Tall bike+short rider=good match?

Should I buy a motorcycle that’s a little too tall for me? I really like adventure type bikes, but I’m only 5ft6.


The simple answer to that is “of course”. Technically speaking, however tall or short or big or small you are, you should be able to get whatever bike tickles your fancy. Obviously, there are logical choices and not-so-logical choices that you can make. It all comes down to how comfortable you are in the saddle.

Yes, having two flat feet on each side of the motorcycle is the ideal, safest scenario. The steadier you are on the bike, the better. That being said, if we stuck to that logic, there’d be height restrictions on models and bikes like the Super Ténéré and the Africa Twin would be limited to the select few who have busted the 6ft mark.

Ultimately, the “ideal scenario” isn’t a rule and anybody can get on any bike. Of course, if your license is fresh off the press and this is your first motorcycle, I would recommend you start off with something smaller and lighter than an adventure bike. Gaining confidence as a rider already requires a fair bit of energy without having to worry about how steady the bike is every time you stop. If you bite more than you can chew right off the bat you might end up hating the experience above anything else.

If you are an experienced rider, then it’s all about how comfortable you are with only being able to put one foot down or walking the bike on the tip of your toes. Keep in mind that if the bike is heavy, like most adventure/sport touring models are, it adds a level of difficulty at low speed.

I’ve been riding on a BMW R 1250 GS for two weeks now and while I’m not a short rider, I am not able to flat foot on both sides—the saddle reaches a daunting 35 inches in height and the bike weighs a tiny 591lb (read the sarcasm). Trust me, walking the bike backward or stopping at an intersection uphill, in a curve is something else with a bike this big.

Provided you've been riding long enough and assuming you are already comfortable doing every other maneuver in the book, then you have a chance to focus on developing the best technique for stopping and maneuvering the bike without being as steady as you would be on another model.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to see the motorcycle you like in person and get some sitting time on it. Lean it to the sides, get a feel for its weight and balance and get a feel for how much work you have to do. If you feel unsafe or find it tiring, then you might have to consider another model.

This guy doesn’t let his height stop him. Be that guy.

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