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Author Topic: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?  (Read 1030 times)

Offline AyYo!

  • Posts: 2
Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« on: Dec 13, 2012, 00:39:24 »
If this has been posted before or someone has a good source, please put me in the right direction.

I am completely new to all of this (but very interested) and a friend of mine has agreed to help me put together a bike. However, the first problem is that I am too short for most of the motorcycles I have looked at!
Does anyone know of a good bike for someone about 5'4"?
I realize that some minor things can be done like swapping out the seat, etc. I'm just curious if anyone has experience finding a bike for a smaller person (maybe your wife, girlfriend, daughter, has one)?

Offline Dingo

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 13, 2012, 01:31:27 »
Hey you should pass by the member introduction area first.

But anyhow I'm also on the short side at around 5'6'', my bike of choice is a CB400F, fits like a glove, I can even flat foot it with out problems. The bike's stock btw.

So my advice look for one of the smaller displacement CB's or something along those lines.

Offline alec.korver

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 13, 2012, 01:45:55 »
cb175/200

Offline HK_Sailor

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 13, 2012, 01:54:20 »
I'm 5'6 and ride a 76 CB360T, I'm plenty tall enough for it, I'm sure you'd fit on one, and you could always trim down the foam to make a lower seat height :)
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Offline mark13018

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 13, 2012, 02:38:19 »
Hello man, Welcome.

  You need to be more informative on what kind of bike you want. There are a lot of different style of bikes out there. Anyways, I am only 5'3" and I have had about 250 bikes in the past 5 years. I buy and resell most of them and I ride to test and check them in between working on them. I have survived all my bikes so far with the exception of very few (never wrecked one thankfully). There are very few bikes I can touch flat footed on though also. But usually the smaller cc bike, the shorter the seat height for vintage bikes. If your looking for a sports bike your pretty much out of luck unless you get a 250cc or it is, or you get it, stretched and lowered. If your looking for a dual purpose, forget ah bout it!, way too high seats. Dirt bikes, you'll have to shop in the kids section, like we  do for our clothes. Hahahahaha. Just kidding  :P. Newer bikes in the cruiser category your in luck. Most cruisers have a seat high of +/- 30" which is perfect for me and should be for you. Personally I like to touch with as much foot as possible but I'm also a speed freak. If you are the same I would highly recommend a V4 motorcycle. The V4's are insanely fast for their cc size. My daily riders are an 87 Super Magna and a 95 Deluxe Magna because I'm a Honda fan but if your not too brand specific the Yamaha Vmax is the ticket man. Newer models as big as 1700cc of V4 awesomeness. 195 horsepower bone stock. I stick to Honda because I've worked on a lot of bikes from ever manufacturer and they all have their quirks but Honda generally, in the vintage bikes, have the least crap on their bikes and its all basic stuff. Easier to work on for the novice and the engines will run forever and some of them are pretty much built to run on little to no oil and almost all of their engines can be beat the crap out of before the die. The downfall to the V4's is that the way everything is set up on them they are not for a novice in customization, they usually require quite a bit of engineering and changes to customize but I'm just there for the speed and with a 6 speed tranny on my Super (87) I do 100mph+ every time I take it out with no problems. Bone stock.... Really I think all of the manufacturers have made a V4 at some point in there history so you could choose to stick with your favorite or whomever. But the important thing for you is to find a bike that suits your riding style, find which one you like the looks of the most, try to find one with a seat height of 30" or less. You will be the happiest with your bike if it does exactly what you want it to and you fell comfortable on it.... If your here in DTT because of cafe racers and your going to be building one then don't even worry about it because even if you get a cb750f (which is one bike I have trouble with) you should be fine after you put a cafe seat on it. You'll lose at least 4-5 inches on seat height on any bike by putting a cafe style seat on it... Sorry so lengthy but I know where you're coming from as I am short as fu#% too. Hope it helps you. The forum is filled with really cool people too so you'll have answers here for most if not all of your questions. Good luck.
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Offline mark13018

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #5 on: Dec 13, 2012, 02:44:34 »
Oh and for vintage bikes any bike pre-1970 will work and a lot of the late 70's early 80's kz 400, 440, 305 models are very short "friendly". Honda models cb450 and under. Yahama models 650 and under with maxim series and most xs bikes. Suzuki gs550 or 550 cc and under... That hits your basic manufacturers. Other manufacturers you'll just have to check seat heights but Wiki will be your friend there as it has almost every bike ever made and lists seat heights for almost all of them too.  ;)
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1971 CL450 cafe "Project Amelia" 
1979 Kawasaki KZ650 "Blue Bessie"
1982 Kawasaki KZ305 CSR belt "Project X"
1995 Honda Magna Deluxe
1987 Honda Super Magna - sold :-(
2006 Honda CBR600RR
1964 CB77 superhawk
1965 CL72 scrambler
2013 honda metropolitan

Offline AlphaDogChoppers

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #6 on: Dec 13, 2012, 07:42:25 »
One of the best bike ever made for both the new rider and the inseam challenged rider is the Suzuki GZ250. It has a nice low saddle height, and is very tractable and easy to ride. If outfitted with a freer flowing air filter and rejetted, it will also buzz along at 70 mph on the highway all day long. Used ones are readily available. They are used in a lot of the MSF safety courses. It's a small bike, but it has big bike styling, and looks a lot bigger than it is.



Also, any bike with a softtail type of rear suspension tends to have a lower saddle height. A good example would be the Yamaha V-Star 650. It has a low center of gravity and low saddle.

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Offline mohabie

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #7 on: Dec 13, 2012, 15:09:20 »
I'm building a CM400 for my wife.  I've remounted the rear shocks and lowered the front end about an inch, so at 5'6" its about perfect for her.
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Offline Sonreir

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #8 on: Dec 13, 2012, 15:24:48 »
If you want something with a little more grunt than the 250s, take a look at an SR500.  Seat height on those comes in at only 31".
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Offline Wahoo650

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #9 on: Dec 13, 2012, 16:43:37 »
I'll second the kz440LTD.  Very low seat height, comfortable, bullet proof and a later one will have belt drive and not too cruiserish looking.  Along the same lines would be a Yamaha XS400 special, Suzuki GS450L, Honda CM450 (or 250).  Any of the late 70's early 80's small cruisers.  They are usually cheap too.
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Offline AyYo!

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #10 on: Dec 13, 2012, 22:14:12 »
Thanks everyone for all of your input. I really appreciate it.
I should have been more specific on what kind of bike I was looking for (my mistake). I am mostly looking for a mid 70's "cafe racer" style bike. I live in an urban area, so it will be mostly used for city riding.
I was looking at a cb750f on craigslist and went to go check it out. I loved it but it was just a little too big for me. Seeing as I am a beginner I don't think I would feel comfortable handling it.

However, I have found '74 cb360 that I plan to take a look at. Hopefully I will have more luck with that!

Offline VonYinzer

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #11 on: Dec 13, 2012, 22:54:55 »
The 360 is a good one. Remember though, its not your height that matters its your inseam. I'm 5'8" but with my short legs I have a hard time fitting on bikes that shorter folks don't at times.

Anyhow... You're going about it the right way. Go and see/sit on every bike you can and see what feels right for you. I'd have to say that you were VERY right in passing on the 750. Way more bike than you'd be happy with at first. Again, the 360 should be ok. If you can find a Yamaha RD350, or  RD250 those would also be great. Very light and easy to ride. So are the Honda CB/CL175-200-350/360, the Suzuki T250 or 350, the Yamaha XS360 or 400 and so on. Basically, if you stick with a twin in the 450 or smaller range you should be good.

One rule of thumb you'll definitely want to stick to is that you should learn to ride well and feel comfortable on a bike BEFORE you build a cafe. If built correctly (i.e. with performance as priority one) a good cafe can be a bit awkward and even unruly. An inexperienced or timid rider can easily let the bike take over, and that's when you lear about good riding gear. The hard way. ;)

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Offline crazypj

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #12 on: Dec 14, 2012, 16:30:17 »
1970's 200~400cc is probably best to learn to ride (rather than 'point and squirt' which some people never get beyond, particularly with high power sportbikes)
 I prefer riding CB360 although it does get a little cramped (I'm 5' 10", was 6" before back injuries)
It's a lot more fun 'pushing' a slow old bike beyond it's limits  than using 1/10th the performance of a new fast bike
 If your doing less than 200 miles on Sunday or over weekend they are fine (although I wouldn't want to do that sort of mileage every day on one)
 I have used 360 for 20 mile each way commute
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Offline swan

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Re: Small bike for a woman/shorter rider?
« Reply #13 on: Dec 14, 2012, 22:12:26 »
CB400F is perfect.
1966 Triton cafe, 1962 BSA Gold Star DBD34, 75 CB400F cafe and CB750 project.
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