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Discussion Starter #1
I have been wondering about some sportbike questions, and hopefully all of you experienced riders will have some answers.

First of all, I have been riding for a bit over a year (about 5,000 miles), and am feeling very comfortable with operating a motorcycle in general. My problem lies in physical comfort.

I currently ride a Honda Sabre 1100 cruiser which I absolutely love. I have always disliked sport bikes and loved cruisers until I actually learned to ride. Now I find myself really appreciating sport bikes. Here is my dilemma.

After about 30 minutes on the bike, my lower back really starts bothering me. I am sure this is because of the somewhat hunched over position the bikes put you in. I also really start to feel it across my shoulders and the top of my back. Is this something that a sport bike riding position would help to alleviate? After sitting on one at my local dealer, I realized that they are not nearly as uncomfortable as I used to think. Does that riding position become uncomfortable as the day wears on?

This brings me to another question. If I were to go to a sportbike, do I go small or big? I am a decent sized guy, about 6'2'' and 220lbs. I am not looking for earth moving speed or anything like that, just enough to keep me amused. Will a small 600 class sportbike give me enough power (keep in mind I would be switching from a cruiser), or do I need something like 1000ccs. Again, not having ridden a sportbike, I'm not sure of their seat of the pants power output.

This however leads to one more question. One thing I love about a cruiser position is the ability to stretch my (somewhat long) legs out. If I find that a 600 has enough power for me, will it be phsically to small for someone my size? What do you guys do to stretch your legs out on longer rides?

Sorry for the long post. Hopefully that all makes sense to you guys. Maybe some of you even went through the same questions I have.

Thanks,

Jeremy
 

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I'm about the same size as you are and the only thing I can tell you is that don't assume that just because a bike has more CC's that it is bigger and more comfortable. I had an XX (1100 CCs) which I loved, but the F4(600 CCs) my wife has fits my lower body much better. I would say just go to all of the manufacturers shops and try em on for size. I can definitely say that you would not be disappointed in the power of a 600. As far as stretching for longer rides, I generally fill up anywhere after 120 miles or so, and that is plenty adequate enough for stopping and getting off to stretch. I wouldn't advise trying to stretch while riding, as you may catch a shoe and go down.

Just another thought, maybe you could go for a VFR? Those were very comfortable to me, and I have heard they are great for spirited riding and for all day trips. It would also still have the power delivery of a V-twin that you are used to. I myself am partial to the inlines, but I am looking at an RC51 as my next bike, pending a test ride so I can see if I like twins or not.

Hope I helped!
 

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jstrain said:
I have been wondering about some sportbike questions, and hopefully all of you experienced riders will have some answers.

After about 30 minutes on the bike, my lower back really starts bothering me. I am sure this is because of the somewhat hunched over position the bikes put you in. I also really start to feel it across my shoulders and the top of my back. Is this something that a sport bike riding position would help to alleviate? After sitting on one at my local dealer, I realized that they are not nearly as uncomfortable as I used to think. Does that riding position become uncomfortable as the day wears on?
In all honesty, there are two things that will help you with this problem:
1) Ride all the time and get your muscles used to the position.
2) Do some weight lifting to strengthen those muscles.
The problem is that you're using those muscles in ways they aren't used to. Either repetition and/or lifting will help smooth this out. The reality is that you will never be as comfortable on a sportbike as on a cruiser, they aren't made with that in mind.

On my bike, I get very uncomfortable after a few hours of riding. I'm hunched over, squeezed onto this machine and there's only so much I can do while moving to alleviate this. Like I said before, the more frequently I ride, the less pain I feel.

This brings me to another question. If I were to go to a sportbike, do I go small or big? I am a decent sized guy, about 6'2'' and 220lbs. I am not looking for earth moving speed or anything like that, just enough to keep me amused. Will a small 600 class sportbike give me enough power (keep in mind I would be switching from a cruiser), or do I need something like 1000ccs. Again, not having ridden a sportbike, I'm not sure of their seat of the pants power output.
A "small 600cc" bike is pushing 100 hp. A bigger motorcycle is pushing out far more than that, they just ride differently. Since comfort seems like your biggest worry, sit on as many different makes and models as you can and choose the one that feels best. At 5,000 miles I don't consider you a noob, so chances are good you wouldn't abuse the power of an open classer.
That being said, go with the bike that fits you best. People can argue 1/4 mile times and seat-to-handlebar distance in mm all they want but for street purposes it should be about which one you like best and is the best for you.

This however leads to one more question. One thing I love about a cruiser position is the ability to stretch my (somewhat long) legs out. If I find that a 600 has enough power for me, will it be phsically to small for someone my size? What do you guys do to stretch your legs out on longer rides?
It depends on the year, make and model of the bike which is comfortable. It sounds like you want something a little less intense than say... a GSXR 1000. Not that you asked, but maybe look at a YZF600 or a mid-1990's YZF750, Katana, Bandit... all sportbikes though not as race oriented as an R6, GSXR 750, ZX12R...
To stretch out, I'll either take my feet off the pegs and let them dangle, stand up for a little while, or just stop. My range is short, 100-120 miles so that's a good interval for me to "unfold."



I hope some of this helps. :)
 

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akcbr said:

Good luck getting one from a dealer
Thats about what I figured....my only hope is to make all friendly with someone that has one. Any takers?
 

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elo...covered just about everything..:thumb: The shoulder pain will go away. I'm about 6'2", @170lbs..but at 54 yrs old and with a bad back..read, twisted, and curved spine..funny how common amoung bike riders those words are huh..?:D Uh..anyways, I rode my old 97 Gix 600 450 miles in 1 day, and I felt good at the end of the ride. I learned a few tricks that I'll pass along to ya, to help aleveate(sp) some of the discomfort. First, I never put all my weight on my wrist's, I try to grab the tank with my knees as much as possible to hold me up, second, I cange postions as much as possible, i.e. obviously your right hand has to be on the throttle, so I ride with 1 hand , my left is rested on the tank, to support my weight, then I might shift and rest my hand on my left thigh, then switch to my forarm on my thigh, then back to 2 hands on the bars. Also I shift my weight/postion on my seat, moving from side to side, back and forth..these may seem like they are so subtle that they don't make much of a difference, but they do...Ooopps, forgot to mention your foot postion too..toes, to the balls, to the arches, and even the heels, in no certain order. I think if you'll try this, you'll find that you can ride longer, w/o all the discomfort...Disclaimer...if your not comfy riding with 1 hand , then try resting your elbows on the gas tank. This should only be done if your a skilled rider...:D Oh..and RELAX, tenesing up just makes it worse..
 

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Hammer made some excellent points especially about being relaxed and not tense. That makes a *huge*difference in comfort. I think a sport bike allows more freedom of movement to slightly change positions compared to a cruiser. On a cruiser you have to pretty much sit upright all the time with all your weight on your rear end and back. Try sitting on as many bikes as you can at dealers then see if you know someone who will trade bikes with you for a ride (disclaimer: not responsible for any damage).
 

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My back was all screwed up due to competition in flat tracking & dirt hill climbing from '47 till '49.
We got quite deep into road racing, so that means modifying normal street bikes with flat bars, to even clip-ons & found the footrests were far to low & forward even on the Brit irons ---in moving them back along with the foot controls we were actually making rear-sets & so the lean forward riding position used in racing which is close to sportbikes.
Took a liking to this & started to modifying my personal street irons to those of friends that requested. So in a way I was into building cafe racers in early 50s.
The answer to many of us was in placing our wt more evenly on the bike like the bars, & so the powerful leg muscles went into use instead of all the wt being on the spine. Besides we were learning forward & so the wind was not socking us in the middle of the chest. Remember this was in the early 50s so things like fairing were not even knowen or used in the m/c road racing world till later in the 60s.
So many were sitting on their arse with hands up to Flanders handlebars & the feet to the front ---- the lean forward position changes things in a sensible way.
He I am 72 yrs of age & with 56yrs or riding experience!!!
 

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quick question, is it possible for you to keep the sabre and afford a used sportbike. it sounds like you really like the sabre.

one odd-ball suggestion would be a vmax. they don't handle that bad. they have some punch to them and they fit like any cruiser. of course at your height you may find them cramped. i'm 5'10, everything fits me. :)

but if you can keep the sabre, a cbr600f2 would be an awesome choice. if you think you're ready for it, a zx11 might make the perfect transistion bike. this is assuming you at least have as sensible in the real world as you seem here.

if you can't, i think cbr600f4i might be a good choice or a gsxr600 or a zx6r. the cbr is a great all around good guy. the gsxr is build on a 750-sized platform. the zx6r is generally excepted as the most comfortable of the 600's. the r6's is one of the few 600's that many tall people really do find cramped. however, if you are tall, but your legs are on the shorter side of the spectrum for you height, this could be your ride.

one thing with the back, a sportbike's riding position is designed to weight the front-end and give you more feed back. i just move around a lot. when i get the chance to street ride, i usual do 100-150 miles of non-highway riding, all backroads. i do this on a bike with no seat (i have a superbike tail section, don't ask). it just comes from time on the bike.
 

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Time to challenge some "conventional wisdom"

elo said:
The reality is that you will never be as comfortable on a sportbike as on a cruiser, they aren't made with that in mind.
I'm a gonna haff to call ya on that one (at least AFA Kawasaki/Honda).
Have you considered a 6R/9R? Kawasaki tends to make their sportbikes with real-world ergonomics. The very thing that newbies like to gripe about AFA Kawasakis (too big, etc) might be exactly what you're looking for due to your size?
Anywho...a proper fitting sportbike is much more comfortable to me than a cruiser. I tend to choose my sportbikes like I used to set up my bicycles in me olde racing days. On road bicycles (and despite looks, they are comfortable) you tend to set 'em up so your weight is roughly evenly distributed between your arms, butt, and legs: do you think those guys in the Tour de France are going to ride for 3 weeks/2500 miles on an uncomfortable bike? My motorcycles are set up roughly the same way. On a cruiser (with it's laid-back style), all your weight tends to be concentrated entirely on your butt: your legs and arms aren't doing you much good AFA support. Bikes I've owned which concentrated all the weight on my butt tended to drive me nuts after about an hour in the saddle. Every bit of road shock went straight through my lower back (why a curved forward spine position is nice), and after 'bout an hour, it felt like someone had their thumb stuck in my lower back. Not really painful, but irritating as heck.

Go sit on a few of them "too big" Kawasakis, and keep in mind you want your weight (roughly) evenly distributed between the bars, seat, and footpegs (while the bike is moving). Also keep in mind you may want more weight than feels comfortable on your arms/wrists in the showroom, as once you're moving, wind hitting your upper body is going to take some of that load off your arms/wrists.

A couple of questions to ask when sitting on a bike are if the bars are too low, can they be raised? If the foot pegs are too high, can they be lowered? If the seat is soft to the touch in the showroom, it's probably not gonna be firm enough to support your butt more than an hour down the road. If you keep even weight distribution in mind, you'll probably be OK.

BTW...looks like Kawasaki has catered to the newbies with this year's 6R/6RR and screwed up the ergonomics. You'd think they'd at least leave 'em as they were with the 6R (and set up only the RR for track use), but it sounds like both are going to have track ergonomics this year! :barf:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The reason I think I get so uncomfortable is the fact that all my upper body weight is resting solely on my lower back. Combine this with bars that are in front of me rather than a bit below (like a sportbike), I sit hunched over with my lower back sticking out.

I have a feeling that a sportbike would (even though I would be leaning forward, bent at the waist) straighten my back out and keep it more in line. Also, like others have said, distributing my weight over the seat, bars, and pegs would help alot I think.

The problem is that first few dealers I have checked out don't allow test rides on sportbikes.

Thanks for all the input so far. This is all very helpful.

Jeremy
 

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I've heard of people getting test rides from dealers and I have yet to find one myself that will let me. Your best bet is to make friends with owners of bikes you are interested in.

I have heard that some places let you test ride used bikes, just not new ones. Again though, I have yet to find a place that does this.

Anyway, good luck! Whatever you get I'm sure you'll love it!
 

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Re: Time to challenge some "conventional wisdom"

basicblur said:


I'm a gonna haff to call ya on that one (at least AFA Kawasaki/Honda).
Have you considered a 6R/9R? Kawasaki tends to make their sportbikes with real-world ergonomics. The very thing that newbies like to gripe about AFA Kawasakis (too big, etc) might be exactly what you're looking for due to your size?
I knew someone would disagree with that statement! FWIW, my husband hated his 2000 ZX6R, in part due to the riding position. It hurt his back! ;)

I do agree with you, the present design of the Kawasakis are more comfortable than their counterparts, but would you say that they are as comfortable as your Concours? :D
 

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and now a completely biased opinion (though shorter than most)

VFR VFR VFR :)

nice combo of comfort and performance. 500-600 miles a day are not a problem.
 

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Re: Re: Time to challenge some "conventional wisdom"

elo said:
I do agree with you, the present design of the Kawasakis are more comfortable than their counterparts, but would you say that they are as comfortable as your Concours? :D
'Bout the same. Actually, the seating position on the Concours and the 6R aren't that different. I have an '86 Concours which has the original 'low' bars. In '87, they raised the bars an inch or two and moved 'em back a bit. Darn if I don't think the 6R might be more comfy on the highway, as I get more wind across the upper body to take a bit of weight off my arms/wrists. The Concours shield gives enough protection that your wrists can get a bit fatigued with the OEM low bars while droning down the straight stuff. Since I tend to stay off the highways and do most of my travelling/riding on backroads, it's not a problem.

I've sat on a number of bikes (Gold Wings, FJR 1300, etc), and the first thing I don't like is the 'rototiller' feel of the bars on a lot of bikes. Having always had (relatively) 'low' bars, it's what I'm used to.
 

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Bonk! said:
and now a completely biased opinion (though shorter than most)

VFR VFR VFR :)

nice combo of comfort and performance. 500-600 miles a day are not a problem.
i don't like the new vfr. not sure when the current style came out, but i don't like it one bit. it's so ugly. i like first round of 800's and i really like the all white year (93?).
 
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