There’s so much amusement involved with riding a motorcycle, but if you feel like the motorcycle doesn’t fit your height, that can take away some of the fun. I’ve ridden dozens of motorcycles and have found the best way to calibrate the right motorcycle for you according to your height.
How tall do you need to be to ride a motorcycle? There is no specific height that is required to ride a motorcycle. However, you will need to at least be able to use your toes and the balls of your feet on both feet simultaneously at a stand-still. Anything less than that, such as tippy-toes or using one foot at a time, is dangerous and increases your risk of tipping over your motorcycle.
There are several things you need to consider before you ride someone else’s motorcycle or before you purchase a motorcycle for yourself. Your height should be one of the first considerations before doing something like this; not only is it a comfort issue, but it also involves your safety.
What Size Of Motorcycle Should I Get For My Height?
For a while, I had a motorcycle restoration business. To this day, I still restore motorcycles as a hobby and use that hobby to provide good, helpful information for this blog. I’ve bought a lot of motorcycles and had to try out many different shapes and sizes. I’ve become very familiar with the process of deciding how to know if you’re tall enough for a motorcycle; here’s what I found:
When you hear the phrase “the size of the motorcycle,” it is generally meant in reference to the size of the engine. The size of a motorcycle engine is measured in “CC’s,” or, cubic centimeters. This measures the volume of the motorcycle’s engine cylinders. The larger the volume, or the more CC’s the engine has, the more power and speed capabilities the motorcycle will have.
If you’re a beginner, CC’s are a big factor to consider when choosing a motorcycle. Beginners should not get anything bigger than a 750CC motorcycle. A motorcycle in the 250CC – 500CC range is ideal. A motorcycle with too high of CC’s can be dangerous for a beginner because of the amount of power it has; always ride a motorcycle that is within your skill level.
Once you’ve decided on a motorcycle, the first test you should do is ensure you are tall enough for it. You’ll know you’re tall enough for a particular motorcycle if you are, at the very least, able to touch the ground with your toes and the balls of both your feet. Tippy toes are unacceptable and will not provide the proper balance. It may be tempting to buy a motorcycle that’s too tall for you, but I ask that you please don’t.
Decide what you are going to be using your motorcycle for, whether that be commuting, joy rides, touring, speed racing, etc. Once you know what you’ll be using it for, it’ll be easier to narrow down what type of motorcycle you’ll need. The main types of rides include cruisers, sports, touring, standard, and dual sport.
When you’re looking into purchasing a motorcycle, try out a few and notice how easy it is to mount them. If you have any trouble whatsoever with mounting, consider that motorcycle marked off your list. Chances are you’ll have trouble keeping it balanced if you’re unable to mount it properly.
Which brings us to our next test. Test out the balance of the motorcycle while you’re on it. Again, make sure at least the balls of both your feet are touching the ground. Do you feel comfortable holding it up by yourself? A motorcycle is heavy in nature so you’ll have some balancing that’ll require practice. Don’t get a motorcycle that you struggle keeping up while mounted at a stand still.
Try reaching forward and grabbing the handlebars. Notice any discomfort you may feel at this point. Are you reaching too far? Is it too close to you that you feel scrunched?
The ability to safely navigate and control the motorcycle (including having the right footing) is more important than a specific height. Being able to comfortably reach the controls and handling the motorcycle’s weight while keeping it stable will ensure a much safer ride.
Is There a Weight Limit To Ride A Motorcycle?
It is certainly possible to put too much weight on your motorcycle. Putting too much weight on your motorcycle compromises it’s functionality.
You’ll be able to see your motorcycle’s specific weight limit in your owners manual if you have one (check out emanualonline.com if you don’t have one; it’s an affordable and quick access resource to your bike specific manual). It will be identified as the GVWR, or the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. This rating states the maximum total weight you can safely reach fully loaded.
You’ll also need to look up your motorcycle’s “dry weight” or weight without any fluids. Add about 50 pounds to that to find your “wet weight” or the motorcycle’s weight with fluids. Now do the following math: GVWR – Wet Weight = Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is the total amount left that your motorcycle can safely carry; this includes you, your passenger, the gear you’re wearing, and any carry-on items.
Some of you may not have your owner’s manual to give you a clear answers. As a rule of thumb, never exceed adding more than 400 pounds plus fuel to your motorcycle.
Best Motorcycles For Short Riders
If you’re a short rider, the height of the motorcycle isn’t the only issue you’ll need to look at. The width of the seat and the way it angles your legs should be a huge contributing factor to choosing your motorcycle. Aside from needing a shorter motorcycle, you’ll also need one that’s thin and carries a low, centralized weight.
Here’s a list of several motorcycles I’ve noticed to have worked well for short riders:
- Honda CB 300
- Honda Rebel 500
- Harley Davidson SuperLow
- Kawasaki Vulcan S
- Suzuki SV 650
These motorcycles have a seat height of about 30 inches or lower which makes mounting and balance much easier. Don’t let your height stop you from pursing a hobby that brings so much joy. There are many ways to work around it!
Best Motorcycles For Tall Riders
Sometimes it seems like the average-sized folks get to have all the fun; everything is made and catered to that body type. Accommodations may be hard to find for those who have long legs and the last thing you want is to feel scrunched on a machine you’re driving fast down the highway. Here are a few motorcycle suggestions for those who are tall:
- Honda Africa Twin
- Harley-Davidson Breakout
- Kawasaki Versys 650
- Suzuki SV650
- Yamaha XSR 900
These motorcycles have been proven to provide an easier ride for those who are six feet or taller. When looking for a motorcycle to call your own, the most important feature for tall riders is the distance between the seat and the foot pegs, followed by the reach and height of the handle bars.
What About Motorcycle Passengers? How Tall Do They Need To Be?
There are only five states, Hawaii, Washington, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, who have given specific laws concerning motorcycle passengers. The law for these states report that passengers must be at least 8 years of age to be a motorcycle passenger. All other states do not have restrictions concerning motorcycle passengers. Essentially, there are no laws stating how tall a motorcycle passenger needs to be in order to ride with you. If an 8 year old can ride with you, passengers can be pretty short.
That being said, you still need to use your better judgement about the type of passengers you bring along with you.
Always make sure your passenger has a helmet. Along with that, make sure the helmet fits (this is especially important if you are bringing along children). A loose helmet is less effective in the case it has to be used. Click here to see my list of recommended helmets for motorcycle passengers.
As a rule of thumb, I always ensure a passenger can place their feet on the rear foot pegs. If a passenger is too short to place their feet on them, consider not taking them. Loose feet around a spinning wheel and hot pipes is a recipe for disaster.
Make sure your passenger understands the rules while riding. They must always hold on to you and never move around too much, especially during a turn. Teach them certain hand signals to indicate their needs, such as signaling when they need to stop.
Is there a minimum weight to ride a motorcycle? There is no minimum weight required to ride a motorcycle. As long as you are able to balance yourself with both feet and know how to properly maneuver the motorcycle while in motion, you will not have any issues.
While there is no specific height required to ride a motorcycle, there are a few physical measurements you can abide by to ensure you have a safe ride. Always ensure that the toes and balls on both your feet can reach the ground at the same time. Better yet, having both feet flat on the ground means improved stability. Also consider the weight you’re putting on the motorcycle and how that could impact your balance. Good luck with finding the right motorcycle out there for you, I know you’ll find it!