Today I’d like to tell you about the bikes I’ve owned, and give you a little review on each from the perspective of a 5’3″ 130lb rider.
I started thinking about this while writing a post for RiderzBlog on learning to ride tall bikes when you are short, and I ran through the list of bikes I’ve owned in the seven years I’ve been riding. One (very small) cruiser, a sport tourer, a naked bike, a dirt bike, and a sport bike.
1. 2002 Honda Rebel 250 (27″, 330lbs wet)
My Rebel was my first bike ever, and the perfect starter bike for a small rider. I bought it because it was just like the one I rode during the MSF course, a Kawi Eliminator. The Rebel was small and light , perfect for learning. The Rebel had the added benefit of not being flashy enough to attract thieves, a big advantage in San Francisco, especially since I had to park it in the alley behind my apartment building. My spark plugs were regularly stolen, but my bike never disappeared.
2. 2011 Kawasaki Ninja 650R (31.7″, 465lbs)
Bike number two. It was much taller, had a lot more power, and was much sportier. I would absolutely recommend it for a smaller rider – it has a low center of gravity and a narrow seat, making it manageble for those of us with shorter legs. Buying this bike was the beginning of the end of my days as a timid rider. For one thing, this bike could go more than 70mph. Once I got a taste of speed (you know, 80mph…) I liked it. And this bike is actually pretty torquey at the low end, so feeling that power during acceleration was quite a rush. Sold to a guy when I bought my next bike….
3. 2013 Triumph Street Triple R (32.8″, 401lbs wet)
My third bike was also an upright bike, but with even more power and a racier engine, just like the one in the Daytona 675R. The Street Triple is a ton of fun on the street and is a decent bike for a smaller rider. Just watch out for the turning radius, it is terrible. My only tip over on this bike happened while making a U-turn. I did many multi-day trips on this bike and completed my SaddleSore 1000 Iron Butt Association qualifying ride on it to boot. I also did two track days on it before I decided that 1) I loved track days and 2) I wanted a real sport bike with which to do track days.
4. 200(6?) Honda CRF230 (34.1″, 250lbs wet)
Around the same time I bought the Street Triple I started getting interested in dirt riding, and bought a CRF230. This bike was just a little too tall for me to ever get comfortable on, and turned out to have a mechanical issue that resulted in the bike not reliably slipping into first gear. I was told that you don’t need first gear with a dirt bike, but as a newbie, I wanted first gear. It made me feel safe. Kind of like being able to put both feet on the ground. I sold the 230 and haven’t bought another dirt bike yet.
5. 2008 Yamaha YZF-R6 (32″, 413lbs wet)
My beloved R6. This bike just gets better and better the more I ride it. It is definitely a bit tall (32″) and I get into trouble with it in the parking lot sometimes, but for the most part, it is manageable. I would not recommend it as a starter bike for anyone, especially not someone short. It is too much fun on the street, and the perfect track bike to boot. And I love the color – that is always important, right?
After ThrottleGirl was born, I just wasn’t riding enough to justify keeping the Street Triple and the R6. So…. I sold the Street Triple. It was my long distance bike and my occasional street bike. Since I didn’t forsee doing any long distance rides in the near future with ThrottleGirl being a baby and all, and I still wanted to enjoy track days on a sport bike, I kept the R6 and let the Streety go. I miss it and everything it signified, but I still have the memories of that distinct triple engine sound and of all the adventures we had together.
Bikes will come and go, but memories are forever.
Which one was my favorite? It’s a tough call. I’d have to say the R6. Or maybe the Street Triple. Though I can see myself buying another Ninja 650R one of these days… Sigh. Do I really have to choose just one?