I’ve babbled quite a bit in the past about my low bike. It’s been so good to me – I’ve never been afraid to ride it or worried about losing it at a stop. Not that I haven’t (I have dumped it a couple of times), but I’ve never worried, because not only could I flatfoot it, there was close to 1.25″ of space under my butt when I stood up over the seat. As I’ve grown as a rider, I’ve become less satisfied with the lowness and realized that I don’t feel super stable at stops because my knees are bent. And standing over the bike isn’t really all that stable either. Add to this that I’ve had some really good experiences on bikes that I was really just barely flatfooting, and I decided to take the plunge and raise my GS to stock normal height.
The FSM bless BMW, they make it easy on a rider who needs to grow into their bike. A four-bit component swap and it’s done and over with, all with stock parts purchased from another bike.
Unless you’re an F650GS pro, it’s visually challenging to differentiate between normal and low bikes, but the difference is like going from a cruiser to a standard for me. I had ridden with the optional OEM Dakar seat for a few months – a plush (seriously, it’s the only word to describe this seat) confection that my back just does not love. In fact, I ended up in PT for four months thanks to it. Yuck. Amazing what an inch of foam can do to you. It does not add height, per se, but does open up the ergos a bit. Just enough to freak my body out, apparently. I did like the reduced butt clearance when standing, but found that I sank into the seat quite a bit a when riding, and that just kind of weirded me out. I think seat changes are best left for new-to-me bikes.
I popped the old low seat (recognizable by the tear over the gas tank :grrr:) on and put my leg over. Unsettled, I had one foot down and one ball of the foot down. I wasn’t sure what to expect for settling, but this was not bad at all. In fact, ball of my foot doesn’t really cover it. I had about 1cm tops under my heel, and when I put my touring boots on, that almost disappeared.
I pushed it out into the driveway to warm it up after its all-too-long winter nap, grabbed my gear, and took it out in the neighborhood for a spin. As I rode, I could feel it relaxing into its new normal. I stopped at home to grab my purse and put the boxes on, and then went out for a full shakedown. By the time I got home, it had settled a solid centimeter, and not only are my feet on the ground again, but I have a bit of space under my butt. This is not surprising – it has a very wide seat and due to how humans are shaped, this almost forces a bit of air under there. Two babies did not spread my hips that much! My legs are very slightly bent at stops and nicely extended. I can one foot it with far more grace and ease now. It’s exactly the right height.
My next step with this project will be to start playing with the preload. The preload is at full soft right now, and while it technically does not raise the bike, it does affect the sag. I’m hoping that this shock will have less sag than the short one did, because even at full hard, it sagged quite a bit. Nearly an inch, by my estimation, and with all 135# of me on there (in fat mode), that’s a lot. I know BMW designed this bike for commuting and for smaller riders, but it seems to me that I should not be sagging that much! I will spend some time researching the topic and work to get it dialed in over the summer.
In sum, what was I waiting for? I love this bike to bits, and now it’s really where I need it to be. The ergos are completely unchanged – especially with going back to my low seat – and the height is great. I feel even more comfortable on it. Have I mentioned that I love this bike?!?