Top Touring Motorcycles For Tall Riders

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Not long ago (after an influx of readers’ questions), we were tasked with proposing a list of motorcycles for shorter riders.

And rightly so. Because whilst I’m 6 feet tall, it seems to me that manufacturers have consistently neglected the needs of riders who are shorter than about 5’6″.

I don’t think short riders are asking too much by wanting to be able to put their feet flat on the ground when they stop at a set of traffic lights. Constantly fighting with the height and weight of a bike is a surefire way to ruin even the most exhilarating of rides.

So, we diligently provided one such list – and it’s actually been in our top three posts since we published it.

motorcycles for tall riders short riders

Touring Motorcycles For Tall Riders

But as with all coins, there’s always a flip side. And in this case, it’s taller riders.

For the record, I’m not saying it’s worse for taller riders than it is for shorter ones. It’s just a different kind of problem.

Because where shorter riders face the very real prospect of injuring themselves at a stop sign on a dodgy camber, the taller rider faces death by a thousand paper cuts.

See, shorter riders face serious consequences, but they face them every now and then. But for taller riders, it’s the other way around. Because whilst we face less severe consequences, we suffer them constantly.

From the moment we swing a leg over a bike, we’re uncomfortable, cramped, buffeted by the wind, and ache relentlessly.

And whilst this is fine for a Sunday ride out, it takes its toll on your body throughout a tour.

motorcyclist on suzuki
Image: William Daigneault

Motorcycles For Tall Riders: It’s Not All About The Seat Height

If you’re a taller rider, don’t get sucked into thinking the bikes with the tallest seats must be the roomiest. Because that isn’t always the case!

The height of the bars, how far they are away from you, peg height, and seat width are other factors to consider.

All of these factors play a role in how your body is positioned on the bike. And if any of these are out of whack, then frankly, the seat height doesn’t matter.

That said, seat height is the most constant variable for determining suitable motorcycles for tall riders. So it’s the metric we’ll use in this post.

motorcycles for tall riders - royal enfield seat
Image: Set SJ

What If I Don’t Want An Off-Road Bike?

Don’t worry, we’re already on it! When considering motorcycles for tall riders, it’s easy to fill a list of tall bikes with off-road and big ADV bikes. After all, the bigger wheels and longer suspension travel naturally allow for a taller seat height.

But in the same way not all short riders want a cruiser, not all tall riders want a trailie. So with this in mind, we’ve created a list of the top 10 motorcycles for tall riders that span the full range of motorcycle genres.

If you’re wondering, we’ve arranged them in engine size – from smallest to largest cc’s.

125cc: Honda Varadero 125

honda varadero 125
Image: Rwh86 via Wikipedia

We’ve always been a fan of the Honda Varadero’s. And this 125 version is essentially a full-size bike with a manageable 125cc engine in the middle.

It isn’t the prettiest of machines. And granted, you can’t buy one from new anymore.

But it’s a good-sized bike, with shit tonnes of space and the ability to carry full luggage.

At 154kg, it’s a bit of a chunk compared to most 125cc bikes. That said, it still weighs in nearly 50% lighter than most big ADV bikes.

The 15-bhp four-stroke v-twin engine runs smoothly and consistently. And whilst 15-bhp may not sound a lot for such a big bike, it will contentedly cruise at highway speeds before peaking at roughly 72-75 mph.

If you ride a 125cc because you’re a new rider (or simply prefer smaller, lighter bikes), the Varadero 125 is a great option. It’s easy to ride from the get-go, is completely predictable, and is surprisingly economical.

With a seat height of 803mm, it isn’t the loftiest of motorcycles for tall riders. But when you take into account the overall ergonomics of the bikes, it’s one of the best 125cc motorbikes for tall riders.

A2: Honda CB500X

motorcycles for tall riders - honda cb500x
Image: Honda

The CB500X (together with the CBR500R and CB500F) was debuted in 2013 as Honda’s answer to an adventure-style twin that is light and practical.

Its 47-bhp engine doesn’t provide mind-blowing performance. But in true Honda colours, it’s well-built and functional, and it does exactly as it says on the tin.

Longer suspension and a larger 19″ front wheel were added in 2019. And these make it one of the ideal motorcycles for tall riders looking for all-day riding.

Overall, it’s an exceptional all-rounder that’s as friendly on the rider as it is on the bank account.

If you want to do a bit of green-laning on tour, the CB500X will also perform well. But if you want something with more composure on the trails, the CRF300 Rally might be a better fit.

But overall, this is one of the best small displacement motorcycles for tall riders on the market.

Dual-Sport: Kawasaki KLR 650

Kawasaki KLR 650
Image: Carsamar via Wikipedia

Who doesn’t love a dual-sport bike?!

Unfortunately, proper dual-sport bikes have been in decline over the past few years. This is thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of their bigger cousins – adventure bikes.

And this is understandable. Providing you’re staying on tarmac.

But if you’re a taller rider that wants to enjoy some off-roading, your money might be better spent on a truly capable dual-sport.

Cue the legendary KLR650. Despite being one of their best-selling models, Kawasaki temporarily ceased production in 2018 due to emissions.

But it rose from the dead in 2022, and with it brought improved fuel efficiency and dependability.

The majority of the new components on this model have seen a redesign to minimise vibration, accommodate luggage, and improve handling.

While the new KLR650 might not have been what everyone was hoping for, that doesn’t stop it from being a fun, affordable, and capable way of exploring the world.

And with an 871mm seat height, it’s one of the perfect dual-sport motorcycles for tall riders.

Supermoto: KTM 690 SMC R

motorcycles for tall riders - KTM 690 SMC R
Image: KTM

It’s fair to say that this KTM 690 SMC R won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. But if it’s your cup of tea, then you’re in for a riot!

The 690 SMC R is one of the few remaining great singles. And whilst it isn’t without its issues, the sheer fun factor makes up for any of its shortfalls.

For a start, it crafts its way on the road with pure, unadulterated precision and agility. The fully adjustable suspensions does a great job of soaking up lumps and bumps in the road. And the Bridgestone S21 tyres give you a planted feel that urges you to push on.

And push on it does! 74-bhp doesn’t sound a lot. But couple that with its lightweight 147kg mass, its 74-bhp is addictive, exhilarating, and plenty enough. 

The one thing that puts us off is the price. At £9,349, it’s sickeningly pricey when you consider how basic is it. There are far better-equipped machines out there for similar money.

But if money is no object and you love your supermotos, the 690 SMC R is a menace on the roads! And with a seat height of 890mm, it’s one of the loftiest motorcycles for tall riders on this list.

Middleweight: Yamaha Ténéré 700

Yamaha Ténéré 700
Image: Yamaha

Whilst all manufacturers chop and change existing engines to fit in new machines, Yamaha does it particularly well.

So when they took the perky 73-bhp parallel-twin out of the MT-07 and lovingly placed it in a tall, roomy, dual-sport-esque adventure package, it had success written all over it.

And this proved to be the case with the Ténéré 700. Because it sold by the bucket load the moment sales could be taken.

If you want something roomier than a sports tourer but something smaller, lighter, and less intimidating than an adventure bike, the Ténéré 700 is a fabulous middleweight option. Add to this the 875mm seat height, and it’s one of the roomiest middleweight motorcycles for tall riders.

It doesn’t have cruise control, but that doesn’t stop it from being comfortable over longer distances. The fairing and screen offer reasonable protection on the motorway, and the lack of weight makes it manageable around town.

And if you want to take it a step further, you can have a look at the awesome looking Rally Edition with all its bells and whistles.

Retro: Ducati Desert X

motorcycles for tall riders - Ducati Desert X
Image: Ducati

If you want a recent-retro bike with fleeting nods back to the Paris-Dakar, the Desert X could be the bike for you.

In typical Ducati format, it looks beautiful. But it’s practical, too. Functioning with poise and finesse, whether on-road or off it, the Desert X is a surprisingly capable all-rounder.

Thanks to an incredible chassis, steering is light and precise no matter the surface. And with a comfy seat and a 23-litre fuel tank that will give you a 250-mile range, you can go all day.

If this isn’t enough, you can get the optional 28-litre tank. And this will give you a theoretical 375-mile range.

With a seat height of 873mm, it’s one of the best motorcycles for tall riders. And whilst the stock screen is fine for most riders, Ducati is currently working on a taller one to accommodate taller riders.

Peak power is 110-bhp and emphasis is placed on torque – it’s all about the low-down grunt with this Ducati.

Finally, this bike comes with a 4-year warranty. These days, that’s twice the time you usually get, even with Japanese brands.

With a reputation for breaking down, a 4-year warranty shows just how much confidence Ducati has in this engine.

Sports: Yamaha YZF-R1

Yamaha YZF-R1
Image: Yamaha

If you’re not a lover of sports bikes, I get it. They are, without doubt, the most uncomfortable things with two wheels you can ever throw a leg over.

And whilst the discomfort and the lack of storage make them difficult to tour on, the sheer riding pleasure when you get into the twisties makes it all worthwhile!

Sportsbikes have always left riders cramped as they force you into aerodynamic positions across the tank. And with high pegs, even a lofty seat height will still leave you like a contortionist.

But if you’re a sports bike lover, tall, and a touring biker, you might be surprised at the new R1 and its atmospheric 855mm perch. As far as these bikes go, it’s the best sports bike for tall riders.

If you want something a little more touring-orientated, you could always have a look at an older BMW S1000RR – with its cruise control, heated seats, and efficient ergonomics.

But for sheer enjoyment on a machine that can take lanky bodies, the new R1 is hard to beat. 

Adventure: Honda Africa Twin

motorcycles for tall riders -  Honda Africa Twin
Image: Honda

I owned Africa Twin‘s from 2016 to 2022. And where I feel overly cramped on most bikes, the AT certainly isn’t one of them.

At 6-feet, I could easily flat foot the bike with the seat in its lowest setting. On the medium setting, I was safe but not quite flat.

In the highest setting (or with a seat cushion), the seat was getting too tall for me. To the point where I struggled paddling it in out of parking spots.

And it’s incredibly roomy. The distance from the seat to the bars is bordering on uncomfortable for most. But for taller riders (especially if you want to off-road), the ergos are superb.

Adding to this is the pegs – which are relatively low in relation to the seat height. When you put low pegs with a high seat and bars far out in front, it lends itself nicely to taller riders.

Supernaked: Ducati Streetfighter V4

 Ducati Streetfighter V4
Image: Ducati

Okay, let’s say you want the room and space of an adventure bike – but don’t want the bulk or excessive weight. And then let’s say you want the speed and acceleration of a sports bike – but this time, want more space.

If that’s you, you might very well be a contender for a super naked. With an emphasis on sports bike performance, but with a roomier and more upright riding position, an out-and-out super naked could be what you’re looking for.

There are a few to choose from these days. But with 205-bhp, courtesy of the fantastic Panigale V4, you’ll struggle to find anything more mental than Ducati’s Streetfighter.

And with a seat height of 845mm, and a more upright riding position than a sports bike, this Ducati should be the best street motorcycle for tall riders everywhere.

All-rounder: Honda V4 Crosstourer

motorcycles for tall riders - Honda V4 Crosstourer
Image: Honda

Don’t be fooled. Whilst the Crosstourer looks like an adventure bike (and is often marketed as one), it really isn’t.

It’s essentially a big, hefty touring machine in the body of an adventure bike to give room and space for you and a pillion. Plus the space to carry luggage for each of you.

Add to this a 1200 V4 powerplant, the sturdiness on the road, and even an automatic gearbox, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic touring heavyweight.

It’s mostly at home on motorways and A-roads. And whilst it’s fine in the twisties, the frontend lightness combined with its top-heaviness does come into play when the roads get tight.

But with a DCT box, loads of space, an assurity that only this bike can produce, plus a seat height of 850mm, you’re onto a winner with this bike. It’s a brilliant all-rounder and one of the best motorbikes for tall riders.

Top image: Yamaha


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