Ten Bikes For Short People

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9. Kawasaki Ninja 300

Kawasaki Ninja 300

When Kawasaki’s entry-level motorcycle, the Ninja 250, grew in displacement to become the Ninja 300, suddenly the doors opened to a range of riders who were yearning for something more powerful than a 250 but weren’t yet ready for a middleweight.

Besides the bump in power, the Ninja 300 also appeals because of its relatively benign 30.9-inch seat height, which is downright short in sportbike terms. Its low saddle, light weight and modest power make it an ideal motorcycle for a beginner looking to move up the sport bike ranks.

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  • Jason Stone

    What’s funny is that the last time I was shopping for a bike, I kept thinking, “Why the #&$@ are all these bikes built for short people?!” I’m 6’2″.

    I guess it’s all a matter of perspective…

    • james lagnese

      I feel the same way. The only bikes that aren’t are the adventure touring bikes like the R1200GSA. It’s kind of limiting. I bet it’s easier to find a comfortable ride for a short person than the other way around. May be the real reason for lower and more accommodating bikes is to appeal to women who make up over 50% of the population.

      • Jason Stone

        Yep. I ended up with a Street Triple R, and my legs are pretty tightly folded. I deal with it, though, because it’s so much freaking fun to ride.

        I look forward to the followup to this article: 10 Bikes for Tall People

        • james lagnese

          I just can’t do that anymore. With bad knees and after having my neck fused, I want something I can stretch out on, My RT is like a sportbike for me. I can’t imagine anything smaller/tighter.

    • Russ_T

      Exactly. I have a 34″ inseam. The bike that fit me best was my old Magna V65. Haven’t ridden anything as comfortable. And I’m not gonna buy an adventure bike, which I’ll never take off road.

      Maybe with some modified pegs, the new CB1100 will work…

      So, MO, how about another article: Top ten mods for tall people?

      • Kevin Duke

        In the works! But, as you note, adventure bikes are likely choices…

  • james lagnese

    May be there should be an article for tall people too and I mean 6’2 and taller.

    • Joshua Barker

      I just put subframe spacers in my Buell to jack the seat height up about 2.5″. Now its much more aggressive looking and it didn’t affect my suspension geometry.

  • One Eye

    You folks have something against Hyosung ?

  • Craig Hoffman

    I have an FZ1 and it is a little cramped for my 33″ inseam. Mounted a crash cage to it with some highway pegs. Since I am middle aged, I could care less what it looks like or what others think. With 145 at the wheel and the comfy pegs, it works for me.

  • adouglas

    Actually the GSX-Rs are quite manageable for shorter folks. I have a 30 inch inseam and ride a 2011 GSX-R750. I can get both heels down if I want to. It’s the only sportbike out there on which this is possible for me. The key is that the seat is narrow up front.

    @jason stone — yes, it’s a matter of perspective. Try this: Put three or four phone books on the seat of your ride… enough so that you can’t get a foot fully on the ground — and try backing your bike up. Better still, try to keep from dropping the bike when you come to a stop and step on some gravel. Feel our pain!

  • thm4855

    the Honda Fury
    looks like a customiced Harley.
    ThM – Norway

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Just because the seat height is low doesn’t mean that you can securely flatfoot. Keep in mind that the width of the seat also plays a factor too. Even though Harleys have low seat heights they have wide ass seats that splay your legs out.

  • James Alley

    It’s not necessary to get a heel on the ground, much less two. The best motorcyclists in the world are often diminutive.

    • adouglas

      True. But if all you can do is put your toes down the bike is much harder to live with and you’re far more likely to drop it. Yes it can be done. Doesn’t mean it’s fun or preferable in any way. Look, you can wear shoes five sizes to big. It will work. It’s not the best option, though.

      Naysayers who have not experienced this should really try to use a too-tall bike on a daily basis in the real world where sand, gravel, inclines and such are common.

      If you haven’t experienced trying to walk a 400+ lb machine up even the slightest incline using only your toes you cannot possibly know what it’s like. Get off? Sure. Pain in the butt if you have to do it every single time you want to move the bike. Seriously… go put some padding on your saddle and find out for yourself.

      I only mentioned getting my heels down to show how short person-friendly the GSXR really is despite its listed seat height.

  • overloadinco

    I would fault about half these bike as being HORRIBLE for short riders. Not for the seat height, but the reach to the pegs or floorboards. I doubt a short person could reach the pegs on the Honda Fury, the HD Fatboy low, the Triumph America, or Star V-Star 1300 Deluxe. I’ve heard the reach to the pegs on the Honda CTX700 is OK, but Cycle-egro says no.

    That’s HALF the bikes listed. I’d add the Ducati Diavel to the list of OK for short riders.

    • Kyle G.

      I’m 5’6″ and I’ve ridden a Diavel, and the thing absolutely grinds your man-jewels into powder with how sculpted the seat and tank are.

      • Susan

        I completely agree with overloadinco. I don’t understand why they put the pegs and clutch so far forward. I’ve sat on quite a few of these in my endless search for a bike and can barely reach the clutch. I don’t know what these companies are thinking. If you are short enough to need the seat that low then then you need the pegs closer!

  • Russell

    I can’t believe the Victory Ness Vision didn’t make the top 10 with a seat height of only 24.5 inches it is lower than all 10 bikes in this article as well as foot controls that can be set in 3 positions…

    • di0genes

      Short weight lifters

  • Joshua Barker

    The main problem with most of these truly low (below 26″ bikes) is that the 5″ish person still has to deal with a very wide seat, which, if you did trim/slim it down, would simply reveal frame or something else uncomfortable to put your legs around. I’m currently in Japan, and even though there are sub-400cc displacement bikes a plenty, the only thing my 5″ wife can straddle comfortably is a scooter. Problem then becomes that even a 250cc scooter, though very fun and plenty of power in Japan where you’re lucky to see the mid 50’s in mph (80kph highways), just doesn’t have the punch to deal with the 80mph traffic in the states. Otherwise, I’d have one myself just for the fun of them… they also sound fantastic going down the road when someones got a glass-packed muffler.

  • John Cordier

    Maybe we need a list of top 10 bikes for those of us who are .. um.. portly. Australians.. like our American pals.. are becoming larger. 200lb & more is becoming the norm. So many of todays bikes have small thin seats and low handlebars. These are not so good for us fatties. Maybe that’s why the adventure market is so big.

  • MNConservatarian

    Low saddles are only one issue, reaching the forward mounted controls are difficult. My ’06 Dyna Super Glide has mid controls, but frankly I’m tired of low and slow. I want something like an FZ that I can lower and still rev the heck out of.

  • mike

    wow wheres victory this guy didn’t do his homework

  • http://www.delucophoto.com Jim DeLuco

    They Harley is the only one that can even be CONSIDERED low. Low starts at 26 inches and below…c’mon get real motorcycle.com.

  • Brittsdad

    You forgot the 14 Harley Davidson FXDL built for rider 5’1 to 6’1

  • Wayne Swasey

    The Harley softail slim has the lowest seat height at 23 something.

  • Ddhcts Skinner

    The Sym 150 wolf is a good bike for short beginners.


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