Since I’ve (Marta) almost finished my driving licence course for a bigger motorcycle back in November, we’ve decided it’s time to look for some suitable adventure donkey, which would fit a short rider. But still we wanted something with a more enduro feeling to it, so the problem was even more complex.
Maybe a short summary of my hurdles and findings would be useful for other experiencing the same

Buying a motorcycle for a short rider

As you might guess by now, the first hard part of the buying process was to actually find a set of bikes, on which I would reach the ground with my feet. All enduro bikes got rather big clearance, so the saddle is placed high, unfortunately.
I’m just 163cm (5’4) high, so you can already imagine how many possible enduro bikes I’ve found ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Sure, there are some awesome riders, which easily go by their high enduro bikes without touching the ground. But I’m not one of them : ) Now I was rather opting for not having any problems with stopping at the traffic lights.

So in the first place I was aiming for something rideable by a gnome like me as I’m not any hardcore and experienced short rider : )

Though, it seems that for riding in comfort, even in offroad, you don’t have to place whole feet on the ground. Just 1/3 will suffice.
So this was my only constraint and to find my meant to be bike I tried 3 things and had one precaution on mind.

Trying the power of the Internet (ง’̀-‘́)ง

Searching the Internet by phrases like adventure motorcycles for short riders or enduro motorcycles for short rider doesn’t help at all, actually.

Of course, if you search for a brand new bike, googling it is the really easiest way of finding your road companion. There are dozens of “TOP whatever” articles promoting bikes, which just got off from the production line.

But those are also more expensive, full of electronics and sometimes too big (though companies advertise that you won’t feel that weight at all… Yeah, right ;)) .
Unfortunately, I wanted something cheaper and light-weighted, so even a (maybe more stubborn) lady could lift it after falling ;)

Also too much electronics was also a no go zone for me. We’ve expected that if something would break in such a bike in the middle of nowhere (which we like to visit much!), fixing it would be a pain in the butt.  So some older and easier to repair on the go bike would be better.

Studying the bikes specs (╯ʘ‿ʘ)╯︵ ┻━┻

I was also trying to just look around the sites with the bikes specs and tried the Motorcycle Ergonomics site with the bikes I liked and which seemed not so high.

I think the site is quite useful, when you like a bike, but you have to make a long trip to a seller. So if you don’t know if travelling is worthwhile, because you don’t know if you would fit on the bike at least – this page should help to not waste your time.

Although, you should bear in mind this site is not a substitute for a real try-on and it’s not perfect – the value of seat hight given there (as in all other motorcycle specs pages) might be the maximum seat hight, which you can set in the given bike.

Sample from Cycle-Ergo page
Simulating myself on Motorcycle ergonomics. In reality I was indeed touching the fround with 1/3 of my feet on DR
Sample from Cycle-Ergo page
Simulating myself on Motorcycle ergonomics. In reality I was indeed touching the fround with 1/3 of my feet on DR

So even though you might think you’ll be tip-toeing on your beloved bike model, there’s always a chance it can be lowered a bit – by a standard rear shock regulation and by lowering of the seat itself. You can get even more with a lowering kit, though it’s not offered for all the bikes.

Well, the struggles of the short rider – constant reasearch, reasearch and reasearch.

Visiting motorcycle friends… and strangers!

The third thing I did was just asking the people around – the friend-bikers around and bikers on the Internet, on the forums. They really made the process easier. There are always some people, who knew some short rider or people who knew people, who knew a short rider ;) So they can suggest lots of models to check and spare you hours of searching and hesitating.
Motorcyclists community is really friendly and helpful.

This step actually led me to my first try-on – the Honda NX 250 Dominator at a friend of a friend place.
In the end I didn’t really like the Dominator that much to buy it. But I had better notion of what I would like and how to match the seat height in motorcycle specs to reality. So I think it’s really useful to just try to sit on different bikes, not only the one we would like to have.

If you’re making a try-on in some seller place, just remember to bring some person with you (or possibly 4 ;)), who has some knowledge and will stay quite objective and calm. You can become too eager and want to buy the bike immediately after you find it fits you. And that’s may not actually be good for your wallet ; )
This leads me to the next point…

Finalizing the buying quest calmly ヾ(⌐■_■)ノ

You might consider this point not the part of the searching process, but I think it is.

When you finally pick a model, then you have to start looking for the right representative of your chosen one.

If you decide to go for a new one – you’re saved. Otherwise there are new obstacles.

Should I go for the more expensive, but closer to me bike? Should I drive further for this cheaper one? Will it pay off? There’s no such model around my place, should I go for the other one? Would someone sell me a bike, which is actually a piece of garbage rather fitted for transplants to the other bikes? And so on…

And there’s definitely no simple answer for any of these.

I decided to buy a bike quite recommended for the short riders across the forums – a not starting Suzuki DR 350. From abroad. Slovakia, exactly.

Marta Dr350 in 1994
My DR when it left the production line in 1993 ;)
Marta Dr350 in 1994
My DR when it left the production line in 1993 ;)

So it couldn’t get any worse. Not working bike, which couldn’t even be checked right on the spot. There were 200 km to travel…
Most people around said to us that buying a not running bike is rather bold and risky. You can’t even test the engine!  But hey, no risk, no fun… (⌐■_■)

DR350 in parts
My Suzuki now
DR350 in parts
My Suzuki now

Just kidding. Don’t throw away your money, calculate what’s really paying off and what’s not.

Cautious calculations

The price of bike, which I bought, was 2 times lower than an average running DR price around my area. So this saved me a budget for possible repairs, which had to be done. But! I think we evaluated every little thing, about which seller could be silent, but could be wrong. We even considered the engine renovation.
I also thought that repairing the bike on my own will bring me certainty of the comprehensively  rebuilt bike. So as it was still paying off and the bike looked nice on the pictures and then in reality – I took it.

So if you’re buying an old a used bike – I think staying cool blooded is the most important thing. If you can’t like me  – ask also another person for an opinion. Although I would recommend this even if you can – the other person opinion always brings you a new perspective.

I also find that careful analysis of the bike pics, if you have long way to visit your prospective bike, also comes in handy. Though, the best are the pictures, where you can see the most details of sprockets, wheels rims, brake discs, brake calipers, steering head and how the engine looks in the close up.

Keep in mind that you have to count for all the expenses, which may pile up after some miles of riding, not just only immediate ones. This means not only counting the costs of parts, but also payment for the mechanic too,  if you’re not a DIY-er.

When bringing the bike from abroad we also have to remember about the costs of transportation and customs, unfortunately. There’s no sense in importing a bike, if those cost will be too big.

DR350 transport
My kind of bike transportation : P Took 1.5h to disassemble it
DR350 transport
My kind of bike transportation : P Took 1.5h to disassemble it

What to look out for when buying a motorcycle?

Maybe this video will give you some hints as I’m narrating about my DR just after buying. Maybe you can relate to it and see what we find is ok and what is not.


I think the more precise and general discussion about this topic should be reserved for another big article. If not huge ಠ_ಠ And now I have to get back to DR rebuiling (series of posts about it soon).

Did you have any adventures when you were buying your bike? Any tips, not only for a short rider? : )