Top 10 Motorcycles for Tall People – Cruisers

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Top 10 Motorcycles For Tall People

It’s no secret; like clothes, the majority of motorcycles are designed and built for people of average height. Also like clothes, it’s not uncommon for someone to buy something that just doesn’t fit. More often than not, said garment or motorcycle ends up collecting dust rather than getting use, and that’s a shame.

Tall riders have a particularly hard time of it – after all, it’s not like there’s a chain of “Big & Tall” motorcycle dealerships around the country. Do a quick search on Motorcycle.com for the term “tall rider,” and you’ll net nearly 20 threads on our awesome forums – each and every one started by a tall person asking his fellow moto-heads which motorcycle is ideal for him or her.

It boils down to what’s called the “rider triangle” – that is, how the rider’s butt, hands and feet are positioned relative to one another while seated in the saddle.

Rider Triangle

On a sportbike, the rider triangle is tilted forward, with the hands placed low and feet arched back underneath the saddle; on a standard motorcycle, the triangle tilts upward, with the rider’s hands slightly higher and feet below the elbows. Cruisers earn their moniker by having the most relaxed riding position, allowing a rider to lean back, with feet well forward and hands above the knees.

There are a number of ways a tall rider can adjust an existing bike to better suit his frame. Taller handlebars and forward foot controls will help, but if those aftermarket bits are out of your budget, you’ve still got options. Some handlebar risers allow adjustment of the existing bar’s position by rolling it forward to gain an extra inch or two of reach, and accessory floorboards and highway pegs will allow the rider to stretch his legs.

Websites such as Cycle-Ergo.com are a great help in getting a general idea of how most any bike will suit the average-sized rider, and we’ve sourced that site liberally in putting together this list of cruisers that should ergonomically accommodate tall riders. Still, most agree that the only way to find the right motorcycle for your frame is to literally “try them on” – that is, visit a number of dealerships and plant yourself in the saddle of a variety of bikes. Happy hunting, Stretch.

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  • james lagnese

    OK…Waiting for the non-cruiser version of this article…

    • Kevin Duke
      • Tinwoods

        Thanks, Kevin.

        But cruisers and adventure bikes? No duh, Motorcycle.com. How about a far more interesting, less obvious list of bikes for taller riders: sport bikes.

        • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

          Sport bikes don’t work well for tall people, period. They are modeled after racing bikes which are ridden by racers who tend to be smaller folk.

        • Kevin Duke

          Yep, tall folks often have a hard time fitting on pure sportbikes, which are developed with racetrack use in mind. In that category, KTM’s RC8 and its adjustable seat, pegs and handlebar is probably the best. Most of the others have similar riding triangles. But then there’s the non-fairing sport bikes (nakeds, streetfighters, etc) that have much more accommodating ergonomics for tall people. So, that said, should we include both classes into a sportbike category? If so, there likely won’t be any faired sportbikes in it except for the RC8 and Ninja 1000.

  • Russ_T

    Surprised Triumph’s Rocket 3 and Thunderbird didn’t make the list, while the Bonny did. Hmm…

    And I think MO should include older models for us tall guys who can’t drop 10-grand-plus on a new bike. I’m thinking Honda Valkyrie, for example. One of my Air Force buddies had one. I have a 34″ inseam, and found it to be a really comfortable ride.

    And yeah, waiting for the non-cruiser version as well. Honda’s new CB1100, with optional forward controls, could be sweet…

    • Jeff LeGrand

      Vulcan 900. Easily findable under 10G, new or used. Great bikes.

      • james lagnese

        It’s short on power though.

        • Jeff LeGrand

          I disagree. It’s got good power. Fully loaded (technically over loaded), riding 2-up (and we’re no flyweights) it crosses the Rocky Mountains from Alberta to BC (Victoria) at least once per season and has no trouble at all. It’s not a rocket, but it’s sufficient and still gets decent mileage too. Without luggage and a passenger, it takes my 220 lbs around in fine form, lots of fun. If anything, it could use a fifth gear, but the Scootworks pulley replacement does a lot there, too, and it will exceed the speed limit without trouble.. um.. or so I hear. Yeah, that’s it.

          • james lagnese

            All I can say is that you are easy to please. I’ve owned a Vulcan 800 and 1600 Nomad. I didn’t consider either quick at all and the 900 is just a stroked 800 and it’s heavier. Then again I weigh more than you do too. I can tell you my RT is a lot quicker and faster than my other Vulcans, so, for me, it would be short on power.

          • Jeff LeGrand

            I DID say it’s not a rocket.. It is a stroked 800, true.. however, changing the stroke of an engine has long been an accepted way of gaining displacement and power without having to re-engineer. I AM pleased with my 900, obviously. Whether I’m easily pleased OR I just know what I want and I went and got it is irrelevant. You obviously don’t like cruisers much (judging by posts) because you want to go fast.. you might be reading the wrong article. And by the way, if you sit properly, and (admittedly) get the stock seat off of it, your tailbone isn’t the weight focus. I ride happily for hours, I enjoy my 900 a lot, and you have no idea what Russ would like. He asked for ideas in the price range, I gave mine. You have your opinion, I have mine.. neither are wrong, and neither of us are likely to agree with the other. It’s up to Russ to decide who he agrees with. You can try all day to convince me I don’t like my bike.. but I highly doubt that you’ll succeed… by the way, if you respond to this, it will take a while for me to get back to you, I’m going to be out enjoying several hours with my Vulcan today. Russ, if you’re not into cruisers, then I can only say that the Honda CBR’s are reported to be very capable, reliable, fun bikes, and I know lots of guys who payed less than ten G for theirs.

          • james lagnese

            I am not trying to convince of anything other than your bike isn’t quick nor fast. I have owned cruisers, both Kawasaki’s, so I know the brand. The 900 isn’t a bad bike and it is what it is. An entry level cruiser.

          • Jeff LeGrand

            I never said it was fast. You said “under powered”, you didn’t say “not very fast”. I said it could use a fifth gear. It’s not fast. The Vulcan is a highly capable and comfortable mid size cruiser, it does work well as entry-level because it’s a forgiving and stable ride, and it’s easily available under ten grand.. which is what the original conversation was about. He didn’t say “I wanna go fast for under 10K”.. he wanted older bikes because he wanted to keep things in a budget. My suggestion was that there were newer bikes available (maybe with a warranty, and parts available) that can do the job and fit the price range. The Vulcan does that.. and yes it’s not FAST, but it DOES have some power, however that power translates as torque and cargo carrying, not speed. I was and am talking about the Vulcan 900, which I own and ride and have done for six years.. and that’s why I know it’s comfortable (after a few tweaks, yes) capable, fun, and economical to buy and run. Your feelings about similar but not identical bikes don’t change the fact that Russ can still check out a Vulcan and decide for himself. And owning 2 unrelated cruisers, same brand or not, does not give you insight into the 900.. there’s a reason I chose it over the 1500 when I bought.. because it went fast enough for me, and would do what I wanted, and it was right around the ten grand mark- kinda like what Russ wants. See why I suggested it? I would heartily suggest you do NOT buy one though… they’re not fast. Reliable, capable, comfortable, stylish, yes.. but not fast.

          • james lagnese

            Underpowered and not fast can go hand in hand and the 1500 isn’t any faster/quicker really as it’s the same with the 1600. Extra weight absorbs any increase in torque and HP.

            When I owned my 1600 Nomad and I was looking for something more, I did try the 1700 Voyager. The problem with Kawasaki’s 1700 platform is that they made the ergonomics more compact than the 1600 and cheapened the bike with more plastichrome and the bags and trunk are somewhat flimsy in construction. They went from John Hoover’s idea for the Vulcan, which was a modern version of what Indian might be to a funky harley copy that was also a lot more expensive than previous models.

            I belong to a Vulcan group and a lot of the riders changed brands, buying Victory’s and HDs instead. I tried the Vision, Ultra and Voyager and settled on the RT, which wasn’t my first choice as the LT was discontinued, but it did everything better than the other bikes I tested. Now, after 3 years on the RT, would I buy another BMW? May be not. BMW expects it’s customers to be beta testers, at least for the first few years of a model, so my advice for anyone wanting to buy a BMW, get a model that’s been out awhile. As far as Kawasaki goes, they don’t currently make anything i would buy, but neither does BMW. I think I will wait awhile to see if something that approaches what I consider my perfect bike comes on the market.

          • Buzzworm

            Went through a few bikes. Kawasaki Concourse, HD Street Glide and after riding the Ducati Multistrada 1200 S, bought one. Most comfortable bike I have ever ridden. Yes the foot pegs are a little too rearward but its not uncomfortable on long rides.
            Me – 6’4″ 35 inch inseam and 36 inch sleeve in dress shirts. Seat height is perfect, reach to bars is perfect. Weight is right at 500lbs. 150hp…something to think about..

          • Craig Hoffman

            Aside from comfort, the Multi is a fast excellent handing bike and no doubt an entertaining fun and character filled ride. Excellent choice!

      • Romans5.8

        It’s a stroked, AND FUEL INJECTED 800. FI adds a lot of power. The 900 has the same power output as the old 1500 V-Twin from Kawasaki. Displacement doesn’t tell the whole story these days. That’s why we have 4 cylinder engines in cars with the horsepower of big-displacement V8′s (non pony car) from the 60′s and 70′s! (And especially the 80′s!)

  • m3m

    Look to the rides the Iron Butt riders choose, Like old Honda ST ll00 or old standard 1000 Honda Gold Wings, which weigh in at a manageable 500 pounds and let you move around to make things fit. Any BMW Boxer GS with (or without) lowered pegs. Part of comfort (if you want to be able to ride out of an emergency standing up (impossible on most cruisers) is upright position and knees lower than hips. Triumph 800 xc, KTM adventures. KLR’s for the budget minded – many aftermarket mods. Flat saddles (rather than bucket shaped cruiser type or sloped racing type) will keep you smiling as you can adjust your position while you ride and keep your seat comfy with no hot spots. I have a 34 inseam and 37 inch sleeve length and have been uncomfortable on a lot of bikes. The adventure bikes with tall seats and lowered pegs can nearly all be made to fit since they have ground clearance with lowered pegs.

  • james lagnese

    The other problem with cruisers is that all the rider’s weight is on the tailbone. If the rider is tall and big, pain ensues. DAMHIK. Standards like the GSA are a lot better. I have an RT with peg lowering kit and bar risers. Still not there yet and will keep looking. My perfect bike would have the ergos of a GSA, power and torque of at least a C14, have the touring and load capacity of a Victory cross country tour with similar ease of maintenance and weigh no more than 600-650lbs. It would have to have ABS and cruise control for sure. Unfortunately, this bike does not exist.

    • Steve Freeman

      DAMHIK, GSA, RT, C14…….. uh, no clue what this means. A Victory bike I can understand, and the 600-650; but the rest was almost useful. I am 6’6, 300#, with 34 inseam. :-(

      • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

        C14=Kawasaki Concours, GSA= BMW R1200GS Adventure, RT=BMW R1200RT.

    • tlwiz

      With many 5000+ mile cross country rides under my tall big belt I am quite happy riding comfortable roomy cruisers. I am sure standards are nice but I have not logged any long trips on them so I can’t really comment – but I will take issue with your “pain ensues” comment since my first hand experience is quite the opposite. My preset 900 pound ride is very smooth and a great ride on the two lane blacktop through the mountains and across the plains.

      I do like my ABS and cruise control. I enjoyed my Concours (great bike) but it wanted to go faster than I wanted to go.

      • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

        Like I said, I rode cruisers. All my weight was on my tailbone and pelvic bones, which makes for pain for me.

  • Claudiu Bugoi

    there are other manufacturers outside of the U.S. you know…..

  • Robert Holmes

    Knee angle does not a comfortable ride make. I’m 6’4″ 35″ inseam. Most bikes (esp cruisers) are uncomfortable to me because my thighs angle up which puts more pressure on my tailbone. Sure my knee angle is over 90° but that doesn’t matter. Try sitting on the floor with your knees bent and you’ll see what I mean. I prefer a standard bike any day, even though there are few that fit me.

    • damsam72

      Seems like we are the same stature. that 35 inseam sucks. I had a Honda VTX 1800 and loved the feel. But I agree that the butt bone still hurt after an hour or two and needed to make often stops. Any suggestions on a “Standard” bike. Not looking for a Goldwing but thinking that I like the longer Raider (but have yet to ride one). So now I am in the market again but am not looking to pay for the Harley name. Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.(And still have a Cruiser!

  • John Ayres

    I have a Victory Cross Roads. I’m 6’1″ and have a 34″ inseam. On my Victory I can ride in a really comfortable position, and rarely even use my road-pegs. Love the very lond floor-boards on the Vic, and my bike is heavier and longer than my friend’s H-D Road-King (H-D comparable model). I use this bike for local & touring rides.

  • Buzz Belt

    I ride a 2011 Z1000SX Ninja. Before that I had a Suzuki 1200S Bandit. I like the standard riding position and the Ninja was more adjustable for me. I liked KTM’s SM990 more than the SM T and am really looking forward to the new KTM Super Duke 1290. If I was a beginner I would try Honda’s new CB series. I sat on the CB500N and it was very comfortable, but they didn’t have a demo ready. I am 6’3″, 32″ inseam, and weigh in at a very portly 350lbs. I tried EVERY HD model and did not find one that I could sit on comfortably without modifications. For the initial price, that’s totally unacceptable.

  • Michael Goodwin

    But if you have a racing or dirt biking background and don’t care for forward cruiser controls but rather having you feed under you where you have more handling options the list is somewhat smaller.

  • Tinwoods

    Cruisers, cruisers, and more cruisers. Zzzzzz….

  • Michael Ridley

    I felt cramped on a vrod and the one I chose that fit me best was a v2k classic didn’t make the list

  • Chris Lacas

    I am 6’1″ and I ride a 2011 Harley Street Bob with forward controls and mini-hangers (8″ rise) bars. I rode it from Las Vegas to San Diego and the bike itself was very comfortable. The only problem I had was with the seat. It comes with a standard single rider seat (can’t remember the name of it) but I had them put on a Badlander when I bought it. After that ride I swapped out the Badlander with a Sundowner with adjustable and removable backrest for the driver. That is a very comfortable deep bucket seat with plenty of padding.