The picture above is my 6’4″, 57 year old father on his Husky. While I’m not the tallest by any stretch (pun intended) I am 6’2″ which is not the shortest either.. The problem tall riders usually have, (or at least for me) is finding that perfect, comfortable, looking position that you see some of your riding buddies have. Some of the guys I ride with look as though they’re jockeys on a horse and could ride in that standing position all day. I hope this guide to dirt bike setup for tall riders will help you like it’s helped me and my old man.
P.S if your reason is different from mine, please tell me about it in the comments.
Best Dirt Bike Setup Tips For Tall Riders
The first thing that you should know is that this setup process can take you some time. It’s more of an art than a race so take pride in what you’re about to do. You’re going to be riding the bucking bronco – not me. My noble steed responds when spoken to.
There are a number of improvements that can be made ranging in both difficulty and price.
Best Riding Position For Tall Riders
We all know the right answer here. Bend your knees slightly, center your body, knees in and elbows out. Right?
I always need my feet to feel comfortable before the rest of my body feels like it’s ready to take on the track or trail. No matter if you’re sitting or standing, your feet and hands should always maintain contact with the bike. Increasing the number of points of contact by gripping the bike with your knees will help to keep the bike under control and your body’s movements more in sync. This has the added benefit of allowing you to release those gorilla fists holding white-knuckled onto the bars. That should even help with your arm pump.
Foot Position & Toes
Your foot position is also important. The balls of your feet act as a pivot point when taking impact. This is much better than riding on your heel or center foot which will result in taking full impact with little absorption.
I ride with my feet (or at least my toes) as close as possible to the bike case. Adding the next layer of grip will also make sure my feet are tucked in and out of the way of any rocks or stumps. Not tucking your toes in is one of the easiest ways to cause a rotational break in your leg.
I try to think about keeping my body mass directly center to the ground at a perpendicular angle. If I’m accelerating or going uphill my upper body will be more forward. Downhill or decelerating, my mass is thrown backward consistently acting as a counterweight.
To be able to do this swiftly, your knees need to be bent, keeping your lower legs at a near-vertical position. This is quite an aggressive riding stance.
If you’re just cruising, I like to extend my knees to a nearly straight position so that my legs make as much contact with the bike without feeling uncomfortable. This allows me to loosen my grip on the bars and use my arms to help in supporting my weight.
By allowing your legs to support your mass, and your arms to keep you pushed towards the center of your bike, taking pressure off your back and core which usually causes body fatigue.
This also depends on if you’re racing or riding casually of course. In race mode, you should be sitting as close to the tank as possible. The problem with this is that it makes finding back brakes and gear shifter much more challenging and uncomfortable. Even more so with large boots.
You can adjust your brake and shifter up a few notches which will allow more room for your foot to find them easier. More on that later.
When I’m seated I also use my arms to push my upper mass to the center, rather than relying on my back muscles to hold me in a forward lean for 6 hours. This way my hands are ready at the controls, but not clenching on for life.
Best Dirt Bike Foot Pegs For Tall Riders.
An often overlooked part of a dirt bike is your footpegs. After what I’ve just said you probably realize that footpegs actually play a big role in my riding as a tall guy. Naturally, taller guys have bigger feet. This means that less surface area under the foot takes on more pressure from the footpegs when riding. A set of wider footpegs will alleviate some of this pressure and offer a more comfortable riding stance.
Handlebar, Risers, & Triple Clamp
I have already covered (in detail) the best options when it comes to buying new handlebars, installing bar risers, and making adjustments to your bar set up before you splurge any cash. Check out my tall riders guide to dirt bike handlebars.
If you’ve never rotated your bars before you. Look for where the triple clamp bolts onto your bars. Often there are markers telling you what angle your bars are set at. Take note of the angle and get tweaking.
I suggest rotating your bars forward a bit. Not too far as this will put your hands in an awkward position and could result in cramps. if you don’t like that position, try rotating the bars back. This will help to push your body mass backward on your bike. Rotating your bars backward could also help with reducing strain on your lower back.
If you’ve tried all the rotation tricks, I recommend buying taller handlebars. The Pro Taper Windham bend is great for tall budget-conscious riders
If you’ve already bought a handlebar, try bar risers. You can pick up a decent set of bar risers (also covered in the guide I mentioned) like the Rox Speed Handlebar Risers which will add an additional 2-inches of space for your large frame to work with while dirt biking.
Most bikes offer two or three positions for the top triple clamp. If that is not enough adjustment, or your bike does not have this option, the risers I suggested above will work well to help push the bars up and forward.
Front Brake & Clutch Adjustments
Once you’ve got your bars set in a comfortable position, it’s time to adjust your levers. The base level for both levers should be set at an angle just below parallel with the ground.
It’s important to find a good angle for your levers that feel easy to reach when you are standing and sitting. Be sure to test the lever position in both your aggressive and casual riding stance. This will help to get the right setup for both enduro trail riding, as well as a motocross setup.
Larger hands can reach further out, but it’s much easier to pull your fingers in to grab a lever than to flex your fingers outward. The muscles that operate the top of the hand are less frequently worked and will fatigue and cause arm-pump while riding. This is why it’s better to point the levers below parallel with the ground.
You can also adjust how far away the levers sit from your fingers. If your brake is cable operated, check that the cables have been given the right amount of slack. If your brake is hydraulic, adjust the preload. The easier it is to grab the levers, the better.
Back Brake & Shifter
As I mentioned earlier in this guide, I find it super important for my feet to feel comfortable and find the perfect position on my back brake and gear lever has always been a challenge. Before making changes to your pedals, make sure that you have corrected your riding stance by standing on the balls of your feet.
Your back brake pedal generally is usually adjusted using a lock nut and threaded rod. You can pivot the angle of the brake to suit your riding position. Most riders will have this set to roughly horizontal, or in line with the footpegs. My brake lever is set just below which makes it easier to find the brake in a seated position. If the brake is set too high, you’ll often have to take your foot off the footpeg to find brakes which is not ideal.
You’ll notice on most dirt bike boots that they have a ribbed liner on the inside top of the toe box. This is actually the area of the foot that should be used to shift gears upwards. You don’t need to get your whole foot under the lever. Just the outer side of the boot. You can also adjust the gear lever by rotating it forward or backward a bit.
For riders with extra-large boot size (EU 44+), it might be worth looking into an extended gear lever.
Seat Height & Padding
What is the proper seat height for a dirt bike?
There is no one size fits all seat height for a dirt bike. Proper seat height will depend on the size of the bike and the rider.
What is the average seat height for a dirt bike?
If you look at the latest range of dirt bike models. you will find that the seat height varies with each model. 36.0″ is at the lower end of dirt bike seat heights, while 38.0″ is towards the upper end. The average dirt bike seat height is 37.0 inches.
How do I raise my dirt bike seat height taller?
You can quite easily raise the height of your dirt bike by replacing the stock seat with a taller seat or by installing additional foam and having your seat recovered. I would suggest buying a new seat, if the stock seat is still in new condition, and saving the stock seat as an extra when it comes time to sell and upgrade your bike.
Check out all the latest aftermarket seats, seat pads, and seat covers at Motosport.com.
If you decide to recover the seat, pay attention to the type of foam. You get soft density and hard density foam. Hard density will keep you up higher on the bike but it will not feel as cushioned as a soft density foam. If you ride with padded cycling pants underneath your riding pants as I do, the softness of the foam might not bother you as much.
Dirt Bike Sag & Suspension Setup For Tall Riders
Dirt bike racers usually have their sag set to about 30% of the total suspension travel. Although, this will depend on the model of your bike. As a quick guide, if you measure 15″ of travel, you should aim for your bike to drop about 5″ when you sit on it.
(sag / travel) * 100 = 30%
(5/15)*100 = 30%
(4/12)*100 = 30%
Generally, the taller a person is, the more they will weigh. I do not represent this generalization and weigh less than what I should for my 6’2 frame. This means my bike does not drop as much when I sit on it with all my kit and so I ride with a medium stiffness spring in my shock and forks.
You don’t want to adjust fork height in the triple clamps too much. You should only do this if your current bike setup feels very wrong. This will make a huge difference to the way your bike rides. If you do decide to adjust this height, first measure their current position so that you can revert to the original setup if things get worse.
By the exact same logic, you can also lower the front end of your back in the triple clamp bracket. Whatever you decide to do – make sure that each fork is the exact same height.