New Rider Advice, Should I Wear Taller Motorcycle Boots?


A new rider from Kuala Lumpur wrote me awhile back about whether or not she should wear tall, 3" boots. She rides a brand that we don't really get here, a Benelli Keeway RKV 200. It weighs less than 300lbs and has a ~30" seat height. A little taller than other beginner bikes, but certainly not impossible. She's 5'2" and my guess is she has a ~26-27" inseam. She says:

"I'm okay with riding really slowly, until gear 2, but my shortness is really killing it for me. Especially when i have to backup. Plus, i'm awful at even maneuvering the bike even when i'm off it.. lol! I guess i'm not that good at faking it when it comes to how heavy the bike is. Well, just wanted a word of advise from you and do you think wearing 3 inch high boots will help?"

First off, I have to ask if you've had any basic rider training? If not, I hope that you have some local resources to take a basic class. Being a shorter person, I have learned that your skills and riding techniques compensate very well for lack of height. Otherwise, I'd never would've been able to ride any of these bikes.

As far as taller boots, they definitely help. I'm not a fan of wearing non protective boots for riding, so ideally I'd suggest buying any of the models in this previous blog post. They will all offer extra traction and the protection you need. But if you don't have access to these or can't afford to order them and have them shipped, then work with what you can get but AVOID high heels/fashion heeled boots. If a chunky heeled boot works, then great. Given where you live, I imagine women's gear choices are really limited.

The other thing I'd highly recommend is learning how to push your bike around while standing next to it. I also wrote a blog post about this here. Sometimes our bikes weigh A LOT. There is nothing wrong with getting off the bike to park. Sometimes it's easier and faster. I always park my bike like this if it's there's any kind of incline/slope. Why fight gravity? I've learned to back up with one foot and it works quite well for me :)

New Rider Tip

Taking the MSF Class? Just getting started? 

Here's a really great quote from an email that I received from a student last week who picked up a full riding outfit from me at Scuderia.

"Having real, protective gear during the class gave me a lot more confidence, and I don't know if I would have leaned that motorcycle over nearly as far if I hadn't had it."

I think it's telling how important wearing gear is. You don't have to all the way with street leathers like this person did, but gearing up with more than jeans and sneakers really makes a difference! 

Beginner Motorcycles

Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycles San Francisco Scuderia West

I posted this on twitter and facebook recently but felt it was really important to state for the record.

There's no such thing as women's motorcycles, only beginner motorcycles. 

Sorry, but there's no such thing! I don't care what anyone has told you (including other women riders), but they're wrong, absolutely wrong. And sorry but low cruisers aren't women's motorcycles, either. In fact, I think large, heavy cruisers (no matter how low) are the worst beginner bikes, ever. Not because I'm not a cruiser person, but because they're painful to balance and the center of gravity is totally screwed up! Having your feet forward changes the way you provide input and the way it responds. And if you drop your KLX or your DR, it only takes you a second to pick it up! 

In riding the Brammo recently, I've come to discover how incredibly fun an upright, lightweight dual sport/supermoto style bike could be for a new rider. It's a completely different world of motorcycles, and a completely different experience from what I'm used to.  I'm convinced that something like a Suzuki DR400SE (below left) or Kawasaki KLX250 (below right) is one of the best beginner options out there. 

suzuki beginner motorcycle beginner motorcycle

If I had to do it all over again, I would've gone this route (Thanks Betty!). I still love sportbike riding, but I think I'm falling in love with the dual sport way of life and will definitely be moving in that direction going forward. I still love and adore my SV and will be holding on or quite a while. 


Best beginner bike for a woman?

San Francisco Ninja 250

".....My friend (who's 22 years old, 5' 1", 100 lbs) recently got a 2007 Ninja 250 and after having it for 2 months she told me she wishes she got a bigger bike.  Basically, I want a bike that I will be happy with for at least a year and will be able to comfortably ride with a passenger without having the performance of the bike being thrown off (as I've heard can happen with a 250). I'm also looking for performance and speed. I'm not trying to do any street racing by any means, but I do want to have a bit of fun with my new toy when it's appropriate....."

I found this question posted on Yahoo Answers regarding the best beginner bike for a woman.  Does it matter if you're a female vs. male beginner? Should the recommendations be any different? Personally, I Loathe the term "woman's bike". It implies that you need something special and you can't possibly ride any of the other bikes out on the market, which is simply not true. But that's a different blog post....

Each rider is different. Based on this person's question, I suspect that her motives for riding are a little bit misplaced. If she is worried about 'keeping up' with friends on group rides and 'getting bored' with a Ninja 250, I have to question her friend's experience with that bike. You should NEVER try to keep up with your friends, or any group ride for that matter. That can get really dangerous, very quickly. My guess is that the friend who's bored has less than stellar cornering skills. I guess it could be that she's a very quick learner and she's mastered her entry speed and cornering abilities in a short period of time. However, that's pretty atypical from what I've seen.  

I don't know, is that jumping to conclusions? I always wonder if people who say they're 'bored' haven't really explored the capabilities of the Ninja 250, or the bike they've become disillusioned with. When I upgraded, I wasn't bored. I just felt ready for something a little bigger for freeway riding and trips.  I don't know how anyone can, considering how f'ng awesome that bike is in corners! 

What advice would you give to a woman asking this question?