Wondering why manufacturers don’t offer different frame sizes?

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12/5/2019 8:19 AM

I’m sure the ultimate answer is that it’s not financially viable for manufacturers to offer different frame sizes for their 250s and 450s. But, why is that?

I know dealers aren’t selling a ton of dirt bikes in general, so they wouldn’t want to stock multiple sizes of bikes. However, it seems like manufacturers and dealers could figure out a production run based on pre-sold/deposits that would give them some protection from excess or unsold inventory.

If manufacturers did offer a size smaller or larger than their stock frame to accommodate riders on either end of the height spectrum - would it be too hard to get the same ride characteristics of their stock bike to the other sizes or would it be too expensive to develop?

Anyway, just wondering if “one size fits most” is really the answer to the question of why you can’t get a different size frames.


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12/5/2019 8:27 AM

With all the different models that KTM does, I'm surprised they haven't come out with a 450 XL or something along those lines.

As a tall guy myself, I know there are a lot of us that would love a bike more suited to our height. Seems like a missed opportunity for one of the manufacturers. I'd happily give up any brand loyalty for a bike that was made for my height.

The bicycle industry seem to be able to make it financially viable.

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12/5/2019 8:32 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/5/2019 8:32 AM

WarrenMX wrote:

With all the different models that KTM does, I'm surprised they haven't come out with a 450 XL or something along those lines.

As a tall guy myself, I know there are a lot of us that would love a bike more suited to our height. Seems like a missed opportunity for one of the manufacturers. I'd happily give up any brand loyalty for a bike that was made for my height.

The bicycle industry seem to be able to make it financially viable.

Ktm already has "XL" ergo options in the power parts catalog.

Honestly, I don't think the frame itself makes all that much difference on dirt bike ergos. Where various components are hung on it is obviously more critical.

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12/5/2019 8:45 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/5/2019 8:46 AM

WarrenMX wrote:

With all the different models that KTM does, I'm surprised they haven't come out with a 450 XL or something along those lines.

As a tall guy myself, I know there are a lot of us that would love a bike more suited to our height. Seems like a missed opportunity for one of the manufacturers. I'd happily give up any brand loyalty for a bike that was made for my height.

The bicycle industry seem to be able to make it financially viable.

Dirty Points wrote:

Ktm already has "XL" ergo options in the power parts catalog.

Honestly, I don't think the frame itself makes all that much difference on dirt bike ergos. Where various components are hung on it is obviously more critical.

A tall seat and bars really don't help all that much. I'm an avid mountain biker and I can say that a taller, longer frame is leaps and bounds ahead of a having a taller seat post and bars.

Go and ride an 85cc with tall bars and a tall seat and tell me its the same as riding a 250/450 sized bike.

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12/5/2019 8:52 AM

WarrenMX wrote:

With all the different models that KTM does, I'm surprised they haven't come out with a 450 XL or something along those lines.

As a tall guy myself, I know there are a lot of us that would love a bike more suited to our height. Seems like a missed opportunity for one of the manufacturers. I'd happily give up any brand loyalty for a bike that was made for my height.

The bicycle industry seem to be able to make it financially viable.

Dirty Points wrote:

Ktm already has "XL" ergo options in the power parts catalog.

Honestly, I don't think the frame itself makes all that much difference on dirt bike ergos. Where various components are hung on it is obviously more critical.

WarrenMX wrote:

A tall seat and bars really don't help all that much. I'm an avid mountain biker and I can say that a taller, longer frame is leaps and bounds ahead of a having a taller seat post and bars.

Go and ride an 85cc with tall bars and a tall seat and tell me its the same as riding a 250/450 sized bike.

It is not just seat and bars. It is all aspects of the riding compartment: shrouds, pegs, subframe. None of which specifically are the frame.

It is different from a bicycle, where the most significant difference in frame size is actual top tube length. I don't think you actually want a different wheelbase in a fullsize dirt bike

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12/5/2019 8:59 AM

If manufacturers were to offer a more personalized bike it would be much more effective and cheaper to offer rider specific suspension fittings. That would be cheaper for them to produce, and the rider would be getting what many of us spend money sending our bouncers off anyways,


How cool would it be to order a bike set up out the showroom with the exact spring rate/ valving we send off to get.

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2018 CRF250R

12/5/2019 9:08 AM

Dirty Points wrote:

It is not just seat and bars. It is all aspects of the riding compartment: shrouds, pegs, subframe. None of which specifically are the frame.

It is different from a bicycle, where the most significant difference in frame size is actual top tube length. I don't think you actually want a different wheelbase in a fullsize dirt bike

I understand what you're saying, and again, from personal experience on both dirt bikes and bicycles, I can tell you that changing shrouds, pegs, bars, seat etc, is not the same as having a platform that is scaled proportionately. If it were the case, why aren't we just all riding around on 85cc sized bikes that have bigger bars, seats, shrouds and pegs?

Bicycles are measured more accurately now with a metric known as reach. Top tube lengths can vary wildly depending on the frame design.
As the reach increases so does the wheel base. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a longer wheel base.

I'd be happy with a longer wheel base, just as I am with my bicycle having a longer wheel base than the equivalent sized small.

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12/5/2019 9:24 AM

feelit2morrow wrote:

If manufacturers were to offer a more personalized bike it would be much more effective and cheaper to offer rider specific suspension fittings. That would be cheaper for them to produce, and the rider would be getting what many of us spend money sending our bouncers off anyways,


How cool would it be to order a bike set up out the showroom with the exact spring rate/ valving we send off to get.

I hear you, and have thought about rider specific settings too.

You can “snowcheck” a snowmobile, and essentially order a sled with custom options that include suspension, tracks, colors, etc... The shop takes your order and your deposit and sends it to the manufacturer.

Seems like just offering a small size frame and a large size frame, then being able to order it with the valving and spring rate you want would be something that would be well received.

Just wonder why this kind of thing isn’t offered for dirtbikes.

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12/5/2019 9:33 AM

WarrenMX wrote:

A tall seat and bars really don't help all that much. I'm an avid mountain biker and I can say that a taller, longer frame is leaps and bounds ahead of a having a taller seat post and bars.

Go and ride an 85cc with tall bars and a tall seat and tell me its the same as riding a 250/450 sized bike.

Dirty Points wrote:

It is not just seat and bars. It is all aspects of the riding compartment: shrouds, pegs, subframe. None of which specifically are the frame.

It is different from a bicycle, where the most significant difference in frame size is actual top tube length. I don't think you actually want a different wheelbase in a fullsize dirt bike

WarrenMX wrote:

I understand what you're saying, and again, from personal experience on both dirt bikes and bicycles, I can tell you that changing shrouds, pegs, bars, seat etc, is not the same as having a platform that is scaled proportionately. If it were the case, why aren't we just all riding around on 85cc sized bikes that have bigger bars, seats, shrouds and pegs?

Bicycles are measured more accurately now with a metric known as reach. Top tube lengths can vary wildly depending on the frame design.
As the reach increases so does the wheel base. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a longer wheel base.

I'd be happy with a longer wheel base, just as I am with my bicycle having a longer wheel base than the equivalent sized small.

Good points and I think the biggest difference here between bicycles and motorcycles is the economy of making multiple frame sizes and the various components that have to interface. A bicycle frame is much more simple in terms of what gets hung on it. On a MX bike, a larger frame would have to have different attachment points for the engine, the rear suspension, even the gas tank, airbox and subframe. This would get very expensive from a manufacturers' standpoint in a hurry.

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Old MXer turned Superfan.

12/5/2019 9:49 AM

They used to build them more specific to size but not the way you guys are talking about. It was more the Japanese brands that did this than the euro brands.

But 125's used to have slightly smaller frames than the 250. Kind of the same thing for the 250 vs the 500 big bore bikes. They stopped doing this in the early 90's for obvious reasons.
It used to be if you lined up a 125 next to a 250 next to a 500 you could usually see the slight differences in size.

If you look at specs of the bikes from the 80's n such you would see. The 125 had a little lower seat height shorter wheel base sometimes slightly less suspension travel. It was in the 90's when the 125 and 250 would have like same seat heights started having the same subframes etc.

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12/5/2019 10:15 AM

WarrenMX wrote:

A tall seat and bars really don't help all that much. I'm an avid mountain biker and I can say that a taller, longer frame is leaps and bounds ahead of a having a taller seat post and bars.

Go and ride an 85cc with tall bars and a tall seat and tell me its the same as riding a 250/450 sized bike.

Dirty Points wrote:

It is not just seat and bars. It is all aspects of the riding compartment: shrouds, pegs, subframe. None of which specifically are the frame.

It is different from a bicycle, where the most significant difference in frame size is actual top tube length. I don't think you actually want a different wheelbase in a fullsize dirt bike

WarrenMX wrote:

I understand what you're saying, and again, from personal experience on both dirt bikes and bicycles, I can tell you that changing shrouds, pegs, bars, seat etc, is not the same as having a platform that is scaled proportionately. If it were the case, why aren't we just all riding around on 85cc sized bikes that have bigger bars, seats, shrouds and pegs?

Bicycles are measured more accurately now with a metric known as reach. Top tube lengths can vary wildly depending on the frame design.
As the reach increases so does the wheel base. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a longer wheel base.

I'd be happy with a longer wheel base, just as I am with my bicycle having a longer wheel base than the equivalent sized small.

Lots of the Chinese trail bikes are exactly as you described: scaled up parts bolted on a peewee frame/platform

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12/5/2019 10:16 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/5/2019 10:17 AM

feelit2morrow wrote:

If manufacturers were to offer a more personalized bike it would be much more effective and cheaper to offer rider specific suspension fittings. That would be cheaper for them to produce, and the rider would be getting what many of us spend money sending our bouncers off anyways,


How cool would it be to order a bike set up out the showroom with the exact spring rate/ valving we send off to get.

That's not correct about the impact customization has to unit cost.

Building everything the same, allows the OEM to maximize economies of scale. They have more buying power with suppliers when every component in the bill of materials is exactly the same. Production and assembly is cheaper, faster, less complex in non-individualized single model scenarios.

Let's say you start introducing different size frames, wheels, and suspension settings. First, the OEM has to build or purchase the individualized components which will be procured at lower volumes and higher prices. They would need a unique weld fixture that is now either adjustable for both sizes (introduces inherent mfg delay due to changeover/setup time) or a unique fixture for XL or XS frame sizes which will be under-utilized and high cost. Suspension kits now have to be built with unique shim stacks, springs, oil &, oil level.

All of this adds extra complexity to the business. Every part has to have a BOM, an electronic routing, a take rate, and a way to mistake proof assembly so that you get the individualized parts on the right frame serial number. Assemblers have more opportunity to put on the wrong part. The supply base has to be able to ensure the individualized parts can be delivered on time when the frame is ready. All of this takes extra labor to manage which adds overhead cost.

So what would happen is not only would it cost extra to order a customized bike, all of the other expenses that come with managing a production/assembly and supply base to do so would increase overheads enough that even the "stock" bike cost would increase. Variance is an unwanted evil when it comes to production and assembly lines.

The Factory Edition from KTM/Husky or WE from Honda are the closest attempts you are ever going to see.

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12/5/2019 12:38 PM

feelit2morrow wrote:

If manufacturers were to offer a more personalized bike it would be much more effective and cheaper to offer rider specific suspension fittings. That would be cheaper for them to produce, and the rider would be getting what many of us spend money sending our bouncers off anyways,


How cool would it be to order a bike set up out the showroom with the exact spring rate/ valving we send off to get.

mxtech1 wrote:

That's not correct about the impact customization has to unit cost.

Building everything the same, allows the OEM to maximize economies of scale. They have more buying power with suppliers when every component in the bill of materials is exactly the same. Production and assembly is cheaper, faster, less complex in non-individualized single model scenarios.

Let's say you start introducing different size frames, wheels, and suspension settings. First, the OEM has to build or purchase the individualized components which will be procured at lower volumes and higher prices. They would need a unique weld fixture that is now either adjustable for both sizes (introduces inherent mfg delay due to changeover/setup time) or a unique fixture for XL or XS frame sizes which will be under-utilized and high cost. Suspension kits now have to be built with unique shim stacks, springs, oil &, oil level.

All of this adds extra complexity to the business. Every part has to have a BOM, an electronic routing, a take rate, and a way to mistake proof assembly so that you get the individualized parts on the right frame serial number. Assemblers have more opportunity to put on the wrong part. The supply base has to be able to ensure the individualized parts can be delivered on time when the frame is ready. All of this takes extra labor to manage which adds overhead cost.

So what would happen is not only would it cost extra to order a customized bike, all of the other expenses that come with managing a production/assembly and supply base to do so would increase overheads enough that even the "stock" bike cost would increase. Variance is an unwanted evil when it comes to production and assembly lines.

The Factory Edition from KTM/Husky or WE from Honda are the closest attempts you are ever going to see.

I wasn't saying it would be cheaper than the current model. They obviously have that streamlined for efficiency and cost.. I was referring to it being cheaper to swap out some springs and valves in suspension for a custom fit than to tool an entire frame.


I.E. if you're going to make a bike semi custom for me, suspension has more impact than frame.

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2018 CRF250R

12/5/2019 12:49 PM

There are some bikes made for smaller riders, and decent suspension lowering options as well. Bigger riders have never had much in the way of choices. I never considered it but it is probably a good sized niche if someone would build it.

Beta's 125 & 200 is built on a smaller frame. Beta also offer's lowering from the distributor along with BYOB, build your own Beta customization.

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2015 Beta 500 RS, history: 99 KTM 300, 87 CR250, 84 KLR 600, 82 GPZ 550, 81 KX 250, 80 KX 250, 79 Montesa 414 VE, 78 250 VB, 77 360 VB, 76 360 VA, 75 YZ 125, 74 TM 125, 72 TS 125, 60's West Bend Go Boy Kart

12/5/2019 12:50 PM

Dirty Points wrote:

Ktm already has "XL" ergo options in the power parts catalog.

Honestly, I don't think the frame itself makes all that much difference on dirt bike ergos. Where various components are hung on it is obviously more critical.

Bro, we’re talking inches here not millimeters.

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12/5/2019 12:57 PM

whistling Photo
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12/5/2019 8:47 PM

Ktm already offers three frame sizes. One size when it's new and two new sizes when it snaps in half.

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12/6/2019 10:56 AM

Dirty Points wrote:

It is not just seat and bars. It is all aspects of the riding compartment: shrouds, pegs, subframe. None of which specifically are the frame.

It is different from a bicycle, where the most significant difference in frame size is actual top tube length. I don't think you actually want a different wheelbase in a fullsize dirt bike

umm what do all those things you mentioned attach too? oh yea the frame.

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12/6/2019 11:00 AM

Seeing as how 99% of riders couldn't tell any real difference, I think that would be the biggest reason....

the bigger question is, if you want a different size, why not cut the check and have it done on your own?

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www.bettercallsaul.com
Die Antwoord

12/6/2019 11:12 AM

I have actually had a thought close to the subject. Suzuki is basically an afterthought at this point. I'm sure everyone can agree that they don't have the financial resources allotted for dirt bikes to develop a top level bike. If I were in charge at Suzuki I'd give serious thought to becoming the motorcycle of choice for midgets. If they tailored there bike frame and size to riders under 5'7" I would be willing to bet a lot of guys would pass up their preferred brand to get a bike that fit them better and they were more comfortable on. Think of a bike that fits between a CRF150R and a RMZ250 size wise. Same could be used for the big bore class. Smaller bike with a 350 engine. Lil fellas would be all over it.

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12/7/2019 6:55 AM

I think the hurdles start long before any metal is even touched. Frames are engineered with so much thought and technology today as far as rigidity and lack of said rigidity in all directions that the economy of more than one frame would be cost prohibitive. Everything changes the second the frames are altered in any fashion. Even changing the material and thickness of engine mounting brackets gives a bike a different feel. Now you are actually engineering a completely new bike, from the frame up smile.

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12/7/2019 10:26 AM

While I can commend the idea to fit us larger/taller riders and would welcome this in production.

Reality Check - its 2019 and we cant EVEN get a grips in larger sizes. I would be happy if someone came to the table and said YES we are going to acknowledge grown men exist and make LARGE grips for large hands.

We have tiny bars and tiny grips for tiny people (children), where are my tall brothers with large hands in the moto industry.

Equal Rights, Equal Rights.

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12/7/2019 10:41 AM

A bike designed for people over 6ft would be awesome. Hire Bloss as a r and d test rider when he's done racing

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12/7/2019 10:44 AM

They don’t want to!

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12/7/2019 11:34 AM

SmokinJoe439 wrote:

They used to build them more specific to size but not the way you guys are talking about. It was more the Japanese brands that did this than the euro brands.

But 125's used to have slightly smaller frames than the 250. Kind of the same thing for the 250 vs the 500 big bore bikes. They stopped doing this in the early 90's for obvious reasons.
It used to be if you lined up a 125 next to a 250 next to a 500 you could usually see the slight differences in size.

If you look at specs of the bikes from the 80's n such you would see. The 125 had a little lower seat height shorter wheel base sometimes slightly less suspension travel. It was in the 90's when the 125 and 250 would have like same seat heights started having the same subframes etc.

The Mid-'80s YZ125s had taller seat heights than the YZ250s.

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Braaapin' aint easy.

12/7/2019 12:23 PM

Im mad on Trek bicycles- Ive often wondered why mx manufacturers don't offer a service similar to Trek's Project One service. Build it online to your spec, pay for it, pick it up from your local dealer in 30 days.
Pipes, wheels, handlebars, levers, pegs, forks, shocks, springs, tyres, hell, even your name and number on the plates!

It could be done.

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12/7/2019 12:30 PM

Thisusernameisavailable wrote:

Im mad on Trek bicycles- Ive often wondered why mx manufacturers don't offer a service similar to Trek's Project One service. Build it online to your spec, pay for it, pick it up from your local dealer in 30 days.
Pipes, wheels, handlebars, levers, pegs, forks, shocks, springs, tyres, hell, even your name and number on the plates!

It could be done.

You can do exactly that with snowmobiles and SxS.

There's a cutoff date to do so, but it's possible.

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"Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower."

12/7/2019 2:07 PM

Dirty Points wrote:

It is not just seat and bars. It is all aspects of the riding compartment: shrouds, pegs, subframe. None of which specifically are the frame.

It is different from a bicycle, where the most significant difference in frame size is actual top tube length. I don't think you actually want a different wheelbase in a fullsize dirt bike

WarrenMX wrote:

I understand what you're saying, and again, from personal experience on both dirt bikes and bicycles, I can tell you that changing shrouds, pegs, bars, seat etc, is not the same as having a platform that is scaled proportionately. If it were the case, why aren't we just all riding around on 85cc sized bikes that have bigger bars, seats, shrouds and pegs?

Bicycles are measured more accurately now with a metric known as reach. Top tube lengths can vary wildly depending on the frame design.
As the reach increases so does the wheel base. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a longer wheel base.

I'd be happy with a longer wheel base, just as I am with my bicycle having a longer wheel base than the equivalent sized small.

hamncheeze wrote:

Good points and I think the biggest difference here between bicycles and motorcycles is the economy of making multiple frame sizes and the various components that have to interface. A bicycle frame is much more simple in terms of what gets hung on it. On a MX bike, a larger frame would have to have different attachment points for the engine, the rear suspension, even the gas tank, airbox and subframe. This would get very expensive from a manufacturers' standpoint in a hurry.

This is all true, but just maybe it could be done without this drama. The key issues of height can be resolved with bars and seat. The more significant issue of reach (horizontal distance from pegs to top tube) could be accomodated by multiple foot peg attachment points (custom foot pegs like pro circuit do try to help with this already but are limited). Then one last adjustment could be a longer swing arm option to increase wheelbase (sometimes not the best way to increase wheelbase as lengthening the front frame as well would provide better balance) - but it would still be a step in the right direction. (Running an extra link in the chain and the axle further back is the poor mans option of this)

So to get ~80% of the way there all brands would need to do is provide multiple peg mounts and have a slightly longer swing arm option.

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12/7/2019 3:02 PM

Because it would cost a lot.
It would also complicate their development, testing, distribution etc.
If the business case was there, they would do it.

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12/7/2019 4:12 PM

I have a feeling that the cost per unit ratio is the limiting factor here. Bicycle manufacturers can offer multiple sizes because there are hundreds of millions of bicycles sold every year. Plus, have you noticed how close to an MX bike a top-end bicycle costs? I have a feeling that the bicycle manufacturers are working on a thicker margin, or that they simply have economies of scale that allow them to tool up multiple frame sizes for each model and still be profitable.

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Braaapin' aint easy.