Kawaskai Versys-X 300

On the ABR forum this week: Best adventure bikes for shorter riders?

Author: Naomi Dunbar

Unfortunately, not all of us are graced with lovely long legs. Those of us who find ourselves on the lower end of the height chart, are often a bit short on choice when it comes to adventure bike because let’s face it, some of them, such as the good ol’ Africa Twin, are gigantic steeds. So, those of us who are shorter riders, will often find some issues arise when it comes to climbing aboard and getting those feet firmly on the ground.

Short people meme

This was a question that was asked on the ABR forum this week by forum member Watty2016. He kicked the conversation off with:

“I’m off to Belguim next year on a four day tour and I’m looking at options for the best bike to buy for tour and beyond. But being only five foot seven, I really struggle with some of the big bikes, and the only option looks like a low Triumph Tiger, as I like to have an almost flat foot down when stopped. Any other recommendations would be appreciated.”

Here’s some of the replies on the thread:

Oop North John: “Assuming it’s only adventure styled bikes that you’re looking for, then maybe the Honda CB500x?”

Hoggyf: “I’m a short arse with stumpy legs and on some bikes, big enduros, and a few of the big KTM‘s, my feet are literally dangling in mid air. What works for you doesn’t necessarily work for others. I ride trials very averagely, but I’m used to off-road and trying a bigger bike when you can only just get one foot down is no fun, it’s about confidence. There’s nothing worse than the feeling when you’re off camber or there’s a pothole where you’ve stopped, and you can feel the bike quickly edging over to the point of no return. The best bigger bike so far for me, height wise, has been the Tiger 800. Both feet and ball of the foot on the floor or std suspension just with the seat set to the low option 29 inch inside leg on a good day.”

Jak*: “The lowest ‘adventure bike’ is the low seat CCM GP450. Other than that, I think for that style of bike, you would be better off looking at smaller capacity. It depends if you are going on your own, what sort of roads you’ll be riding, what cruising speed you want, and if you are going off-road or not. Some of the cruiser style bikes which have lower seats, make better tourers than adventure bikes, as they have torque engines, more comfortable seats, better economy and a better tank range. If you don’t want to go fast, then the 500 EFI Enfield would be worth a look, as would the Honda 500.”

Paul_C: “The seat design can make a significant difference. I’m five foot six inch and I ride a full height R1200 GSA LC. I have a Sargent low seat. Not only is it much more comfortable than standard but it’s lower. Additionally, the cut and shaping of the seat helps. I certainly can’t get both feet flat on the ground, but it’s secure enough for me (famous last words). The standard GS is lower too. I’d suggest you ask around to try bikes which are lowered in some way and give them a go. I used to have a TTR250, this had a lowering link, plus I raised the fork legs a couple of centimetres in the yokes. If you’re anywhere near Burton on Trent you’re welcome to pop round and sit on my GS.”

vRSG60: “I’m five foot six inch with a 29 inch inside leg. I don’t have much trouble, height wise, with a BMW R1200GS LC with a low seat & low chassis.”

Captinktm: “I have said this before on here, the answer is easy. Learn to ride! If you’re going to be riding an adventure bike and using it off-road as well as on-road, then lowering the seat will ruin the ride. Go to an off road school and they will show the technique to make riding a tall bike easy.”

SteveW: “Good grief. The guy asks an innocent question and then gets told to learn how to ride! Not everyone’s idea of fun is crossing the Ural Mountains off-road, living off Yak’s blood and melt water. The guy isn’t going to bottom out his suspension going to Belgium for four days. He just wants some suggestions about what bike to buy. I’d say have a look at the GS800/700, as there’s a range of factory options to lower them.”

Anthony29040: “I have the same problem, i’m five foot six inch with a 28 inch inseam. I ride a standard Triumph Explorer with a factory low seat, but the seat isn’t any lower than standard when I’m sat on the bike. The foam on the low seat is rock hard and hardly has any give, but it’s quite comfortable. I’m on my tiptoes when on the bike, but with a bit of a shuffle, I can get one foot planted really good. I am enjoying the bike and don’t feel out of place on it, if you know what I mean. The seat is in the low position and I am trying to resist from lowering the bike. My next step is to have the standard seat reworked to try and get another inch. If I see a bike I fancy, what I always do is ask the owner or bike shop if I can sit on it and try it out first. Hope this helps.”

So, my fellow short adventure riders, ho do you cater to your size when it comes to your motorcycle? What advice or suggestions would you give to this ABR forum member? We’d love to know your thoughts, let us know in the comments section below.