, or they are not level. If on flat ground you are at the limit of your reach and you stop at one of the mentioned situations you will then be past your limits. This can result in an easy drop of the bike. I am not tall for a guy and I had to have my Road King lowered. There have been many times I am glad I did. I personally feel that being able to be flat footed when stopped on level ground is VERY  IMPORTANT.
  • February 16, 2010 1:00 AM PST
    Yea! I can help as I just got mine!
    Harley Davidson, in the past few years started making Production bikes that are lowered, saving nearabouts $1500-$2500 on the cost of lowering a bike. They also have thier "perfect fit" deal that helps you figure out heights, atleast in the dealerships i know. You can often find used bikes that have been lowered too.
    The safety course is great, everyone should take it, it will IMMENSELY increase your comfort levels on riding period, and confidence is huge on knowing what you want and need. Spr0tsters are great fits too for nearly everyone, pretty often, for most people.
    I too am 5'1", and as soon as i sat on my Softail Deuce it was like slipping into, well, I'll stop there to avoid getting pornographic.
    When you start looking, sit on them all. If you ever go anyplace that won't let you, tell 'em to go to hell and go somewhere else.Try them on, find a salesperson that knows what they're talking about and knows the bikes they are selling, trusst them to help you find the perfect fit.
    It is such a beautiful thing to witness the moment someone sits on THIER bike. There is bliss and ecstasy, an amazing beautiful thing, and you'll know it the second you find the bike that is your "home."
    Most bikes can also be lowered if necessary, but in my opinion, try 1000 on until you find your mate, because honestly, that is exactly what it is like, falling passionately in love!
  • February 16, 2010 1:06 AM PST
    Women's bodies are made different than men's we balances bikes with our thighs more than anything else, momma's have a great deal of strength in the lower back too (bending over for baby and carrying them on hips, haha)
    What is important to a man in fit doesn't necessarily apply to women, just saying.
    You can surely find a used Sportster cheaply (sad but true) and hell, dealerships around here have a lot of 'em, if you buy one privately you'd probably end up paying more. Do some online research , dealerships often work out shipping too!
    Good luck!
  • February 16, 2010 1:35 AM PST
    I still am not willing to mess with a bike's design and it's dynamics so... boots with a tall, yet stable heel and oil resistant traction on the soles. I am around 63" so to this day, never have been flat-footed unless I am sitting on a lowered bike. Does feel good to be flat on the ground, biut i have managed and it hasn't bothered me enough to ever lower my FXDL or the Sporty. Someone has yet to thoroughly convince me that lowering my bike would not compromise the performance that it was intended and designed to have. LOVE those fast turns.  Have not scraped my pegs yet though...
    • 517 posts
    February 16, 2010 1:40 AM PST
    I have been showing this thread to my wife, she has been wanting her own bike for years but the problem for her is that she is only four foot eleven. Now over the years we have looked at a few options, she can reach the ground with comfort on the little pocket rockets like the 250cc or some of the 400s but she wants a harley.
    After I lowered a friends sporty down as far asit could go with actually hard-tailing it, and she could put her feet down comfortably.
    If your price range is back to 20/30 year old bikes then I suggest you have a look around the scrap yards for cheap short shocks and front ends to suit. I know a bloke her who got a kwak Z650 1978 and lowered it down for his small wife and including the cost of the bike and the bits from the breakers yard, the whole thing coat him less than a 1000 euro, about $800.

    Good luck with it.
    • 904 posts
    February 16, 2010 1:56 AM PST

    I agree with Rex. I had so many issues with stability on uneven surfaces on my sv 650s that were resolved when it finally fit me right. (lowering links & scooped seat)

    I had to start over when I got the sv 1000s. Unfortunately, the timing was such that by the time I picked up that scoot and got it into the shop before my first long-distance trip the only lowering that was done to it was the lowering link in the back. As a result, I had some scary touch and go moments for the first 2 legs of my long haul. I wasn't used to the additional weight the 1000s had over my 650s and with it fully loaded for the trip it was a struggle for me. I had to go out of my way to find flat surfaces, or ask a friend to help pull me to a center point where both my feet were down (toes/balls of feet - not flat foot) .

    I had a really frustrating moment by myself behind a hotel in NJ that had a slight slant to the parking lot with no one around to help me. Thanks to determination and a cement block in a nearby parking spot I managed to continue my journey. I walked my bike right up along side that cement block, stepped up on it, got myself into position with one leg over and pushed off the block to get my bike off the stand with me on it. (For a moment I sat there thinking now what? What happens when I get to the next traffic light and there is a slant in the road? Am I going to go down? but then I said "Hell with it! The only way to know is to just go"...  and if it happens I'll deal with it then)

    Not having my feet firmly planted while on that bike took up some major mental real estate. After I left that hotel in NJ I needed gas on the turnpike I had to scan the attendants before committing to a gas line to see which one looked most likely to help give me a push (or pull) to get the bike off it's stand after I filled up. Luckily the ground was flat and I could do it without having to embarrass myself and ask for help in that way. You really need both your feet solidly on the ground to do this. The only thing I cared about that day was getting to VA, I promised a friend I'd be there that night so I kept going.

    Another issue you may find with short legs? Bruised calves. By the time I got to VA the calves on both my legs were so deeply bruised it felt like charlie horses. When you are on tippy-toes at stops your calves are tight, Depending on the type of bike, if the foot pegs are placed so that they bump your tightened muscles you'll bruise. Do that repetitively and the bruising goes deeper and spreads. It's painful. I wore leather boots but they ended just below the muscle of my calves, which was right below where the pegs hit every time I stopped.

    When I got to VA I refused to go any further until I had the 1000s lowered more (the forks pulled and the seat scooped) so I took it to a shop I found online. When I showed the guy at the counter my bruised calves he told me about some fully adjustable foot pegs that rotate to any position 360 degrees as well as shifting forward or back depending on length of your foot. So, if you have short legs like me, it isn't just the flat foot issue, it's the wide stance you lack. Again, depending on the type of bike you ride, the pegs will get you unless you can move them either forward or backward away from where your legs are positioned when your feet are down.

    Let me tell you all of that work was worth every cent AND the delay to my road trip. It made a huge difference in both comfort and safety for the remainder of my ride. I could focus more on enjoying it and less on how to avoid dropping the bike on a slanted surface, or how much my calves were hurting.

    I know you have a lot to deliberate over, and perhaps the knowledge we are imparting is not directly applicable to your specific situation, but maybe it will help down the road once you get the bike part resolved... or maybe it will help others reading this forum.

    Whatever direction you choose I wish you the best of luck!

    & may you never have to suffer this:


  • February 16, 2010 2:00 AM PST
    I have an 883 sportster 2008 L model, my husband lowered the forks on the bike by twisting them. I am 5 ft 2 and my feet touch the ground.
  • February 16, 2010 2:05 AM PST
    Said it before, I'll say it again. I've got a 2001 Indian Scout that the wife was riding before she got her Softail Custom. The bike is completely stock suspension wise. The missus sat that thing FLATFOOTED with her knees well bent and loved it! VERY low center of gravity. She would straddle it and throw it around using only her thighs! She ain't no big gal either. 5'2" 1450cc 88cu inch Don't know why Indian don't start producing them again. Women love'm
  • February 16, 2010 2:07 AM PST
    my 69 hardtale sporty has a seat height of 25 inches but you dont want that kind of bike for a first one