Welcome back Motosquirrels with installment number three of “Moto Size Matters” here at MOTOSQUIRREL!

Previously we were talking “Mean”-not really, about one of our favorite brands, namely, Kawasaki. Kawi, Kawi Kowee! We were hoping that Kawasaki would have surprised us with a mid-season announcement of an updated KLR this week (while keeping that wonderful thumper engine intact). They could have introduced a few OEM accessories to make the bike more approachable off the floor, more “Streetable” or even more off-road worthy.

One could argue that the KLR, (Out of almost all the bikes that exist minus the DR650), doesn’t need any accessories offered at the time of purchase. It is fine just as “Large Marge”as it is and naked as well, only being adorned by it’s 2008 upgrades, fairing and by a giant aftermarket if a buyer wishes.

But, as new or returning riders, why couldn’t we get into the same options as the smaller Versys X300 or the larger Versys 650 which offer panniers as a touring or travel option? Why not sell the KLR as the adjustable, more rugged old timer that it is with the updates folks have been craving (As evidenced by this bikes world-renowned aftermarket- And NO, those flimsy little half fabric, half baked-in black pannier bags don’t cut it!).

Side Note: Recently when visiting a local bike shop full of Dual-Sport bikes for sale both new and old, there wasn’t a single one that would fit an experienced sport-bike rider Motosquirrelfriend who is 5’2” inches tall. With boots we will give her 5’4”!

She has tremendous experience with both street and sports bikes of all makes and models. She will ride you out of a new bike, a road lane or beat a sports car if you are willing to bet on it! The mass or the engine block size of a bike does NOT intimidate her, BUT the height does.

She has tremendous experience with both street and sports bikes of all makes and models. She will ride you out of a new bike, a road lane or beat a sports car if you are willing to bet on it! The mass or the engine block size of a bike does NOT intimidate her, BUT the height does.

She wants to learn off-road and “Adventure” riding, although reassuring her that she has already had more moto adventures than most- doesn’t cut it either!

Back to the browsing:

​The Honda CB500X: Too Tall, The KTM 1190: Your kidding right?, The KLR650 (The one she wants or a bike like it) towers next to her and promises to squash her like a cave-girl under a fatigued dinosaur of the Jurassic era. Everything is just too darn tall. We always avoid the next “Dealership Dance Step” which is to offer the “Girl” an “XT250”- Yammy that is. But, guess what fellas…? She wants what you want. She earns good money, wants to dig the dirt, travel and be a bad ass! She doesn’t want a little XT250- albeit a great bike in it’s own right. This great rider girl wants the big horse just like you.

We have already argued that it is time for brands like Kawasaki to offer a serious line-up of accessories that challenge the aftermarket and show a true dedication to the heritage of such legends as the KLR. Why leave all the money to the aftermarket? It is time, in our view for Kawasaki and other brands like Suzuki to cash in on their own Ergo-Gear. Leave the wonderful thumper engines intact! Add digital TFT screens if you must! (Bravo to Suzuki with their introduction of their new retro tribute to the legendary “Katana”). Now, add in adjustability, comfort and fitment parts, windscreens and bar length options…..this is what we are focused on.
So ….back to my small friend who wants to ride big AND on the dirt. What is a girl to do when the Big Japan Three dissapoint? She looks elsewhere.

With lively word-of-mouth, video reviews, photos and brand site splash pages showing off the new KTM 790 ADV and “R” models seemingly everywhere, she is still in anticipatory shopping mode!

Love or hate KTM’s willingness to throw convention to the wind, with this latest iteration of their Dual-Sport offerings, it is easy to see some of the methods behind their madness.

Just a single, lustful look at these (2) 790’s should make it readily apparent that this company has “Lowered The Bar”- we mean this in a GOOD way when it comes to the overal geometry, set-up, weight distribution and standover considerations of this pair. We will focus on the more road biased version known only as the ADV 790, the other is designated with “R” which is the taller, more dirt-worthy out-of-the-box option.

But what are curiously missing with these designs is the giant gas tank on top of the frame. KTM has been producing both on road and off-road bikes with rearward placed plastic gas tanks for many years. What makes this latest approach different is the fact that the tank sort of lobs over and along both sides of the bike frame just in front and to the sides of the parallel twin engine. This giant tank sort of hugs the bike like that of a coffee bean bag over a donkey. This allows for more clearance up top as well as standover ability and lower weight distribution. Time will tell if this fantastically interesting take on an external gas tank will stand up to the abuse of heavy off-road riding.
Leave it to KTM to try something entirely different!

But….here is the BIG BUTT again! All of KTM’s bigger ADV bikes are quite tall! (This is fine by MOTOSQUIRREL if they stay devoted to creating new approachable designs etc.)
Every rider and every bike has his/her needs and purpose, sometimes the “Purpose” is just having fun. Let’s face it Motosquirrels: Unless a bike has extremely difficult controls to work or super extreme ergonomics- ALL BIKES ARE FUN! That’s why we ride!

These height numbers are approximate. It is hard to find exact measurements via KTM materials as referenced by Motosquirrel. But these are close according to what has been reported etc.


We were watching a favorite vlogger of ours, “The Chronicles of Mr. Fish”, recently who is well versed in motorcycles and has endured working in dealerships. But like so many riders in the UK, he has been denied the wonderful experience and access to off-road riding. Like so many countries, Great Britain has suffered the last few decades by so many save the earth and nutters who demand that humans do not walk the earth because they feel nature will never recover. Well, we know that this is hogwash!

Back to our Vlogger! Luckily, our friend Mr. Fish has not been deterred. He has purchased in the last few seasons both a Honda Africa Twin (Unsweetened!) as well as a CRF 250 L Rally. At over 6 feet tall, Fish has found that although the CRF 250 L Rally is a decent height for him to learn green Lanes on, he still needed bar risers to suit his riding stance. All this is to say that it is a thrill watching an old dog learn new tricks! But, once again, it leaves us asking why Honda, as well as many of the other manufacturers aren’t taking advantage of the opportunities presented at the time of purchase for better fitment and…… wait for it…..PROFIT? Are you going to tell the Squirrels of MOTOSQUIRREL that Honda or any other of the top bike producers out there cannot craft great risers to begin with? Come on HONDA!

Let’s make the aftermarket work harder. We need to make riders fall in love with their bikes again! Fitment first.


A few notes to the unexperienced, returning riders, riders learning new riding types or styles or…..for that matter, riders that have changed in their own body weight or confidence:
A few things to consider when buying a new or old, trusty mount when it comes to ergonomics: (Some of these will seem a little um…..duh!- But still worth keeping in mind)

1. Sit on the Dam bike!
Whether at a bike event, rally, group ride, dealership, at a friend’s garage and even, possibly on a stranger’s bike- take advantage of being able to sit atop a motorcycle that you may be interested in! (With permission of the owner(s) first of course!). Motorcycle dealerships especially want you to sit on their bikes because there is a higher likelihood that you’ll buy them. But the important thing here is that prior to riding a demo bike, and more importantly if you’re NOT allowed to ride the bike you’re interested in, it is of great importance that you get a chance to sit on the bike of your choice. Also worth noting, is that it’s a good idea to sit for while on a motorcycle, especially after riding it, to better determine the customizations and accessories that you may or may NOT need. Don’t leave the dealership without bending their ears about the availability of such upgrades that may be stock. Keep in mind that these accessories such as handlebars, foot pegs and the like from the manufacturer are almost always expensive. (That is the point of this article- to drive these dealer add-on pricing down with market expectation!)

2. Take a look at our rider triangle graphic! This oft talked about generic set of measurement standards is a great starting point but should not be the only determining factor when feeling out your bike. These proportions which are usually obsessed about by manufacturers do not have to be obsessed by you the rider, but definitely experienced. The measure from the handlebar to the seat or foot pegs or the height of the handlebar to the midline of the seat can all be thrown out the window when it comes to your own body’s specific needs.
Keep these words written on a notepad when going to check out a bike and how it feels to you. The words are: FEET, KNEES, HIPS, LOWER BACK, UPPER BACK, SHOULDERS, NECK and lastly HANDS. Keep it simple. Just write these words down along the left hand side of your page. Either while you’re checking the bike out or immediately afterward a demo ride, write down your immediate thoughts on how each of these areas of your body felt. All of them can work together or interrelate to make your ride more comfortable. This should work for all styles of riding. In other words, if you are doing sport bike riding or weekend track days, all of these parameters will apply WITHIN the position requirements of that sport or activity.

​An example might be that you are a returning older rider who has a lot of experience of track riding, but nowadays your hands and wrists suffer from too much weight applied when riding in a tucked position. Our little list comes in handy when you can check off or write a quick little note alongside each word such as FEET, which will say something like “Feels good but too forward”etc. It may just have a smiley face because it is perfect- it’s your reference so do what you please. In our example above, when our wrist protective rider finds the bars are a bit too low he/she needs to write down something akin to HANDS “Wrists- PAIN feels too low”. If you do this BEFORE and after you ride you can better ascertain what needs to be done. Keep in mind that when you are affecting any ONE part of the triangle you will most definitely affect another. As the bars move up as in our above example, so does the riders spine angle travels more upright along with the helmet/head position- these are all compromises.

3. Just because a bike is right on paper- Doesn’t mean that it is that great or appropriate for you in person. A great example of this, especially when considering older and Dual sport bikes, is that a lot of highly suspended bikes have a LOT of sag. If you are a tall rider DON’T assume that a bike will be tall enough or NOT sag under your weight. You’ve got to try em’.

4. Just because a bike is “LOW” doesn’t mean that it is easier to handle for a shorter rider. So often shorter riders are sold cruisers or lower bikes that are very heavy. All is well and good until the smaller riders who may or may not have much upper body strength find themselves trying to push or duck walk their bikes out of a strange parking area, say at the side of an old town road that has a great slant etc. Better yet in and out of a garage that is built at the top of a very quick and severe embankment. In cases such as these it is actually easier to maneuver a more midsize or standard height bike which will enable the rider a better purchase of the motorcycle via the handlebars while standing alongside of it or by other methods.

5. Where are you REALLY going to ride? Everyone has the fantasy of adventurous riding all of the world or on the finest GP tracks of Europe! The reality, for most of us, is that at the very least we will have to travel some portion of terrible highway or commute to the very places that will pay us so that we may AFFORD to do some track days. This means balancing our dreams with the necessities of riding in environments which require us to feel comfortable, confident, safe (But NOT TOO SAFE) and proud to be a Motorcyclist. You may NOT wish to be on a lower bike (Because you are a shorter rider etc.) while riding in traffic because you find that you appreciate the ability to see out ahead of traffic as much as possible. For many, the sacrifice of not being able to plant both feet on the floor is well worth it when being able to see out and BE SEEN by cagers. MOTOSQUIRREL says that if you can dab either of the balls of your feet on the ground when you are in traffic- You have a ticket to ride. Don’t forget that fantastic Frenchman who won so many Paris Dakar races on a massively tall mount ……and he was barely 5’4″!!

6. Don’t forget thinness! (Check out our graphic) Just because a bike’s specs list it as being tall, DOESN’T mean that you can’t ride it! Many riders find that because the center of the bike is so thin, they are able to reach to more of the ground. Add in most bikes tendencies to sag………and voila! You are riding!

7. THERE IS NO SEVEN! Just an observation: Here at Motosquirrel Headquarters we witness a girl rider monster her bike down our street everyday to and from work. She is small. She looks to be about 5’3″ or so. She rides a growling, howling Ducati Diavel down the road. She is seated above most of the cagers, is loud enough for them to hear, they keep a fascinated distance away, she looks like she is having a blast, the bike kicks ass and…..wait for it….SHE is kicking ass! If you want to ride a certain bike, MOSTLY you will find a way! We just want the industry to help more!


Cheers for Now and thanks for reading!!