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Old 06-28-2013, 06:35 PM   #1
ErockPDX OP
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Question Bar Height Question from a Dirt n00b

Hey y'all. I've been searching for a thread on this but nothing consolidated is appearing. If I'm repeating something I apologize--maybe somebody can point me in the right direction.

I'm an experienced on-road rider in several different genres, but new to DS and trail riding and I can't get enough. I love taking my 01 R1150GS on the dirt and am really enjoying learning and developing off-highway skills. What I've been noticing is that as I creep the bars higher and higher, I'm still leaning forward and weighting the front wheel when I'm in the pegs. The good of this is that I'm getting pretty good at controlling washouts and not being afraid of them. The bad of this is that I'm limited in my ability to appropriately shift weight and pilot the damned thing. I'm running Fastways in the low position, Rethal Fat bars, a Pro Taper triple adapter/single spacer, and Rox 2" risers. Went out this weekend, and damned if I'm not STILL too far forward (I'm 6/3" with a 34" inseam). I've been told by an experienced DS rider (a KLR guy, and an inmate), that ideally I should be reaching my bars comfortably with weight centered. Makes sense. So I JUST changed to Fly Racing fatty bars with a sharper sweep and a 3" rise, 3 1/2" Rox Risers, and a 1" handlebar spacer. And it fits. And it's comfortable to ride, even when seated. But damn, that's a lot of height.

Am I trying to make a bike fit me that doesn't?
Am I trying to make a bike with road architecture do something it doesn't want to do?
Am I going about this all wrong?
Am I asking too many questions?

Humbly looking for input. Thanks!

Eric
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Old 06-29-2013, 06:10 AM   #2
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Hope you don't mind me piggybacking a question to go along with yours (which I would like to see the answers/advice offered). In addition to what you asked, how do you determine fit while standing. Is it purely subjective or am I just asking the same thing? Again not wanting to thread jack, but I figure this question goes along with what you are asking (probably the same thing just worded differently). Hope you don't mind.
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Old 06-29-2013, 07:42 AM   #3
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Some of the bigger bikes that are intended for mostly on-road mileage may not be layed out the best for dirt; I don't know that particular bike well enough to know. It's a bars-seat-pegs thing. (Typically the pegs will be further forward than would be optimal for dirt.)

But fit while standing, when in a comfortable neutral attack position with knees slightly bent and elbows perhaps a little more bent, you should not be hanging back from, or leaning forward against, the bars. You DO lean forward or back as called for by conditions, but the initial position shouldn't be all one way or the other.

Height and fore/aft position of the bars will vary by rider's proportion and preference. But tall guys will often need risers and/or a taller bend so they don't have to hunch their back to reach way down to the bars. If you keep having to move the bars forward, it may be that the pegs are too far forward. But you might not be able to do anything about that.
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Old 06-29-2013, 08:03 AM   #4
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I like a more relaxed standing position on my DS adventure bikes vs my KTMs. I dont ride the DS bikes as aggressively as the KTM but still stand most of the time off -road.
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:08 AM   #5
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Jon, no problem. Totally relates.

I appreciate the input all--thanks so much. What I'm finding is that my CRF450X has an architecture that is much more conducive to standing up (DUH.) than my GS. I'm hearing that I'm going about this the right way? The position described above is exactly what this monstrosity attached to my triple clamp now allows...but I feel a little ape-hangery. Perhaps I'll swap my DS jacket for a leather vest and my Cycras for tassles and I'll feel more confident.
That said, it feels great now, and I'm able to achieve and maintain a neutral position, not weighting the bars, which will surely allow my inner dirt ninja to thrive.

Are KTM DS bikes stanced more upright? They sure look it...
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Old 06-29-2013, 09:55 AM   #6
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Real dirtbikes, as in classes 450 and under (and 5xx when it's a stroked or bored 450 model) are made specifically for riding offroad and the ergonomics are designed as such. Riding standing up on them makes sense and it's second nature due to the design. Riding sitting down for long miles generally is uncomfortable compared to a moto designed for the road.

Bikes over that size are either a compromise (650 class) or high-mileage road bikes stuffed into an offroad-ish chassis (990ADV, 950SE, F800GS, etc) that are sometimes comfortable to stand up offroad but are still suited for long seated road rides. What you trade in stand up comfort you get back in seated comfort.

Bikes bigger than that (1150GS, 1200GS, Tiger 1200, etc) are meant for the road. The compromise value is so high on these bikes that riding them offroad can only be seen as a hassle for most experienced offroad riders (by this I mean offroad that is more than just dirt or gravel roads) - that's why you see regular exoduses from the 800-1200cc classes into smaller bikes like the husaberg 570, ktm 690, various brands of 650, and down into the wr250 and crf250l bikes that people setup for adventure riding where technical offroad ability is required. Big bikes are comparatively not as fun offroad; slow, heavy, unweildly, and tire out the rider faster than a smaller bike.

If you want to learn how to ride offroad go buy a real dirtbike - try a 250, you'll be surprised at how light it feels. Riding a >1000cc bike that's >600lbs when you're just starting to get the feel of dirt is asking for accidents and unnecessary injury.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by señormoto View Post
Real dirtbikes, as in classes 450 and under (and 5xx when it's a stroked or bored 450 model) are made specifically for riding offroad and the ergonomics are designed as such. Riding standing up on them makes sense and it's second nature due to the design. Riding sitting down for long miles generally is uncomfortable compared to a moto designed for the road.

Bikes over that size are either a compromise (650 class) or high-mileage road bikes stuffed into an offroad-ish chassis (990ADV, 950SE, F800GS, etc) that are sometimes comfortable to stand up offroad but are still suited for long seated road rides. What you trade in stand up comfort you get back in seated comfort.

Bikes bigger than that (1150GS, 1200GS, Tiger 1200, etc) are meant for the road. The compromise value is so high on these bikes that riding them offroad can only be seen as a hassle for most experienced offroad riders (by this I mean offroad that is more than just dirt or gravel roads) - that's why you see regular exoduses from the 800-1200cc classes into smaller bikes like the husaberg 570, ktm 690, various brands of 650, and down into the wr250 and crf250l bikes that people setup for adventure riding where technical offroad ability is required. Big bikes are comparatively not as fun offroad; slow, heavy, unweildly, and tire out the rider faster than a smaller bike.

If you want to learn how to ride offroad go buy a real dirtbike - try a 250, you'll be surprised at how light it feels. Riding a >1000cc bike that's >600lbs when you're just starting to get the feel of dirt is asking for accidents and unnecessary injury.
Well, my CRF450X is a real dirtbike, and that's what I'm riding trails with and really learning dirt technique..I went to that because I bought a DR200 to ride in the dirt and quickly was wanting more performance and trail-oriented architecture.

I have the 1150gs and love it for a number of reasons. I realize that it's not designed for trail use, but what's to say I can't learn to ride it well in challenging terrain? I'm not learning all of my dirt skills on it, just applying them as I learn them...
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ErockPDX View Post
Well, my CRF450X is a real dirtbike, and that's what I'm riding trails with and really learning dirt technique..I went to that because I bought a DR200 to ride in the dirt and quickly was wanting more performance and trail-oriented architecture.

I have the 1150gs and love it for a number of reasons. I realize that it's not designed for trail use, but what's to say I can't learn to ride it well in challenging terrain? I'm not learning all of my dirt skills on it, just applying them as I learn them...
Sounds like you have a great bike to learn dirt on; 450x is a great bike, great gearing, nice suspension, nice motor.

Nothing says you can't learn to ride the 1150gs in challenging terrain, but you'll get more mileage out of learning to ride technical trails on the 450x and then jumping on the 1150gs after you feel comfortable with the terrain. However, the definition of challenging changes depending on the bike. What will feel easy on the 450 could be quite challenging with the weight and handling differences of the 1150.

Back to the stand up position on the 1150gs, certainly doable and easy - just mess around and experiment with different spacer and riser setups until you get what feels like a comfortable mix for road and offroad. Nothing more complicated than that.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by señormoto View Post
you'll get more mileage out of learning to ride technical trails on the 450x and then jumping on the 1150gs after you feel comfortable with the terrain.
This is a gem. Thanks. At this point, it feels like all riding is created equal from a training and skills standpoint for dirt. But keeping this in mind will help direct the rides I choose to do, particularly when I only have half a day here or there. I can throw the Honda in the truck and hit the trails just as easily as taking the BMW on a long DS ride, 70% pavement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by señormoto View Post
Back to the stand up position on the 1150gs, certainly doable and easy - just mess around and experiment with different spacer and riser setups until you get what feels like a comfortable mix for road and offroad. Nothing more complicated than that.
Thanks. It was just starting to seem really goofy, but what's comfortable is comfortable.
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Old 06-29-2013, 10:40 AM   #10
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One of my sons is 6'3". He rides a KTM 450 racer. He got big tall risers too. I'm only 5'9" and have always left my bikes stock. When I stand I lean forward and it seems OK to me. I ride dual sports.
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Old 06-29-2013, 11:05 AM   #11
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So from what I'm reading it takes a combination of bend height and risers? Is there a way to get a good estimate of what is needed for a given rider? For example, if I was to put the bike on a center stand and get in a standing position, would it be possible to get a reasonably close measurement of what's needed? If not, it seems that you could spend a lot of money getting a proper fit.
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Old 06-29-2013, 12:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonU View Post
So from what I'm reading it takes a combination of bend height and risers? Is there a way to get a good estimate of what is needed for a given rider? For example, if I was to put the bike on a center stand and get in a standing position, would it be possible to get a reasonably close measurement of what's needed? If not, it seems that you could spend a lot of money getting a proper fit.
Yes to all.

I put the bike on the stand, stand in the position described above (neutral, relaxed, knees slightly bent), then I close my eyes, reassess balance and reach for where I would naturally put my hands on the bars. Then I open my eyes without moving or shifting weight and take note of five things:

1) The height of my hands, relative to the top clamp
2) The fore-aft position of my hands, relative to the top clamp
3) The width of my hands, relative to the controls as they exist (mine were slightly narrower than the stock setup)
4) The fore-aft angle of my hands, relative to the extant bar sweep (Renthal Fat Bars were a little too straight, putting excess strain on my radius, whereas the stock GS bars were a little too sharp)
5) The pitch of my hands relative to the extant control/lever position

Noting items 3-4, I bought new bars (remembering that they are easily cut down if needed). I took the rise of the new bars into account and started adding. With the 01 R1150GS, I found the stock bars heavy and unwieldy--aluminum fatties REALLY makes it seem more nimble (again, to me). The stock top clamp has cast 7/8 clamps, so I needed a spacer that is a 1 1/8" clamp. Pro Tapers are solid and $39.95ish...add an inch.

The remaining task is to make up the required measurements obtained with items 1-2...I can't recommend Rox Risers enough. They give you lots of room to futz with, adapt 7/8 to 1 1/8 if needed, come in several lengths, are lightweight, and, IMO, look sharp. Make sure, when ordering, that you specify length and fitment--you can choose both the lower diameter and upper clamp diameter (i.e., 7/8 by 7/8, 7/8 by 1 1/8, 1 1/8 by 1 1/8).

Clean your controls from your stock bars, carefully and methodically. Note that your throttle side will likely have to slide off the freed bar. Install your spacers, risers, and new bars. Do the standy-up/eyes closed thingy for a bit and take your time getting the fore-aft rotation of the bars rights, and the height and draw positions sorted out. When happy, tighten to spec and reinstall your controls, taking this moment to address item 5...balance seated access with standing access, keeping safety in both situations firmly in mind. I took this opportunity to cut my levers down, as I tend to always cover the levers when riding and like to keep two fingers on the bars (having just learned about whisky throttle in steep dirt the hard way). Spend the next year reinstalling your heated grips and screwing around with handguards.

The reason I started this thread was to try to assess whether or not what I'm doing is common, and what I'm hearing is that it's the right approach...and I certainly now seem to be in a more commanding position of the big girl. With the GS, I'm very aware that offroad, with my 190 pounds, my input is more of a suggestion, whereas with the CRF, I can actually push it around to get my way.

As always, YMMV, and I'd like to direct your attention to the title of the thread--I'm very much a dirt n00b.
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Old 06-29-2013, 03:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
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... When I stand I lean forward and it seems OK to me. I ride dual sports.
It comes down to what feels comfortable to the rider. "Attack position" does have some forward lean of the torso but for most people that doesn't mean leaning down with too much weight on the bars.
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