Height is a major problem for some motorcycle riders. Tall seats and wide saddles are the enemies of the short-legged and many bikes require an above average height simply to swing a leg over. AMERiders decided to put together a list of some great bikes that are great to ride, these are truly the best motorcycles As a Short Rider that Will Serve You Well.
If you’ve ever watched a motorcycle race, regardless of discipline, then you’ll have noticed the broad range in rider sizes. And that’s one of the great things about motorcycling — short or tall, it’s accessible to everyone.
But there are bikes that are better than others for smaller riders, particularly if you happen to be new to biking and aren’t super-confident, especially at low speeds and whilst negotiating traffic where a steadying foot on the tarmac can make all the difference.
The good news is that while commuter bikes or small-capacity entry-level machines are ideal for smaller riders, you’re not limited to them — there’s a vast choice out there and four of the major manufacturers design and build their bikes in Japan where the average male height is 5’ 7” — a good two inches shorter than the average British bloke.
The obvious starting point when checking the tech specs is the seat height but don’t let this be the limiting factor — for example, single- and twin-cylinder bikes are often much narrower than four-cylinder machines so for a given seat height they can feel very different as the legs aren’t splayed so much.
Weight might also be a consideration but again, many bikes that look heavy on paper carry their weight well, with low centers of gravity that make them easy to ride, even at low speeds. The bottom line as with all these guides is that they are just that — guides. The only way you’ll know for sure which bike is for you is to get out there and try a few — you may just find that superbike you’ve been hankering after but had all but ruled out is actually a perfect fit…
Customising your bike to suit
Modifications to make bikes better suited to a Short Rider range from logical to dangerous. We’ve seen some smart alterations such as having the seat pad remade with less foam and we’ve even seen subframes dropped down slightly with lowering plates to make that dream sports bike a reality.
However, you do need to be careful. Some bikes —especially sports bikes — are often lowered by way of sliding the forks through the yokes and having a modification made to either the rear shock or the shock linkages. While this will achieve a lower seat height it will also reduce cornering clearance and will invariably compromise the handling. The extent of this compromise depends on how well the suspension has been adjusted to compensate for the change in chassis geometry. You will need to advise your insurance company of any major changes too, so you are better off finding a bike that fits you with the bike set up as the manufacturer intended. Here are a few that we’d heartily recommend…
Harley-Davidson isn’t known for making small and lightweight bikes, however, Harley’s Sportster has been around since the late Fifties and is widely accepted as the entry point to the Harley-Davidson range, both in terms of price and ease of use for new riders. The Iron 883 is one of the more recent Sportsters and we think the Black Denim version is one of the coolest to date with its stealthy matt black looks and detailing.
The engine is soft and tractable with that trademark Harley exhaust note. The riding position is more conventional than many cruisers, with ‘mid controls’ rather than ‘forward controls’ so your feet are more in line with your knees rather than stretched out in front, making it far more manageable for a Short Rider be it a guy or gal.
Also, their Street 500 makes an excellent bike for a Short Rider with a low, low 28-inch seat height. It’s also surprisingly light and has a low center of gravity to make it easier to get off the kickstand.
Moto Guzzi V7 Stone
Moto Guzzi’s V7 Stone is a very light bike with a 22-liter fuel tank and a 780mm seat height, making it an easy bike for a Short Rider 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. A full 100lbs lighter than a Triumph Bonneville, equal quality and reliability, better handling and an optional 30.7-inch seat height make this thing a winner.
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 depend on the rider so the motorbike has to fit you correctly to enable you to gain the best experience in your riding career. This Moto Guzzi has the Italian looks and character you want, too.
Ducati Monster / Ducati Monster 796
The latest contemporary Monsters that benefit from technology filtered down from the Bologna-based brand’s exotic sports bikes. The range is quite baffling but engine sizes vary from 696 all the way up to 1200cc meaning there’s something to suit most riders even a Short Rider.
A slim, V-twin engine helps make this Monster one of the most accessible Ducatis, making the 31.5-inch high seat very narrow. That new, 803cc motor gives it great performance too, with 87 bhp and 58 lb.-ft. of torque. A stylish, fun, easy-to-ride performance bike.
Suzuki SV650/S and the Suzuki TU250X
The smaller sibling of the cult classic TL1000, the SV has long since gained an admiring following of its own — and with good cause. The V-twin motor is flexible enough to be tamed by novice riders or tormented by the more experienced while the handling is so good it spawned a whole genre of racing when it kickstarted the Minitwins class at the start of the century.
Available as a faired (S) or naked machine, there’s an SV for everyone, with good early models as cheap as a few hundred quid up to the later, more angular model. Suzuki stopped making the SV and launched the Gladius in 2009. The Gladius went far better than it looked but didn’t prove as popular as the SV prompting Suzuki to bring back the SV last year. So, if you’re after a new or used street bike or Sportster, with its low and narrow seat, the SV is a top choice for the a Short Rider.
However, its brother the Suzuki TU250X is simple, light and low Factors which also happen to describe this little Suzuki perfectly. The 30.3-inch seat is made slim by the single-cylinder motor and an all-up curb weight of just 326lbs makes it exceptionally manageable. Classic styling rounds things out, making this a great choice for both short and new riders. You’ll be reading more about this one in the near future.
And our last bit of information for you.
Top Tips for Shorter People Wanting to Ride a Motorbike:
- Shorter riders need to accept that more often than not, your heels won’t ever touch the ground fully when you are sat on your motorbike. Using the rest of your feet for support (without heels) is usually sufficient enough. Being able to steady your motorbike without being flat-footed will get easier for you as you gain confidence in yourself and in your motorbike.
- When parking, get off your motorbike and push it into the parking space. Although this doesn’t look as good as the riders that can paddle their motorbike into space, it’s definitely better than trying to reach the floor fully – and accidentally slipping and falling off!
- In windy conditions and when stopping, turn your motorbike to the left, as this will lean your motorbike enabling you to get your foot closer and more firmly on the ground.
- When braking, use your brakes gradually to slow down, as well as your down gear, to try and avoid stopping completely. Look ahead and plan your stopping distance in plenty of time.
- Generally lookout for anything that can cause your foot to slip, for example, white lines, gravel, mud, water, and any debris. Also, remember that it is not against the law to stop next to a curb so you can put your foot on it for support.
- And last but by no means least; make sure you have adequate motorbike insurance to ensure peace of mind for yourself, as well as your bike.
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Motorcycles that as a short rider will serve you well.
And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.