It’s official… I’m going to take a motorcycle course. It’s definitely not cheap, but I’m hoping it will help me get over my fears when riding slow, especially doing U-turns.
This is what I posted over on http://www.vtwinmama.com/motorcycles_for_short_riders.htm
It’s a list of bikes that are rode by the more “vertically challenged”
2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster Superlow
Name: Audra Baldinger
Height: 4’11” (26” inseam)
Years of Riding Experience: less than a year
Model: Sportster Superlow
Purchase Details: I originally purchased a 1992 Yamaha Virago to learn on, but found the levers too difficult to reach and the bike top heavy. After a lot of tears and frustration, my husband found a superlow at Trev Deeley’s (the last one!) and bought it for me.
Engine Displacement (cc): 883
Number of Gears: 5
Final Drive: Belt
Cooling System: Air
Seat Height (unmodified): 25.5″
Carburetion Type: Fuel Injected
Fuel Capacity: 17 liters
Comfort (original set up)
Hand/Foot Controls: The hand controls are way better than the Virago, as I can actually reach them. The foot pegs I hated as they weren’t straight. They dropped back… a picture is worth a thousand words
They made it so my short feet couldn’t reach the shifter peg. It was an easy fix though, and an excuse to get new pegs. I got stock pegs from an Iron 883 that someone had taken off for $20 at the dealer.
Seat: Solo seat designed for the superlow in that it is very narrow and low making it easy to reach the ground.
Long Rides: I haven’t gone very far with her yet, and if I would relax a bit more she would be comfortable.
Highway Power/Zip: She’s got more than enough power for me at my current skill level.
Tight Turns: She’s been able to maneuver any tight turns I’ve tried on her so far, and would probably even turn tighter if I’d relax more (new rider syndrome *grin* )
Twisty Roads: I haven’t had a chance to take her on any real twisters yet as I still have my learners, but she’s been great everywhere we have been and I feel confident on her.
Wind/Rain/Heat: I haven’t had any problems with her on wet roads, and she runs great even on hot days. With the fuel injection, she starts every time and I don’t have to play around with a choke. Nor do I have to worry about her stalling when cold.
Braking Power: She stops awesome!
What I Changed: So far just the foot pegs.
What I Added: Just a tool bag and a windshield.
What I’m Doing: Usual maintenance like checking the oil & tire pressures. She’s still under warranty with the dealer.
What I Think: I love my bike! She’s comfortable for me to sit on, and doesn’t feel top heavy like the Virago did. With my short legs, I do wear boots with heels but I could probably use a ½” more so it’s easier to duck walk her around. I don’t have any problems with her stalling on me, and it’s easy to find her fiction zone. I also don’t look quite so little sitting on her, nor do I feel so small… we fit each other. She gives me a better a sense of confidence. The weight distribution on her feels low and not so top heavy… it’s like she wants to stay up straight. I’m not sliding around on the seat, and can easily reach the clutch & brake lever! Because she’s fuel injected, she’s not nearly as temperamental and hasn’t stalled on me yet… believe me she should have! Oh, and she will shut herself off when she does decide to take a nap *blush*
Did I mention that I love my bike? 😉
I love what she says in the beginning of this…
“A tip over is only a moment’s pause from the fun”
My husband has been riding for almost 2 years, and during that time has been begging me to learn to ride. After going for a ride he’d come back and tell me about it, and how it would be so nice if I’d go with him so we could share the experience together. He kept bugging me to study the book and get my learners, or to just try out his bike (a 2010 sportster “iron”) to see if I liked it. I kept saying “maybe one day when I got time” but in the back of my mind I kept hearing a little voice telling me that I was too small.
I’m about 4’11”, maybe 4’11 1/2″ if I stretch.
Then my husband found this site for women riders & showed it to me, specifically the “fit chart” section. I was impressed to see so many women that are as little as me riding bikes that fit. I started to get another little voice in my head that said “no you aren’t too small”. In early June we were at a motorcycle shop where they had a mid 90’s Virago 750 for sale… and I sat on it. Wow! With my work boots on I can almost flat foot. Unfortunately that place wanted a little more money for it than I was wanting to spend, but I found one for sale privately for 1/2 the price. So I bought it.
I few days later I wrote my test for my learners, and passed. Then I picked up a helmet, gloves, chaps, etc. I’m all set and as cute as a button. And scared to death! What have I gotten myself into 😯
I tell myself that I can do this.
The first time out on it, I fall over. In the driveway. My hubby helped me pick it back up, brush it off and try to start her up again. It runs like crap and keeps stalling. Great… I’m not even out of the driveway and I already broke my bike.
What have I gotten myself into 😯
Again I tell myself that I can do this, that I will do this. I’m not giving up.
We get her fixed over the next week, and go out again… just in the driveway to try and learn clutch control, starting and stopping. But the whole time I’m having problems. I’m sliding around on the seat, the bike feels like she’s gonna fall over all the time, it keeps stalling on me, and the darn levers are so far away from the handles I can barely reach. I guess the people who designed this bike think short people have big hands? ?-)
I’m getting really discouraged and that voice that says I’m too small kept getting louder. I was finding that I was working harder on finding excuses not to ride than I was at getting seat time. So I started lurking more here, and read a thread here titled “Please tell me I’m not alone feeling this way”. It felt so good to know I wasn’t alone!
And again I tell myself that I can do this, that I will do this.
So I keep trying, but the Virago just isn’t working for me. After almost dumping it again in the driveway, I break down in tears. I want so badly to learn to ride, but that damn bike was fighting me every step of the way. My husband then suggested we go off for a ride on his bike to take a break. We went out for brunch, and then found an empty parking lot… so I can just try his bike. I’ve been scared to try his bike… it’s his baby and I really don’t want to break it too. But I could not believe the difference! Even though his bike is heavier than the Virago, it doesn’t feel top heavy to me. And the levers… I can reach them! And this fiction zone he kept telling me about, that seems almost none existent on the Virago, I can find it on his sporty! Everything that was so hard to do on my bike was easy on his!
That day was the last time I tried riding the Virago. Instead, we made arrangements with the bank and got me a brand new 2011 Sportster SuperLow. This bike is awesome! It’s even lower than my hubby’s sporty with smaller tires, different front & rear suspension, a narrow seat, and pulled back handle bars. With a 1 1/2″ heel, I can flat foot it and duck walk her all over the place. The weight distribution on her feels low and not so top heavy… it’s like she wants to stay up straight. I’m not sliding around on the seat, and can easily reach the clutch & brake lever! Because she’s fuel injected, she’s not nearly as tempermental and hasn’t stalled on me yet. The only complaint I have of her is the foot pegs. They put curve/drop thing in them, which the heel on my boot gets caught on. It wouldn’t be an issue for someone with normal sized feet… but with my little ones, my toe can’t reach the brake unless I set my heel on top of the peg. This was fixed really easily… I just stole my hubby’s passager pegs and use them instead.
I’m riding now, instead of making excuses (at least not as many) on why I can’t ride. It’s still not easy, and I can’t wait for the day when I don’t have to think so much about every little step… but I’m having more fun now.
Here are some videos my husband has taken of me riding both the Virago and the Superlow….