Small female rider would like some advice - Kawasaki Vulcan 750 Forum : Kawasaki VN750 Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 06:57 AM Thread Starter
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Small female rider would like some advice


I just joined today and have been combing through the posts for fun. I've read a few posts from very large riders, but haven't come across anything from a small person.

I am 5'2" about 125 lbs and 27" in-seem. I love my 750 though I would prefer it to be about 1.5 inches shorter and I'd like some different bars. Does anyone have experience with lowering this bike? Also, I know new bars are easy to get, my question is, how do I know which ones will work for me? I have sat on other bikes and felt other bars, but unless their on my bike I don't know exactly how they'll feel.

Thanks in advance! Everyone have a great day

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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 08:25 AM
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Hi Serenity,

I'm also 5'2", I'm lucky if I have a 27" inseam, and I am quite a bit heavier than 125 lbs, so perhaps the suspension compresses slightly more for me when I sit on the bike. After owning several bikes over the years and lowering a few of them, here's the best advice I can give you..

On the VN750, it is pretty easy to adjust the handlebars. Loosen the four bolts that hold the plate that pinches the handlebars and secures the bars to the top the steering head. I'm talking about the chrome plate that says Kawasaki on it in the middle of the bars. The Allen head bolts are underneath four plastic caps that can easily be popped off. I loosened them on my bike and rotated the stock handlebars downwards towards the rider about 1"-2" while sitting on it. Ideally you want the bars to be in a position where you have some bend in your elbows. If your arms are totally straight you will have difficulty moving the bars when making turns. Once you get the bars in a good spot, tighten the pinch bolts and then loosen the bolts that are holding on controls at the ends of the bars and adjust the clutch and brake levers back to comfortable riding positions. This is the cheapest thing you can do, you don't even need to pay for new bars to do it. I highly recommend you try this first.

The second inexpensive thing you can do is loosen the pinch bolts that are holding the front forks in place and then raise the front forks no more than 1" in the triple clamps. Remember to tighten the bolts back to their proper torque specs afterwards. - This will also cost you nothing to do. Some considerations with doing that are that if you use a fork bag (dumb idea anyway IMHO) it will come closer to hitting and denting the front fender when you go over bumps. I wouldn't advise lowering the front of the bike lower than 1" since you start risking having the front fender hitting the radiator when you go over bumps too. Raising the forks (assuming you make no changes to the rear suspension height) like this will also quicken the bike's steering. Be aware that lowering the front suspension also slightly increases the risk of your bike rolling forwards off of the side stand when parked, so you should always be sure to leave the bike in first gear when you spark it.

Alright, if you have money to spend you can start looking at custom seats that have lower profiles that are narrower towards the front to facilitate getting your feet to touch the ground at stops. That can get pricey. Taking some of the padding out of the stock seat is an option, but of course that could lead to a less comfortable seat.

You can change out the front fork springs in your bike for shorter ones. Progressive Suspension might make a kit for this. If you do this work yourself you will need some muscle and some good weight to get the fork caps back on after you do the swap. If you're seriously considering doing this, I'd recommend simply raising the forks in the clamps first and riding like that for a while to see how you like it, since that won't cost you anything and can easily be reversed.

You can change out the rear suspension on your bike with shorter shocks. However unlike raising your front forks in the clamps where you will keep your stock amount of suspension travel (150mm), shorter shocks reduce the amount of rear suspension travel (stock is 90mm) which may not be such a great thing to do if you ride on a lot of rough roads. Lowering the rear shocks on the bike and not doing anything with the front suspension will slow down your steering. You may feel that the bike is less fun and more work to ride on twisty roads. Lowering the rear will also make the bike feel slightly more stable in straight line riding.

If you lower either the front or rear suspension or both, you will reduce ground clearance. An aggressive rider will scrape the foot pegs at less of a lean angle than when the bike was riding higher. If you lower both ends of the bike you should also take care when parking since the side stand will not be any shorter. The bike will sit more upright when parked and be at more risk for falling over to the right when parked. Harley Hugger Sportsters for instance have a shorter side stands than stock Harley Sportsters for this very reason.

Sort of related to this, a 5'2" friend of mine has a ZX6R Kawasaki Ninja and he has had the rear suspension lowered. He says it rides great on the highway, but around town when going over bumps he keeps scraping the pretty paint on his fairing's lower cowling. He's pretty sick of it and he's going to have the rear put back to it's original height and he's going to look at thinning out the seat instead.

Hope that helps. -Sloppy

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Last edited by Sloppyburpfest; 12-03-2009 at 08:31 AM.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 08:30 AM
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One more thing about choosing different bars. The VN750 uses 7/8" bars. If you're gung-ho on getting new bars, put the bike on it's center stand and sit on it. Take a wire coat hanger and bend it into the approximate shape that you'd want the new bars to be. Remember that having some bend in your elbows when riding is (IMHO) critical to safe riding. You can more easily measure the coat hanger with a tape measure afterwards and then buy bars that are similar in shape to it.


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 09:28 AM
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Or she can just purchase 11" shocks to lower it by the 1.5" that she desires. I found my 11" shocks used on ebay for under $60 shipped. What are you looking for in lines of bars? Meaning whats your preferance, elk horns, drags, beach???

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 09:30 AM
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X2! Sloppy pretty much nailed this one. I am pretty short legged and arms like T-Rex so I had to rotate the bars closer to me when I got the bike. Since you are so light, you might get a lot of mileage out of trimming some padding off the seat where some of us lead pants would suffer from doing that.

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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 11:44 AM
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Look into the "Superbike" bars. I'm on several bike forums and riders of all styles of bikes have installed them to satisfaction. I've not heard one complaint. They are lower with a little less pull back so the wrists stay straighter and more comfortable.

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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 12:38 PM
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[QUOTE=wkrizan;121854]Or she can just purchase 11" shocks to lower it by the 1.5" that she desires. I found my 11" shocks used on ebay for under $60 shipped. QUOTE]
As light as she is I feel like the stock shocks should probably be set at the lowest pre-load and maybe zero air pressure also...
I know that won't change the height except when she has her weight on it, but it will give her a softer ride...
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 01:53 PM
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Welcome to the Vulcan madness Serenity. I like Sloppys suggestions for adjusting the handlebars to fit you. I just have a couple of suggestions to go along with them. Sit on the bike balancing it upright, or on the centerstand. Close your eyes for a few seconds, then raise your hands to where it feels natural and comfortable for riding. Open your eyes and see how far you need to pull the bars back to meet your hands. If after riding with the bars pulled back, they still don`t feel right, you may then need to look at differently shaped bars. You can mount them in risers that have different amount of rise and pull back to suit you. ie. 2" rise and 4" back, etc.

Before doing Sloppys second no cost adjustment, to lower the steering head an inch on the fork tubes, put a jack under the engine with a little piece of plywood to spread the weight. Jack it up just enough to take the weight off the front wheel, before loosening the 4 pinch bolts on the triple tree ( aka head clamps, steering head or fork bridge). There are two different sizes of bolt heads, (12 and 14mm, IIRC). Lower the bike with the jack just enough to let the tubes slide up no more than an inch. You might want to cut a 1 inch wide strip of card stock to use as a gauge between the fork tube caps and the steering head, instead of messing with reading a tape measure or ruler.

You will need a 1/2 inch drive torque wrench and sockets to tighten the pinch bolts back to spec, which is 14.5 ft/lbs for the upper bolts, and 18 ft/lbs for the lower ones.

With regards to the seat, it is not very comfortable for anyone for rides longer than 30 or 40 minutes, IMHO. You can try shaving down the width of the foam yourself or send the seat to somebody like this: , and get it professionallt fitted to you, and have some better cushioning installed. If you click on seat installation there is an magazine article written by a female rider who is vertically challenged too. She relates what a difference the reshaped seat on a new sportbike made to her.

OK, so I just clicked on your avitar and read your newbie checkin, and see that your father is a mechanic. So all the minutiae of directions given above, you don`t need.

I do think though, that these three items are the first things to try before spending money on shorter rear shocks, shorter or progressive front springs, and different handle bars, etc. Once you start riding the bike again with these adjustment and mods, it shouldn`t take too long to discover if they are a "fit" for you. Enjoy the cruise through the forum.


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Last edited by OlHossCanada; 12-03-2009 at 02:03 PM.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 02:13 PM
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I made the front end modification that sloppy was talking about,along with thinning down the seat and reshaping it and installed lower bars on my bike just like you are talking about,I,used the daytona bend bars from Jc whitney around 20 bucks plus shipping,I went to the local mc dealer and checked out handle bars they had in stock measured the ones that i liked the width and pull back on and compared online and saved about fifty bucks ,there are pics of mu bike on my profile in acouple of different albums,just click on my username or picture on this post and it will take you to my profile click on my albums and see if that is the look on the bars you are going for and you cancheck out the seat modifications too.

If you see it on my bike I did it
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-03-2009, 03:18 PM
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OK, I'll weigh in. You should probably consider modding the seat as a first step before you do any suspension mods or get new bars. Spence over at does fantastic work, and (having shredded a stock 750 seat) I can say that there is plenty of meat available for removal. For less than $100 you can have the seat foam upgraded and the seat area reshaped to fit your, um, shape. When you get into changing the suspension / ride height, it opens a good sized can of worms, because you're changing the steering geometry of the bike.

Good luck, and WELCOME!

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