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On being short...

JAT and "short list":

BMW RTs and GSs are just about the most hostile bikes made for the short of
leg.  Only the new GS Adventure is worse.   Why on earth would a short
person buy one of these bikes?  There are a lot of other good choices out
there with lower saddles built in.

Now that I have that off my chest, there are things that can be done, albeit
with a great deal of trouble.

First is to use alternative suspensions.  Stock Ohlins and a lot of other
aftermarket shocks allow you to change the height of the shock without
altering the spring length.   This is really good because you can use the
full stroke of the suspension while changing the reach to the ground.
Works has been mentioned as catering to the shorter rider with modified

Second, of course, is to lower the preload setting on the stock rear shock.
This will work so long as you don't start to encounter bottoming of the
suspension.   Suspensions are designed to work in the upper middle of their
travel. (about 2/3 of the stroke extended)  You need to be aware that you'll
lose some suspension travel when you lower the preload too much.  There are
ways of measuring static sag that are helpful, lots of shock websites have
this information.

When you back off the preload, make sure to back off the rebound damping
(screw on the bottom of the shock on the left side of the bike) a bit as
well.  If you leave the damping the same and you back out the spring The
bike will ride harsher because the shock starts doing the work that the
spring used to do...That is a bad thing.  Ouch!  It is not only
uncomfortable but the bike will tend to pick up it's rear wheel in bumps
instead of staying planted to the road.   This does not help handling in
bumpy turns one bit.

READ that little book that came with your BMW.  The section on shocks tells
you about the rebound damping adjustment.   It does make a difference and it
is not intuitive in the way that it works.   Turn the adjustment screw
clockwise until it stops.  This is full hard.  Back it off 2 turns.  That's
full soft.   You can back the screw out about 10 more turns, but it won't
change anything beyond the first two turns (from memory).

You want to use the softest setting you can will that will keep the bike
from pogo-sticking in the back.  If it's too soft, your front wheel will
want to go straight too much when you try to turn the bike.    The ideal
rebound damping setting depends on the amount of spring preload you dial in.

Lower seats have also been mentioned.   This also makes a lot of sense
because it's a shorter reach to the pegs too.  The only problem here is that
for the seat to be lower, there has to be less padding in it.  You're
getting a lot closer to riding on the frame.    Ouch!   If you're light
weight, this may not be a problem, but heavier people with shorter legs
won't like this solution much.

Back to my first point, BMW makes a nice bike called the R1200 Cruiser.
It's shorter seat might be just the ticket for the inseam challenged.  They
can be set up for additional wind protection and storage and they are
certainly capable of long miles on the road.  There are also some kick-ass
Hondas...the V-4 Saber comes to mind.  Gobs of power and good handling with
a reach that nearly anyone can handle.   Checking reviews on some of the new
"metric cruisers" makes me want to try them out.  Yamaha has a new one that
not only looks quite nice, but seems to handle and go very well too.

There's more than one way to skin a cat..

- -TB
30" inseam; '04 RT; Sargent seat on middle seat setting.  Can't flat foot it
and don't care.  This is where I like it.  Ohlins suspension lower than
stock in front and higher in back...corners on rails, but center and side
stand are too tall.


End of oilheads-digest V1 #12