The 39 Best New Bikes for Smaller Riders (and Budgets)

UPDATE (3/13/2018): Our list of best new bikes for smaller riders and budgets continues to grow. We’re way beyond 39 now, but like we said before, we plan to stay 39 forever! We’ve updated the list to include new 2018 models, updated the links to the manufacturer sites and made sure the pricing is correct. In some cases, we also have new reviews. Stay tuned as we keep adding more!

You don’t need pavement-buckling torque and shoulder-wrenching power to have fun on two wheels. Among the growing number of female riders (go, girls!), younger folks wanting a fun and economical way to commute to work or school, older riders looking for something smaller and easier to manage, and regular Joes just wanting something fun to ride, demand for smaller machines has prompted manufacturers to increase their stateside offerings of easy-to-ride, easy-on-the-wallet motorcycles.

If you’re in the market for a ride like this, you could spend hours (literally) searching each manufacturer’s website and scouring Google for “best small motorcycle.” OR you could scroll down to our handy-dandy list of the Best Bikes for Smaller Riders (and Budgets).

Most of the bikes include a link to our review, making it easy for you to get a real ride evaluation. We’ve also included the latest model year’s U.S. base MSRP (as of publication), seat height and claimed wet weight (when a wet weight was not available from the manufacturer, the claimed dry weight is listed). For more details, you can read our review, which includes comprehensive specs, or click on the bike’s name to be taken directly to the manufacturer’s page.

 

BMW F 700 GS
BMW F 700 GS

BMW F 700 GS $9,995, 32.3-inch seat (30.1-inch low option), 461 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2013 F 700 GS
Click here for model updates for 2017

Click here to read about the all-new 2018 F 750 and F 850 GS

 

BMW F 800 GT
BMW F 800 GT

BMW F 800 GT $12,295, 31.5-inch seat (30.9 and 30.1-inch low options), 472 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2013 BMW F 800 GT


BMW G 310 R
BMW G 310 R

BMW G 310 R $4,750, 30.9-inch seat, 349 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review here

 

BMW G 310 GS
BMW G 310 GS

BMW G 310 GS $5,695, 32.9-inch seat (32-inch low option), 373 lbs.
Coming soon: First Ride Review!

 

CSC RX-3 Adventure
CSC RX3 Adventure

CSC RX3 Adventure $4,195, 31.3-inch seat, 408 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2016 CSC RX3 Adventure

Ducati Monster 821
Ducati Monster 821

Ducati Monster 821 $11,995, 30.9-inch seat, 454 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review here

Ducati Scrambler Icon Yellow
Ducati Scrambler Icon Yellow

Ducati Scrambler variations, from $9,195, 31.1-inch seat (30.3-inch low option), 410 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the 2017 Scrambler Cafe Racer

Harley-Davidson Iron 883
Harley-Davidson Iron 883

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 $8,999, 28.9-inch seat, 562 lbs.
Click here for our comparison test of the 2011 Harley 883 Superlow and the 2010 Honda Shadow 750

Harley-Davidson Street 500
Harley-Davidson Street 500

Harley-Davidson Street 500/750 $6,899, 28-inch seat, 489 lbs. / $7,599, 28-inch seat, 489 lbs.
Click here for our review of the Harley Street 500 and 750

Harley-Davidson Superlow
Harley-Davidson SuperLow

Harley-Davidson SuperLow $8,699, 27.4-inch seat, 565 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2014 Harley-Davidson SuperLow 1200T

Honda CB300F
Honda CB300F

Honda CB300F $4,349, 30.7-inch seat, 348 lbs.

 

Honda CB500F
Honda CB500F

Honda CB500F $6,099, 30.7-inch seat, 420 lbs. (ABS model)
Read our First Ride Review here

Honda CB500X
Honda CB500X

Honda CB500X $6,599, 31.8-inch seat, 428 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2013 Honda CB500X
Click here for 2016 model updates

 

Honda CBR300R
Honda CBR300R

Honda CBR300R $4,699, 30.7-inch seat, 357 lbs.
Click here for our comparison test review of the Honda CBR300R and Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS SE

Honda CBR500R
Honda CBR500R

Honda CBR500R $6,599, 30.7-inch seat, 423 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2013 Honda CBR500R

Honda CBR650F
Honda CBR650F

Honda CBR650F $8,749, 31.9-inch seat, 461 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2014 Honda CBR650F

2018 CB650F
2018 CB650F

Honda CB650F $8,749, 31.9-inch seat, 461 lbs.

Honda CTX700
Honda CTX700

Honda CTX700 DCT $8,399, 28.3-inch seat, 493 lbs. / $7,699, 28.3-inch seat, 494 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2014 Honda CTX700

Honda NC700X
Honda NC700X

Honda NC700X $7,699, 32.7-inch seat, 474 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2012 Honda NC700X DCT
Click here for 2016 model updates

2017 Honda Rebel
2017 Honda Rebel

Honda Rebel $5,999, 27.2-inch seat, 408 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the Rebel 500

 

Honda Shadow Phantom
Honda Shadow Phantom

Honda Shadow Phantom/Aero $7,799/$7,599, 25.8-inch seat, 549 lbs. / 25.9-inch seat, 560 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2013 Honda Shadow Aero

 

Indian Scout
Indian Scout

Indian Scout Sixty $8,999, 25.3-inch seat, 555 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2016 Indian Scout
Click here for our review of the 2016 Indian Scout Sixty

 

Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS
Kawasaki Ninja 300 ABS

Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS $4,999, 30.9-inch seat, 366 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the 2018 Ninja 400

 

Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS
Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS

Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS $7,399, 31.7-inch seat, 467 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the 2017 Ninja 650

 

2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300
2017 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 $5,399, 32.1-inch seat, 386 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the 2017 Versus-X 300

 

Kawasaki Vulcan S
Kawasaki Vulcan S

Kawasaki Vulcan S/Café/SE $7,099, 27.8-inch seat, 498 lbs. / $8,099, 27.8-inch seat, 498 lbs. / $7,699, 27.8-inch seat, 498 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S

2017 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
2017 Kawasaki Z650 ABS

Kawasaki Z650 $6,999, 30.9-inch seat, 410 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the 2017 Z650 ABS

 

2017 KTM 390 Duke
2017 KTM 390 Duke

KTM 390 Duke $5,299, 32.7-inch seat, 328 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the 2017 390 Duke

Moto Guzzi V7 II Stone
Moto Guzzi V7 II Stone

MotoGuzzi V7 III Line starting at $7,990, 27.2-inch seat, weight varies by model
Read our First Look Review of the 2017 V7 III Lineup

 

2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan
2018 Royal Enfield Himalayan

Royal Enfield Himalayan $4,499, 31.5-inch seat, 401 lbs.

Suzuki Boulevard S40
Suzuki Boulevard S40

Suzuki Boulevard S40 $5,749, 27.6-inch seat, 381 lbs.

 

2018 Suzuki GSX250R
2018 Suzuki GSX250R

Suzuki GSX250R $4,499, 31.1-inch seat, 392 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review in our “Small Bikes Rule!” feature here

 

Suzuki GW250
Suzuki GW250

Suzuki GW250 $4,099, 30.7-inch seat, 403 lbs.
Read our review of the 2013 Suzuki GW250

 

Suzuki SV650
Suzuki SV650

Suzuki SV650 $7,049, 30.9-inch seat, 429 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2017 Suzuki SV650

 

Suzuki TU250X
Suzuki TU250X

Suzuki TU250X $4,599, 30.3-inch seat, 326 lbs.
Read our review of the 2009 Suzuki TU250X

 

Suzuki VanVan200
Suzuki VanVan200

Suzuki VanVan 200 $4,599, 30.3-inch seat, 282 lbs.
Read “Man on a VanVan Without a Plan,” our Tour Test Review of the VanVan

Triumph Street Twin
Triumph Street Twin

Triumph Street Twin $9,100, 29.5-inch seat, 478 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2016 Triumph Street Twin

 

2017 Triumph Street Cup
2017 Triumph Street Cup

Triumph Street Cup $10,500, 30.7-inch seat, 441 lbs. (dry)
Read our First Ride Review of the Street Cup here

 

2017 Triumph Street Scrambler
2017 Triumph Street Scrambler

Triumph Street Scrambler $10,800, 31.2-inch seat, 453 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the Street Scrambler here

 

2017 Triumph Bonneville T100
2017 Triumph Bonneville T100

Triumph Bonneville T100 starting at $10,400, 31.1-inch seat, 470 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the Bonneville T100 Black here

Yamaha Bolt R-Spec
Yamaha Bolt R-Spec

Yamaha Bolt/R-Spec $7,999, 27.2-inch seat, 542 lbs. / $8,399, 27.2-inch seat, 542 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2015 Yamaha Bolt C-Spec
Click here for our review of the 2014 Yamaha Bolt

 

Yamaha FZ6R
Yamaha FZ6R

Yamaha FZ6R $7,799, 30.9-inch seat, 467 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2009 Yamaha FZ6R


2018 Yamaha MT-07
2018 Yamaha MT-07

Yamaha MT-07 $7,599, 31.7-inch seat, 403 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the MT-07 here

 

2018 Yamaha TW200
2018 Yamaha TW200

Yamaha TW200 $4,599, 31.1-inch seat, 280 lbs.
Read our First Ride Review of the TW200 in our “Small Bikes Rule!” feature here

 

Yamaha YZF-R3
Yamaha YZF-R3

Yamaha YZF-R3 $4,999, 30.7-inch seat, 368 lbs.
Click here for our review of the 2015 Yamaha YZF-R3

Yamaha V-Star 250
Yamaha V-Star 250

Yamaha V Star 250 $4,349, 27.0-inch seat, 326 lbs.
Click here to read our review of the 2008 Yamaha V Star 250 in a 9-bike fuel-economy comparison test

 

2018 Yamaha XT250
2018 Yamaha XT250

Yamaha XT250 $5,199, 31.9-inch seat, 291 lbs.

 

UPDATE (8/19/16): Astute readers will notice that there are 42 bikes shown above (and even more if you count variants of some models) even though the title of the article is “39 Best Bikes.” There were 39 bikes when the article was first published, but some readers alerted us to bikes we left out (like the Honda Rebel, Moto Guzzi V7 Stone and Victory Octane). We’ve added those bikes (and may add more in the future), but like some folks well into their 40s (or 50s), we plan to stay 39 forever!

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28 COMMENTS

  1. I guess Korean Motorcycles don’t count. Nice bias. You might want to check out Hyosung, I guess you’ve never heard of them.

    • William, we’re not biased against bikes made in Korea. We’ve tested Hyosung bikes in the past, but the last time we did so was 10 years ago (http://ridermagazine.com/2007/01/01/2006-hyosung-gt650s-road-test/). Our list focuses on bikes we know well and have ridden. We also left out Royal Enfield, mainly because they have few dealers so availability is a problem in many parts of the U.S. No list is 100% complete, but this one is fairly representative of the options available to most motorcycle consumers. And if you’re curious, this list includes manufacturers from Austria, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

      • I appreciate your reply, I did notice the other manufacturers, I mean countries, well represented.
        You haven’t tested a Hyosung in 10 years? Would you like to test some?

  2. You left out the classic first low seat height bike the Honda Rebel. And let’s not forget the Grom. I am sure you have all ridden Rebel and Grom.

  3. In my experience small riders = low seat height. With a pant inseam of 30″ or less many of these bikes would be too tall. Lighter weight yes, but difficult to get a full foot plant.

    • William, this is so true. My inseam is a mere 26 inches, which makes most of these bikes impractical. Harley has done a great job for smaller riders; I now ride an Ultra Limited Low. The only problem is that it weights about a million pounds.

      • lol, that’s a heavy bike. I don’t remember what my inseam is…about 28-29. I’m 4’11”, so getting both feet on the ground is challenging. I do appreciate this review though. I’m in the early stages, looking for my bike options, then a training course, then a purchase. And I live in Oregon, which is often wet. The Grom looks promising, so does the Monkey. I don’t like being so limited, because my taste in moto is like; BMW R nine T is a beauty. But, it’s a starter, and I was happy to see the Honda Rebel in last years model.

  4. I think a moto guzzi V7 should have been on your list. It’s a good bike for older riders like me. I use my Harley very little any more.

    • You’re right, we missed the V7 when we were putting together the list. It’s hard to remember all of them! We’ll get it added ASAP. Thanks for pointing it out!

  5. OK, so here’s my wish list;

    I want a 320-400 cc motor
    twin, not singles
    Full fairing, ie r3, ninja 300 or Honda 300
    two up seating available
    It NEEDS to weigh less than 300 lbs (or at least close, 350 MAX)
    It should get 70 MPG
    it should be able to get out of it’s own way (have some get up and go)
    and it needs to cost less than $6500

    None of these specs should be that difficult. If Yamaha can build a R1000 under 400 lbs, why are most of the300 cc bikes 350-390 pounds? I’ve been riding for over 40 years on and off. I’ve raced bikes over 130 MPH on the open road. But I’m not 19 yo any longer and I broke a vertibrea in my 20’s. You build a bike with these specs and you won’t be able to keep them in stock. Small enough to ride on a two track, if you need, big enough to haul 100 mph when you feel the need for speed, and yet a great commuter bike for everyday!

  6. I’m 5′ 2″. I’ve been searching for months for a vintage style motorcycle. I love the older styles. Not so much the “ninja” or cruisers. A problem I have too, beside my shortness, is arm length. Just because the bike is small, doesn’t mean I can grab the handles too 🙂

    Any suggestions for little old me? For example, styles I love, Honda CB, Yamaha GS..probably 350cc or under.

    Thanks!

    • You might want to take a look at the Royal Enfields. They don’t list seat height, but they’re the “retro” look you’re after. Yamaha makes a 400cc retro bike called the SR400, with a 30.9-inch seat height. You’re not gonna find much below that unless you go to a cruiser. Here’s a link to the bike…be warned, it’s kick start only! https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/sport-heritage/models/sr400

      Suzuki has a couple of smaller retro models as well, but they’re not CA legal (not sure where you live).

      I hope that helped. The best thing to do is go to a dealer and “try them on”! 🙂

      -Jenny Smith, Managing Editor

    • Hi,
      I’m 5’2″ and i ended up buying a Honda CMX 500 rebel lightest and best fit of all i tried.

      Just done 1st service and loving the bike.

      • A few years ago, I was able to ride a Vulcan 500 – a former girlfriend bought it off of Craigslist. I really liked its classical styling, low seat height and handlebar positioning. I have the world’s shortest inseam of any adult male (26 inches) and it was fine for me. Most of the bikes in this list would not be.

    • How about the
      Suzuki VanVan 200 $4,599, 30.3-inch seat, 282 lbs.
      I men 200 cc and 280 lbs. sounds like a great city bike to me!

  7. I am 5.4 and the Royal Enfield cafe racer was too high, dropped it.
    I had a Sym wolf 150 before and height is great just not the speed.

  8. Any bike with a seat height over 30 inches hardly seems good for a short person. Also conspicuously absent from the list is Kawasaki Vulcan 900.

    • AKS down below gave this link. http://www.janusmotorcycles.com I just checked it out and I am sold. We’re about the same height. I’m a male 4’11” ish. Maybe 4’10” now. Who f* ing cares, right? They’re beautiful bikes, but a little out of my price range for a starter bike.

  9. Need to bring back two strokes. More HP out of same displacement yet lighter. A modern RD350 with clean blue smoke technology would be nice. More belt driven bikes would be nice considering most of the chain driven bikes don’t have center stands anymore, which makes adjusting the chain a tad more difficult. An updated GS650G would be sweet too. No more mid-sized shaft driven bikes any more either, pity.

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