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

Updated on May 24, 2014
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.

2009 Honda CRF 230M
2009 Honda CRF 230M
2009 KTM 125 SX
2009 KTM 125 SX
2009 Suzuki RM125
2009 Suzuki RM125

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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