Vehicle add-ons maximize comfort, ergonomics for larger riders

Publish Date: 
May 23, 2013
By Tracy Martin

YOUR CUSTOMERS come in all sizes. That’s one reason your apparel inventory is so “large." It has to accommodate sizes from XXXS to XXXL.

Manufacturers produce jackets, riding pants, gloves and helmets in a wide variety of sizing in an effort to provide for the needs of riders of all shapes and sizes. In some cases, the larger sizes cost slightly more because of the extra material and added inventory costs. While this is true for apparel, helmets in extra-large sizes are not more expensive than standard sizes. Super-sizing riding gear is just common sense.

If a customer weighs more than 200 lbs. or plans to ride his or her new bike two-up, the stock suspension will not be up to the task of supporting both them and the weight of the motorcycle — no matter the brand.

But a look at all of those two-wheeled vehicles in your showroom and it’s obvious they don’t come in different sizes. Well, that’s not exactly true. Motorcycles do come in sizes from small to large but not within the same model. Advising customers on what motorcycle fits them best can be a challenge. A 6’2”, 230 lb. guy riding a Honda Rebel is something that you would probably find on YouTube. However, even a slightly larger bike, a Harley-Davidson SuperLow Sportster, for example, with the same rider would look almost as comical.

There is no one definition of a “large” customer as riders run the gamut from short and heavy, to tall and heavy, to long legs with a short torso, or with shorter- or longer-than-normal arm lengths. This is complicated further when you add both males and females into the mix. Inseam length, arm length, hand reach, overall height and weight all have bearings on how well a rider will fit on a specific motorcycle, and ultimately how happy a customer will be riding it.

You can steer a customer toward a bike that is a close fit to his or her size, but you can’t make them buy it. Even if they ultimately choose a bike that’s the best fit, more may need to be done to make them comfortable enough to enjoy the experience to the fullest. Knowing what options are available to maximize motorcycle ergonomics is key. We’ll take a look at suspension, seats, handlebars and control levers to see what options are available.

SUSPENSION UPGRADES
If a customer weighs more than 200 lbs. or plans to ride his or her new bike two-up, the stock suspension will not be up to the task of supporting both them and the weight of the motorcycle — no matter the brand.

For example, a stock Gold Wing 1800 is set up from the factory for a 160 lb. rider and 125 lb. passenger. It would be an understatement to say that your customers will “slightly” exceed these weights. If you have ever attended Americade, the largest gathering of Gold Wings in the U.S., you know what I mean. The weight of the bike alone (900-plus lbs.) causes the stock suspension to use up one half of its travel. Add the rider and pillion, and one half of that figure is used up, leaving almost nothing for bumps in the road.

Harley-Davidson FL series models (Road Kings, Electra Glides, etc.) suffer from the same problems. Even though both manufacturers offer air adjustable suspension in the rear, it’s not enough to compensate for the lack of the proper springs. When ridden over rough roads both of these motorcycles will repeatedly bottom out, making for an unpleasant ride. The larger the rider, the worse this problem is. (Continued)