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Trail Topics

   Trail Bikes for the Size-Challenged

    Monday, October 31, 2011

Author: Valerie Pretzel

This is a story about how riding trail bikes is not really designed for those of us who are size challenged – particularly for those of us who are…let’s say “petite”! Okay so I’m built more suited to being a jockey – 5 foot nothing, weighing in around 50kg and not particularly strong.

My first bike was a KLX125, which was a lovely little bike; great to learn on but not road registerable and therefore illegal to ride anywhere except private property and designated ORV areas. So we started the hunt for something more suitable:

  • Seat height around 850mm
  • Weight – as little as possible
  • Electric start – preferable
  • Road registerable – mandatory

In 2005, for 12 months only, Yamaha sold a road registerable TTR125 but they were pretty scarce and sold mostly in the Eastern States. We found one in Sydney and bought it sight unseen and had it shipped over. I loved this bike – very confidence building as both feet were firmly on the ground and it did everything I wanted, even a couple of 2 day West Coast Safari rides.

But as my experience grew I started to out grow the bike – I wanted more power and better brakes, suspension etc…so we were back to square one. No road registerable, enduro bikes were low enough or light enough. If I couldn’t get both feet on the ground, I needed a lighter bike.

Eventually we decided on the KTM200 – the lightest bike of this type we could find weighing in at 98kg, but my feet were miles away from the ground. Sander and his guys at Bunbury KTM came to the rescue with a plan which shaved an impressive 110mm off the height. This included:

  • Dropping the forks through the triple clamp as far as possible
  • Revalving the shock and fitting a spacer to reduce seat height
  • New shorter, softer spring
  • KTM low seat
  • Shorter motard side stand

The 2-stroke has taken a fair bit to get used to, as has the lots of extra power and I can only get one foot down and what I wouldn’t do for an electric start! But I love the fun of this bike, it doesn’t require me to ride it on the power band all the time (as long as someone takes it for a blast every now and then to clear it out) and the handling is amazing compared to the TTR.

But why do we have to go to all this effort to get a suitable bike – surely there is a big enough market of smaller/novice riders who still want a decent bike?? The TTR-230 has been the only bike in this market, but it is very heavy and from all accounts doesn’t handle well (and Yamaha have recently stopped selling a road registerable version).

So to all the bike manufacturers out there – us small female riders want a <100kg, <900mm, 250 4-stroke, with an electric start that is ADR compliant and capable of being road registered – now is that too much to ask???