Best bikes for tall bikers
If you’re taller than average, you may feel as though your options are limited. And while you may not be able to fold your frame onto some of the latest sportsbikes, there are still plenty of options that are fun, fast and won’t leave you needing a chiropractor…
Riders over six feet tall may struggle to find a bike that accommodates their long limbs. The majority of motorbikes on the market are built and designed to suit riders between 5’7” and 5’11” — with an average height for European men falling somewhere between 5’9” and 5’10”, it’s easy to see why.
Many tall riders are encouraged to go for an adventure bike and we’ve included a few here — they’re a great choice regardless of height.
While this genre is currently enjoying a surge in popularity, this style of bike isn’t to everyone’s tastes so the good news is there are plenty of other options if you look hard enough.
Don’t focus too much on the seat height. The distance between the seat and the foot-pegs is the most important measurement followed by the reach and height of the bars.
The best way to find out what works for you is to get out and try the bike you really fancy first. We’re all flexible in different ways so you may be surprised by what fits and what doesn’t.
Customising your bike to suit
All isn’t lost for taller riders who have their hearts set on a bike that’s just that bit too small. High-rise clip-on handlebars are available for sports bikes, as are footrest kits and plates that can lower the footrests — the only downside to this is reduced ground clearance at extreme lean angles.
Riser handlebars are available for street bikes to alter the height and reach and for custom bikes and cruisers, different foot-boards and forward front controls are available on the aftermarket.
The best way to assess the motorbike’s suitability is to look at what is known as the ‘rider triangle’ — this is the relationship between the three contact points of the rider: backside, hands and feet.
Different bikes make different rider triangles
On a sports bike the rider’s body is tilted forwards with the hands low and the feet back and fairly high. The body position is designed to allow the rider to position his weight equally over the two wheels and move around easily for fast riding.
High footrests give better ground clearance through the corners. This can feel quite cramped so is often less than ideal for tall riders.
On a typical street bike, the rider sits higher with the feet below the elbows. This suits most riders and also offers more scope for hardware adjustment/replacement to improve comfort.
Cruisers, such as many of the Harley Davidson models offer the most relaxed riding position allowing the rider to lean back with the hands above the knees and the feet well forward. While this is the most laid-back position, some riders won’t find it particularly comfortable. If you’re looking at your first cruiser, try to get a long demo ride on a mix of roads first.
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to picking your motorcycle. Check out our best motorcycles for tall riders below…
BMW R1200GS Adventure
Perfectly proportioned for larger riders, the huge Tonka toy of the motorcycle world is comfortable whatever the terrain.
While ideal for the long of limb, it’s actually a very manageable machine for riders of average height thanks to weight distribution that also makes it incredibly competent off-road and surprisingly agile on tarmac, too.
Fans of The Long Way Round will need little convincing of its capabilities — the R1200GS Adventure really is the number one bike for taller riders seeking a do-it-all machine.
Aprilia RSV1000R Mille
Later models of this classic V-twin are still fairly roomy by modern standards though that all changed when the Italian marque launched the V4-engined RSV4, an all-together more compact motorcycle.
The early versions are definitely the best for the taller guy or girl. The 60° V-twin engine architecture pretty much dictated a tall saddle height while the narrow waist allows a relatively low footrest height without compromising ground clearance. Take your time to find a minter and you’ll have the perfect sports bike for your size.
Honda Africa Twin
Lauded for being both lower and narrower than most large capacity adventure bikes, but without compromising its ability off-road, Honda has pulled off its usual one-size-fits-all trick by making this bike work for almost everyone. Riders of 5’9” and over can easily manage this bike while six-footers and above can dominate it and feel comfortable with the roomy riding position.
Ergonomics have been considered right down to the saddle so whether you’re standing up to tackle a tricky ravine, or hunkering down to keep out of the wind, this bike will just fit.
Pick any capacity or model over the years and the KTM won’t disappoint. With a hugely successful background in off-road sport in just about every discipline, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Adventure models are all very capable when the going gets rough.
The tall seat height and wide bar make it ideal for tall riders and with a wide range to choose from, you can pick the perfect specification to fit in with the type of riding you do.
Recently revised for 2018, the Harley-Davidson Breakout is a real head turner with a huge rear tyre and the most amazing soundtrack. If you’re after a laidback cruiser with bags of attitude then look no further.
The latest model keeps its traditional looks but adds plenty of hidden technology to keep it current (and, more boringly, meet emissions regs). The showman of the Softail range, the heavily chromed Breakout gives a stretched out riding position that really suits the taller cruiser rider. Open face helmet isn’t compulsory but certainly adds cool points.
We would usually say opt for the big Multi but the truth is any of the range from the early 620 models all the way up to the current 1200 are all a decent choice for those who need a roomy perch.
All models handle well and the early models belie their quirky oddball looks. Later models take things up a notch and with all the rider aids you could ever need, different power modes, adjustable screens and that trademark Ducati V-twin rumble, the Multistrada is very hard to beat.
Triumph Rocket III
The bike that shouts: “more is more!” was a bold move for the Hinckley-based manufacturer. Back in 2004 it launched the Rocket III cruiser, a 2,294cc triple that produced a whopping 221nm of torque — that’s a similar figure to quite a few decent family diesel cars…
Riding position is roomy enough for the biggest of bikers and you can choose whether or not you need the screen for the journey — though we’d have to say it looks way cooler without. Configuration and personalisation at the point of sale mean you can have it exactly how you want it.
The first bike to really take the fight to Suzuki for top speed supremacy, just like the Hayabusa, the ZZR1400 only needs a few mods to take it into 200mph territory.
Unlike the slightly cramped Suzuki, however, the ZZR has plenty of room for a six-footer to stretch out and get behind the bars of this ballistic bike. Indeed, the ZZR is no one-trick pony with the ability to tackle track days, two-up touring or even the commute at a push. A real all-rounder, the ZZR should definitely be on the list of bikes to try.
The Italian manufacturer’s first stab at the cruiser market was as outlandish as expected, though few anticipated its brilliance.
Universally lauded by the world’s press, the Diavel uses a similar 1200cc motor to the Multistrada, so it’s certainly no slouch. Neutral, easy handling defies a huge rear tyre and raked out forks. It’s kind of a cross between a traditional cruiser and a big naked, and it’s no exaggeration to call this bike a ‘game changer’ — one that works brilliantly for taller riders who want performance, handling and looks that will always receive admiring glances. Kudos to the Bolognese brand, the Diavel rocks.
You could also opt for the four-cylinder K-series touring machines but there’s just something about the character of the R1200RT that gives it an edge. The motor is similar to the one used in the GS and has bags of torque with a super-smooth delivery that makes for relaxed yet brisk touring.
The riding position is roomy and the screen is high enough to keep long riders cossetted on long journeys. Superb braking with ABS and assured handling make this one of the best touring bikes available — whatever your height.
One of the best-looking cruisers on the market and the rider triangle will allow taller riders to stretch out more. The seat is higher off the ground than it looks.
The Fury’s handlebar sits higher and the forward controls are directly under the grips making this motorbike a top competitor for keeping the rider comfortable all day long.
“6’2” and I ride a Honda Transalp – I have a 36” inside leg so I am probably at the extreme of tall. I do find my wrists get a little sore on longer rides but hey my feet touch the ground.” Evie Harley
This bike has a forward handlebar placement and a 25.9 inch seat, allowing the rider to stretch out. The floorboards are larger than average providing room for the rider to put their feet up. This bike is ideal for a rider with long arms and legs.
The Bonneville isn’t as recommended as some others on this list but it still qualifies because it has a long flat seat allowing riders to sit further back on the saddle, keeping their legs straight and their arms extended.
“Triumph Tiger 995i the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden, I was too short for it but a tall person around 6ft 6 or so, they are great!” Chris Sarson
Suzuki C50 Boulevard B.O.S.S
This new 2014 model is the smallest of the B.O.S.S. models and is one of the 3 new blacked-out versions of the Suzuki Boulevard line.
It has higher bigger handlebars and bigger floorboards to stretch the legs making it a far better ride than its predecessor. This motorbike is ideal for tall riders who don’t need or want a heavy, high-cc cruiser.
Harley Davidson Breakout
This American-made cruiser is a comfortable ride for tall riders with a 119 degree knee-bend. The forward controls and drag bar are within easy reach and the Breakout’s large rider triangle is ideal for the lanky biker.
“6ft 3 and ride a GSXR K1, not too bad comfortable wise after a long days ride though it weren’t my legs but my clutch wrist that was giving me grief, apart from that good bike for taller riders.” Dan Cox
Yamaha Star Raider
This Raider is another American-made cruiser that is a high competitor with the Harley-Davidson Breakout. It has a knee bend angle of 132 degrees that requires a long straight foot stretch and a vast rider triangle with high reach handlebars.
The deep dish seat that comes as standard may cause some problems as it gives limited manoeuvrability but there are 4 other seats to accessories with to find the best match. Ideally this motorbike is best suited to riders 6’ and taller.
“I’m 6ft2, my old Goldwing was awesome. I now ride a VN900 Kawasaki, and renovating an old GT3 1000.” John Pegg
Indian Chief Classic
This motorbike has plenty of room to move with long, wide handlebars and floorboards and has added comfort with a large plush seat. Although this seat is low at only 26 inches.
The low seat and high handlebar means the riders knees are unlikely to get knocked with a knee-bend of 101 degrees.
Harley Davidson Night Rod Special
Ideal for lanky bikers, this cruiser has a long reach to the handlebars and foot pegs and the riders are practically straight with a 130 degree knee angle.
These bikes are the future of Harley-Davidson with 125 horse power, performance and attitude allowing the rider to ride in style.
Vulcan 900 Custom
Designed by Kawasaki, this mid-sized cruiser is a good motorbike for tall riders who aren’t ready for a huge motorbike.
The foot pegs are forward mounted enabling the rider to stretch out and a long seat provides lots of room to move around.
“I ride a Harley Davidson Road King. Hired one in the US and it had a tall boy seat fitted along with highway pegs – nearly 3,000 miles later and I was still happy. So I have just bought one – so far so good. I’ll get a tall boy seat fitted to it as I could do with that extra stretch for longer journeys.” Evie Harley
Harley Davidson Wide Glide
Commonly regarded as one of the most comfortable cruisers, it’s no surprise it’s suitable for taller bikers. It has a wide flat seat (enabling the rider to sit high compared to other chopper-style cruisers), forward controls and drag bar and a 135 degree knee angle making it the ideal bike for riders 6’ and taller.
Other style of motorbikes, not mentioned here, may be suitable for tall riders and it all comes down to the personal preference of the rider. Shopping around and doing lots of research will enable tall riders to find the style of bike they desire along with the best rider triangle for their physique.