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Background

I currently ride a Honda Africa Twin and my wife rides a stock Virago 535, just like this:

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I will soon sell my Africa Twin and we'll keep only the Virago, but I'm not very familiar with these types of motorbikes (looking forward to it).

Problem

My wife is 1,52m and I'm 1,77m tall. The Virago is just the right size for her but it's too small for me.

Question

What can I do at home to make the bike more comfortable for me but in a way that my wife can still ride it as well?

Will I feel much difference if I change the handlebars? What would be the best for us both?

If I change the foot controls, would that make any noticeable difference on my riding position?

What else can I do so we can both enjoy our motorbike?

  • Knowing your height is not as important as knowing your inseam. The seat height of the bike is ultimately the issue. How many inches higher can the seat height be for your wife? – DucatiKiller Mar 2 '16 at 16:26
  • @DucatiKiller Actually it's not only the seat height, but also the distance to the foot controls. The Dragstar 650 is lower than the Virago 535 but my wife can't reach the gear lever comfortably. Also, I believe that for me to be comfortable on the V, I would also need to change something on the handlebar. Do you think raising the seat would be a good starting point? – Cthulhu Mar 2 '16 at 17:13
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    The questions are so subjective, I don't know if I can answer. Figuring out your riding triangle is the challenge of every rider. I could not make accommodations for my wife on my bike and I'm trying to empathize with your situation of a shared bike. I keep coming to the conclusion that I can't know what the effect of my recommendation would be on multiple people. – DucatiKiller Mar 2 '16 at 17:17
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    I understand your point. I'm new to this situation as well and thought there could be some easy answers like "you can try doing this to the seat/levers/handlebar/suspension/whatever". I guess I will have to try a few things by myself and see how things go. Thanks for your help. – Cthulhu Mar 2 '16 at 17:20
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    I took out the DIY tag and swapped out motorcycle. There are people that get alerts for tagged motorcycle questions. – DucatiKiller Mar 2 '16 at 17:24
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TL;DR

It's not possible to prepare a Virago 535 so that both short and tall riders can ride it comfortably.

Full answer

After investigating a lot into this issue, and even after trying a few other motorcycles, I concluded that it's not possible to prepare the small Virago so that both me and my wife can ride it comfortably. The size and ergonomics of the motorbike are perfect for a short person, and even if I could get it more comfortable for me, it would become less comfortable for my wife.

At first I considered switching handlebars, then seats and after a while I was looking at suspension and how to alter the motorbike's geometry (although I was definitely not going to do that). I realized that there was nothing I can do make the bike great for both of us. Every little thing I changed to make the motorbike more comfortable for me, it would make it less comfortable for my wife.

We tried different bikes to see what we could manage (Dragstar/V-star, Vulcan, Intruder, Shadow, ...). All bikes were larger so they were better for me, but they would be too large for my wife. In some of them, she couldn't even reach the foot controls.

The only bike we could actually manage to drive was the 883, but still not perfect to both (as expected).

I ended up buying a new motorbike for me (Volusia) which is a bit too large for my wife to drive, but she keeps the Virago and we're both happy. In the end, I guess that if two people are too different physically, they will need to have two different motorbikes.

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