Kawasaki Vulcan S 650
We bet you didn’t expect the mid-size Kawasaki cruiser to make the list, huh? Well, you have Kawasaki’s Ergo Fit system to thank for that. Introduced in 2015, the ergonomics customization system allows riders of all shapes and sizes to find their ideal saddle, foot pegs, and handlebar configuration to achieve the optimal riding position. The Rider 1 to 3 settings modify the reach from reduced, to normal, to extended for a total of 18 possible configurations, including a few combinations adapted to riders 6’1” and taller.
Combined with the fact that the bike is a bit of a sleeper (read: it’s a lot more fun than you’d picture a Japanese cruiser to be) and the Vulcan S absolutely deserves its spot on our list.
Does it really surprise you to see the XDiavel on this list? One look at the bike tells the whole story—it pretty much looks like it’s been stretched out which gives long limbs plenty of room. The seat is set at 29.72 inches which doesn’t sound ideal, however, consider the ergonomics.
The saddle is positioned all the way at the back of the bike, behind the engine while the foot pegs are kicked all the way forward, toward the front of the engine. This allows the rider to stretch their legs out. While the rake angle is pretty wide, the handlebar is fairly short and wide which accommodates long arms really well.
Sure, we could have listed the Honda Africa Twin instead, but we didn’t want to be too obvious with our recommendations. The Honda dual-sport lineup which includes the CRF250L, CRF450L, and the XR650L are actually equally good options to consider if you’re looking for a little more versatile type of ride.
We chose the CRF250L instead of the two bigger models for the following reason. First of all, with a saddle towering at 34.4 inches, don’t be fooled by the “250”—it’s not that small a bike. Both the CRF450L and the XR650L are taller (37 inches), however the distance to the foot pegs is almost identical on all three models (roughly 24 to 25 inches).
In addition, the CRF250L has been recently upgraded contrarily to the XR650 which is one of those 90’s relics carried over the decades virtually unchanged. The 250 is also half the price of the 450 so if you don’t have $10,000 to put on a straightforward dual-sport model, then the CRF250L should be your pick.
BMW R 1250 GS
Aaah, there it is! The staple tall rider bike! Hear us out before you roll your eyes at how obvious we are. Of course, the BMW R 1250 GS is your quintessential big and heavy adventure bike, we know. Any ADV is a good pick if you’re tall and into that sort of thing but we picked the GS specifically for several reasons.
Of course, there’s the adjustable saddle height that can go up to 34.3 inches—even up to 35.8 inches with the Adventure model—but the bike is also tremendously comfortable. We tested the bike on a road trip in Europe last year and managed to pull a full 5-hour straight without having to stop and stretch.
Add to that the fact that you can easily stand on the foot pegs to stretch your legs and that there’s an enduro saddle available that gives you plenty of room to slide your bum front and back, shift your weight, and slightly modify the angle in your elbows and knees and you end up with a versatile option for tall riders.
Here’s another case of a low saddle offset by a long wheelbase. Like with the Ducati XDiavel, the Harley Breakout provides horizontal space rather than vertical. Don’t be fooled by the 25.6-inch saddle. With a 66.7-inch wheelbase, the Breakout is one long bike. The setup is similar to the Ducati with the saddle positioned behind the engine block and the foot pegs all the way at the front.
The riding position allows the rider to stretch their legs and arms forward without the knees and elbows clashing.
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
Sportbikes can be a little tricky for tall riders as they usually promote a very closed, tucked-in riding position. When you have a meter of legs and of arms to deal with, the line between “tucked-in” and “can’t move” is very thin. Thankfully, there are a few options for you out there if adventure bikes and cruisers aren’t up your alley. The KTM 1290 Super Duke R is one of them.
Despite its sporty stance, the saddle on the Super Duke is relatively tall at a hair below the 33 inches mark (32.9 to be specific).
Compared to other sportbike and hypernaked models, the foot pegs are not too high on the chassis which leaves more room for the leg. Don’t get us wrong—it’s still a fairly aggressive riding geometry but not so aggressive that you need be a yoga enthusiast to be comfortable in the saddle.
The straighter riding stance also leaves more space to stretch the arms while the wide handlebar offsets the elbows and the knees so that they don’t come in contact should your legs be long enough to require to additional space. In fact, the Super Duke is a recurring suggestion on forums for tall riders shopping for sport and naked bikes.
Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
If you like to travel, on the sport-touring front, the Yamaha Tracer 900 is a solid option to consider for vertically-gifted riders. The bike is already tall to begin and the saddle is set at a standard height of 33.5 inches. The saddle can be lifted to 34.1 inches and the handgrips and levers can be twisted forward to increase the reach. The straight riding position leaves plenty of space for the arms and the legs to do their thing independently without getting in each other’s way.
The Tracer is widely recognized as an all-around great bike and it uses Yamaha’s 847cc inline-triple, which is a great engine to run. Throw in a taller touring windscreen, a pair of saddle bags and you’re ready for your next big adventure.