suzuki

Why Motorcycle Seat Heights Are Overrated

Me, in 2014 riding an almost impossibly tall DRZ400SM. ~36" seat height with the knobby tires and me barely compressing the suspension.

Me, in 2014 riding an almost impossibly tall DRZ400SM. ~36" seat height with the knobby tires and me barely compressing the suspension.

So you're shopping for your first sportbike, or you're thinking about upgrading to a taller, heavier, faster bike? What does seat height really mean? Does it matter whether the bike is a V-Twin, L-Twin, Inline-4 or Single Cylinder engine? What exactly am I looking for beyond seat height? Does the suspension matter? These are all questions you should be asking, and you will want to ask to consider whether or not that bike really fits you.

Stop letting seat height be your only determining factor when considering what to ride! 

When you initially look at seat height, say on a 2017 Suzuki SV650A (which is 30.9"), you need to know that this measurement is taken when there isn't a body sitting on it. It's simply obtained by measuring with a tape measure from the ground to the top of the seat. 

2016 Suzuki SV650: Seat Height, WITHOUT YOU ON IT!

2016 Suzuki SV650: Seat Height, WITHOUT YOU ON IT!

But when a person (of adult size and stature of course) sits on this bike, the rider may make the rear shock compress, which can result in an overall reduction in seat height (for me that was ~0.75" when I put in a softer spring on my Triumph). Let's go off on a little tangent here for a second.

When you're a small person like myself (130lbs, 5'2"), there are VERY few 600cc-1,000cc sportbikes/touring bikes that are designed for me to sit on the bike and compress that rear spring (if you aren't doing this, then the bike isn't set up correctly for you). And my Triumph definitely falls into that category. The stock rear shock was really meant for a heavier rider, about 150-160lbs to shmush that spring.

This is what suspension gurus (thanks Ken!) call SAG. For a more in-depth explanation of how this all works, read this

The original rear shock that came with my Triumph before I got a customized Ohlins.

The original rear shock that came with my Triumph before I got a customized Ohlins.

So what did I do to resolve this issue? I married a wonderful man a long time ago who bought me a used Ohlins Racing shock for my 40th birthday that I then had resprung (essentially traded in) with a new spring that was much softer and would compress (sag) under my little weight.

No, that didn't mean I could flat foot my Triumph (and I never will!). But it did mean that when I put my left foot down I didn't have to shift my butt over to the left to get it completely flat. I would say easily, a half inch lower, maybe almost an inch. And having YOUR body sit lower in the seat is far better than having the bike itself lower to the ground (for clearance, especially while LEANING which is the whole point of riding a sportbike! Otherwise, you may want to consider a cruiser because frankly they're just not meant to lean over very far).

If I had gone the lowering route, there's absolutely no way I could lean over on my bike in a corner like this. As you can see, I'm definitely NOT dragging my knee, as I'm not leaning that far over. Bottoming out is a very real risk aside from the performance issues, that come along with lowering your sporty bike. Photo:  Killboy.com   

If I had gone the lowering route, there's absolutely no way I could lean over on my bike in a corner like this. As you can see, I'm definitely NOT dragging my knee, as I'm not leaning that far over. Bottoming out is a very real risk aside from the performance issues, that come along with lowering your sporty bike. Photo: Killboy.com  

So consider the suspension on the bike, on top of the seat height. How stiff is it? Where did the rear shock come from? Was it added on afterwards? Are there any adjustments that can be made now that you are going to ride this bike? If you don't address suspension from the beginning, it can greatly impact your ability to ride the bike, your perception of what you think you can ride and your overall experience. 

If you don't have the funds to customize your suspension, your bike probably has at the minimum, the ability to adjust the Preload. In this handy guide from Sport Rider Magazine, they have a simple definition.  If you lessen the Preload, that can also result in an immediate drop in seat height! When I bought a Kawasaki Z750S about 10 years ago, it felt a tad taller than I was ready for. But my mechanic was able to drop the Preload and bring it down to the lowest point which immediately made me feel much more comfortable. I'd say it lowered me a good 0.5" overall. (Certainly not near flat footing but at least I got the balls of my feet down instead of tip toes, and almost a flat left)

z750s

So assuming that the bike you want has a shock that's set in the range of your weight, and you have the option to adjust the Preload, you've immediately lost a good chunk of seat height. On that SV650A, I'd say you could easily chop off at least a half inch, if not an inch depending on the combination of Preload adjustment and rear shock compression. 

There's also the issue of the bike itself. Now, look at the SV650 and look at my old blue Kawi above. Look at the engine. What's different? Well, first off the Kawi is a 4-cylinder, also known as an Inline-4. That makes for a MUCH wider engine overall than the SV650, which is only a 2-cylinder! And, see how they lay the cylinders at an angle on the Suzuki? That's why it's called a V-Twin. Now you've lost half the thickness of the bike between your legs. What just happened? Your knees are much closer together than on the Kawi. So when you go to put your feet down, they'll also be a bit closer to the ground because there aren't 2 more cylinders in your way. Also notice how the seats on both bikes are tapered as it gets closer to the tank. This is a good thing because again, now your knees are much closer. It's not just height that keeps your feet from reaching the ground.  

2017 sv650A
Specs for the 2017 Suzuki SV650A, from  SuzukiCycles.com

Specs for the 2017 Suzuki SV650A, from SuzukiCycles.com

Another thing to consider that you will (yes you really need to) be wearing proper motorcycle boots. Not sneakers, not flip flops, not loafers. Real riding boots. Something that has a real sole, grippy, anti slip and probably ~1-2" higher in the heel. Leverage is one of our most important friends as shorter riders. Without it you are screwed. (Pssst..Stop trying to ride a motorcycle without the right gear. It's a real motorcycle, not a video game :D)

A very good example of this is the Daytona Ladystar. But you may not even need something that tall.

You may just need a regular riding boot like these Sidi Vertigo Leis, (left) which I wear every time I go riding. And even these have ~3/4" heel on them. So add that to your natural inseam. 

I've also added these awesome insoles which give me another 2" of overall height! HELL YES.

 

Available on  Amazon.com . Just do a search for Height Insoles or Lifted Insoles and you'll find a ton on Google or Amazon. 

Available on Amazon.com. Just do a search for Height Insoles or Lifted Insoles and you'll find a ton on Google or Amazon. 

So all I'm saying is, DON'T GIVE UP just because some numbers tell you that you should! If you've been riding something for awhile and are ready for the next level, then some of these things will greatly apply to what you're thinking about riding. 

Or, as a totally new rider you will also be thinking about what you can or can't ride. So make sure you start AT YOUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL. I can't emphasize this enough. 

I truly think this is the #1 mistake people make (aside from not gearing up). When you start on a bike that is well beyond your level, you have no idea how to compensate for the lack of height. Instead you end up frustrated, stressed out, unhappy and probably someone with very poor riding skills as you drop your bike left and right. 

A couple of caveats however, with all this advice: 

  1. Don't expect to ride a bike with a really tall inseam (~3-6" taller than yours) if you've never ridden before! Because, no, that won't work! 
  2. And there are NO shortcuts to becoming proficient in riding and getting better at riding. When we are short, we must ride better:
    • With more precision than anyone else to ensure we brake perfectly so as to prevent dropping the bike. This means clutch/throttle control, exceptionally smooth braking and cornering, etc. 

Also read this article I wrote about all the bikes I've ridden in my brief career as a motorcyclist. There are a few other things to think about when choosing the right motorcycle as well.  

Good luck, and remember to consider everything when shopping for a motorcycle. Don't let anyone make a decision as personal as choosing YOUR motorcycle or motorcycle gear. 

Bike Review 2012 Triumph Street Triple R

goldie_sunflowers As you may have noticed from my most recent social media posts, I am in LOVE with my new-to-me motorbike. It's the best one I've owned and ridden so far. 

Background

Before I start, I want to give you background info. It's good to know where the reviewer is coming from, so you can get a handle on what his/her experience is on bikes in general:

  • 5'3", 130lbs. 28.5" true inseam
  • Most recent rides: '06 SV650, '03 SV650S (both stock)
  • My bike ownership history; none of my bikes have been lowered because I value my ground clearance and lean angle
  • All the bikes I've ever ridden but not necessarily owned

So as you can see, this isn't a first bike for me. I would also NEVER recommend this is as a first bike. I'm not saying it can't be done, because some of you are reading this and have already purchased one as your first. What you didn't realize is this bike is not just a 675cc, it's a 675cc triple with 105 hp! That's 30+ horsepower over any 650cc twins or 4-cyl bikes (ninja 650, sv650, fz6, etc).

The curb weight is 416lbs, and the center gravity is quite low since the tank is rather skinny on top. This was my beef with the husband's sPeed Triple. Although I really love that bike it's too topheavy for my taste and as a result I was on my tiptoes and one flat left which even for me doesn't make me feel as good as I do on mine.

I purchased this beauty from good ole' Craigslist with just 4,995 miles on it, which is where I purchased my last SV. Although I was looking at various dealerships, I never saw one that I could afford. I guess it was just meant to be, because I found this one in early February. However, I didn't have the money to pay for it until late March! Lucky me.

 

Past vs. Present

I often see the question of comparison between this bike and the ever popular SV650/SV650S. Having been a previous owner of both models, I can absolutely tell you without a doubt that this bike trumps anything the SV line ever offered. The additional cost of which took me about 6 months to save up for. But it was worth every.stinking.penny.

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it's me!

I certainly enjoyed the 6 years I spent on both of my last SVs, but I'm sooooo much happier on this beast. Many folks will tell you that an upgraded suspension on the SV makes it a worthy ride. True, I could've spent ~$1,500 and upgraded the stock suspension. But, after spending ~1,000 miles on my husband's Triumph I knew I wanted one of my own!

Here are a few of the things that I have gained from upgrading:

  • More power (30% increase from ~70hp to ~100hp) at the same weight as an SV!
  • Smoother throttle response especially when rolling off the throttle. The SV throttle is twitchy as hell when you roll on or off, since it lunges quickly if you don't roll off softly.
  • Suspension. Fully adjustable, although it's set up for a heavier man, it still feels much smoother and more stable going over bumps. The rebound is far slower, so it doesn't bounce up and down so much.
  • Seat. Much better for long distance, my flat butt is much happier after a 300+ mile day of riding.

Going from a V-Twin to a 3-Cylinder engine is definitely different as well. This bike needs to rev at higher rpm's so I need to work on delayed shifting since I'm still used to shifting at lower rpm's. Since it redlines at 14,000, it's definitely an adjustment for me to wait a little longer before the upshift. One cool feature is the gear shift indicator lights. Since I can't take a picture of this while riding, I drew a yellow arrow where the gear shift indicator lights will show up depending on how you program them. I find this to be tremendously helpful as I get used to the way this engine powers up.

2012_triumph_street_tripleR_gear_shift

Height

I know many of you may be wondering about height. Well if you've read any of my past articles in the Too Short To Ride section of my blog, you know that I just don't care that the seat height on this bike is 31.7". For me, it's a lightweight bike at ~415lbs so it doesn't feel as tall. The nice thing is that it doesn't feel top heavy to me, and the tank isn't very wide on top. No wider than where the turn signal and engine cut off switch sit on the handlebars. I have to emphasize that it doesn't feel top heavy to Me, because I've been through really annoying top heavy bikes like the Z750s.

2012_triumph_streettripleR_selfie

But it feels just like the SV in terms of weight. I can't really tell the difference. I think it's ~0.25"-0.5" lower but hardly noticeable. Since my husband bought his sPeed Triple last summer, I had been taking it for day rides and even a quick overnight to NY. That bike has the same seat height as mine, but since the seat is sloped a bit, it forces me up on my tiptoes. Whereas my bike lets me plant two balls of my feet where I'm most comfortable. The engine is also larger too, so the overall weight is ~470lbs.

2006 Triumph Speed Triple

It's amazing how light a bike can feel after you've been riding something heavier and taller.

Since then, I've also added these insoles from Amazon to my Sidi Boots in order to get more height. Luckily my Sidis are a half size too big, so they fit in really well. As you can see the full insole comes with 2 add'l pieces for the heel. You don't have to wear all of them. In fact I only wear the main insole and one of the extensions. Although they don't make both of my feet flat they simply allow me to put my left foot down flat without shifting my butt off the side, a little more convenient. :)

riding motorcycles with lifted insoles

Twisties

As far as throwing her into corners, it definitely feels more solid and planted. One thing that really drove me to get this bike was that I didn't want to sacrifice the flickability of getting the SV650S into a corner. I feel like the STR drops quickly without me having to do very much work. I definitely need to spend more time with her in the twisties to improve my timing when it comes to entry speed and leaning but it feels so familiar and easy to work with.

killboypic_dragon3_2015_web

I still need to take her to get the suspension set up for my weight, because it's a bit stiff for my taste in the rear. But I can still feel the difference all the way through the turn from braking beforehand to accelerating out of it. The tires are still stock as well, Pirelli Diablo Corsas front and rear. They feel different from Michelin Pilot Powers (what I'm used to), but not worse.

I must mention the tires are still Pirelli Diablo Corsas. The previous owner didn't change them from when he purchased the bike originally and I haven't either since they have plenty of tread. I figure I'll need to swap out for my favorite Michelin Pilot Power 3's next Spring. As of September 2015, I've upgraded them and they're amazing! I also took Goldie on her first track day at New Jersey Motorsports Park (my husband came too :D), which I highly recommend. It was great to get to know her a little better and increase my confidence a bit from where it was due to my accident.

trackday triumph speed triple street triple R 

 

Long Distance

This is Not a touring bike. But, some of us aren't ready to call it a day and buy an F700Gs. Frankly, I don't know if I'll ever be ready for that. I'm still in love with twisty riding, and I can't imagine being as happy on a touring bike in my size. I also would be sad to lose the *power*. Once again my husband is right, it's very hard to drop back down to something less powerful when you're used to 100+ hp.

2012_triumph_street_tripleR

For now I'm making it work for me. The biggest impact for me is the lack of windscreen. Although to be fair, the SV650S barely had one anyhow. As with any bike lacking a windscreen or fairing, prepare to be whipped around a bit and with a strong headwind. It was especially tiring when I rode for 3 hours on the highway in the pouring rain (150 miles). That was NOT fun. I was exhausted when I got to my hotel that afternoon, it felt like I'd ridden all day in 100 degree heat.

At least my booty is more comfortable. The seat is a vast improvement over the SV stock seats. Holy smokes, I can ride a good half day without going numb. Granted, I have a very flat one so that definitely doesn't help. But, this seat is noticeably more comfortable most likely because of how much wider it is.

triumph_street_triple_kriega

With the Kriega Packs loaded on the rear, I've got 40 liters of space. This is plenty of room for me on a 4-6 day trip. But I try to pack light and never camp. I love big, comfy beds and hot showers, what can I say?If you're planning on camping, you'll probably need a Givi top box as well. And I never travel far without a tankbag to give me just that extra bit of storage space.

I would also add that overall mileage on this bike isn't that much less than the SV650. I think my record on the SV was 200miles on a tank before it was fully dry. On this one, I can do about 180. I haven't pushed it to the edge but I got 170 miles with ~3/4 gallon left. The tank size is virtually the same, but sadly fuel economy goes down with the extra power.

For even more comfort in colder temps, I've installed Oxford Heaterz Premium Grips and a lead to wear my WarmnSafe 65W Heated liner. A quick warning about installing the Oxfords. You'll have to shave down the throttle tube (it's plastic) so the grips can fit over the handgrip. You only have to do this on the throttle side.  There's plenty of power for these two accessories, but I'm not sure how much additional power is available for fancier headlights or turn signals which might be future upgrades.

sena_smh10R_shoei_qwest

Speaking of upgrades, here's my short wishlist:

  • FP Racing shorty levers
  • Better headlights: not a high priority
  • Sargent seat: not a super high priority
  • Ram mount: most parts ordered, just need to get the proper iPhone holder Done!
  • SW Motech Kobra Handguards with integrated turn signals: WANT this so bad. But there's a questionable issue as to whether it'll fit my bike or not. Must do more research.
  • Reflective rim tape: I loved having the red reflective tape on the SV, so I definitely want some on this bike. I'm thinking black reflective.
  • Rear fender eliminator: I love the look of a fenderless rear but I DON'T want to give up the visibility from my turn signals. So I guess I need to find some bright turn signals as well! Goldie 2.0 has a Rizoma setup.

Phew, that's a long list of farkles. Add to that the sad realization my Shoei is 5 years old this June. Urgh. Time for another upgrade :D

I love my new bike, I can't express that enough. If you're looking for an upgrade from a sub500cc bike prepare for something that isn't quite what you're expecting with the additional power from this deceptive "middleweight".

But if you've decided to end your relationship with your SV650 / Ninja 650 / FZ6, then it might just be exactly what you're looking for.

Update!

Unfortunately, a month after I wrote my review, I totaled Goldie 1.0. But the really really good news is that I was able to acquire an identical Goldie 2.0 which is the exact same bike, same year, same color. The pictures of me on the Dragon above and doing my track day is with Goldie 2.0. 

I wanted to mention that in August 2015, I was able to drop 18lbs of weight from the bike by adding a Competition Werkes low mount exhaust:

2012_triumph_streettriple_competitionwerkes gp cobra black

 

I also removed the rear footpeg mounts and subsequently have a lighter bike along with a much cooler butt! Those high mount exhausts were blowing so much hot air on my thighs/butt, they were killing me. After just 5 minutes of engine warmup, they would be blowing so much height underneath my seat. Not so bad in the Fall/Winter but miserable in the Summer. I felt a huge difference in warmer weather and it's far more comfortable to ride with especially on longer trips. I highly recommend it!

 

Sportbike Touring Tips

it's me! I LOVE touring on my sportbike. I'm not old enough to transition to a full touring bike just yet.

So I've shared my tips on how to comfortably tour on your sportbike since it's probably not the most comfortable or smartest option when you think about long distance + motorcycles.

Read my full article in the October issue of Sportbikes Inc Magazine, Page 106. It's 100% FREE and easy to read in any browser. Enjoy!!

Ride Review: Suzuki DRZ 400 SM. That Was Tall!

Suzuki DRZ400SM Last week I rode a DRZ 400 SM. Wow, I learned so much and rode the tallest bike I've ever ridden. Yes, You Can.

I learned that a Suzuki Drz400sm isn't in my near future. Not because it was really tall (35"+!) but I didn't like the way it rode. I'm still very much a sporty girl and love the handling, feedback and stability that modern sportbikes offer. If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for twisties and don't care much about straight lines either. This bike was definitely a demon in the twisties, but in a different way.

I only had the chance to ride it for one afternoon, down to Alice's Restaurant from San Francisco. We took a very simple ride route, a little slab to get to the twisties!:

  • 280 South --> 92 West
  • 35 South (twisties begin)
  • 84 West
  • Quick stop at Stage Road in San Gregorio, then South on Stage Road
  • Left on Pescadero Road to 84 East back to Alices

Although short but sweet, it was heavenly. We left around 12, so it was too late of a start to head further south towards Boulder Creek as planned. Oh well, that's what Christmas vacation will be for! So my friend generously let me borrow his DRZ 400 SM and my husband rode another friend's KTM RC8 (we have awesome friends!!), and my girlfriend joined us on her DR650.

I definitely wouldn't have ridden a heavier bike of the same height. Since it was skinny and lightweight, I felt fairly confident that I could handle it. But to be completely honest, I probably would've said no if I took a minute to think about what I was going to ride.

I'm glad I didn't think about it too much and just rode my brains out. I also didn't wear my big girl boots which didn't make it much easier but I guess I like a challenge.

2005 Suzuki DRZ 400 SM

Here are some specs for the one I rode:

  • Dry Weight: 295lbs
  • Wheelbase: 57in
  • Seat Height: 35in; with a Gel Seat for a 1" shorter seat height
  • Ground Clearance: 10in
  • Unlowered suspension
  • Shinko Trailmaster Tires; these tires are taller, so they counteracted the gel seat
  • Click here for a full list of specs 

If there's one thing I love about riding different bikes, it's that I usually learn something new. On this bike, I had to relearn how to make my lines. I was having trouble through corners and my friend reminded me that I can't ride it like a sport bike because it isn't one. It's a supermoto! After she gave me a couple tips, it was a lot easier to stay smooth through the corners and increase my entry and exit speeds.

I quickly learned that in the twisties, I still love the way street bikes perform and am not sure if a smaller supermoto is in my future. I definitely love how mid weight supermotos like KTM's 690 SMR and 690 Duke feel and would love to have one someday.

I'm a bit on the fence about this bike, I mean besides the fact that it's annoyingly tall. I loved the riding position and how far I could see up ahead. You're almost the same height as SUVs so it's really easy to see down the road. Of course, the riding position was really comfortable. I did have to jump on the highway to get down to Alice's but doing 75mph was easy.

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When you ride something that's barely tall enough to throw one leg over, curbs suddenly become your best friend. As soon as I'd see one at a stoplight or freeway offramp, it was always convenient to pull up next to one and rest my wayward foot. My right leg is typically rather useless because I can only get my toes down, but on this one it was *completely* useless! I also avoided dirt and uneven pavement and always got off the bike to park it. Luckily I was able to balance it just perfectly to hop right and get my right foot down to kick the sidestand down with my left foot. Whew!

 

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It's just too bad I didn't have time to throw a leg over my friend's RC8!

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At the end of the day, I feel like I accomplished a lot and rode something I never expected to be able to ride. If someone told me that someday I'd be able to throw a leg over a bike with almost 35" seat height I would've told them they were nuts.

I guess the moral of the story is, don't think about it, just do it. (Of course, after you've perfected your braking and balancing techniques :D)

Riding a Suzuki SV650 v. the SV650S

IMG_5329.jpg

After spending a few months on my new ride, I thought I would share my experiences riding almost the same bike.  This is my second SV and my fifth motorcycle since I started riding bikes in 2004. My previous S model was with me for 4 years before I sold it last Christmas before moving to Philadelphia. The main reason I bought that one was because I hated the Kawasaki z750s I had at that time. I made the mistake of buying it because it looked cute and I did very little research on it. As a result, I only rode it 6,000 miles in 3 years! Sad. Before I tell you some of these differences, I think it's important that you know where I was coming from before I bought my first SV.

2006_kawasaki_z750s

Once I found the S model, I was in love. Definitely love at first sight, and first ride.

2003_suzuki_sv650s_livermoreCA

So that brings me to what made the S model so awesome. Here are a list of features that I noticed and right off the bat and learned to love:

  • Falls easily into corners, with very little input
  • Much lower center of gravity; the fuel tank felt like it was under me not in front of me
  • Responsive to my lower body's input; when I used my legs and feet to lean into the corner the bike responded quickly and easily.
  • Figured out how to use my body position to lean into the corners
  • Almost 2" shorter seat height! I can barely remember how I rode that thing.
  • 50lbs lighter

Toward the end of our relationship, I grew to hate the aggressive riding position because I enjoyed taking long rides (150+ miles) and long trips (1,000+ miles). This bike was killing me at the end, although I thought heavily about putting risers on it I simply never got around to it. In hindsight, I should've sold it for the other version.

2006 sv650 naked blue

Which brings me to the differences I've noticed about the non S model.

  • Steering input; feels different but just as easy to fall into a corner with. I can't quite say if it's better or worse, it's just different.
  • More comfortable; if I hadn't almost ruined my back on my last trip with the S version, I would've gotten another one. I'm really loving the almost upright riding position. Of course the seat is still stock, so still massively uncomfortable after 30-40 minutes but we'll (and hubby's speed triple) be refoaming our seats very soon.
  • Stiffer front end; I think because there isn't a windscreen and large fairing up front that it's lighter, so the front doesn't feel as soft. I feel like the front isn't as 'bouncy' when I come to a stop. Whereas the rear is definitely stiffer and I need to drop the preload and then at some point, get a shock that's a bit softer. Even with the awesome Pilot Power tires I have, my weight doesn't compress the rear shock enough to give me stability in corners. If I throttle too hard then the rear end slides a bit.
  • No windscreen; Oy. Riding into the wind at highway speeds is definitely more work. I definitely need a small windscreen of some kind, hoping that I can find a Puig that will work and not look too awkward.
  • More seat space; since the toolkit is stored in a different spot so that means I can shove my rain liners and a pair of gloves under the seat. YES!
  • Torque; I have a Delkevic shorty exhaust and it's Loud. It has a low rumble, which I appreciate so hopefully I'm not pissing off any of my neighbors. They say some aftermarket exhausts add a little power. I really can't tell if it's the noise that's creating the illusion of more power.

Everything else is the same; gas mileage (although the fuel light blinks now, instead of just staying on), seat height, weight, overall performance.

Overall, I would recommend the non S version, because it's a much more comfortable bike to ride vs. the S. You're more upright and almost in a supermoto-ish riding position. Feet are right beneath you and it feels natural and easy.

 

How I Found My Motorcycle

When my husband and I left San Francisco, not only did we leave behind my family and friends, but we also left our beloved motorcycles. I was a little more adamant about selling mine than my husband was. But after a good conversation with a friend, he told me that I should just sell it. Given that it wasn't a very expensive bike, it would be far too much trouble to maintain it in CA while living in PA. After all, it's just a motorcycle. It's not a person, and in the  It was a little hard at first, but after I made the decision to sell it, I felt like it was the right decision all along. And I'm so glad I did.  

suzuki sv650 triumph sprint rs lucifer orange

When I finally made the decision to sell, it was definitely in my mind that I would find a new motorcycle to love. There are so many to choose from, after all. When I started the search, I had my heart set on something more upright along the lines of a Supermoto ("Sumo"). I was hoping for a used Suzuki DRZ 400SM, something fun for city living. I should preface that I am a whopping 5'1", with a 28.5" inseam.  My inseam has allowed me to ride far more motorcycles than I could've ever imagined, including these. I also knew that that with a 35" stock seat height, I would have to look into lowering a little bit if necessary. However given how light they are, I really wasn't expecting it to be an issue.

If you've never ridden a Sumo, it's one of the most exhilarating experiences you'll have on a motorcycle. Completely upright, like a dirtbike but with street sensibilities (suspension, braking, tires, etc. optimized for street use). It handles like a giant bicycle! But with plenty of power. Certainly not designed for distance or long hauls, but I thought I would manage for a while without something that was touring worthy. Apparently, I was wrong.

After looking online for a few weeks, I realized that DRZs are just as @*(%*)! expensive in Philly as they were in the San Francisco Bay Area. Damn. So then I decided to alter my search a bit. I found some DR650's that were definitely less expensive. Dual Sporting is something I definitely want to get into. I still love street riding but have been inspired by many friends who have ridden all over the world on them and have had such great adventures. Having ridden a DR650, I knew exactly what to expect.

I started my search with a very low budget, ~$3,000. I actually found a few of DRs that were close but I waited too long and they were no longer for sale. After missing out on these, I decided to look at naked SV's. If you aren't familiar with the SV650, they were made in the full faired (very forward, low bars) and naked (very upright, single handlebar) versions. My last one was an S and I grew to hate the extreme riding position for long trips. As someone who enjoys long, 150+ mile rides, I knew that wouldn't work again.

So I figured why not search for Nakeds? They seem to be less popular here, and I couldn't resist the condition this one was in. Searching Craigslist, I found this beauty. And I couldn't stop thinking about her! Especially given what great shape it was in. Barely ridden, in practically perfect shape and well taken care of. A 2006, less than 7,000 miles on it and just a hair over my budget. I guess I love street riding too much to give it up just yet. As excited as I was about the idea of a DR, the idea of another SV excited me more! Especially a Naked version with a far more comfortable riding position. And funny enough, the riding position reminded me of a powerful supermoto (2009 KTM 690 SMR) that I had the opportunity to ride once before.

2006 sv650 naked blue

 

I'm familiar with the engine, maintenance and overall care. Parts are inexpensive and plentiful, it's easy to find a mechanic to work on them and I know I can ride a few hundred miles a day on it. I've already started my long list of farkles to upgrade, and can't wait to get it totally ready for my first long weekend trip.

When I went to look at the bike, here are the questions I had ready for the previous owner:

  • Are you the first or second owner?
  • Has it ever been crashed?
  • What upgrades have you put on it, and do you still have the stock parts?
  • Do you have any maintenance records for the life of the bike?
  • Do you have the title?

I was very happy with the asking price, as I thought it was well below what others were going for so I didn't plan to negotiate on that point. Overall, I went with my instinct when I met the owner, Jerry. He was very nice, honest and truthful about the bike and why he was selling it. It just felt right, I didn't get the feeling he was trying to cover anything up or tell me something that wasn't true. When I asked him for his address to come see the bike, he was a little apprehensive about giving strangers his address. I told him that I totally understood. To make him feel better, I told him where I worked and he immediately responded positively, saying that he was familiar with the site. I also shared my blog with him which also added to my credibility.

The only rough part for me was understanding the way Pennsylvania handles title transfers and the way things work here. But Jerry was really nice and even found a late night notary that we could go to after I got off work. In this state, you have to go to a Notary together to sign off on the title and process the paperwork for the DMV. There are small businesses that specialize in this service so you don't have to go to the DMV. It was a fairly quick process, and 20 minutes later I was riding home.

I'm super excited about finding new roads and taking her new places. I even went on my first group ride with my new riding friends at Revzilla. In the end, I'm very happy with my decision, it ended up being the right one even though I never thought I would be back on an SV.

suzuki sv650n ktm 990smt revzilla

2013 Suzuki Motorcycles

2013 Suzuki SFV650 Motorcycle SV650 SV650S Naked Sportbike

Well, at least it looks much better than before. Maybe because it's a dark color? That lame white/blue concoction when they first introduced the SFV in 2009 was horrific! I don't know if they were trying to appeal to female riders or what, but it was hideous. 

I haven't ridden one, and I'd certainly love to, just to compare it to the older generation models. I absolutely positively LOVE my SV. It does a little bit of everything really well.  Just the fact that the SFV only has a 3.1 gallon (the SV has 4.5!) tank is enough for me to not like it. Not sport touring friendly. That's what's so awesome about the SV. It's a great touring bike! 

I'm so glad I have one now, because if I had to buy a new Suzuki today, the only one I would consider (not necessarily buy, but just consider) buying is a VStrom. 

Luckily there are plenty of used SVs to go around....

You can check out the entire 2013 lineup for Suzuki on their website. Meh.

Motorcycles for Short Riders

Motorcycles for Short Riders

Motorcycles for Short Riders aka Tips for Success if You're Short

Rant. Marketing Motorcycles to Women

Suzuki Motorcycles Women GearChic

How can manufacturers do a better job of marketing to women? I don't really know the answer to this, but something I'd personally love to see is a woman of color (let's be honest, we hardly see women of color, fully clothed anyway, in these ads), FULLY geared up. I don't care if it's a cruiser, sportbike, dual sport, dirt, standard, supermoto, chopper, whatever.  Just show me something ELSE than the same tired bikinis, babes, and squids. 

After reading this article on the Huffington Post about Bic's stupid marketing campaign by making a pen for Her (WTF?? I didn't realize I was having such a hard time writing this whole time using my man pen), I thought about what a horrible job motorcycle manufacturers are doing 'trying' to market to us. Because they're not marketing to us, they're marketing to your male friend, husband or boyfriend to try and get you to ride. Why not market to us directly? Stop ducking the issue and bring it to me.  

And seeing a woman in a half helmet wearing absolutely nothing in a tv ad doesn't count. Advertising motorcycles to women should move women forward, and inspire them to gear up or try something new. Whether it's a basic rider course, a track day, a dirtbike class, a supermoto school or an advanced street course. How about prioritizing safety over sexy?

Frankly, I'm sick of it. I look forward to the day where women are in charge of these marketing campaigns. A day where companies are willing to take a risk to put out a positive message to (potential and existing) women riders. And PLEASE PLEASE put down the pink pens, pencils, crayons, whatever it is you idiots use to 'color' these ads. I personally hate pink, and although not all women hate the color, it's unfair to label us all as pink lovers. We're not men, we aren't distracted by bright colors and boobs. Stop it. 

Guess what, it's not 1950 anymore. You don't have to spend billions of dollars advertising in print ads. How many of us get our news online these days? 

I know our numbers are only ~20%, but one way to get our number to 50% is to present meaningful, positive change in the way women are portrayed as motorcyclists. And stop spreading the old, tired message of the 'biker lifestyle' whatever that is. 

Interesting Facts: MIC Women Rider Fact Sheet, courtesy of the Motorcycle Industry Council

ps. this post is in no way endorsed, promoted or encouraged by suzuki. I just happen to adore my SV650 :)