If you’re the kind of rider who always wants to learn more, and especially if you’re also a short rider, then you should probably check out some of Doodle on a Motorcycle’s most recent videos. Her YouTube channel is all about empowering riders to get out, go new places, meet new people, and try new things—even if it scares you. If you’re a short rider, a woman, or maybe even both—so much the better, but a lot of what she shares is applicable to a broad spectrum of riders.
Do you ever find yourself looking at dirt bike specs and marveling at the impressively lofty seat heights on some of them? Maybe you don’t give it a second thought if you’re over six feet tall. Still, if you’re like me, and you didn’t grow up riding dirt bikes—chances are good you’ve done a double take at least once. Maybe if you’re also like me, it’s because you’ve absorbed the idea that getting both feet on the ground is going to make you less prone to dropping your bike—and you don’t think you could ever do that on a bike like that.
Caroline—aka Doodle on a Motorcycle—is about 5-foot-3, which is also about my height. Even on we short folks, sometimes things like leg-to-torso ratio can differ, so some people might have a long torso and a short inseam, and vice-versa (for example, she has a 31-inch inseam, while mine is 27 inches on a good day). Still, the point is, there’s not usually a whole lot of real estate to work with when we’re talking about getting a 5-foot-3 person to put both feet down on a dirt bike that’s taller than a 125. So, what do you do?
The key is sliding around on the saddle and getting one foot down, says Caroline (and she’s certainly not alone, I’ve heard the same advice for years from other riders). Riding modern motorcycles in 2023, ideally you’ll get your left foot down, so you can still actuate the rear brake with your right foot if you need it.
If you can learn to be comfortable getting one foot solidly down and planted on a dirt bike, you’ll be able to ride even tall bikes comfortably. That will only benefit your dirt bike exploits, because you’ll have greater suspension travel, and usually can ride bikes that will otherwise be ergonomically more comfortable to you than bikes that were originally built with children in mind. (Children tend to be smaller humans, so the ergonomic considerations will be a bit different than even we shorter adults.)
As Caroline also mentions, developing that one-foot habit on a dirt bike can also translate to street bikes. Dirt bikes are usually lighter in weight than street bikes, of course—and they’re built to take a certain amount of abuse, such as falls and drops. If you have to drop a bike while you’re learning, better a dirt bike than your precious street bike with the fancy paint and no dents in the tank (yet), right? Right.
For even more inspiration—and to see what helped prompt this video—check out Doodle’s adventures in training to be a Motorcycle Safety Foundation dirt bike RiderCoach for a week. Everyone makes mistakes, but the key is believing in yourself enough to keep going, learn from those mistakes, and get better. It won’t always be easy, but you’ll be glad and proud of yourself when you push through. Also, try to be kind to yourself if you can.