Newbie - Short and Afraid - Kawasaki Ninja 300 Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 12:18 PM Thread Starter
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Newbie - Short and Afraid

Hi guys!! Newbie here from South Jersey.
I currently own a 2017 Ninja 300 ABS. Only 100 miles on it so it is new in my eyes!

The first mod I planned on doing after getting the bike was to install sliders, unfortunately one bolt was completely bald and could not remove the right fairing. So, very carefully, I started practicing without any sliders. As of today, I've dropped the bike twice...on both sides!!!

Problem #1: I'm short (5'1") and do not feel comfortable at stop lights or signs. I dropped the bike once during a stop due to stalling and my legs were/are not long enough to hold the bike upright. How can I practice to become comfortable with the bike's weight, if I'm barely on my tiptoes?

Problem #2: It is very difficult for me to move the bike while sitting on it, so I always move it while placing all of the weight on my hip and slowly walking it. I've dropped it during this too!! I literally sweat every time I have to move the bike in tight spaces (garage full of boxes)

Any advice for a short rider who is eager to ride?
post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 01:09 PM
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Sorry to hear of your difficulties.

Have you taken a Basic Rider Course? If not, I would. It will teach you many things you need to know when starting out. It's a controlled environment designed for learning - unlike the streets.

The tip-over issues are all about balance. Once the cycle gets past a certain point you (or me) aren't going to be able to stop it from tipping over. Keeping it precisely balanced is the key. Tip toe of one foot should be enough to keep you upright if it's balanced properly.

Most of the time I practice balancing when coming to a stop. I see if I can stop completely without putting my foot down. Might want to wait until you are more comfortable to try that, but it's an exercise that helps develop balance. If I put a foot down waiting at a stop light it's just the toe of one foot.

I prefer a lower seat to lowering the cycle. You could find a used seat and remove some padding to help get more contact with the ground when stopped.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 02:30 PM
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Personally, I have found the stock Ninja seat to be uncomfortable and if you remove any padding, it will be even more uncomfortable and I doubt you could remove enough padding to compensate for not being able to reach the ground and hold the bike up.

As previously stated, some people do not agree with lowering the bike. But as many dealerships and tech's will tell you, their is nothing wrong with lowering it, as long as you are not a very aggressive or track rider. If you intend to be the everyday, enjoy a nice ride, then their should be no problems with lowering the bike.

But to keep from having to make other adjustments, dealers and tech's that I have chatted with advise to lower it no more that 1" to 1.5 inches.

But also as previously stated, I have read and listened to many riders that on the short side and have benefited greatly from taking a " Motorcycle Safety Course ". Part of the course is solely dedicated to the shorter riders and how to handle and ride their bikes. I would highly recommend that you take such a course, before you do anymore drops.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 04:14 PM
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Yep. Take a MSF course and lower the bike.
Don't worry about the drops. We've all dropped a bike. Just do what you need to in order to feel confident on the bike and take your time!
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 04:26 PM
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I'm also a short rider..5'6"..and can't flat foot the Ninja, so I know where you're coming from. One place to start is googling 'short motorcycle rider tips' or something similar and also going on youtube and searching for 'short motorcycle rider tips'...something like that. Lots of info out there written by shorter riders to help.

As far as moving the bike around the garage...when I need to move it forward I stand on the left side and grab both handgrips and walk it to where I need it. If i need to back it up (which I do every time I park it) I stand on the left side, grab the left hand grip with my left hand and place my right hand under the passenger grab spot under the passenger seat. I also leave the kickstand down when I'm moving it around....but I know some people try to discourage this...I find it helpful in case I were to drop the bike or lose grip it would fall back onto its kickstand.

Employees at motorcycle dealerships move bikes around all day...and they don't sit on the bikes to do it. They walk them around...you can, too.

Also when you stop you don't need to put both tip toes down...lean the bike ever so slightly to the left until you can at least put the ball of your left foot down or even your whole foot. Practice in your garage before trying on the streets!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 04:45 PM
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Short rider myself so I understand your frustration. As mentioned already MSF course will help you build confidence as you learn the basics. Well worth the money and time.

Question are you wearing boots? if not you should be it will help a little with getting a strong grip on the road and added height. Plus it adds another layer of protection.

Have you tried sitting on or riding other bikes with a lower seat height? When I took the MSF course we rode Harley street 500ís. Very low seat height and they even had some with different seats that were lower overall height than others. Being able to flat foot the bike during the course helped a lot.

Overtime you will naturally get better at balancing the bike. When I first started it was difficult especially at traffic lights to find that balance. But now balancing is second nature and I donít even think about it. Now when come up to a light that is red but about to turn green I can essentially almost come to a complete stop without putting my feet down if you can picture that and then accelerate smoothly after almost stopping.


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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iahawk View Post
I'm also a short rider..5'6"..and can't flat foot the Ninja, so I know where you're coming from. One place to start is googling 'short motorcycle rider tips' or something similar and also going on youtube and searching for 'short motorcycle rider tips'...something like that. Lots of info out there written by shorter riders to help.

As far as moving the bike around the garage...when I need to move it forward I stand on the left side and grab both handgrips and walk it to where I need it. If i need to back it up (which I do every time I park it) I stand on the left side, grab the left hand grip with my left hand and place my right hand under the passenger grab spot under the passenger seat. I also leave the kickstand down when I'm moving it around....but I know some people try to discourage this...I find it helpful in case I were to drop the bike or lose grip it would fall back onto its kickstand.

Employees at motorcycle dealerships move bikes around all day...and they don't sit on the bikes to do it. They walk them around...you can, too.

Also when you stop you don't need to put both tip toes down...lean the bike ever so slightly to the left until you can at least put the ball of your left foot down or even your whole foot. Practice in your garage before trying on the streets!
Height is actually moot here, it is more of your inseam length that makes the difference. You can be tall with short legs or short with long legs.

That being said ihawk does state the proper technique for moving a motorcycle.
From the left side, grab the bars and push.
And since the kickstand is on the left if you have to let it down the kickstand will stop it from falling.
I leave it in gear and pull in the clutch when moving that way I can release the clutch and it will stop the bike.
Reversing the bike I will stand left, grab the clutch and put my hand on the rear of the seat to push, leaving the kickstand down and in gear.

As far as riding goes the Ninja I can touch but on my Vitpilen, which is way taller, I have to lean to one side at a stop, 99% of the time leaning to the left.
This keeps my left hand on the clutch, right hand free and right foot on the rear brake pedal.
And I always leave it in first at a stop, besides the ability to move quickly if I have to but also to eliminate the side to side shuffle from left side stopping, right side to shift, and back again.

Also if you can try to stop in the lowest part of the lane.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 12:27 AM
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Welcome to the forum and to riding!

I'm also quite short (5' 1" if I stand up really straight) and have a 28" inseam. You can do this, it simply takes some adjustments. I will reiterate what others have said - take the MSF course if you haven't already. Granted, you leave there being qualified to ride around a parking lot, but you will learn some valuable building block skills. Take those skills and practice, practice, practice.

Here's a great article from another shorty: http://www.gearchic.com/blog/2012/09...r-short-riders

Joanne has also written a nice article on gear for shorter folks: http://www.gearchic.com/riding-gear

Joanne is so in love with riding and promoting safety that she moved from San Francisco to Philadelphia to work for Revzilla several years ago. If you have questions about gear, I highly suggest reaching out to her because she knows her stuff.

As for dropping the bike, it happens. We've all dropped one at some point - don't sweat it.

For what it's worth, I learned to ride without lowering my Ninja. I can't flat-foot it, heck, I can't even flat-foot a Honda Grom. It's all about learning to adapt.
-
One suggestion I will give you: switch out the OEM footpegs for a set of adjustable rearsets. If you move them back, then you can put your feet straight down without having to go around the pegs - that gives you a lot better reach and control. And when you're shorter, that little bit can make all the difference in the world.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 07:55 AM
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There are many ways to get the bottom of your foot closer to the ground from lowering the bike, to boots with a thicker sole, etc. but iahawk hits the nail on the head here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by iahawk View Post
Also when you stop you don't need to put both tip toes down...lean the bike ever so slightly to the left until you can at least put the ball of your left foot down or even your whole foot. Practice in your garage before trying on the streets!
I'm not a short rider and can comfortably flat-foot both sides on most bikes I've ridden, but when I'm stopped, I have my right foot on the brake and my left foot on the ground. Keeping the bike balanced is the key, I've been able to easily hold up a fully dressed Harley Davidson Road King (830+lb motorcycle) on one foot, but if I had leaned the bike much more I'd have definitely dropped it. With the EX300 you have a little more wiggle room before it leans too far to be able to hold it up, but at some point the weight/moment of the leaned bike gets to be too much to support. Also be careful of road crowns/banked corners/etc while stopping. My mother dropped her Sportster at a stop sign on a road with an aggressive crown when the ground ended up being further away from her foot than she realized. Practice makes permanent, so I'd recommend hopping on the bike (don't even start it up for this exercise, leave it in gear so it doesn't roll away on you) and switch feet left to right and back again, flat footing each side one at a time, to get a feel for the weight of the bike at those lean angles.
It can almost be said that there are two types of riders in the world, those of us who have dropped bikes at a stand-still, and f***ing liars. I've only dropped my Ninja once, maneuvering around my slightly crowded driveway, but my Honda has been down twice on each side, total of 4 times, and every time was at a full stop. Don't get discouraged, it's a learned skill. Keep at it and you'll master it.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-14-2019, 10:05 AM
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When maneuvering a cycle around I'm always on the left side, have my hands on the bars (so I can reach the front brake if needed), with the kickstand up. The kickstand is only going to save you if you are moving backwards. If you are moving forward it's going to retract. It's more in the way than anything.

If I'm in a position where the cycle is difficult to get moving I might use my right hand on the seat or grab rail to get it going, but after that it's back on the bar.
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