Buying an Off-Road Motorcycle - Enduro, Motocross and Dual Sport

Motocross Racing
Motocross Racing

Tall Motorycycles, and Short Riders.

With the evolution of off-road motorcycles I have come to the conclusion that women and men that are not very tall are not considered when these bikes roll off the assembly line. There is no way I could ever ride a motocross bike that sits with a seat height of 38 inches even after modifications. Even going to a smaller engine size does nothing to lower the seat height. Even buying an Enduro and dual-sport model helps but still is like climbing up on a horse. If you are riding the rule is you should be able to get on it and pick the darn thing up if you crash. There is not always someone there to help you out. How can you ride without being able to put at least one foot on the ground when you stop? The rules for riding on the street are different than it is riding out in the desert, mountains or motocross track. On the street both feet need to be planted on the ground. If this were to apply to those of us that are shorter and ride off-road we would not be riding. I know for those that are shorter when it comes to a motorcycle seat height are the first thing that is looked at. For a motorcycle that I will be riding for pleasure or in a race off-road the weight is also considered. So back to my beef about seat height in dirt bikes and do any of these manufacturers have any women working for them? Come on guys get with it. We too, the female riders like to have a dirt bike too. This is not the time to despair, there is hope!

The Nitty Gritty of Seat Height

There are women and men that do not have a long inseam out there that race and ride off-road.  Looking at the seat height of a bike you will have to consider how much can you trim off with modifications.  There are ways to lower the seat height and some are very easy to do.  When you buy a dirt bike they are set up for a 180/200 pound person.  This means the suspension would be stiff for someone around 130 pounds and there would be very little sag when sitting on the bike.  The motorcycle should sag about a 1.5 to 2 inches when you are sitting on it.  Adjusting the rear shock is fairly simple and can be done by anyone.  There are kits called “lowering links” that you can get that will lower the height about ¾ of an inch or more and cost about $100.  One can also take apart the seat and trim the foam or buy a seat kit.  When out looking at motorcycles remember this when sitting on the bike.  Also if you order from the factory you can have them lower it or have it done professionally after you have bought it.  Check the cost of these alternatives to see which one you can afford.  There are alternatives and if in doubt talk with the dealer you are buying from.  If buying from private parties talk with a motorcycle mechanic or someone that deals in motorcycle suspension.

At the end of this hub I will put a link to a site that gives some good pointers on what to do with the new motorcycle you bring home.  Remember if it is new or used you will need to go over the bike and make sure it is ready for you, the rider.  At the bottom of the website it gives you information on suspension and how it is done.  Sometimes keeping a log of what has been done to the bike is a good thing.  Especially if you are racing and the suspension is not right, you can trouble shoot and make adjustments.

The Motorcycles: Motocross, Enduro, and Dual Sport

2009 Honda CRF 230L Dual Sport

Seat height 31.9

Weight 267

2009 Honda CRF 230M Enduro

Seat height 31.6

Weight 276

2010 Honda CRF 450R

Seat height 37.6

Weight 234

2009 Husaberg FE350

Seat height 38.8

Weight 252

Husqvarna THE310

Seat height 37.9

Weight 236 dry

2009 Kawasaki KLX 250S Dual Sport

Seat height 34.8

Weight 268

2005 Kawasaki KLR250 Dual Sport

Seat height 33.7

Weight 265

2009 KTM 105 XC

Seat height 35.5

Weight 150 dry

2009 KTM 125 SX

Seat height 38.8

Weight 200 dry

2009 KTM 450 EXC Dual Sport

Seat height 36.4

Weight 235 dry

2009 DR 200SE Dual Sport

Seat height 31.9

Weight 273 dry

2009 Suzuki RM125

Seat height 37.6

Weight 225

2009 Yamaha YZ85

Seat height 34

Weight 156

2009 Yamaha WR250F

Seat height 38.6

Weight 260

2010 Yamaha YZ450F

Seat height 39.3

Weight 245

This is just a short list of off-road/dual sport motorcycles that are out there. Visit your local motorcycle shops, talk to friends that ride and read articles where it will give you the specifications on motorcycles. Do your research!

Final Thougths On Finding the Right Dirt Bike

If you are racing motocross then you know what kind of bike you will be riding, which will be a motor-crosser. The point I am making is what will you be using your dirt bike for? This will led you in the direction of what kind of motorcycle you are looking to buy. If you are riding both street and on the dirt then you will be looking at dual sport bikes. Strictly off road you will be looking at motorcycles that cannot be street legal (maybe, given your State) and gives you a variety of dirt bikes to choose from. If you are shorter in stature, or have physical limitation then do your research before heading out to look. There is no use looking at a bike you cna't get your leg over or something that is to heavy for you to lift. Street bikes are a different story when it comes to weight because most of us need help picking up a street bike.

Do not get frustrated when looking at a dirt bike that comes up to your armpits. It may not be the motorcycle for you but there is one out there for you. Ask questions to see what your options are. Make sure you are getting into a dirt bike that you can handle and will suit your needs.

~Note: ask about lowering your bike.

Another thought would be to go explore older dirt bikes. I have written about vintage dirt bikes and there are some out there that are fun to ride. The seat height on these are accommodating for a person that is not on the tall side. An older motorcycle would be ideal for someone who play rides or does nice trail rides. Something to thing about.

To check out my motorcycle blog, "Motorcycles and Riding", Click Here

Happy trails and keep the rubber side down.

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Comments 13 comments

john hayls profile image

john hayls 4 years ago

This hub has very beautiful pictures of bikes. I have seen many bikes but these are very fantastic.

mkott profile image

mkott 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

Great time of year to be out looking for a new dirt bike.

sportandfitness profile image

sportandfitness 5 years ago

Great hub, made me think should I invest a new bike? :)LOL My wife would not be glad, I have already have two from your list... Thanks for sharing:)

mkott profile image

mkott 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

@Edward @chaconne there are no dealers in the US or Canada. I know they talked about finally importing but that was a few years ago and nothing has happened. They remind me a little bit between BSA (of course) and a Hodaka. Looks like a fun bike. They are pricey.

chaconne 5 years ago

@edward & all, I didn't realize these guys (CCM) were still in business and they make something you might be interested in:

Not sure if they are imported to the USA if there are others like you in the market, may be an importing business opportunity.


mkott profile image

mkott 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

There is nothing wrong with mono-shock or dual shock bikes. The used market on older bikes is a good avenue for someone that is looking , period. But as @chaconne mentioned some will be harder to find parts for. CZ, Greeves, Montessa and a few others may be hard to keep running. John Penton still rides and he rides a vintage Penton Jackpiner. A good rider can make any motorcycle work for them.

@Edward there is nothing wrong with wanting a bike from the 70's. The 70's may be over but I feel that is when dirt bikes pushed the boundaries and led the way for the bikes of today. If you can ride a motorcycle from the 70's the rest is a cake walk. I would give almost anything to have a Penton 175 Jackpiner, my Maico 250, or my Honda MR125 in my garage. All three are awesome bikes and a lot of fun to ride. My profile picture is me riding a Suzuki DR250, early 2000 bike and was a good height for me. There is variety out there no matter what year.

As for riding a dirt bike that is too tall, it can be done. I know guys that raced that were shorter than me and did it. But it is more work and need to think a head too. We used to joke that Rick Munyon (former ISDE rider) knew where all the big rocks where so he could pull up and put a foot down. If you race you need to be able to handle all aspects of riding a motorcycle on your own. No one is going to help you out if you crash. That is something to think about if racing is what you are doing. It can be done if you are racing but you need to know what you can and can not do.

When it comes to a bike you need to do what is comfortable for you. I don't care what year you ride, etc. Having fun is all that matters.

chaconne 5 years ago

@edward friend those days are long gone, the mid-70s were over 30 years ago. I am your size and age and I love my yr 2000+ bikes.

Anyway, if you are bound and determined maybe you should check out some of the Chinese vendors. They have some older designs, though I don't think you will go back further than the 80s probably 20 yr old designs.

Or scope the used market, good luck finding parts for a CZ or Maico they were hard to get when those things were in their heyday. Czechoslovakia(CZ) isn't even a country anymore and East Block communism is long gone, good news there....

Penton sheesh even by the late 70s KTM began selling them on its own. Good luck.

edward, 5 years ago

you can have all the tall, monoshocker bike's,

Ill take something from mid 70's


Yamaha 360MX yellow,

CZ 250, 380,

Maico MC 250, 400,


Ive got two 80's bike's, honda cr 250 85 model,

Kawasaki kx 500, 86 mod,

nothing but dissapointment on both of them,

cant get used to them, feel weird,

50 yrs old,30 inch's in the crotch,

used to ride,

getting back into it

like and fit better on the older one's,

monoshocker's make no sense to me at all!

If someone feel's like I do?

get back to me on this ok,

chaconne 5 years ago

I am a smaller rider and I ride an xr400 that is pretty high, it is stock and unmodified --bike weighs ~260lbs. My view is that most smaller riders CAN ride the higher heavier dirt bikes it just takes a slightly alternative approach. You might not be able to just hop on and go you might have to do some PRACTICE.

1) First you should be in good shape --if you are not ride something smaller-- you must have good leg strength and in my experience you should probably be able to run a 10k(6.2 miles) fairly easily to judge what I think the amount of strength required is. You may be using your tiptoes so you definitely need strong calves.

2) When you get your bike you MUST do stationary practice, leg to leg, plus use your upper body strength to control stationary leaning of the bike. Probably 2x10reps per side 3 times a week when you first get it for 1 month. Intermittently after that depending on how much you ride.

3) Take your bike to a relatively secluded spot --if you can-- and find an area with a small hill or berm and while stationary force yourself into off-camber positions and practice leaning/falling toward the "low" side, trying to maintain control and a least drop it slowly if you have to. Same reps as 2.

4) If you can find some place where there is a sand pit corner your bike and see how much it takes to maintain control and balance especially when slow/low cornering.(more for the sense of weight)

5) Practice forcing yourself into those tight and uncomfortable positions and then work at overcoming them, like righting your bike up from its side after laying it down(slowly). Practice, practice, practice. Soon you will be handling that 450 or 600 thumper beast like it is nothing. It worked from me I love my xr4 and I ride on tight difficult trails and tracks in the wooded northeast.

Last, I don't like the seat mods or lowering links --hardly worth the effort or makes the bike look like crap and handle funny. Some links might even make your bike unstable. And besides who can't handle a little challenge?? :)

mkott profile image

mkott 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada Author

The CR's and other motocross bikes are going to be too tall. Enduro or Dual Sport may be better or going to an older bike.

Lowering kits, take some foam off the seat, and make sure the suspension is set up for your weight and style of riding. Bike should sag a bit when you sit on it.

wondering, 5 years ago

I wish i had someone to help me with this too tall 85 honda cr 250R,

cool bike, but tootall for mew to get on and then I cant get my leg enough down to steady it to start it if it stall's?

dirtguy 5 years ago

Ive got the same glitch when i try to get on this 85 Honda CR 250R,

the bike is ok good power,

need's the suspension adjusted,

too tall for me to feel at ease on though,

I need something like an older 73 Maico, or CZ 380,

Yamaha 360MX would be ok too,

anything from the mid to late 70's is ok,

dirtguy, 6 years ago

Ive got two monoshocker's, an 86 kawasaki kx 500 and an 85 honda CR 250, they are cool bike's,

but too high for me to get on,

I just got an older TM 400 Suzuki so I could get on it,

Id like to find a 74 Honda Elsinore 250M in good cond,

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