Is bike height really that significant?
After spending 2 years struggling to get my Shadow Spirit running, I finally bought an 08 SV650 about a week ago. My experience on the Shadow was pretty limited, a couple hundred miles at most (it started spitting problems out almost immediately after I got it...), so my experience level right now is past the "But how do I GO?" and somewhere in the "Oh s--- that was a stupid mistake" phase.
This SV650 has been a host of idiosyncrasies (mostly due to the previous retard owner, like a fuel line coming loose, loose rear axle nut, loose hoses, loose chain, bolts missing out of everything, basically she didn't own a wrench and hand-tightened everything), including neglect (5 quarts of coffee black oil with brown frothy goodness came out of it the other day. You couldn't even see the oil line with it on the KICKSTAND.) However, the owner before her definitely knew his stuff: he replaced the springs/emulators, a Techlusion TFI, integrated taillights, gear indicator, full yoshi exhaust, etc.
Anyway, the last owner, being 5'2", had the bike lowered... a lot. I'm not sure how much longer the suspension links are, but the front forks are probably about 2" lowered, and if I measure from the rear axle nut to the tail flange, it's about 17". To compare, someone on another forum said that 20" was supposedly stock. The license plate holder has been replaced with a simple steel bracket that holds the license plate inches above the rear tire; when I bottom out the suspension, it's less than a finger's width from the tire. From what I can tell, this bike has been lowered a great deal more than it should've been, but when I look at it, it seems to still have a lot of clearance to the ground. However...
Today, while driving through Lake Lure NC, and taking it cautiously because I was new to the bike and the bike/road combo, I came on a turn a little sharper than I had realized it was. I know I wasn't going any more than 25-30mph because I was behind an E250, and I took the turn at roughly the same speed as him. Either way, I wasn't particularly worried about it, and leaned into it harder to compensate. Well, mid-turn my boot scraped the pavement and I about shat my pants, straightening the bike up instinctively. I managed to re-enter the turn without any due harm, but the mid-turn wobble I got in protest from all the erratic adjustment, and thought of sliding into the guard rail, was very disconcerting. I couldn't believe I had scraped my boot in such a mild turn.
Now, I know what you're all thinking. "Your feet aren't on the pegs right; you should be riding with the balls of your feet." Well, I was. True, my feet weren't perfectly flush with the side of the bike, but there wasn't half an inch between my foot and the bike. That shouldn't even matter at my lean angle.
You're also probably thinking I was leaning out of the turn. My form is far from perfect (or even "good"), but my whole body was certainly in that turn, with most of my weight on the inside peg. I certainly wasn't counterbalancing or anything like that.
I know that lowered bikes can't turn as sharply as standard ones, but I always figured the difference was meager and it only applied to people who were actually taking the bikes to their limit. I don't even use a quarter of the throttle on that bike, much less the angle. Hell, the bike came with a good inch of chicken strips on them, and I've certainly not wittled them down any. I ordered stock suspension links, and I'm hoping they'll be here tomorrow, but since then I've been taking turns at much shallower angles.
I love my bike already, but we're not fully acquainted yet, apparently...