Top 10 Motorcycles For Tall Riders – Adventure Bikes
Recently, we compiled a list of the Top 10 Cruisers for tall people. The premise was simple: you’re a tall fellow (or lady), and the majority of motorcycles out there just don’t feel comfortable to you. Your knees rub against your elbows, and the bars can be too low for your liking, placing unwanted weight on your wrists. Cruisers provide a great solution for those gifted (cursed?) with extra inseam, as the foot forward position helps spread the body out some. But cruisers also place more weight on a rider’s tailbone, which can cause comfort issues.
In terms of long-haul comfort to tall riders, the best option comes from the adventure category, where long suspension travel also lends itself to tall seat heights. Also, a bike designed for off-road riding (or even the pretense of it) provides upright handlebars. Foot pegs are brought back considerably from the cruiser stance, but are still much more reasonable than a sportbike, and they allow a greater range of positions for a rider than a cruiser.
Like the cruiser list, we enlisted the help of Cycle-Ergo.com quite liberally to help pick out 10 adventure bikes that will readily accommodate those taller than six-foot. Because of the wide array of choices out there, this list will stick to relatively new models available in the United States. There’s a good variety of price points, too, so tall riders with wallets of various thicknesses should find something for them.
10. Honda NC700X
We start this list with the economical, faux-adventure bike, the $7499 Honda NC700X. We like it because it’s affordable, gets great mileage, and with the addition of optional luggage, makes for a suitable companion on a long ride. Tall folks will appreciate the nearly 33-inch seat height, upright handlebars, and foot pegs placed just a touch behind the saddle. There’s still a slight forward tilt to the riding position, but it’s still worlds away from a sportbike. Cycle-Ergo.com puts the knee bend for the NC at 80 degrees, the tightest on this list.
Powered by a 670cc parallel-Twin, the NC isn’t a speed demon, and even has a rather low redline, but it’s a competent commuter and weekend warrior. Learn to keep the engine in its sweet spot and it’ll reward you with a comfortable ride. Opt for the DCT model, and shifting can be performed automatically or at the push of a button.
9. Ducati Multistrada
If we were forced to have only one motorcycle in our respective garages, none of us would be disappointed with the Ducati Multistrada. It’s a great all-around motorcycle with plenty of grunt, all-day comfort and cargo capacity to spare (if you order the saddlebag-equipped S model). It can even handle some light off-road duty, too. New for 2013 are semi-active suspension and a revised DS, or Dual Spark, engine, providing a cleaner burn resulting in more power and better driveability.
With this sort of do-it-all personality comes a 33.5-inch seat height, upright bars with virtually no forward lean on the rider, and pegs set to bend the knees only 83 degrees, according to Cycle-Ergo.com. The Multistrada is a bike for all purposes, but also for all body types, too.
8. Moto Guzzi Stelvio NTX
Granted, not everyone appreciates a Moto Guzzi. The engine is mounted sideways, it sways to the right when twisting the throttle at a stop, and in the case of the Stelvio NTX, has a deficit of ground clearance. Still, Guzzi heads simply wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re still reading, then you obviously “get it,” and if you’re tall then this entry is especially for you.
The Guzzi Stelvio NTX will make you feel right at home with its adjustable seat height ranging from 32.0 – 33.0 inches, and handlebars are high and in a relaxed position for the rider. Legroom is generous, providing an open 85-degree knee bend, but the low-mounted footpegs will drag in corners shortly after the sidestand.
Tall adventure riders who choose the Stelvio will welcome the gobs of torque and easy clutch manipulation, while an enormous 8.5-gallon fuel tank means you better be prepared for long stints between gas stops. Large, hard-shell saddlebags will swallow all your stuff and withstand plenty of abuse.
7. Yamaha Super Tenere
With an adjustable seat height ranging anywhere from 33.3 – 34.3 inches, the Yamaha Super Tenere should already sound appealing to tall folks looking to burn a few miles both on and off the pavement. Factor in the neutral riding position and accommodating 86-degree knee bend, and the Super Tenere makes for a comfy perch for the vertically advantaged.
For its $14,790 price tag, The Tenere offers a 1199cc parallel-Twin with traction control, power modes, ABS, and a throaty exhaust note thanks to its 270-degree firing order. Granted, we dissed the engine during our 2012 Adventure-Touring shootout, but we also gave it praise for its off-road abilities. So if you’re tall and really embrace the adventure aspect of adventure-touring, then Yamaha may have the answer for you.
6. Triumph Tiger 800XC
Tall adventure riders who don’t want the added displacement and weight of some of the larger motorcycles on this list should give the Triumph Tiger 800XC a close look. It’s important to distinguish the XC version over the standard model, as it features a taller, adjustable seat height, beginning at 33.2 inches from the ground up to 34.0 inches at its highest setting. The standard Tiger 800, at its highest seat height, is 32.7 inches.
Opt for the 800XC and you can also expect a slight forward lean of three degrees and a knee bend of 86 degrees, mirroring the Super Tenere. What you’ll also get is one of our favorite engines and exhaust notes in all of motorcycling. It’s a versatile little bike, perfect for any adventure.
5. KTM 1190 Adventure R
After riding the new KTM 1190 Adventure R, E-i-C Duke came away very impressed with what KTM has done to rebuild its perennial contender in the adventure category from the ground up. The new 1195cc V-Twin is a powerhouse, paired to an impressive electronics, chassis and suspension package capable of handling whatever terrain comes its way, dirt or street.
For this list we’re going to stick with the R model, as its accommodations are better suited for tall riders. You’re giving up the electronic suspension and two-position seat of the standard model, but that’s no cause for concern. The R’s 35.0-inch seat height is taller than the standard’s tall setting of 34.4 inches, and the analog WP suspension is more than capable for any terrain. Handlebar clamps offer two positions, while levers and pegs are adjustable as well, meaning many body types can find their happy place aboard the KTM. According to Cycle-Ergo, the rider’s knees are bent at 87 degrees. Compared to its 990cc predecessor, the 1190 might appear a smidge more aggressive, but the new Adventure actually relaxes the knee bend by two degrees over the old bike. Depending on your preference, either Adventure model offers a comfortable position. Of course, hard luggage is available for either bike for true long-distance adventures.
4. Suzuki V-Strom 1000
With the announcement of an all-new V-Strom 1000 from Suzuki, deals on the outgoing Strom 1000 should be popping up everywhere. As it stands, the V-Strom 1000 is already an underappreciated adventure bike worthy of the attention of anyone looking to pick up something in this category, especially those of you with long legs. The 1000 engine is naturally filled with torque, and combined with the luggage available on the Adventure model you see in the picture above, long distances, on or off the beaten path are what this bike lives for.
Seat height is 33.1 inches, there’s no forward lean on the rider, and your knees are only bent 88 degrees while riding, says Cycle-Ergo. A rather benign rider triangle, all things considered. The 650 Strom is loved and preferred by many for its more manageable engine character, but from an ergonomics standpoint, which is the one we’re taking for this list, the 1000 provides a more relaxed position and is the version tall riders should be paying more attention to.
3. Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 ABS
Admittedly, the Aprilia Dorsoduro 750 is an odd choice for this list, but considering its dirt-inspired styling, wide handlebars and broad seat, it’s relatively comfortable going long distances – especially if your route includes endless back roads. There’s even luggage available in the aftermarket, too, ensuring you have a spare change of clothes when you eventually arrive at your destination. We enjoy flogging the middleweight V-Twin, engaging all of its 76.7 horses and 47.1 ft.-lb., as the immediacy of its fueling and the visceral feeling it gives when you ride it aggressively induces smiles time after time.
There are other bikes like the Ducati Hypermotard, Hyperstrada, and even Aprilia’s own Dorsoduro 1200 that fit this profile of dirt-inspired, long(ish)-distance motorcycle, but the Dorso 750 should be the most appealing to those with long inseams. Its saddle is 34.3-inches from the ground, and knees are bent a relatively relaxed 89 degrees, both figures better than the other bikes mentioned. However, the rider is perched seven degrees forward, the most aggressive on this list.
2. BMW R1200GS
An icon among adventure bikes, the BMW R1200GS gets big praise from moto-journos and consumers alike for its amazing abilities, both on and off the pavement. The entire motorcycle, including the venerable Boxer engine, gets a complete makeover and finally sees liquid-cooling for 2013, which adds a nice bump in power without losing any of the character feel we’ve all come to love. Add to that an impressive array of electronics, like ABS, traction control, cruise control, and (optional) Dynamic ESA, BMW’s semi-active suspension, and the GS is a real gem of a motorcycle.
It’s great for tall people, too. With an adjustable seat height ranging from 33.5 to 34.3 inches, long legs will feel right at home. Better still, Cycle-Ergo calculates the knee bend to be a gentle 91 degrees. Really tall riders should opt for the upcoming Adventure model, which gets you an even taller seat height and more relaxed knee bend. The picture above is of the current, liquid-cooled GS, but the former air-cooled variants are only a smidge less forgiving for the tall rider.
1. Kawasaki KLR650
The Kawasaki KLR650 may well be the most underrated adventure bike on the planet. Don’t believe me? Look at the photo above, from our journeyman Fonzie’s eight-part trip to South America and back. The 33-hp KLR performed like a champ, easily gobbling up the miles of torn up pavement, hidden fire roads and secret trails he encountered along the way. There’s gobs of aftermarket support for the KLR, too, so you can easily turn it into whatever bike you want, for whatever trip you have in mind.
At $6499, KLRs hardly break the bank. Factor in its 35-inch seat height, and budding NBA-players-turned-motorcyclists will find the cost-to-leg-room ratio highly in their favor. Adding to that equation, Cycle-Ergo rates the knee bend at 92 degrees, the most relaxed on this list. If that still isn’t enough, the aforementioned vastness of the aftermarket is sure to have solutions to make even the tallest riders feel at home on a KLR. If an affordable, back-to-basics, go-anywhere, tall-person-friendly motorcycle is high on your priority list, look no further than the Kawasaki KLR650.
Have another suggestion? Say so in the comments section below.
Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at Motorcycle.com in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.
More by Troy Siahaan