Did you know that Filipinos are the second-shortest people in Southeast Asia? In a study conducted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations DNA, Filipinos fall second only to Indonesians in this regard. The average height for a Filipino male is 162cm (just over 5’3”), and 150cm (or 4’9”) for females.
Considering how genetics haven’t exactly blessed us with height, it makes sense that big bikes are seen as aspirational vehicles here in the Philippines. If the cost alone doesn’t qualify them, then their typically tall seats sure do. Still, this doesn’t stop local riders from swinging a leg over these metal behemoths. In fact, a good number of big bike riders aren’t particularly tall. If, like them, you refuse to let height dictate what bikes you can ride, we salute you. But if you’re just starting out or still on the fence about hopping on a tall motorcycle, these tips might help:
1) Make the bike fit
If you have the budget for it, check if the manufacturer offers a lower seat option. Many big bikes these days have this, whether it be a thinner seat or lowered suspension. If the option isn’t available, you can find lowering link kits or similar items in aftermarket shops.
2) Build leg strength
A big bike is substantially heavier than your average scooter or underbone. It takes a good amount of leg power to hold it up in traffic, haul it in and out of parking spaces, and pick it up after dropping. While you won’t be lifting the entire 400-500lbs weight of the bike, strengthening your legs with squats and other exercises can improve handling it at a stop. After all, if you lose balance while still adjusting to your big bike, a strong leg could mean the difference between saving the bike and falling over.
3) Hang your butt off the seat
To reach the ground easier, master the dance of hanging one butt cheek off the side of the bike. When coming to a stop, shift your right butt cheek all the way onto the left side of the seat, keep your right foot on the right peg, and stretch your left foot as far down to the ground as possible. This will allow you to get a few more inches out of your leg, as well as most of your left foot, if not the whole thing, onto the ground for better stability at a stop.
4) Finesse the clutch and rear brake
In slow-speed maneuvers, use a combination of the clutch and rear brake to control your speed, especially on a big bike. Using the front brake in slow situations can be dangerous, as it can cause the front end to dip, making you lose balance and liable to tip over.
5) Put only your left foot down
Several riding schools and courses teach new riders to only put their left foot down, and for good reason. Not only does doing this give you access to the full length of your left leg, but it also lets you keep your right foot on the rear brake pedal, ensuring that the bike doesn’t roll unexpectedly. The practice also makes you more visible to other motorists via the brake light.
6) Be picky about where you park or stop
Larger motorcycles can be difficult to back into a tight parking spot, so it’s best to find a place that either has enough room to maneuver or for you to just ride the bike out. When stopping, avoid slippery surfaces and uneven terrain that make it harder for your foot to reach the ground. Stay away from manhole covers, puddles, the high side of a curb, the foot of an incline, and bumpy terrain where your foot might end up in a crater.
7) Be confident
As with most things, how well you handle a tall bike is closely tied to your mindset. Riding a bigger bike can be daunting at first, but don’t let doubt and panic get the best of you. As corny as it sounds, believing in yourself is a powerful tool in overcoming the challenges of riding a tall bike, and will help you grow into a better rider.