My EX250 Ninja and SuZilla's Power Twist


I am a woman just under 5 feet tall, which means it is hard to find a motorcycle that fits me, and doubly hard to find a sportbike I can ride. But I am not a cruiser person, and preferred the look and foot control positionings of a sportbike.

I finally picked the bike I wanted - a Kawasaki 250cc Ninja, over the Buell Blast which someone else had recommended. At the dealer, I found I could swing my legs while sitting on the Ninja! It therefore had to be custom lowered for me.

First, factory lowering kit was installed to lower the back end about 2 inches, then front springs were cut about 4 inches to lower the front end about 2 inches also. This was done by the dealer. The sales person initially told me the bike could be lowered 4 inches - this is a lie. The maximum this bike can be lowered is no more than 2 to 3 inches before serious compromise of safety and handling happens.

My dealer was guided by directions I printed off the internet at BadgerTrek.com's Powerpuff bike

After such lowering, the unaltered centerstand can only be deployed by a taller and stronger person than myself - the average well-built man should suffice.

I practiced in a school parking lot at first, and discovered my tendancy to dump the bike at or during stops. I also discovered that the Ninja really does not like being dumped on its side, and had difficulty restarting the engine. This was very discouraging, and I actually looked at some 'bike landing gear' at www.safetyfeatures.com.

In the meatime, I had forgotten that I had asked God for help with this matter, and while sitting on my parked bike the next night, discovered a better way to brace my bike. I call this method the "Power Twist".

The Power Twist is basically a different body and foot positioning when stopping. I have taken some pictures to try to illustrate (These pictures are from a bird's eye view, and I am the photographer. The black object is my bike):

1: Normal bracing position. Knee pointing forward. 2: Power Twist Brace positon. Note outseam of pants to see how my leg is twisted.
3: Opposite leg is off the ground, fairly relaxed, and pointing outward. 4: From the front, see how the pants zipper is not exactly centered, and my hips and knees are also slightly twisted. Right hip is lower than the left. Compare this against the positioning of the footpegs. The bike is straight, but I am not.

Normally, when coming to a stop, riders usually just put their feet down in a natural position with hips relaxed and feet pointing forward.

In the Power Twist, if I am going to brace with my left foot, there is also a twisting and dropping of my left hip as my torso almost turns to the right. My left foot is set down at about a 45 degree angle to the bike, with toes pointing in toward the front end of the bike, and heel pointing out away from the back end. The body of the bike is braced against the quad muscles of my left thigh, and this gives me much more leverage and power to lean and twist into the bike to hold it up, using my stronger quads as main strength. My right foot is of course not touching the ground.

The technique is the same for the other side, and one can practice twisting from one side to the other on a parked bike until it becomes second nature.

The seat shaved at the sides may make this move easier, but honestly I wonder if that made much of a difference with this particular rather wide-bodied bike.

In actual riding, this technique does not work well on a moving bike. Do not try it on a moving bike, as you may injure yourself. Repeat: it is only for a bike that is NOT moving.

Knowing this technique does not make your bike dump-proof - it just helps a little. This being said, here are some little tips to lessen damage to your bike should you dump it:

I put 1 1/8 inch chair tips (those round rubber or plastic black things that slip onto the bottom of stool legs) over the ends of my handle bar. I put smaller diameter ones over the rounded ends of my brake and clutch levers. Yes, it does look a little funny at first, but you get used to it. On my bike, there is an angulation on the front top of the plactic moulding that tends to hit the ground. I cut some leather, and used electrical tape to just tape it there. Yes, looks ugly, but you can remove it in the future. Same can be done for the mirrors, although I did not.

I also shaved the seat at the sides myself, prying lose the staples holding the seat vinyl covering with a small screwdriver, then using a sharp knife to cut away the sponge padding. Then, I replaced the vinyl and put the original staples back into their holes by hand (using small hammer and screwdriver). I shaved the seat three times. The first 2 times I shaved only the sides. Many of the websites I'd read told to shave only the sides. But that did not quite give me the lowering I needed. Finally, I went all out and shaved also the top. This worked. It proved to be the right thing to do. It gave me a little extra lowering.

Some specialized parts may also be of interest: sliders.

Finally, here is a picture of the 'elevator' boots I wear. With these, I am flat-footed... I can in a pinch ride in other shoes, but these make a huge difference.

They are a pair of women's size 5.5 Harley Davidson boots I got on sale, and are now discontinued. They have a 2.5 inch heel, and a 1 inch front sole. A good place to find similar boots is Leather Up or Zappos.

Here is a bad picture of blue LED's that I installed on the bike:

Links:

motorcycles for short riders

Women's Platform boot links:

Turnpike Cruiser Boots $119

bootbay.com

goldwingcustomizing.com

bootsandleather.com Has free shipping

various generic platform shoes

Rivithead brand Check out Ranger-311 with 2 3/4 inch heel

shipmyboots.com

sherides.com

cruisercustomizing.com

quality goth/platform boots

Demonia women's goth boots

custom boots

allshoesandboots.com

Other links:

Online motorcycle repair course

Group riding hand signals

Ladies riding gear

Women's riding gear

adventure motorcycle gear

best motorcycle gear

Dennis Kirk Motorcycle outlet store

Universal motorcycle stands

sport bike sliders



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