If you’re in the market of buying a motorcycle or you’re simply contemplating the idea of picking up this hobby, you probably have about a million other questions running through your head. It’s good to ask questions when approaching something like this.
The biggest question potential new motorcycle riders may ask is the size of motorcycle they should get. More specifically, are they cut out for this hobby according to their physical abilities.
Do you have to be strong to ride a motorcycle? You do not necessarily need to be strong to ride a motorcycle. There are many motorcycles suited for people of all shapes and sizes. The important thing is to make sure you can balance the motorcycle by yourself, mount it without any assistance, and have a firm balance while on the motorcycle. It takes practice more than it takes strength.
People often assume that they’re automatically disqualified from being able to ride a motorcycle because of the lack of strength they may have. Anyone can pick up motorcycle riding, you just need to make sure you have the appropriate practice and the right size of motorcycle.
Why You Don’t Necessarily Need To Be Strong
When you think about driving a car, you don’t think twice about the strength required to operate it. You only think about the skill and practice that is needed in order to drive it safely. A motorcycle is similar though there are a few additional skills needed to ride one.
People picture motorcycles as this big, bulky piece of machinery that would seem almost impossible to move unless you visit the gym several times a week. While there are some motorcycles out there that are more fit “for the fit,” that’s not the case for every kind of motorcycle.
You have to remember that motorcycles essentially started out as motorized bicycles. Obviously they’ve evolved since that time, but there are a lot of motorcycles that are similar to early ones but still look like a motorcycle rather than a bicycle.
Riding and handling a motorcycle takes practice more than it takes strength. While there is some strength involved with the process, knowing how to appropriately maneuver the motorcycle will make it so you don’t have to use much strength at all. The first time you handle a motorcycle may be a little overwhelming because it will seem heavy. But like I said, it’s all about practicing with it to make sure it’s a good fit for you.
Also note that the more you practice with a motorcycle, the more strength you will build that will make riding a motorcycle much easier. You body will soon become conditioned to riding the motorcycle and you will notice over time that along with your practice, your body also get used to handling the motorcycle because of the muscle memory.
With that being said, be sure to understand your limits. If your body doesn’t seem to be conditioning well to a particular motorcycle, perhaps that motorcycle isn’t for you. This isn’t necessarily because you aren’t strong enough to handle it, rather your body type is probably more compatible with another type of motorcycle. Both small and strong people can experience this.
How To Tell If A Motorcycle Is Too Heavy For You
There are several ways you can tell if a motorcycle is simply not the right size for you. This goes for small people riding too large of a bike as well as large people riding too small of a bike. But since we’re talking about the strength required to ride a motorcycle, let’s discuss how to tell if a motorcycle is simply too large for you to be riding.
There are many types of motorcycles to choose from and some are more heavier than others. For example, a touring bike is likely going to be much heavier than a cruiser. You’ll also need to consider the CC’s of the motorcycle engine, or the cubic centimeters. The CC’s of an engine tell you how powerful it is as well as it’s capacity and capabilities. The higher the CC’s, the larger the engine will likely be and therefore will be heavier.
If you’re new to riding a motorcycle, it’s best to always start with a lower CC motorcycle. This applies to everyone. Once you start getting used to the engine’s power and handling the weight of the engine, you can start increasing the engine size by upgrading to the next motorcycle.
Aside from the engine size, there are some other things about the motorcycle itself you’ll want to consider. You should never be riding a motorcycle if you have to use tippy-toes, even if you can use tippy-toes on both feet. You should always be able to use the balls of both of your feet simultaneously when mounted on a motorcycle. For more information about the appropriate height you need to be to ride a motorcycle, see my article here.
Other signs you should be looking for are bruises the motorcycle may cause you, especially on your inner thighs and legs. Occasional bruises in the beginning of motorcycle riding is normal, but if they’re consistent and don’t seem to be getting better, the motorcycle is probably too wide for you. Also notice if you have an overall sense of uneasiness with the motorcycle. You should feel confident when handling a motorcycle.
As a rule of thumb I always stick to, I never buy a motorcycle that I know I will not be able to pick up by myself if it tips on its side. Of course you can always have people help you in a situation like that, but the main point is that you need to be able to handle the motorcycle yourself.
The Best Kind Of Motorcycle For People With Less Strength
If you’re smaller in stature and don’t really find yourself to be “extremely strong,” you can still get a motorcycle. You just need to get the right kind that’s fit for you.
First, you’ll need to consider what you’ll be using the motorcycle for. If you want something fast that can quickly take you around a track, perhaps a sports bike is for you. If you’re just wanting something to ride around town to show off while getting from destination A to destination B, maybe a cruiser or standard is more for you.
I always tell beginners to not start out with anything larger than a 500CC motorcycle. You can always upgrade later, but practicing and getting your body conditioned to a motorcycle with a lower CC engine is important. If you’re on the shorter side, the height of the motorcycle is something you should consider, but it’s more important to look at how wide the motorcycle is.
Here’s a list of several motorcycles I’ve noticed to have worked well for riders who don’t consider themselves to be strong:
- Honda CB 300
- Honda Rebel 500
- Harley Davidson SuperLow
- Kawasaki Vulcan S
- Suzuki SV 650
These motorcycles have a seat height of about 30 inches or lower which makes mounting and balance much easier.
Motorcycle Modifications That Can Be Done For Smaller People
Some people have their heart completely set on a certain type and size of motorcycle they want to get. I understand that because I’ve been there. If the certain type and size of motorcycle you want to get is above the sizing range I recommend, you can still do a few things to make it safe for you.
There are some modifications that can be done to a motorcycle to make it more ride-able for those who aren’t considered “strong.” The first modification I recommend is getting rid of as much weight as possible from the bike. Take off any saddle bags, unnecessary body panels/equipment, and/or replace the lights with smaller or less bulky ones.
You can also adjust the rear shocks of a motorcycle to make it lower and therefore easier to mount and ride. You can also simply replace them for the same outcome. Having a skinnier seat also helps, meaning you should replace the seat if it’s too wide for your legs to mount.
How do you find motorcycle friends? The best way to find motorcycle friends is through locating local motorcycle clubs, using social media such as facebook, going to car/motorcycle shows, contacting motorcycle dealerships, using cyclefish.com, and taking a motorcycle safety course. Click here to see my article for more information.
Are motorcycles dangerous? Motorcycles can be dangerous in the sense that they make the rider more prone to injury in the case of an accident. However, motorcycles themselves are not considered dangerous since they are much smaller than most other vehicles and won’t be able to cause much damage.