Being “vertically challenged” is rough: you’re hard to spot in a crowd, you can’t see squat at concerts, and it’s a struggle to hop on many of the rides at the amusement park. The worst part of all is trying to find a motorcycle that’ll allow you to touch the ground. Some of the saddles on today’s motorcycles are so high only basketball players dare throw a leg over.
However, here we’ve compiled a list of 10 motorcycles even short people can enjoy riding. The seat heights are all manageable for those with shorter inseams, providing a confidence-inspiring reach to the ground. While it would have been easy to flood this list with beginner bikes, as they generally have among the lowest saddles, we realize there are plenty of experienced riders looking for more power than a 250 offers.
We’ve kept the list limited to new models and have tried our best to keep the list diverse with something for riders of all types. Have something to add? Tell us in the comments section below.
10. Honda CTX700
Say what you will about the oddly-styled CTX700, it’s clear Honda is making a strong attempt to rejuvenate this sport. One way to do that is to introduce models appealing to a wide range of riders, including vertically challenged ones.
With a seat height only 28.3 inches from the ground, the CTX700 does just that. Mix in the forward pegs and pull-back handlebars, and the rest of the CTX package is one anybody would feel comfortable burning countless miles on.
9. 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.
8. Suzuki SFV650
Also hovering 30.9 inches off the ground, the seat on the Suzuki SFV650 is a solid choice for someone looking to graduate to an intermediate-level motorcycle beyond the Ninja 300 while still being able to touch the ground. Essentially a re-badged Gladius (which itself is a reincarnated SV650), the SFV’s 645cc V-Twin is a favorite at Motorcycle.com, which should provide plenty of performance to entertain new and experienced riders alike.
7. Zero XU
If you haven’t given electrics much thought as being short-rider friendly, then maybe it’s time to reconsider. With its accessory low seat, the 2013 Zero XU is only 29.1 inches high — the lowest in Zero’s street legal lineup.
Why should you consider a Zero? If your moto needs consist of simply running errands around town or your workplace is less than 40 miles (75 with both batteries) from home, the XU can get you there with ease, and without the complications of shifting since there aren’t any gears — just twist and go.
6. Star V Star 1300 Deluxe
Being short doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the luxuries of touring. Standing in a class of one, the Star V Star 1300 Deluxe is the perfect mid-size bagger for a variety of body types. A 27.2-inch seat height brings the Earth closer to your feet than many of its larger-displacement counterparts, while providing ample forward motivation to keep you from feeling bored.
Consider, too, the Star’s ample accommodations, like the batwing-style fairing, hard, color-matched saddlebags, GPS, and entertainment system, and the 1300 Deluxe will move you in in a style typically seen only in bigger baggers.
5. Triumph America
Among Triumph’s classic collection, it’s easy to gravitate towards the iconic Bonneville considering its rich history. And while its 29.1-inch seat height is definitely kind towards the shorter rider, the Bonnie’s cousin, the America, is even lower. Measuring at 27.1 inches from the ground, the America’s two-inch advantage over the Bonnie could be just the ticket for a shorter rider looking to experience this British classic.
Both models share the same 865cc parallel-Twin engine, but the America places the foot controls forward of the rider, while the Bonnie rider’s feet are directly underneath them. No matter which model pulls at your heart strings, either choice is a good option for cruising from point A to point B in style.
4. Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo
We get it. Sometimes only a Harley will do, but what’s the best option for those short of inseam? Believe it or not, the Fat Boy Lo is the H-D with the lowest seat height in the range, coming in at just 26.5 inches from the floor. It’s not short (pardon the pun) for forward motivation either, with its Twin Cam 103 engine and six-speed gearbox. The iconic hardtail appearance combines old-school style with modern technology to create a mean cruiser riders of all shapes and sizes can enjoy.
3. 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.
2. Honda Fury
The picture above does a pretty good job of displaying how low to the ground the Honda Fury’s seat is — its lowest point is the same height as the rear tire! But if you’re a numbers person, 26.9 is the amount of inches Honda claims separates the ground from the saddle, though we swear it looks less.
Opt for the Fury, and you’ll find a slinky boulevard cruiser that’s inviting for the shorter rider. The Fury hides its ancillaries well, including the piping for the liquid-cooled 1312cc V-Twin, creating a minimalistic look we admire. If a reasonably priced chopper-esque bike is your bag, it’s hard to go wrong with the Fury’s stance and Honda’s typical dependability.
1. Ducati Monster 696
Ducati’s iconic Monster has endeared itself to riders worldwide because it’s an easy motorcycle to ride and boasts lovely Italian style. The Monster 696 and its 30.3-inch seat height bring the Ducati experience closer to the ground. Combine this with a tidy and compact overall package, and riders of shorter stature will find themselves naturally gravitating towards it.
We’re fans of its friendly 90-degree air-cooled L-Twin, though those wanting more oomph may opt for the 796 or 1100 variants. Regardless, we think the 696 provides ample power, while the light clutch and capable chassis provide loads of fun, no matter your stature.