10 Best Touring Motorcycles For Short Riders (No Cruisers!)

| | ,

Updated June 2022

I don’t know about you, but I reckon short riders who want to buy touring motorcycles are really quite pissed off!

As part of my research, I found that many writers before me have tackled this subject.

And when I stumbled into the murky depths of the comments sections of these posts, every single one of them had been slammed, ferociously, by shorter riders wanting touring motorcycles.

Why? Because the bikes listed in these articles were all too tall.

 touring motorcycles for short riders - ducati in front of urban building
Image: Adam Rhodes

Touring Motorcycles For Short Riders: Mine’s Bigger Than Yours

It seems that many of the authors of these posts are of average height (or taller.) And whilst that’s fine, there is a discrepancy between their version of what constitutes low bikes and what short riders consider low touring motorcycles.

Now, before we go on, I should probably tell you that I’m not a short rider. I’m around 6 feet tall and ride a Honda Africa Twin; probably one of the tallest bikes you can get.

So it would be easy for me to slip into the same mistake as writers before me by giving you a list of bikes that are short for me.

But that doesn’t illuminate touring motorcycles from the perspective of short riders. So I’ve given myself some constraints to keep it on track, but more of that in a minute.

Short Riders vs Touring Motorcycles: Demographics

I spent a few days researching touring motorcycles for short riders to keep this post accurate. And to fully understand everything, I delved into the demographics and read the many (rightfully) annoyed comments to establish some guidelines.

In the posts I read, many touring motorcycles listed had seat heights over 32″ (or 812mm.) In fact, many of them were over 33 inches.

And not a single person who commented on those posts agreed that a 32-inch seat height was reasonable for short riders looking at touring motorcycles.

It seemed that a ‘shorter’ rider would be considered to be in the region of 5’2″ to 5’6″. (Although many are shorter, and we’ll get to that in a minute.)

Therefore, a more appropriate seat height would be one that ranged between 29 and 31 inches (with emphasis on the lower end of the scale.)

So that was the first challenge I set myself. All bikes were to have a seat height as close as possible to 29 inches – with an emphasis on not exceeding 31 inches.

bmw motorbike on coast
Image: Sherman Yang

Short Riders = Baby Touring Motorcycles & Cruisers

Can someone please explain why it seems acceptable to palm off short riders with one of the following touring motorcycles?

  • Beginner/new rider bikes
  • Baby cruisers

As an experienced rider, I can ride a bigger, heavier, more powerful bike than the beginner bike on which I learned.

Never in my life have I walked into a motorcycle showroom and been pointed towards a learner-legal bike or a baby cruiser based on my height.

And it’s a good job. Because although there’s nothing wrong with either of them, they are not the types of bikes I need.

So why is it okay to point shorter riders in the direction of the learner-legal touring motorcycles when they’ve been riding for 20 years?

Why is it okay to point them in the direction of the baby cruisers when they don’t want a cruiser?

And worse still, why is it okay to put them on a bike that’s too big for them in an attempt to convince them they’ll be fine “once the bike is moving”?

Of course, if you choose to ride a smaller capacity bike, that’s great (we included some in this post just in case.)

Related: 9 A2-Friendly Adventure Bikes You Can Happily Tour On!

indian motorbike -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: Chris Robert

Manufacturers Don’t Make Touring Motorcycles For Short Riders

As mentioned, a height range of 5’2″ to 5’6″ has been used to assume a fair depiction of a shorter rider. But what if someone is shorter than 5’2″?

Of course, aftermarket seats and lowering kits will bring the bike down to an appropriate height. But this often comes at the expense of suspension travel and ground clearance.

Even with the best will in the world, if you’re 5 feet tall and want a bike fresh out of the showroom, your options are truly (and unfairly) limited.

harley-davidson motorbike front
Image: Sven Ciupka

Bikes Are Getting Taller, Too!

Rather than ignoring the needs of shorter riders, isn’t it about time manufacturers started to accommodate them a little more instead?

We live in a time where bikes are getting bigger and heavier every year. In fact, it’s a course of action that really gets on my nerves.

But we also live in a time where motorcycling has become more inclusive. We live in an era where the male-female ratio of new riders is equalling out – and it’s about time.

Opening up the motorcycling floodgates will bring with it shorter riders, whether male, female or otherwise.

So why the hell are bikes getting bigger and bigger when the riders coming into our two-wheeled community are getting shorter and lighter?

adventure motorbikes in countryside -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: Luis Moto

Our Top 10 Bikes: 29-31 Inch Seat Heights

With all that said, it’s about time we got onto the bikes! So below are our top 10 bikes with seat heights in the range of 29-31 inches.

They should be suitable for most shorter riders looking for touring motorcycles.

And they also cover a multitude of genres to accommodate individual preferences, price ranges, licenses, and specifications.


BMW F900XR

bmw f900xr motorbike
Image: BMW

We love BMWs F900XR which is essentially a more useable (and cheaper) version of the S1000XR.

With an output of 105bhp, the bike is no slouch. And with Brembo brakes, a TFT dash, heated grips, and a whole host of BMW extras, this bike offers the complete package for slightly less than you can buy a Yamaha MT-09.

The standard height is 32.4 inches (825mm), but if you take advantage of BMW’s no-cost lowering option, that will bring the bike in at 31.3 inches (795mm.)

Still not low enough? Ask them for the lowered-suspension version, and the seat height will drop to 30.5 inches (765mm.)

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 30.5 inches (765mm) – factory-lowered
  • Weight: 219 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From £9,830
  • Range: Around 200 miles (careful riding)

Triumph Tiger 900 GT Low

triumph tiger 900 gt pro -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: Triumph

Before writing this post, I hadn’t gotten around to seeing this bike in the flesh. But when I saw that the GT Low came in at 760mm (29.9 inches), I was stunned. Because my Africa Twin is around 900mm (35 inches.) This means the seat height on this Triumph is 5 inches lower.

It was at this point that I trotted off to Triumph to see it for myself. Not only does the Tiger 900 GT Low have improved power on its 800cc predecessor (95bhp & 87Nm), but it also has an updated chassis that makes for a better handling machine.

It also has a sexy TFT screen, is Euro5 compliant, has full touring luggage options, and is 50mm lower than the standard Triumph 900.

As far as touring motorcycles for shorter riders go, this could very well be a sterling choice.

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 29.9 inches (760mm)
  • Weight: 192 kg (dry)
  • Cost: From £11,100
  • Range: Around 220

Suzuki SV650

suzuki sv650
Image: Suzuki

We’re big fans of the SV650 here at Motorcycle Tourer. It’s not the most exciting bike, and its tried-and-tested V-twin motor makes it perfect for restricted riders and experienced tourers alike.

When taken as a package, this fun and friendly little 650 is a do-it-all bike that’s a laugh on the road and compassionate towards your wallet.

The 75-bhp engine is willing yet flexible and restrained – and is likely why I was given one to learn on when I first stepped up to a ‘big’ bike all those years ago!

With a seat height of 30.9 inches (785 mm), it’s an accessible bike for the shorter rider. But even taller riders find the ergonomics of the bike comfortable and reassuring.

Add to this the fact that it can be restricted, and you have a short rider-friendly, A2-friendly, wallet-friendly motorbike.

Chuck on some aftermarket panniers and a sports screen, and you’re ready to ride off to the Alps!

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 30.9 inches (785 mm)
  • Weight: 197 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From around £6,799
  • Range: Around 175 miles

BMW R1200R (2014)

bmw r1200rs -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: Sourav Mishra

Advertised back in 2014 as the boxer roadster for the keen rider, the BMW R1200R offers 125bhp and 125 Nm of torque.

With its uniform power delivery, it offers an all-day riding experience that will fill up your helmet with smiles from the second you leave the hotel.

Even for a bike from 2014, this roadster comes with rain and road riding modes, dynamic traction control, ABS, gearshift assist (optional), and keyless ignition.

If you can get one that’s been factory lowered, buy yourself an aftermarket screen and some panniers, and you have a low bike that’s good to tour.

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 29.5 inches (749mm)
  • Weight: 223 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From around £4,500
  • Range: Around 180-200 miles

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

moto guzzi v7 stone
Image: Moto Guzzi

If you want a retro-style bike with oodles of charisma and an easy-going motor, it has to be the Moto Guzzi V7 Stone.

Even in the most recent models, Guzzi has maintained the classic good looks from 1967 and produced a machine that comprises traditional charm with a modern flair.

But the plus points don’t end with the looks. On the road, it’s easy to ride all day long. The 64-bhp produced by the air-cooled pushrod 4v V-twin is comfortable yet capable. And power is ample for throwing around mountain passes.

With a seat height of 30.7 inches (780 mm), it’s a doddle to ride and ensures shorter riders can keep a firm footing on the ground.

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 30.7 inches (780)
  • Weight: 233 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From around £8,200
  • Range: Almost 300 miles

Zero SR/F

zero motorbike -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: Zero

With petrol prices through the roof and the sales of electric bikes also on the increase, it seems prudent to include one on this list.

And why not?

When we look at the Zero SR/F, it has the comfort of a sports tourer, comes with panniers and a top box, has a 227-mile range, and a 31-inch (787 mm) seat height.

And whilst electric bikes aren’t cheap, this Zero offers probably the best overall package for the money.

It’s no slouch, either. With its 110-bhp, you’ll get to 60mph in 3.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 124mph.

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 30.0 inches (787mm) – factory-lowered
  • Weight: 227 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From £21,620
  • Range: Around 227 (urban roads)

Related: Plug-In: Best Electric Motorbikes For Touring 2022


BMW F750GS

bmw f750gs
Image: BMW

It’s easy to dismiss the F750GS as a baby version of the 1250GS. But the fact is, it isn’t anything like it.

And although it has a look resembling its bigger brothers, that’s really all they have in common. Trying to compare them doesn’t do this bike any favours.

But when you take it for it is – which is sort of a road-going version of the F850GS – all of a sudden, it opens the door to a machine that is lightweight, capable, and great fun to ride.

Yes, it ‘only’ has 77bhp, but it delivers it well, and all the power is useable.

It isn’t the most contemporary-looking of bikes. But it still has various rider modes, adjustable suspension, a TFT display, and comes fitted with a tracker as standard.

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 30.3 inches (769mm) – factory-lowered
  • Weight: 224 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From £8,600
  • Around: 190 miles

Sinnis Terrain T125

sinnis motorbike -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: Sinnis

One thing we love about the Sinnis T125 is that it’s a normal-sized bike. And if you’re touring, you likely need a touch more space than many ‘small’ bikes account for.

It lacks the finesse of quality of BMW, KTM, or Ducati, but it’s excellent value for money and well-equipped.

The 125cc engine produces 12.7-bhp, so it’s suitable for A2 riders and new riders alike.

The 14-litre tank doesn’t sound much, but with a frugal 100mpg on sensible roads, the T125 will give you around 300 miles to the tank – so perfect for touring!

Lastly, despite being an adventure bike, the T125 has a seat height of 30.7 inches (780mm.)

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 30.7 inches (780mm)
  • Weight: 162 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From £3,299
  • Range: Around 300 miles

Related: 10 Of The Best 125cc Adventure Touring Motorcycles


Honda Goldwing

honda golding mountain pass
Image: Honda

Despite being such a big and heavy bike, the Goldwing can make a good fit for shorter riders looking for touring motorcycles.

With its size, power, comfort, and ride quality, it’s an awesome tourer whatever your height!

And whilst the big petrol tank adds weight to the bike, most of the heft is towards the bottom of the bike. This lowers the centre of gravity and makes it surprisingly easy to handle.

Moreover, the ‘Wing comes with a creeper gear which means you won’t have to paddle this behemoth of a bike next time you need to push it!

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 29.3 inches (744mm)
  • Weight: 365 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From £22,399
  • Range: Around 215 miles

BMW K1600 GTL

bmw k1600gtl -  touring motorcycles for short riders
Image: BMW

For pure unadulterated riding luxury, the big 1600s from BMW are hard to beat.

With a whopping 10.25-inch display, the GTL has navigation, smartphone connectivity, and menus as long as your arm. 

But it also has reverse assistance, cruise control, heated seats, and luggage that could hold most of the possessions in your house.

It isn’t as accomplished at the GT. But the GT is also taller – so there’s a compromise to be had!

That doesn’t mean it isn’t an exceptional bike, though. It’s one of the best mile munchers on the planet – and it will do it whilst carrying you and your pillion in the epitome of motorcycle comfort.

And despite its sheer heft, shorter riders can ride it too – thanks to a seat modest seat height of 29.5 inches (750mm.)

Specs At A Glance:

  • Seat height: 29.5 inches (750)
  • Weight: 358 kg (wet)
  • Cost: From £21,920
  • Range: Around 280 miles

Touring Motorcycles For Short Riders: Conclusion

It really is about time that manufacturers started to produce more touring motorcycles that accommodate shorter riders.

But manufacturers will produce what they think is best because they’re used to telling us what we want as consumers.

And until this changes, it looks like shorter riders are stuck with a limited selection of touring motorcycles if they don’t want to lower their bikes post-purchase.

But shorter riders needn’t feel restricted to touring motorcycles that are either baby cruisers or learner-legal beginner bikes.

You can (with the help of BMW or aftermarket lowering kits) have a choice of touring machines, from retro bikes to street bikes and from off-road adventurers to grand tourers.

So when the shorter riders reading this post next go shopping for touring motorcycles, don’t just take what the salesperson tells you you can have!

Top image: BMW

Feel free to share!
Previous

Motorcycle Touring Rain Gear: Get One Up On The Weather

Touring Motorcycle Clubs (And Why You Should Join One!)

Next