Motorcycles come in all shapes and sizes. On the road, riders big and small can ride more or less any bike, but many shorter riders like to be able to get both feet (or at least one) on the ground at a standstill, or while riding at walking pace.
In the past, many of these riders found themselves stuck to riding custom bikes or 125s, but that doesn’t need to be the case. For some, it’s a matter of adjusting their stance and getting on with it, while others will modify their motorbike to lower the seat and suspension.
But for those who want to ride their bike without modifications or other compromises, there are still plenty of motorcycles out there that are hugely accessible for shorter riders. They cover all sorts of genres and licence types, and here are just five of our favourites. Don’t just take our word for it though. Get down to your local dealer and hop on some new bikes for yourself.
Yamaha’s MT-07 has been a smash hit since its introduction in 2014, and for great reason.
The 689cc parallel-twin offers an untouchable blend of performance, handling and value for money. The 805mm seat height isn’t the lowest on the market (Suzuki claims 785mm for its SV650, for example) but the narrow saddle profile and low weight (182kg fuelled) make for a bike that is super simple to ride.
It’s also great fun to ride. The 75bhp ‘crossplane’ engine is lively and full of character, while the chassis is light and accurate. The only complaints you could possibly throw at the MT-07 is a slight lack of practicality and budget suspension that doesn’t quite keep up with the rest of the bike when ridden enthusiastically but, pound-for-pound, there’s little to touch it.
Ducati Monster 1200S
Having a low seat shouldn’t mean sacrificing performance or technology, and Ducati’s Monster 1200S proves just that.
While the Monster 821 offers a very accessible 785mm seat height, the bigger models should not be overlooked by riders wanting more performance. With 147bhp on tap, the Monster 1200S, packs a serious punch and comes with Ducati’s groundbreaking suite of electronic aids. The S version also sports full adjustable Öhlins suspension, high-end Brembo brakes and fancy three-spoke wheels. The torquey V-twin motor is also full of character and sounds glorious to boot.
As standard, the Monster’s saddle can be manually adjusted from a low 795mm through to 820mm and, if that’s not enough, a 20mm lower alternative is available as an accessory, for those who wish to customise their bike. If you want a high performing naked bike that won’t prove a stretch, the Monster is definitely one to have on the shortlist.
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Triumph Street Twin
‘Accessibility’ was the buzzword when Triumph launched the Street Twin back in 2016, accessibility being a synonym for ‘good for shorties’.
With a seat height of just 760mm, the Street Twin is one of the lowest roadsters on the market today. With its narrow waistline, all but the shortest riders will be able to flatfoot the Street Twin – and there’s the option of a 20mm lower saddle too.
Out of the box, the Street Twin does come across as a bit bland, but Triumph offer a wide range of over 150 accessories to allow owners to modify their bikes. These customised bikes add that additional character we’d come to expect from a Brit twin, and make for a personalised machine that’s unique to the individual rider. Despite tipping the scales at a seemingly heavy 198kg, the Triumph carries its bulk well and is very manoeuvrable, making it a good choice for shorter riders looking at a city bike with enough grunt to be fun on the open roads too.
Kawasaki Ninja 400
Sportsbikes can be a mixed bag for shorter riders. While the seat heights are usually relatively low in real terms, the combination of low handlebars and jacked up rear suspension can mean that the ergonomics often put shorter riders on their tippy toes.
The Ninja 400 is an A2 licence friendly sportsbike with more relaxed ergonomics and a 785mm seat height. As a result, the mini Ninja is a very popular choice with new riders looking for something easy to ride, but sporty too.
At first glance, the Ninja 400 could easily pass for the bigger ZX-6R or ZX-10R Ninjas thanks to the aggressive looking bodywork and race replica graphics, and the 45bhp twin has plenty of race track credentials itself. The Ninja 400 is very much the bike of choice in the new Supersport 300 class of racing, with Spain’s Ana Carrasco winning the world title in 2018.
Big touring bikes are not naturally considered ideal bikes for shorter riders but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t options out there.
Modern day adventure bikes have taken the place of traditional tourers, and while BMW’s iconic GS series remains the best selling big bike in the UK, the venerable RT remains a popular choice among riders looking for a more accessible option. This year it benefits from BMW’s new ShiftCam engine, which ups power to 134bhp while improving fuel economy at the same time.
The RT has been around in one form or another since 1978 and remains a staple with police forces around the world. Part of the model’s appeal is its adaptability. There are three seat options available, and each has two settings that are 20mm apart. Unlike many manufacturers, who charge extra for accessory seats, BMW will replace the standard spec seat with a lower (or higher) option free of charge at the time of purchase. The low seat option for the RT is 45mm lower than the standard equipment, meaning that it sits at a staggering 760mm on its lowest setting – that’s as low as any other bike in our list.
At 279kg, the R1250RT isn’t the lightest bike out there, however the unique nature of BMW’s boxer engine layout means that it carries its bulk low down, making for a beautifully balanced machine that is far easier to ride, and much more enjoyable, than you would expect.