Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?

Motorcycle myths are a complicated subject.

Like all myths, they come to exist due to their real foundation. They became myths because mouth to mouth information is prone to personal adaptation.

For me, one of the worst myths that exist around motorcycles is the idea that the only way to drive a bike is if we can flat foot both feet while seated on the bike.

Today, I am aiming to shed some light on why this is a myth, as well as explain why even people that are lucky enough to flat-foot both feet on their bikes, should learn something with the more vertically challenged riders, myself included.

We have all seen or been in situations like the picture below, and is there anything wrong with that?

Not at all. Nothing except the fact that not more of us do it.

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?

Reference: Image from

This myth scares people, and that not only produces riders that are not riding to best of their abilities, but it also keeps many potential riders from getting a bike in the first place.

Let's then divide this topic into parts for extra clarity.



I’m far from trying to say that brands should make shorter bikes, but they should advertise them properly.

Whenever we are looking at the specs of a bike, we can find the seat height, but what about seat width?

Our inseam measurement is different with our legs closed or with our legs open, so why do brands insist on only giving us half of the equation?

This being, wouldn’t it be better if they advertised “seat height with an X amount of pounds rider seated” or even “flat-footing both feet only possible for riders above X amount of inches of inseam”?

Pretty much anything would be better than the measurement they give us now that only scares people, and in reality, gives us little to no useful info.



This one we need to divide into three sub-topics:

Suspension settings

I’m incredibly vocal when it comes to adjusting a motorcycle suspension to the rider, sadly, that is something that still a lot of us don’t do.

Motorcycles come stock with suspensions suited for average weight riders, but we are not all average weight.

I don’t mean you should open your suspension to let the bike sag lower. I'm suggesting that for many riders, adjusting the suspension to their weight may get the bike to a height they can handle.

If my bike comes stock for a 175-pound rider, and I weight 130-pounds, I can guarantee that if I don’t adjust my suspension, my sag measurements will be all wrong and the bike taller than it should.

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?

Reference: Image from


Sadly it is not common to see teachers - other than on specific courses - teaching new riders how to balance a motorcycle.

Knowing how to maneuver a bike by hand, as well as understanding a bike’s balancing point is paramount to build confidence and a deeper understanding of the physics at play.

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?
Reference: Image from

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?
Reference: Video from Ronny Munthe Johannesen showing how to move around the bike while only holding it with two fingers

Once we understand that bikes have a balance point, and basic geometry tells us that three points make a plane, flat-footing becomes irrelevant.

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?
Reference: Image from

On the image above, you can see on the left a shaky plane made out of four points; two solid - the wheels - and two unstable - the feet.

On the image on the right, you see a stable plane made out of three points, two wheels, and one firm foot.

Another essential aspect of this technique teaches us is that we should not be glued to our seats.

To be able to use the one-foot technique, one needs to be able to move around the bike seat.

This is something all riders should feel comfortable doing, regardless of their height.

Lowering motorcycles

I don’t have any pet peeves with lowering motorcycles. I do however have some with the way many people do it.

Lowering motorcycles should not be done lightly, and it definitely shouldn’t be done just in the front or the rear of the bike.

Lowering means:

  1. You will be changing the geometry of the bike
  2. You will modify the way the bike handles
  3. The suspension needs to be shortened or blocked for the wheels not to hit the bike when the suspension goes through its travel
  4. Some parts may hit the floor when cornering
  5. You may need to shorten or modify cables, lines, the side and/or centerstand, to name a few points

When lowering is done correctly, a bike can handle beautifully, however, and sadly, very rarely I see this job performed successfully, and even fewer times I see the uninformed rider noticing the difference.

As a short rider myself with a deep love for tall bikes, I won't deny it, I have let my bikes fall many times because I put my foot down and didn’t notice a hole on the ground or a gust of wind pushed me beyond what my support leg could handle.

However, and since they are “stoped falls,” none of them hurt anything other than my ego and potentially a plastic on the bike.

It takes time, it takes practice, and it takes will of power, but one strong foot down is far safer than two shaky, nervous feet on a driver that is not in touch with the bike he/she is driving.

Myth busting - Do you need to flat foot both feet to ride motorcycles?


  • Debbie

    I totally agree with both feet on the ground premise… Being a 5’1 woman riding in NY coming to a stop sign, i need both feet on the ground… And, it’s so much easier for me

  • José Reis

    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for your comment, it is always great to see different points of view, and in this case, ours are indeed different.

    As you say so yourself, the proper riding technique is to use one foot down, and considering that a large percentage of riders in the world cannot flatfoot both feet, the only option would be for them to stop riding most bikes, or all together.

    The premise of the article is to tell people that there are ways to go around being short legged and still ride a bike safely, and that is 100% true.

    You mention a few examples that can be addressed just by being humble, and others by being smart.

    I’ve asked many times my pillions to get off the bike so that I could maneuver it, and I’ve gotten out of the bike myself to do some of those maneuvers by hand.

    Was it glamorous? Not at all.

    Was I made fun of? In some occasions.

    Was it safe? Definitely, and by far more reliable than tiptoeing around the maneuver.

    The same way that falling to the side when stopped because my foot didn’t properly reach the floor, for instance due to a hole I didn’t see, can indeed be troublesome, but hardly catastrophic.

    If instead of a hole we are talking about an off-camber as per your example, even better, use the other foot, no one is saying that you should apply this technique always with the same foot, one should be able to adapt.

    In the idea of adapting, it is common to see shorter riders stopping close to sidewalks so they can put their foot there, or balancing the bike a couple of extra seconds before stopping to verify where it’s safe to put a foot down.

    Does preventiveness fail and sometimes the bike falls? As the article points out, it has happened to me multiple times.

    However, the statistic probability of a fall to the side with the bike stopped being catastrophic, is extremely low.

    But does the possibility exists? It does, as it also exists the possibility that a rider that is flatfooting both feet gets rammed from behind at a traffic light.

    Flatfooting is not a necessary part of motorcycling, what is, however, is for us to accept our shortcomings – no pun intended – and learn to adapt our riding style to them using whatever techniques we must.

  • Michael

    I strongly disagree with the premise of the article. Whereas it’s true that one foot down at a stop is considered proper riding technique, it is essential that both feet can be firmly placed on the ground. A few inches of unexpected lean can be catastrophic if the rider can’t reach the ground with both feet. Whether it’s off-camber surfaces, riding with a passenger or maneuvering a three point turn on a narrow streetcar just a few examples of needing to reach the ground solidly with both feet. The suggested “myth” is not a myth but a necessary part of motorcycling.

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