Low-rider: bikes for short stature

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Low-rider: bikes for short stature
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Low-rider: bikes for short stature

Tips, tricks and bikes for little riders
Low-Rider: Motorcycles for short stature

Short legs, tall dream bike – what now? Tips, tricks and motorcycles for low-lying people.

Rolf Henniges

03/03/2011

Experts like chassis specialist Winnie Kerschhaggl and many driving school instructors name it “Traffic light syndrome”. What is meant is the fear of stopping. It occurs when both feet cannot find a secure footing on the floor. “I always rolled very slowly towards red lights. Hoping it’ll be green when I arrive”, admits the 1.61 meter tall driver’s license novice Anna. However, it is not only short-legged people who have the problem with a secure stance.

MOTORCYCLE veteran Werner “Mini” Koch, always on the road as a tour guide and not exactly the greatest himself, has had the following experience: “Many motorcyclists are already overwhelmed with pushing their packed machine out of the garage without falling over. Because we do not become more routine with old age, but more insecure. Suddenly there is no strength in the feet. Where it used to be enough to only balance the bike on tiptoe, today you need your whole foot to be safe.” This also has to do with the fact that the seat height of motorcycles has increased over the past 25 years. “In 1985 an average motorcycle had a seat height of between 750 and 800 millimeters. Today we measure 800 to 850 millimeters”, says LG guru Koch. So what to do when the dream bike is high and you don’t want to buy an alternative?

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In general, there are three ways to address this problem. The best: learning that it is enough if only one foot is firmly on the ground. Keeping the motorcycle in balance requires routine and is above all a mental thing. Exercise is helpful here: “Balancing on the slackline (trend sports equipment, similar to tightrope dance, Red.) Is a particularly good exercise for the sense of balance”, advises physiotherapy expert Andreas Fricke. “But martial arts such as Taekwondo or Karate also train balance, improve mobility and especially train the muscles of the feet and legs.” Another alternative: lengthen legs by wearing boots with high heels and soles. Platform shoes are of course not advisable – the risk of twisting an ankle is particularly high here and the protective function in the event of a fall is particularly low. With some models such as the Lady Pilot GTX or M-Star, for example, boot manufacturer Daytona has a solution in its range that allows you to gain 25 millimeters.

Only when sport and / or shoes are absolutely out of the question should you put your hand on the motorcycle. Here, too, different paths lead to the goal, almost without exception all of which have disadvantages. Padding the bench, for example, not only reduces seating comfort, but also leg comfort, as it narrows the knee angle. Countermeasure would be to lower the footrests, which, however, limits the freedom of leaning. If you turn to the bench anyway, you must note the following: With particularly thick benches, not only their height but also the width of the foam should be reduced.


Low-rider: bikes for short stature


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Shetland pony with a stick measure of 96 centimeters.

None of the options described so far limit the driving dynamics of a motorcycle. The following already. Because any lowering reduces the lean angle and sometimes even changes the chassis geometry. One-sided solutions that either only affect the fork or only the shock absorber are not advisable – in general, interventions at the front and rear should be carried out together. One of the cheapest lowering variants is the insertion of the fork tubes in connection with a modified reversing lever at the rear and / or the exchange of the spring plate (around 100 euros with TuV certificate from Alpha Technik).

Advantages here: The fork travel remains fully intact, but the freedom of movement of the front wheel must also be guaranteed during compression (risk of collision with the radiator, manifold or engine). Disadvantage: Another spring plate changes the positive and negative spring travel. The rear of the vehicle sinks deeper, but this reduces the usable spring travel. The installation of a softer spring at the rear so that the bike sags deeper is not recommended. This makes driving with a pillion passenger or luggage a torture, as there is too much unrest in the chassis. Replacing the reversing lever is only recommended if it does not negatively affect the kinematics. And be careful: All of the work mentioned should be carried out by a specialist workshop, conversion parts must either have a TuV certificate and be registered after installation, or an EC ABE.

The most balanced setup is achieved by coordinated suspension sets in which a new, shorter shock absorber is used in conjunction with shorter fork springs and a special fork oil. Specialists like Wilbers or Ohlins (see Kawasaki ER-6n below) have developed such kits for various motorcycles. For example, Wilbers offers a chassis kit (574 euros) for the Triumph Tiger that reduces the seat height by 50 millimeters, and with the popular BMW R 1200 GS even 85 millimeters less is possible. Although the lean angle is reduced here too, the driving behavior is improved in many cases due to the significantly tighter design of the spring elements. In return, the suspension comfort suffers a little. Ultimately, the following must be observed: if the lowering reaches a certain level, the side stand must also be shortened (specialist workshop). The same goes for the main stand – otherwise jacking up the motorcycle will be an almost insurmountable show of strength. You are spoiled for choice: convert it, or maybe choose a different bike? MOTORRAD has taken a close look at three models that guarantee a lot of driving fun for those with short legs.


Low-rider: bikes for short stature


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Despite full spring preload, a seat height of just 690 millimeters is standard – the Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Super Low really lives up to its name.

The 8,295 Euro Super Low deserves the rating beginner-friendly”, Judges driving license novice Anna, who with her 1.61 meters gets along surprisingly well with the 258 kilogram machine. A particularly low center of gravity, the low seat height and the large steering angle for this type of bike make it easy to turn the 883 on the road. “If you are unsure, you can paddle with your feet when turning and maneuvering”, says Anna. The wide handlebars provide additional safety for the inexperienced, because the steering forces are low and you have the feeling of always having everything under control. As expected, comfort is not a strength of the Super Low. Although the saddle is quite wide, the chassis is tuned very softly overall. It immediately passes hard hits on to the driver. Due to the design, the lean angle is severely limited, which excludes sporty driving from the outset. The distance between the foot brake or the gear lever and the footrest as well as the attachment of the side stand turned out to be particularly annoying for Anna: “Short-legged people usually also have small feet – to brake or shift gears I almost have to take my foot off the notch to reach the levers. In addition, my leg is too short to unfold the stand while sitting.”

Ducati Monster 696


Low-rider: bikes for short stature


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The Mork-Ducati Monster 696: Significantly improved ergonomics thanks to higher touring handlebars.

Ducati dealer Gerhard Mork from Leonberg (Baden-Wurttemberg) missed the Monster 696 a self-developed ergonomics package (590 euros including installation), which essentially consists of a touring handlebar plus adapted brake lines and wiring harness. In direct comparison with a series monster, you sit more upright and much more relaxed. In addition, Mork reduced the seat height by 15 millimeters to 755 millimeters by changing the spring base and inserting the fork. The small monsters’ already passable freedom of inclination is only marginally reduced as a result. “You sit really well on the machine”, judges guest driver Anna. Unfortunately, the steering angle is quite small, which means that the turning circle is quite large. At just 187 kilograms, the Duc, which costs 8,690 euros, is the flyweight in the trio and appeals with its formidable handling. “The sound is great, the clutch extremely smooth, and the brakes are light years better than the Harley’s”, is happy Anna. But she finds the engine set-up less successful. Below 3000 rpm, the V2 jerks in the series set-up. “The bad habit can be eliminated by installing a different mapping.

The 696 is then an ideal beginner bike”, says Mork. A test drive with a monster prepared in this way confirmed this. The V2 depends noticeably more directly on the gas, the bad habits below 3000 rpm have disappeared and the power delivery in the lower and middle speed range has improved slightly. Good news. The catch: This change is not TuV-compliant, as the emissions behavior changes. But the Mork-Ducati convinces beginner Anna: “Sit on it, feel good, drive off. The Monster is light, handy and looks good.”

Kawasaki ER-6n


Low-rider: bikes for short stature


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Narrow, thinly padded seat and a suspension kit from Ohlins – with a short spring strut and shortened fork springs plus sleeves.

Although the small Kawa, at 204 kilograms, is exactly 17 kilograms heavier than that Ducati you hardly feel the extra weight. “The knee grip on the motorcycle is fantastic”, is happy Anna. By using a lower seat (original Kawasaki, 268.90 euros), which not only reduces the height but also the seat width, and the Ohlins suspension kit (655 euros), the ER-6n has a seat height of only 740 millimeters (series : 785 millimeters). The setup of the Ohlins components is a success. They are around 25 millimeters shorter than the original parts, respond sensitively and provide more powerful damping. The rebound strut is 30-fold adjustable and the spring base is infinitely variable. Ohlins gives a six-year guarantee on the components. The ER-6n is very stable in the curves, the lack of lean angle is only noticeable when you are really sporty. The generous steering angle, the narrow waist and the wide handlebars not only convey a lot of safety when driving, but also when maneuvering and turning.

“With little Kawa I would go on a world tour without hesitation”, the beginner Anna is happy. She is just as pleased with the price: At 6,995 euros, the machine is not overly expensive. The 650 twin shows its sunny side. He has power over the entire speed range, can be driven lazily, but turns willingly in the highest speed regions if necessary. The 72 hp produced are sufficient for safe and quick overtaking at any time.

Addresses

Alpha Technik GmbH
08036/300720
www.alphatechnik.de

Mork motorcycle center
07152/939030
www.gerhardmoerk.de

Ohlins DTC
02691/9377890
www.ohlins.eu/de

Wilbers Products GmbH

05921/74099
www.wilbers.de

Daytona shoes
08721/8424
www.daytona.de

VH motorcycle technology(Reversing lever)
0441/34924
www.vh-motorradtechnik.de

mizu motorcycle technology
(Reversing lever / spring plate)
07731/90670
www.mizu.de

Design workshop Schmidt
(Seat upholstery)
05151/107277
www.designwerkstatt-schmidt.de

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