I previously wrote about moving over from my factory lowered BMW F650GS to a standard CBR250R, and how it inspired me to re-evaluate my dependence on getting my feet down at stops.
Recently, I rented a stock NC700X for a long weekend in Germany, and it seemed so natural to ride with my feet kind of, sort of down, but not like on the F, which, honestly, I tower over. A good inch or so between me and the seat when standing. Pushing the NC up and over with my left leg and finding the ground with my right foot eventually seemed like what you do. In fact, when I hopped on the F after coming home and my right foot hit the ground while the bike was still on the sidestand, the light bulb really started to glow. When my foot dragged on the ground as I was coming to a stop, there was no longer any question. My bike is too damn low.
What I’m finally figuring out is that it is actually harder to balance a bike at a stop when your knees are bent. The knee bend introduces a degree of variance, some instability, basically extra flexion, into the system. The NC was delightful at stops, partly because the center of gravity is ridiculously low, but also because my legs are straight, and that extra flexion is not there. There is a natural stiffness. I did have to plan some stops, looking to make sure I did not ride up on top of a ridge, rather instead down in the groove so that my full foot would be placed solidly on the the ridge, but even that lost its appeal after a while. I finally came to peace with the idea that taller is actually better for an experienced rider.
I place the experienced rider caveat there, because as a novice, I needed the mental and emotional security of both feet solidly planted on the ground. This is not a bad thing in and of itself – there is no shame in wanting to be comfortable as you grow into riding. The important thing for me is that I have been able to grow out of it as I’ve added experience.
I’ve begun the process of assembling the parts necessary to convert my F from low to normal. I may never make it to Dakar heights, but getting to normal is a big and welcome step. As I master normal, I will open the door to a new world of bike choices. This is cool.