Beginner Motorcycles for Short Riders (Complete Guide)
Surely there are things that you cannot do as a short rider; there are certain bikes that are definitely not safe to ride due to the reach or because of a very high saddle height. But our group leader who is 5’7″ with a 30 inch inseam made us realize that as a shorter rider there is a lot that we can do and that’s pretty awesome. Recently we met another rider with the same inseam height as our group leader and he was thinking about buying a BMW R1200GS Adventure. With a seat as high as 35 inches, this can be a disaster.
So let’s talk in general about the things that we cannot do and when it’s absolutely not worth to even try to opt for a bike that are not a good fit for short riders.
Where there’s a wheel there’s a way
There are a few bikes that we tried to ride like the Harley Davidson, and who doesn’t want to ride it? But the front controls were just too far from reach. And we don’t think its worth for anyone who is short, as you would not able to safely maneuver. What does this mean? It means that bikes that you are not comfortable tiptoeing due to very high saddle height is too heavy for you. And this has less to do with how tall you are than how strong you are. As a shorter rider, try to avoid bikes that are too tall to reach to the front controls or the ones that are too heavy.
Nevertheless, a lot of bikes that Harley makes with the front controls can be modified to have mid controls. So if you really want to ride one of the Harley’s you can find a way to make it happen. Of course it’s going to cost you more money and these mods are not always simple to operate. But you will get what you dreamt of.
So we have talked about the things that we can’t do, now let’s talk about the things that we can do. As a shorter rider some of the most comfortable bikes to ride around are cruisers with mid controls. They are easy to manoeuvre, have a low seat height and are far more forgiving than any other motorcycle type. Let’s take a look at some of the recommended beginner motorcycles for short riders.
Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster
Triumph Bonneville is an ideal machine for beginners looking for a low seat height motorcycle. It has a big tank, comfortable saddle, and a pillion seating space in case you prefer to take your better half on a ride! The bike is powered by 1200cc liquid-cooled, 8-valve, single overhead parallel twin engine. It makes 77 horsepower at 6,100 RPM and 106 NM’s of torque at 4,000 RPM. Stopping power is provided by twin 310 mm disc Brembo 2-piston floating calipers at the front and a single 255 mm disc Nissin single piston floating caliper at the rear. Both are equipped with ABS keeping bumps at bay. KYB 41 mm forks up front and a KYB Monoshock with linkage and stepped preload adjuster at the back.
It does have Bonneville’s DNA and Bobber influence however this cruiser has a more modern setup. It has fender struts that hold the rear fender in a fixed position above the back hoop which allows you to put the seat for the pillion. And if you want the bobber look you can take off the seat as well as the grab rail.
The seat height is just 705 mm; we have personally experienced this on Speedmaster that a rider with an average height of 5 feet 5 inches and an inseam height of 28 inches can easily place his foot on the ground. So despite a dry weight of 245 kilogram, Speedmaster gives a lot of confidence to the riders when they take this out on the road.
Kawasaki Vulcan S
The new Kawasaki Vulcan S is a cruiser by heart and a sports bike by performance. What we get is pure adrenaline rush combined with the unmatched comfort of a cruiser. With an all new lively look, super premium saddle comfort, ultra comfortable handling, and a black theme running all around, this bike looks absolutely stunning. Powered by a 649 cc liquid cooled fuel injected DOHC 8-valve parallel twin motor that puts out 60 BHP of max power at 7,500 RPM and 62.4 newton meters of maximum torque at 6,600 RPM. You will absolutely love the way this bike sounds especially when you rev it all the way to the max in each gear.
With a seat height of 705 mm, the bike provides an ideal seating posture. That’s not all; the good news for all our short height riders is that the Vulcan S has something unique to offer. Known as ‘Ergo Fit®’, you can now adjust the handlebar and the foot pegs as per your height and comfort.
When it comes to braking, it has a single 300 mm front disc and a 250 mm rear disc with a dual channel ABS as standard. In terms of suspension, it has 41 mm telescopic forks up front and an offset monoshock at the back. The clutch feel is very light, the 6 speed gear transmission is smooth, and all in all everything is very well sorted out on this cruiser. Thanks to the lower center of gravity it literally sticks to the road and shoots you like an arrow through the straights giving you utmost confidence.
Honda Shadow 750 Aero
When it comes to low seat height motorcycles, Honda has certainly considered this category very seriously. Currently Honda has five cruisers on offer in this division everything from classic roadsters to custom lowriders. However, the top of Honda’s 750 line-up is the retro classic 750 Aero. Under the Arrows classic 14 liter fuel tank you’ll find a liquid-cooled fuel-injected 745 CC long stroke v-twin powerplant that is fed by a single 34 mm throttle body to help maximize combustion of each cylinders.
Talking about the saddle height; the Honda Shadow Aero has a seat height of around 657 mm. So a rider with an inseam length of as low as 25 inches can comfortably place both his foot on the ground. Moreover, the curve of the handlebar is very close to the tank, making the throttle and controls comfortably reachable for riders who are around 5 feet tall.
When it comes to pulling out the stops Honda hasn’t held back there either, the Aero comes stock with an ABS braking system that delivers one of the best linked front and rear braking systems out there. So the arrow looks great, sounds good, and stops very well but as always you don’t have to take our word for it, you can find these with many used motorcycle dealers or private sellers out there in the market. Go get a test ride today.
Indian Scout Bobber
The Indian Scout Bobber is an absolutely incredible cruiser for vertically challenged riders. Blacked-out aesthetic with chrome heads and curves makes it subtle yet very pretty. It comes with a liquid-cooled cruiser engine which to the rest of the world might not sound particularly mind-blowing but from the American cruiser standpoint is a big deal. And because of this odd engine, it’s allowed Indian to create an ultra-light and agile motorcycle.
The Indian Scout has been a popular name in the high end cruiser territory and this time Indian motorcycles have struck something really different with the Scout. Following the typical bobber philosophy, the Indian Scout Bobber gets minimalistic body work and has stripped out its traditional front & rear fenders.
Indian Bobber is powered by 1133 cc, V-Twin engine that outputs a 94 BHP of power and 97 NM’s of torque at maximum. The tyres are of the same size as the Indian Scout (Front 130/90-16 & Rear 150/80-16) but the Bobber gets Knobby units that further add to its appeal. Added to this is a low seat height of 649 mm which not only makes it comfortable for a rider with small inseam length but also makes it picture perfect.
Seat Height Comparison
|Brand||Seat Height (mm)||Seat Height (inches)||Weight (Kilograms)|
|Harley Davidson Fat Boy||675mm||26.5 inches||322 Kg|
|BMW R18||690mm||27.1 inches||345 Kg|
|Harley Davidson Low Rider S||690mm||27.1 inches||305 Kg|
|Kawasaki Vulcan S||705mm||27.7 inches||235 Kg|
|Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster||705mm||27.7 inches||263 Kg|
|Suzuki Intruder||740mm||29 inches||148 Kg|
|Triumph Rocket 3 GT||750mm||29.5 inches||291 Kg|
|Triumph Street Twin||760mm||29.9 inches||216 Kg|
|Suzuki DR 200||810mm||31.9 inches||125 Kg|
|Yamaha XT250||810mm||31.9 inches||123 Kg|
|Kawasaki Versys-X 300||815mm||32.1 inches||184 Kg|
|BMW G 310 GS||820mm||32.3 inches||175 Kg|
|Triumph Tiger 800 XRx Low||759mm||29.9 inches||199 Kg|
|BMW R NineT Scrambler||789mm||31.1 inches||220 Kg|
|Triumph Street Scrambler||789mm||31.1 inches||206 Kg|
|Kawasaki Ninja 400||784mm||30.9 inches||173 Kg|
|Suzuki GSX-R600||810mm||31.9 inches||187 Kg|
|Yamaha MT-07||805mm||31.7 inches||184 Kg|
|Honda Rebel 500||690mm||27.2 inches||191 Kg|
|Indian Scout Bobber||647mm||25.5 inches||255 Kg|
Beginner Sport Bikes for Short Riders
First thing first, can a short person ride a Sports bike?
A vertically challenged rider has to lean farther forward to reach the handle bars due to shorter arms; this may create some problems when it comes to a cruiser or a sports cruiser motorcycle. However, a good thing about being a short rider on a sports bike is that the tuck of your legs around the bike isn’t going to be as intense as it would be for a tall rider, making it an excellent choice for them. Again this all has to do with your comfort, skill, and riding capability. So if you’re a shorter rider and are planning on a certain bike, make sure you are 100% comfortable on it before giving it a go.
One thing to understand right off the bat is that sport bikes are not built keeping short height riders in mind. So you may find some bikes that work better than others for you. But if you are determined to ride a sport bike you may have to accept the fact that your bike will require a little bit of modification. Obviously the best, easiest and the shortest seats you are going to find will be on your 250 cc and 300 cc bikes. These bikes are basically built for beginner sports category with a low as well as thin seat to help new riders adapt with the riding environment.
Another important thing for a lot of riders to understand when it comes to sport bikes and seat height is that they’re not necessarily designed to get your feet flat on the ground. As a new rider you need to ride something short enough and small enough and light enough that you can build up the confidence to be able to easily manoeuvre it around. This being said let us now take a look at some of the beginner motorcycles that will solve this purpose.
The CBR250RR has always been a good all-rounder bike. This is a bike that you can use on a day to day basis for office commutes, long distance touring, weekend getaways, and you can also enjoy it on tracks should you choose to attend some track day events. In case you haven’t noticed it yet, the CBR250RR draws its design inspiration from legendary VFR1200F which was one of the most iconic bikes Honda had ever produced. The design elements are well highlighted with the red color and the new body graphics are sensibly laid out to further compliment and uplift the sporty design concept.
When compared to its predecessor CBR250R, this motorcycle gets some fresh new updates like the LED headlamp at the front, LED tail lamp at the rear and you have some beautiful curves and cuts all over the fairing. Overall the design team has tried really hard to make it look very aggressive.
When we talk about the engine, it has a 250cc parallel twin, liquid cooled, fuel injected motor which produces 38 BHP’s of power and 23 Newton Meters of maximum torque. Talking about another major USP of this bike, the CBR250RR has been equipped with split seats that offer adequate amount of space for rider as well as pillion. The seating posture is not too aggressive compared to other super sports bike, and neither too upright. With a saddle height of 790 mm, you have the flexibility to amble around the city comfortably at the same time shoot across the empty roads in the highway. This versatile nature of the CBR250RR comes across as a major plus for it as compared to other super sport bikes that offer way to aggressive seating posture for beginners.
The GSX 250R is among the most underrated machine in A2 motorcycle segment. While the competition is really getting intense in the quarter liter segment, the GSX 250R is indeed offering something unique in its own special way. It does not get an overload of electronics and it doesn’t try to offer something extraordinary but what it does offer is something very simple; pure riding pleasure!
With a Seat height of just 780 mm, the GSX 250R is one of the most ideal sports bike for short riders in the beginner motorcycle segment. Additionally, the seat is much narrower which further eliminates the need to tip-toe while in traffic even for a 5.5 feet tall rider.
Powering the bike is a 4-stroke single cylinder 248 cc fuel injected and oil cooled engine that puts out 24.7 HP of max power at 8,000 RPM and 23.3 NM’s of max torque at 6,500 RPM. The specifications of this bike might sound modest, but when it comes to power; the GSX 250R will definitely put a smile to your face. Talking about the design; it has a compact & sharp muscular look with LED headlamps up front, integrated tail lamp at the rear, and twin port exhaust muffler with an astonishing chrome cover. We get disc brakes at both ends with a large 290 mm single disc Nissin twin piston calipers up front and 240mm single disc Nissin single piston caliper at the rear. Then we have the chunky 41mm front telescopic forks that offer a superb front end feel and a rear monoshock with 7 presets. All in all, GSX 250 is a versatile bike for beginners with great road presence that allows you to commute on a daily basis as well as to have a blast on a track day.
How To Ride A Tall Motorcycle If You Are Short?
There is a lot of debate whether you should get a motorcycle that is appropriate with your height and inseam or should you just adapt, but the real challenge for a lot of short riders is that you really can’t ask a motorcycle brand to tailor as per your height and your stature. So the best thing to do is to learn new skills and adapt and ride any motorcycle you want because honestly we’ve seen people who are a lot shorter (less than 5.3 feet) and are easily able to ride one.
Be it a short person or a tall person, motorcycle riding is all about basic skills that are needed when the ground is a little farther away than you want it. It starts with balance and not dynamics, and once you are riding the motorcycle it really doesn’t matter how tall you are because the skill sets remain the same and the bike balances itself.
Tip#1: The first thing that creates a hesitation among short riders when they think about the tall bikes is while mounting and dismounting them. The first step is to understand that the bike is not as heavy as it appears to be. The way we recommend you master this is by walking with the motorcycle holding on to it with as light a touch as possible. You can hold on to things like the windshield, mirror, turn signals and make sure you are not in a hurry, if the bike feels a little unstable pause for a moment find the balance and then continue around.
Tip#2: Once you have gained this confidence it would be much easier to mount and dismount your bike. The simplest way we recommend is to toss your leg over and put both hands on the handlebar while bringing the bike upright to the center. Now that the bike is on the center you still have one foot on the ground and the bike is leaned a little bit towards the left. So even if you have a 28 inch in seam height for example, and you are riding a motorcycle that’s about 31 inches you can pretty much bring it to the center by leaning towards the left.
Tip#3: Once you have dismounted the stand, put your left foot on the ground completely by moving your butt to the left. Generally speaking when you’re riding a motorcycle make sure your right foot is always on the brakes and the left foot is used for tip toeing.
Tip#4: Another factor that really agonizes vertically challenged riders is the slow speed maneuvers; these can turn out to be the most difficult things. So in this type of situation turn to the direction you want to go while simultaneously looking behind and release the gas slowly. One major way to become really confident in your riding style is vision, because where you look is where you travel. If you’re looking at the wrong place when you are riding your motorcycle, it’s going to reflect on your handlebars as well.
Tip#5: When it comes to mounting the motorcycle back, it is actually quite simple. However, there are few things to be kept in mind especially if you live at lower elevations. When you come to a stop and you put your foot down you risk dropping it every single time and the less inseam length you have, the more likely it will happen.
- So make sure you are actually prepared for mounting by firmly placing your left foot on the ground and simultaneously applying brakes from your right foot.
- Once the bike is completely stopped, use your handlebar breaks to stop it from moving. Gently change the direction of your butt to the right.
- Now place your right foot on the ground completely and mount the stand with your left leg. Double check the side stand and toss your legs around to get off from the bike.
Best Beginner Scramblers for Short Riders
The traditional usage of Scrambler motorcycles dates back to the middle of the 20th century when bikers used to customise their motorcycles for seamless transition between on-road and off-road trails. This tradition only survived for few years due to the introduction of purpose-built & technically sound dirt bikes that were both capable for off-road riding as well as flat surfaces.
But are these modern day Scramblers good for beginner riders, that too for a short heighted one?
Scramblers are one of the minimalist, naked, fast motorcycles that are purely made for performance and appearance. But make no mistake, unlike a sports bike or a cruiser they are comparatively much lighter. In fact back in the days, Scramblers were actually built by simply stripping off as much weight as possible from a motorcycle so that the riders could compete among themselves. These races were conducted generally from one café shop to another, and hence the name Café racers was originated.
As of today, modern Scramblers no longer play the purpose they used to; instead they are all about their vintage looks, style and the cool charisma they portray. However, the traditional thinking while building a Scrambler is maintained. And this has come as an advantage particularly for vertically challenged riders who would otherwise find it difficult to balance if these bikes were heavy. Yet again, due to their styling; the saddle accompanying the Scramblers are much narrower than any other motorcycle segment which further allows a comfortable grip for riders with low inseam length. Let us take a look at some of the ideal Scramblers suitable for short rider.
Triumph Bonneville T100
The latest entrance to the Bonneville family, T100 is for those looking for the old-world feel. This classic Bonneville T100 is a beautiful looking motorcycle that comes in dual shade to further increase its retro appeal. It has a twin pod instrument cluster that is equipped with a speedometer and tachometer. It also has a small LCD display that showcases details like fuel gauge, real time mileage, distance to empty, gears, odometer, and trip meters. Besides, the switch gear is ergonomically laid out.
The Bonneville T100 is a compact and retro designed motorcycle that has an old-school aura around it. It comes befitted with all the modern day technology that can accompany safe riding. The T100 comes with a 900 cc parallel twin motor that delivers 55 BHP of maximum power and 18 NM’s of maximum torque. The 5-speed gearbox works with precision and offers positive gear shifts. It is a bike that urges you to cruise and enjoy the vistas with a deep exhaust note in the background. The flat seat of 790 mm from the ground and the centered foot pegs result in an upright riding stance. The handlebars are also slightly curved towards the rider which makes the riding posture comfortable.
The new Thruxton RS takes all the view points and aesthetics of the café racers and combines them with an advanced chassis, latest technology and high performing engine. This bike is significantly lighter when compared to any other Scramblers in this segment and even its predecessors, thus delivering an intuitive handling. 103 Horsepower at 7,500 RPM and 112 NM’s of max torque, this 1200 cc Liquid-cooled engine is much more responsive and dependable. And then there’s a thrilling British twin sound; a rich and roar exhaust note from the sporty twin reverse cone megaphone silencers topping off its modern capability. It comes equipped with a torque assist clutch which gives a lighter feel making it comfortable on long motorcycle journeys or in heavy traffic. Added to this is a ride by a wire throttle and liquid cooling which combines to deliver excellent fuel efficiency.
RS has successfully scrapped off significant weight due to dedicated sports focused chassis, suspensions, lightweight engine components and tires resulting in a jaw dropping retro motorcycle that weighs just 197 kilograms. Combine this with a saddle height of 810 mm; and it will surely fill the void between modern day motorcycles and vertically challenged riders.
Suzuki VanVan 200
The VanVan 200 has a 199 cc single cylinder air cooled fuel injected engine with a five-speed transmission. It is an upgraded expanded version of the 125 VanVan that had been available for a long time globally. It is relatively inexpensive and very capable small displacement retro motorcycles that favors larger wider tire setup as opposed to skinnier dirt tires. With a curb weight of just 128 kilograms they are not super-fast on the street but instead they are light and very easy to throw around, added to this is a 770 mm saddle height, making it an ideal choice for entry level riders looking for a low height seat.
The Suzuki VavVan is a perfect motorcycle for beginners that will instill some confidence due to its super easy and relaxed riding style. Moreover, it has a wide handle bar on a long- wheel base chassis, which further builds more trust with the riders. All in all, a perfect vintage styled bike that is light weight and retro cool.
Adventure Bikes for Short Riders
Dual sport and adventure riders come in all shapes and sizes; one of the coolest things about this category is that it appeals to people from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities, and height. It is a sad fact that dual sports and adventure bikes tend to be tall because you need that additional suspension travel and ground clearance to deal with the literal ups and downs that come along off road pavement. These motorcycle seats that are almost 3 feet tall can create difficulties for people who have shorter legs.
Understandably, there is nothing more confidence inspiring than knowing that you can get your feet flat on the ground. So the most ideal decision while shortlisting an adventure bike is to consider a narrow seat bike. Because the more of a straight line to the ground you have for your leg, the easier it is to get your feet down. The other thing to know and this is a hard truth to understand when you are first starting out; a shorter rider will face some initial difficulties while handling a taller bike, but as your skill grows and as you build your confidence, you will find that being able to get your feet flat on the ground matters a lot less.
So initially look for a motorcycle that can help you build confidence-inspiring ability to get your feet down even if you’re a shorter rider. Here are some of our recommendations:
RE Himalayan 410
The Royal Enfield Himalayan has a larger one cylinder motor which displaces 411 cc and makes it feel very different from any bike in 300cc to 400 cc category. The horsepower peaks at 23.5 pound-feet of torque at just above 4000 RPM making it much better for riding off-road. At 31.9 inches it has the lowest seat height among any of these bikes and has very friendly power delivery, making it the best choice for beginners or small riders. Its wet weight is 192 kilograms but that includes a bash plate, a metal rear rack on the back, and tank guards on which you can mount bags on your adventure trip. You will need the bash plate because despite having 7.9 inches of front and 7.1 inches of rear suspension travel ground clearance is limited.
Nevertheless, this bike is surprisingly decent off-roader. With a 21 inch and 17 inch wheel combination it can go distance. It has an air-cooled motor that is easy to work on. Himalayan had a couple of issues in earlier models, however it has been resolved in the newer models and since these bikes come with a two year warranty you will be covered for a while. All in all, it offers a great value in an off-road capable package.
The G310GS is the smallest and by far least expensive of the GS family. This bike is sort of a do-it-all option. It has a 313 cc single cylinder engine that produces 34 horsepower and 28 newton meters of maximum torque. It’s 19 inch and 17 inch wheels and 7.1 inches of suspension travel at both ends can tackle some trails. The G310 GS is one of the lighter bikes in this class weighing 168 kilograms which makes it approachable. It also comes along with a 32.9 inch high seat that is comfortable as well as spacious.
Its design and finish are of high quality and so are the looks, much similar to bigger siblings in the family. The 11 liter fuel tank is a bit small for serious touring but it manages to do everything else well and even. It comes with a luggage rack as standard, and appeals to all the types of riders in adventure touring segment.
Honda CRF300L Rally
For rider who spend a lot of time off-road there’s only one choice and that is the Honda CRF Rally. It is the lightest mass-produced globally sold adventure bike and the most off-road worthy motorcycle. Sure you could just buy a dual sport and dress it up for adventure but why bother when Honda has already done it for you. In fact this bike is a dual sport as it is basically a kitted out CRF300L with a fairing, bash plate, and larger tank.
It replaces the old 250 model and comes with a single cylinder 286 cc motor sourced from the CBR300R. Although this bike won’t be lighting your hair on fire with acceleration but the on-road performance is adequate. But who really cares about an on-road performance of an adventure bike? This is made for the dirt, and as stated before this is a dual sport with a fairing and so it’s clearly the most capable machine once the pavement ends. The wheels are the proper 21 inch and 18 inch combo for off-roading. The suspension travel is a massive 10.2 inches on both ends and the bike is light 152 kilograms with a 12.8 liter fuel tank. So clearly if you’re considering an adventure bike, CRF300L Rally is the best choice!