Sunday 15 September 2013


Looking at a better fit of bike (at 6"3' I'm a bit of a giant on the '07 Ninja 650r), I came across Cycle-Ergo, an online simulator that shows you the shape of any number of bikes and how your frame sits on it.  This is an interesting exercise even if you aren't looking for a new bike.

The FAQ explains that the basic rider model isn't perfect, but

does show you lean angles and other ergonomic considerations in riding.  The feet on the floor option should be taken lightly (the FAQ explains there are too many factors - rider weight, thigh size, seat shape,etc - that can change it), but it still gives you a rough idea.  

If you want to be a lean into it sport rider, then this will show you just how uncomfortable you'll be looking cool.  If you are looking for a long distance multi-purpose (as I am),then this will show me which bike offers me the most natural/classic riding position.

There are a lot of options in the menus to the right, so be sure to play with them.  After you put in the rider height and inseam you can modify various parameters of the stock bike (handlebar locations etc).  It also shows you variations in angle due to seat position.  At the riding school they encouraged me to sit as close to the tank as possible, so I tend to sit forward in the seat.  

I looked up my current Ninja (an '07 650r).  The bike feels too small for me, and it looks it in the diagram.  

I don't find the wrist position overly uncomfortable, even though I am at quite a forward lean angle.  What I do find uncomfortable are how high the pegs are and how bent my legs are on it.  At 75° it's one of the most extreme angles I found in the knees.

My feet are flat on the floor with bent knees.  The low seat means I can stand up at a light with inches of light beneath me.  It's a short bike I have to fold myself onto.  When at speed I'm catching a lot of wind in the face, even with the aftermarket windshield on it.  I have to lay on the tank to get out of the blast.

One of the bikes I'm considering is the Triumph Tiger 800xc.  The seat height on this bike is much (much) higher than the Ninja, and the steering seems to be closer and higher, offering a less stretched forward lean.

Unlike the backward bent legs on the Ninja, the Tiger offers me a more neutral almost 90° leg angle as well.  It looks like it might be a promising fit.

The Kawasaki KLR650 is also short listed as a possible contender.  It too has a tall, upright stance with a more neutral riding position.  At half the price of the (nicer) Triumph I'd also be much less worried about dropping it, which would certainly happen at some point if I'm exploring less paved roads.

As a bike I've actually sat on, I have to say this looks pretty close to accurate.

I ran the simulator with a number of other bikes just to see what various styles looked like.  The vague body shape reminds you that this is a rough simulation, but if you're considering buying a bike why not compare it to what you're on now or what you think would be your preferred style of riding.

I wish I'd have known about this tool when I was first looking for a bike, it would have given me some stats to consider.

The Ducati all-rounder adventure bike - the seat is supposed to be horrible

I've always thought Gixers were cool... painfully cool

Living out my Mad Max fantasies on an Interceptor... worse lean, better on the knees than the Ninja

I was considering this bike last year, but the blandness described  in reviews put me off

I've sat on one of these too - it felt small, it looks small in the picture, but classy!

Another rider at work has one of these, loves it, nice riding position!

The simulator lets you put a passenger on too - this is the Tiger with Max on the back

Here is what I'd look like if Ewan McGregor was my best friend...