3. BMW G650

BMW G650

Typically, it’s difficult to find an off-road-capable motorcycle that’s also short-rider friendly. Off-road machines need to have long suspension travel and high ground clearance to clear whatever obstacles might come in the way. However, the BMW G650 is perhaps the closest way to bridge the gap between shorties and off-road riding.

Opting for the accessory low seat and lowered suspension brings the seat height to a manageable 30.3 inches. The rest of the G650 is typical BMW, with a hearty Thumper engine providing impressive performance for a Single. Tires and suspension aren’t meant for hardcore off-road riding — it’s a dual-sport after all — but sometimes beggars can’t be choosers.

  • 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!

    • Taylor Adams

      This review is so old but still comes up so here’s my 2 cents. This guy nails it on the head. The bike could be 5 ft in the air and I’d still be able to jump on it and ride off into the sunset..**BUT** it’s incredibly aggravating and even creates issues when you can’t plant your feet on the ground to backup your bike or try to walk the bike a few feet if it doesn’t run between extremely tight spaces where you can’t push it from the side. It is true – Suzuki has listened and delivered the best seat/subframe shape for the shorter rider. I’m 5’5 about 120 and no other 600 (Honda/Kawasaki/Yamaha) comes close to fit and confidence I get when I put a leg over a gsxr600/750/1000. Their 31.9 really does feel feel worlds slimmer.

  • 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!

        • Dale

          I agree also about needing the pegs closer. I have a 30 inch inseam. What have you found so far that meets your requirements?

          • K_2K

            I’m 5’6″ and got the CTX700 about 4 months ago. It’s very comfortable with elbows and knees only slightly bent on the pegs. I’d guess a couple inches shorter would be ok, but you really should try each out at a dealer first. With both feet flat I can lift off the seat. Some of the others listed here are a waste of time to try to fit into them.

    • Dale

      I agree!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Michelle

    The Honda Fury is NOT for short riders. Sure the seat is low, but the foot controls are too far forward to be comfortable for a short rider. I have a 29″ inseam and I can just barely reach the foot controls. That’s not a safe or comfortable posture for riding.

  • Judas_the_Priest

    My wife wants a bike so bad, she’s 5’1″. But, she doesn’t want a cruiser, which are the only bikes she can sit on, although, she does complain about the width of the seats which makes it hard to put her feet down comfortably. She wants a sport bike with a decent sized engine, doesn’t want a 300, wants at least a 600. I’ve pointed her to the Speed Twin, but she wants sportier. She complains about this same issue on dirt bikes too. She rides a 140, but wants more power. Why can’t they make a 200 or 250 trail bike in a smaller frame. I know, suspension will be lost, but..
    If the manufacturers made big boy bikes (not cruisers) in smaller packages for shorter people, they’d make a killing. The market is there.

    • Alan Ferguson

      try the new Kawi 650R.

    • Katie Halliwell

      I’m 5′ 3″ and ride a z1000sx – my husband put a lowering kit on for me, and I put adjustable levers on so I could reach the clutch. I don’t think there are many bikes that us dinky folk can’t ride, they just a bit of TLC to get them safe and comfortable 👍

  • Ralphes Bushman

    Richard Hammond will appreciate this article.

  • GodWhomIsMike

    I bet motorcycle.com just looked at seat heights and called it a day. If they were thorough, they would have accomplied some short riders to various dealerships to see if they can reach the floor and the pegs/foot controls comfortably.

  • GodWhomIsMike

    I got my eye on the Harley Davisonson SuperLow 1200T, just which it had blacked out engine and exhaust bits instead of 15 miles worth of chrome. Also looking at the Indian Scout Sixty with tan seat/bags and a windscreen.
    I do like the Yamaha Deluxe 1300, but I have a 28″ inseam and only 5’4″. So I worry that bike is a mile wide and foot controls too far forward.

  • Brianlee Kirk

    a good mechanic can lower most motorcycles inexpensively.

    • Katie Halliwell

      60 quid for a lowering kit for my z1000sx – I’m 5′ 3″ and can now get my feet almost flat!

  • CSensation

    Being 5’4″, with a 27″ inseam, the Ninja isn’t great for short people. I like the new Honda Rebel 300 and 500 myself!

  • AdamB

    What a poorly written bit of clickbait. Useless written by somebody who spent 10 minutes looking at a few specs on a couple of bikes with no real research done. No substance to this article and no helpful information. What a bunch of rubbish.

    • K_2K

      If they had put their idea of the dirt-bike first with the line “Beggars can’t be choosers” I would have avoided reading the rest.
      If you insist on thinking of everyone below 5’10” or above 6’2″ as a beggar, then you have no opinion they care to hear.

  • Cheryl Moore

    This article offends me. My inseam is 28 inches, and most of these bikes I couldn’t securely flatfoot because people seem to forget to take into consideration seat width. The one bike I’ve actually tried and might consider isn’t even listed (Yamaha Bolt) and it lists as having a 27.2 inch seat height.

    • Valerie Dawber Cloud

      I’m 5 feet even, and I have a 2005 Suzuki Boulevard S40. I can flat foot it, it’s light, and very easy to handle. I absolutely love my bike. However, I’m looking for a sport bike, and having trouble finding one I’d feel comfortable with. Grrr…sometimes hate being short.

      • Cheryl Moore

        I actually own a 2003 Suzuki Savage 650 (pretty much the same bike as yours), and I love it. I’m not looking for a sport bike, thank goodness, but I do want to know what my options are when/if I get a new bike. I’m just afraid I’m not going to be able to keep up with the hubby on his Honda VTX1300, as he likes to take long trips. I’ve checked out the Yamaha Bolt (942cc) at a motorcycle show recently, and I like it. It lists as a 27.2″ seat height, but I had no trouble flat-footing it and reaching the foot controls.

  • David Richardson

    Honda Shadow seat height is 25.7 inches, lower than anything on this list!

  • Burton Skiles

    I have a 30 in inseam and at 66 I seem to be getting shorter. Been riding since I was 13, and have always been able to adapt to various bikes. Last 4 bikes have been Triumphs; a 96 Tiger, 05 Rocket, 10 Rocket Touring, and now a Scrambler. Feels great to be on a lighter bike again, and age definitely works against you with taller bikes.

  • Michelle Cleveland

    Y’all totally ignored the Motus!

  • Chris M Clark

    Where’s the Indian scout/ victory octane?

  • Joe Muse

    The wife needs a low bike. She has tried a few of the bikes you have here. None worked because even though she could hold the bike up flat footed, she could not reach the pegs or floorboards. Got her a Suzuki S50. Great bike. Still had to lower it for her, but at least she could reach the pegs easily. None of your reviews addressed that problem.
    . .

    • Valerie Dawber Cloud

      I’ve got an S40. Love that thing.

  • Sick of BT Censorship

    Any foot forward bike is horrible to ride if you are short because its a stretch to reach the bars on most.
    If you can ride, you can ride more or less anything you just slide one cheek of the seat to get your foot down I’m 5′ 6″ never stopped me riding anything the GS 1200 was a bit stretch but handle able.

  • Sharon L Laferriere

    most of those bikes are small in motor just because we are short we still want to keep up with the other bikes. I would go with a victory over any of these bikes listed

  • michaelt1953

    Not to many that aren’t feet forward in that. Sounds like us little people are pretty much f&*%#d. I have a 29″ inseam and am riding a 1″ lowered DL650. Not a serious off roader though.

  • Philip Meyers

    i have an indian scout and not only a great bike for us shorties but a bike that is glued to the road at any speed.

  • Bad Biker

    No matter how low the seat height, short ride cannot reach the forward pegs on the fury and fat boy low , I have tried both as well as a Triumph and could reach ground with no problem but peg are just too far away.