Im diligently (and desperately) looking for the perfect first bike for me as an older 5-foot 4-inch female off-road rider wishing to access the trails and decommissioned logging roads on Vancouver Island. I’m a freelance wildlife photographer/videographer so I need a little clearance and the ability to hold the bike up (I weigh about 110 pounds). Any advice would be appreciated.
Cumberland, BC, Canada
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Me too! I am barely 5 feet 1 inch and can’t find any bikes to ride with my friends off-road.
I’ve been moto-bird watching and it actually does work together! I’m 5 feet 4 inches, 145 pounds and 64 years old. I have a disproportionately long torso. Inseam is a whopping 26 inches. It is the floor-crotch-floor (with boots on) measurement that matters. I can’t ride a bike other 5 feet 4 inch or shorter people can. I was 57 when I got started in dual-sporting on a radically lowered WR250R. I still have to slip a bit off the seat to touch the ground on one side at a time. I love that bike but truth is, I fall over when I shouldn’t because it is too tall for me to be able to ‘dab’ the ground. It also weighs 300+ pounds which is harder to dab up with a straighter leg. A dual sport will weigh more than an equivalent dirt bike due to extra equipment. Picking up the WR is barely doable if my adrenaline is still up. I took a great dirt bike class on it and learned a lot. When I asked the instructor for advice he clearly hesitated then apologetically said, “Honestly, a TTR125 big wheel would be just right.” My hopes/dreams/pride was a bit dinged. A year and several falls later I got on a used TTR125 and couldn’t believe how good it felt! It fit me like a glove. The better it feels, the better it fits, the better you can control it in the tricky spots you weren’t really intending to get into but proudly discover you can do (and couldn’t if it were taller, heavier, and harder-sprung)! Smaller is usually lighter with a lower center of gravity, thus much easier to pick up, load, and unload from hauling vehicle. On Oregon dirt logging roads my TTR125 will do 35 mph on a very worn old engine. That is more speed than is rational for the conditions. I have never had it bog down. I can ride it in surprisingly nasty spots now too. The WR250R is getting dusty.True, dirt bikes “sag” when your weight is on it, but you usually are loading your weight from the bike to the feet or you wouldn’t even be putting them down. You have more distance to cover when you’re standing or ‘dabbing’ with a foot than when you are sitting on it. New springs are the hardest thus tallest they will ever be. After a while they relax/settle/ break in to their usual slightly shorter length. The seller should be happy to adjust the rear spring if you ask. I suggest: On a used bike of the same size and model you want, stand straddling the seat both feet flat footed. Now ‘slosh’ its weight back and forth between your knees. If you can get a couple inches of horizontal play your likely a good fit. A good fit gives you the control that builds confidence. That was the real lesson I learned at dirt bike school. Pride has no place here.
As a 5 foot 5 inch 110 pound new dirt bike rider. I have a Yamaha TTR 230. I love it. My boyfriend got it for me for my birthday. I can put both feet on the ground, handle the height and the weight, and it is peppy!
I would recommend the Kawasaki Versys-X 300. Even though it says it has a 32 inch seat height, you can undoubtedly get dog bones (lowering links) to lower the suspension by a couple of inches, and the narrow seat will help with reach. Kawi’s are super reliable—I have a KLR 650 and a Versys 1000!
I recommend the Yamaha TTR 230. It’s mellow and forgiving so great on many terrains! It also has all the power you need to make it up hills and over logs without fear. I used mine in the Big 6 Grand Prix racing series in Southern California and it worked very well. You should be able to pick it up very easily (just learn good form so you never use your back). I’m 5 feet 4 inches and my feet with my boots touched the ground very comfortably.Honda and KTM also have an equal alternative if you prefer those. Each bike sits a little differently. For example, Honda seats tend to be wider so you sit taller, and Yamahas are slimmer.
I just bought a 2019 TW200 Yahama. It has good clearance, a fat knobby rear tire for stability, and is relatively light weight. I’m 60 and plan to ride trails in the mountains with it like how I rode dirt bikes in the creeks and pastures as a kid. It is also street legal with signals, mirrors, lights. Dual-sport!
The Honda CRF250X has served me extremely wel. It’s an off-road bike with an electric start. Since you are only 5 feet 4 inches and I’m 5 feet 9 inches, I would recommend a lowering link—they can lower the seat height 1 or 2 inches which makes a difference.The bike has power, is easy to maintain, and good for the long haul. I’ve done enduros, trail rides, and even did the International Six Days Enduro with Mr. Penton on it.
I am also an older (60+) woman who took up motorcycling earlier this year in the form of a small dual-sport dirt bike. I bought a new Kawasaki KLX 140G and couldn’t be happier with it. I am 5 feet 6 inches, 120 pounds, but with short legs and after the suspension was dropped about an inch, the fit is perfect. I can get both balls of feet on the ground which gives me more confidence, though now that my skills are better, I typically stop with only one foot down.The wheels on the KLX 140G are full size which means the selection of tires is vastly better (particularly important if you need DOT tires to ride it on the road if you choose to do a conversion). The seat is narrow which makes for a better fit. It’s also relatively lightweight compared to the bigger dirt bikes. It is fairly compact, so I put on different pegs that are lower and further back and also raised the bars. I can’t imagine a better starter bike for me, though now I’m eyeing bigger adventure bikes!
I’m a 5-foot-1-inch, 105-pound, 54-year-old who started riding dirt bikes about 5 years ago. After looking and researching several bikes, I ended up with s Suzuki DR 200. It’s a dual-sport and I absolutely love it! We ride along trails in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, and also dirt roads through the mountains. I’m able to touch with the balls of both feet and am very comfortable with that. The bike is very light and easy to handle. Hope this helps you. Happy riding!