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Thread: BMW Seat Height

  1. #1
    K Bikes Complex by Choice cjack's Avatar
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    BMW Seat Height

    I was reading in OTL that the ideal seat height for a rider (women included I would assume) is 2 inches lower than one's inseam. The average woman's inseam (after some Binging) is 28 to 30 inches. What BMW satisfies 2 inches lower than that? One would think that BMW is not interested.
    My wife has been riding BMWs since 1980 or so and has always had a tall BMW seat height issue. A GS with lower shocks and thick soles on the boots, etc.
    Just thinking about it...
    R1200GS LC Rallye
    Jack Hawley MOA and RA #224, KE9UW ("Chuck")

  2. #2
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    How 'ideal" is defined is at the crux of the question and will vary with how experienced/skilled the rider is, seat height, suspension settings and the weight/center of gravity of the bike. I have a 30" inseam, Annie has a 34" inseam even though she is an inch shorter than me. I feel good on a bike with a supposed 31" seat height and I cannot comfortably ride Annie's standard height R12GS or F8GS (which tickles her no end). I think BMW has come a long way in the past few years as far as accommodating riders with shorter legs. I ride a 2017 R12GSA lowered version. I have a Terry's seat that adds a little width and have the seat in the high position up front an low position in the back. I cannot completely flat foot the bike but come close. There is no way I would have been able to ride a GSA before BMW began offering lowered versions.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  3. #3

    Seat Height/Boot Clearance Method

    A good, repeatable, measurable, and objective assessment of "seat height" can be made by sitting on a moto, putting one foot flat on the ground, and then measuring the clearance of the other (flat) foot from the ground. In my case, I have a lowered R1200GS, and thick 1" soled boots, and then my entire flat upstream boot (not its toe) is about 1/2 inch off the ground (when the other is flat-footed.)

    Besides the nominal advertised geometry (which may be a bit understated for marketing reasons) factors such as seat width and strut inflation come into play and limit the utility of just comparing advertised seat heights. Don't forget that on bikes with handlebar selectable variable height shocks (like R1200GS) that it makes a HUGE difference whether you have selected "one up", "two up", or "two up + luggage" on your shock extension selection when evaluating a bike's seat height, so be sure to make your measurements in the lowest position to be able to make a valid comparison among different bikes (a showroom bike might not be set to the lowest position--you should check.) I typically leave mine in the lowest setting--"1 helmet"--under highway conditions, to keep it lower.

    Lamentably, "comfort" seats often have more padding or width, raising one up--there is no free lunch.

    I obtained my thick-soled boots from Americanheeler (you can search on the web for "orthopedicshoelift, one word--I couldn't put their URL here.) You send them your boots and they put thick soles on them for you, any thickness you want, any shoe in your closet. I am really happy with their work, though next time I will check out some local boot shops and see if I can find some reasonably thick off-the-shelf boots with thick soles, mainly because I have made a philosophical decision to not wear "motorcycle" boots, but get something I can also use for hiking, too, to minimize the amount of stuff I take on trips.
    Last edited by jkjohnson; 05-05-2018 at 12:52 AM.

  4. #4
    I learned all about this from my father-in-law, Voni's dad Clint. He said, "I'd be taller but they turned too much under for feet."
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://web.bigbend.net/~glaves/

  5. #5
    Thanks jkjohnson for the tip on american heelers . Got a pair of boots done w/ 3/4" a world of difference!
    Thanks again.
    gus

  6. #6
    Registered User bmwgsrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjack View Post
    I was reading in OTL that the ideal seat height for a rider (women included I would assume) is 2 inches lower than one's inseam. The average woman's inseam (after some Binging) is 28 to 30 inches. What BMW satisfies 2 inches lower than that? One would think that BMW is not interested.
    My wife has been riding BMWs since 1980 or so and has always had a tall BMW seat height issue. A GS with lower shocks and thick soles on the boots, etc.
    Just thinking about it...
    I am a 26" inseam and I ride the factory lowered F650 GS (Twin).
    Bye bye 2006 F650 GS for a 2011 F650 GS.

  7. #7
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    Years ago, I saw a video of a woman riding a police bike in one of the demonstrations where you do the cone maneuvers incredibly fast. She was flicking the bike back and forth like a pro...which she was, obviously. I forget the actual measurements, but she was like 5'2" and 100 lbs, or something like that. Tiny. Riding on a bike that weighed well over 600 lbs...probably closer to 700 lbs. It wasn't a HD either that is built low, but something like a ST1300 or Kawasaki C14 Concours. There was no way her feet could touch the ground, but she didn't let that stop her. I guess you could call her my inspiration because I told myself years ago that if she could do it, I could too.

    I'm a lot heavier than she was, but still short at 5'6" with a 29" inseam (optimistically). I don't know that I have ever flat-footed a motorcycle. I feel good if I can get the balls of my feet touching, but it is usually something closer to halfway between the balls of the feet and my toes. I just accept it.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by daboo View Post
    Years ago, I saw a video of a woman riding a police bike in one of the demonstrations where you do the cone maneuvers incredibly fast. She was flicking the bike back and forth like a pro...which she was


    Chris
    I am not taking anything away from this rider, obviously she is a much better rider than I am, BUT....doing maneuvers, etc. is different than everyday stop & go riding in and out of traffic, stopping on hills and off camber areas and such. I can ride the hell out of any motorcycle, but the stopping & starting is where it gets tricky for me. I'll stick with my factory lowered F700GS .
    Gail Thorne
    2017 F700GS

  9. #9
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    She was a motorcycle cop. I suspect she did starting and stopping and riding in traffic.

    Yeah, she was a better rider than I'll ever be too. Still, it gave me an inspiration to go out of my comfort zone.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder
    John 14:6

  10. #10
    Registered User crna59's Avatar
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    The seat height is only 1/2 of the equation. The width of the seat is what you will also have to look at. I can flat foot my 31" F700GS but I can also flat foot a 35" Kawasaki KLX. The Kaw seat is much much narrower.

    Here is a great website what I found where you can put in your height and inseam and pick out most any motorcycle to see if you can touch the ground and see what you look like riding it.


    Cycle-Ergo
    Bruce A. Brown #212072
    MSF 2-wheel Instructor
    H-D Riding Academy Instructor
    S/TEP 3-wheel Instructor

  11. #11
    I'm a bit late to this thread, but for anyone who used American Heeler, is the price they quote on their web site per pair, or for an individual boot? Many thanks!
    jZ
    There is some perverse beauty about being up in the air looking down at your bike during a high-side get-off.

  12. #12
    K Bikes Complex by Choice cjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crna59 View Post
    The seat height is only 1/2 of the equation. The width of the seat is what you will also have to look at. I can flat foot my 31" F700GS but I can also flat foot a 35" Kawasaki KLX. The Kaw seat is much much narrower.

    Here is a great website what I found where you can put in your height and inseam and pick out most any motorcycle to see if you can touch the ground and see what you look like riding it.


    Cycle-Ergo
    Vike bought a new lowered GS last spring and we modified the width of the "lowered" stock seat. We removed the staples about 2/3 of the way toward the rear of the seat and used an electric knife (had to buy one for the purpose) to shave quite a bit off the seat width and height. We then used a manual staple gun (had to buy that too...) and pulled the cover tight while replacing the staples in the area where we had removed them. Quite a good job and looks like factory.
    I had bought a Sargent lower seat for the latest GS and it was a bit wide. I emailed the company and was told that they have a custom shop that could narrow the seat, but they worry to some great extent about comfort as if every one needed the wide support. That's just not so since it's really in the front of the seat where you need to get your thighs together. Maybe if they had a height challenged rider do the design...
    R1200GS LC Rallye
    Jack Hawley MOA and RA #224, KE9UW ("Chuck")

  13. #13
    K Bikes Complex by Choice cjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zimmermanj View Post
    I'm a bit late to this thread, but for anyone who used American Heeler, is the price they quote on their web site per pair, or for an individual boot? Many thanks!
    We have a shoe store that does custom shoe repair and put double soles and heels on a pair of BMW boots for Viki. They did an excellent job. Look for a custom shop that does medical prescription work on shoes.
    R1200GS LC Rallye
    Jack Hawley MOA and RA #224, KE9UW ("Chuck")

  14. #14
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    We are fortunate to have a cobbler here in Helena. Seems to be a fading trade. It is a father-daughter operation with the daughter doing most of the work these days. By the looks of the shelves where she puts work ready to be picked up, their business is mostly in boots. She added 1/2 inch to the soles/heels of two pair of boots and restitched seems on three occasions. She will also repair riding gear if it is not to complex a job. A good cobbler is a wonderful resource. People send them work from 4-500 miles away because there are no options.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  15. #15
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    Unhappy

    It's not just women. I have at best a 29" inseam and on my 2018 R1200RT with the low seat in the low position together with my Sidi boots that have a thicker sole I can get about 2/3 of each foot on the ground at a stop. Not great but better than on my toes. No low suspension option for the 1200RT so that was not an option for me. I am on a constant lookout for a lower seat or other way to get the bike height lower. Adventure bikes? Not a chance! I would need to carry a milk crate with me so I could touch the ground at stops and to get on and off. I looked at the BMW Motorrad Performance Center classes and the lowest seat height offered is a R Nine-T at 30.9". They did tell me they offer a couple bikes with the low suspension but couldn't tell me if I would be guaranteed a low bike with a reservation. That counts me out for that opportunity. Being left handed I am used to having to adjust to design for the rest of the world but there isn't much one can adjust to get longer legs. I had to lower the suspension on my 2007 VFR800 by an inch in order to make it rideable for me without the near tip overs that happened as a result of being on my toes at every stop. The lower suspension had no perceptible effect on handling of the VFR either alone or with 2 up. Come on BMW, how about a better optional (i.e. extra cost like the low seat) solution for those of us with short inseams.

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