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Choosing a motorbike can be a daunting task, especially for the shorter riders amongst us, as more often or not we believe that the bike we desire is not necessarily the most suitable for us in terms of seating height, and also the weight of the motorbike.
Generally 5 ft 7” and under is considered short for a motorcyclists, but no one is so short that they can’t ride a motorbike. There are plenty of adjustments that can be made to your desired bike to make it more manageable.
A motorbike’s seat height is measured in millimetres foot or inches and is measured when the motorbike is upright. Seat height varies between bikes, for example, choppers and cruisers have low seats but they are wide meaning the foot pegs are usually far away and off road motorbikes have very high seats meaning a shorter than average rider will struggle to reach the floor safely and keep the motorbike steady.
You may think you’re limited to what kind of bike you can ride but there’s a wealth of choice out there. There are even some advantages to being a vertically-challenged biker including;
Motorcycles for short riders
If you are a rider who is shorter than average, you could feel comfortable on any of the following motorbikes:
500 cc second hand
These bikes, such as a Honda CB 500 or a Suzuki GS 500, are a bargain – which is ideal if you are on a budget, don’t want to show off and don’t want to be too upset if it gets damaged slightly. These 500 cc motorbikes are very reliable too, with low fuel consumption and spare parts are cheap. 500 cc motorbikes will last a lifetime if looked after and treated correctly.
300 cc sport bike
A Yamaha R3 is a small sports bike that looks fantastic. It weighs 169kg, so it is easy to handle and the seat height is only 780mm. This motorbike is fun to ride and gives you an insight into how a sports bike feels to ride before you progress to a bigger, more powerful one – if wanted.
Another good bike in this class is the Kawasaki Ninja 300, and definitely a worthy competitor of the Yamaha R3.
A Ducati is a stylish motorbike that has a low seat and a V-Twin engine. It’s a great motorbike for the shorter rider and is also a recommended and sometimes regularly used motorbike by more experienced riders.
“Let’s define shorter riders. Leg length is important but so is upper body and leg strength. Triumph American and many cruisers.
SV 650 is a good modern sporty choice. An older CBR400. My wife is 27inch inside leg and comfortably rides a T100SE (alloy wheels). She used to ride a ZZR600 but had the seat professionally lowered.” Andy Ellis
BMW G650 GS
If you fancy an adventure motorbike then the BMW G650 GS has a standard seat height of 800mm, but the low suspension option means you can get the seat height down to around 770mm above the ground.
It is a single cylinder motorbike which means it has good fuel consumption, but also suggests it’s a motorbike that cannot be ridden at high speeds.
BMW F700 GS
This BMW is an alternative motorbike for the Honda NC750X. The BMW has a 800cc twin-cylinder engine and the seat could be lowered to 765mm. There’s still plenty of power, style and comfort in this BMW F700 GS so you won’t feel like you’re missing out!
Kawasaki Vulcan S
The Vulcan resembles a cruiser – but is not a real cruiser. This motorbike has a 705mm seat height and weighs 225kg so it slightly heavier than some of the other recommended motorbikes.
This Kawasaki model has a street-bike air about it which is consistent with its road handling – but can be annoying to the riders who want the cruiser feel.
“I’m 5ft 6 and I used to rid a Fazer but I had to lower it. I now ride a Kawasaki Vulcan 650, very comfortable!” Robert Crawford
Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
A Moto Guzzi V7 Stone is a very light bike with a 22 litre fuel tank and a 780mm seat height, making it an easy bike for shorter riders to handle.
Other bikes in the classic collection that are in competition with the Guzzi are the Triumph Bonneville and the Kawasaki W800, and neither of these should be overlooked.
The best way to decide if the motorbike you choose is right for you is to try it on for size and ride it. Safety and comfort depends on the rider so the motorbike has to fit you correctly to enable you to gain the best experience in your riding career.
Top Tips for Shorter People Wanting to Ride a Motorbike:
“Look at the specs for bikes. Seat height is given, reach to all the controls is a must so really get the seat bit sorted which will disco unit some of the bikes there is only one real way to finally make a decision and that’s to go and sit on the bike and better still, test ride it.” Ron Ellingworth