Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders: Seat Heights Under 30 Inches

2021 Harley Davidson Sportster S Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Choices for smaller, affordable motorcycles are growing, and that’s good news for riders looking for a fun bike that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re new to riding and want something easy to handle or an experienced rider looking for a lighter or shorter bike, you have more options now than ever when it comes to finding the best motorcycles for smaller riders! 

Below is Rider’s 2022-2023 list of best motorcycles for smaller riders, an update of the popular post from 2019. This new list includes motorcycles with seat heights up to 30 inches with an MSRP of $17,000 or less. 

We’ve also curated lists of the best motorcycles with seat heights between 30.0 and 30.9 inches, as well as a list of bikes with seat heights between 31.0 and 31.9 inches. We’ll include links to those lists soon. 

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When possible, we’ve included a link to our test ride reviews so you can get a sense of how each bike performs in action. We’ve also included the 2022-2023 model year’s U.S. base MSRP (as of publication), seat height, and claimed wet or dry weight. On models with options to lower the seat height or suspension, we’ve listed the standard and lowered seat heights. You can also click on a model’s name to go to the manufacturer’s webpage for a full list of specifications and details.  

The models in this list are arranged by seat height, with the first model having the shortest seat height and the last model having the tallest seat height in the list. 


Can-Am Ryker 

Can Am Ryker Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Can-Am Ryker 

$8,999 

23.6-inch seat height

594 lb dry 

Read our 2019 Can-Am Ryker First Ride Review


Indian Scout Bobber Sixty 

Indian Scout Bobber Sixty Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Indian Scout Bobber Sixty 

$10,749 

25.6-inch seat height 

548 lb 


Indian Scout Rogue Sixty 

Indian Scout Rogue Sixty Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Indian Scout Rogue Sixty 

$11,249 

25.6-inch seat height 

540 lb 

Read our 2022 Indian Scout Rogue First Ride Review 


Indian Scout Sixty 

Indian Scout Sixty Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Indian Scout Sixty 

$11,749 

25.6-inch seat height 

543 lb 

Read our 2016 Indian Scout Sixty Road Test Review 


Indian Scout Bobber 

Indian Scout Bobber Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Indian Scout Bobber 

$12,249 

25.6-inch seat height 

553 lb 

Read our 2018 Indian Scout Bobber First Ride Review 


Indian Scout 

Indian Scout Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Indian Scout 

$13,249 

25.6-inch seat height 

561 lb 

Read our 2019 Indian Scout Tour Test Review 


Indian Scout Bobber Twenty 

Indian Scout Bobber Twenty Best Small Motorcycles

Indian Scout Bobber Twenty 

$13,249 

25.6-inch seat height 

563 lb 


Harley-Davidson Iron 883 

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Harley-Davidson Iron 883 

(2022 is the final year for this model) 

$11,249 

25.7-inch seat height 

564 lb 


Harley-Davidson Softail Standard 

Harley-Davidson Softail Standard Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Harley-Davidson Softail Standard 

$14,399 

25.8-inch seat height 

655 lb 


Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114 

Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Harley-Davidson Street Bob 114 

$16,599 

25.8-inch seat height 

631 lb 


Honda Shadow Phantom 

2023 Honda Shadow Phantom Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Shadow Phantom 

$7,999 

25.8-inch seat height 

549 lb 

Read our 2010 Honda Shadow Phantom 750 Road Test Review 


Honda Shadow Aero 

2023 Honda Shadow Aero Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Shadow Aero 

$7,799 

25.9-inch seat height 

560 lb 

Read our 2013 Honda Shadow Aero Review 


Indian Chief 

Indian Chief Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Indian Chief 

$14,999 

26-inch seat height 

670 lb 


Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight 

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight 

(2022 is the final year for this model) 

$12,299 

26.2-inch seat height 

556 lb 


Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic 

$8,999 

26.8-inch seat height 

620 lb 

Read our 2013 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic Review


Honda Fury 

Honda Fury Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Fury 

$11,449 

26.9-inch seat height 

663 lb 

Read our 2010 Honda VT13VX Fury Road Test Review 


Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom 

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom 

$9,499 

27-inch seat height 

611 lb 


Yamaha V Star 250 

Yamaha V Star 250 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Yamaha V Star 250 

$4,699 

27-inch seat height 

324 lb 

Read more about the V Star 250 in our 2008 Motorcycle Fuel Economy Comparison Review


Harley-Davidson Nightster 

Harley-Davidson Nightster Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Harley-Davidson Nightster 

$13,499 

27.1-inch seat height 

481 lb 

Read our 2022 Harley-Davidson Nightster First Ride Review 


BMW R 18 

2023 BMW R 18 in Mineral Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

BMW R 18 

$14,995 

27.2-inch seat height 

761 lb 

Read our 2021 BMW R 18 First Edition Road Test Review


Honda Rebel 500 

2023 Honda Rebel 500 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Rebel 500 

$6,449 

27.2-inch seat height 

408 lb 

Read our 2020 Honda Rebel 500 ABS Road Test Review 


Honda Rebel 300

2023 Honda Rebel 300 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Rebel 300 

$4,749 

27.2-inch seat height 

364 lb 


Triumph Bonneville Bobber 

Triumph Bonneville Bobber Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Triumph Bonneville Bobber 

$13,495 

27.6-inch seat height (optional lower seat of 27.2 inches) 

553 lb 

Read our 2017 Triumph Bonneville Bobber First Ride Review 


Yamaha Bolt R-Spec 

Yamaha Bolt R-Spec Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Yamaha Bolt R-Spec 

$8,899 

27.2-inch seat height 

542 lb 


 Honda Rebel 1100T DCT 

2023 Honda Rebel 1100T DCT Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Rebel 1100T DCT 

$11,299 

27.5-inch seat height 

524 lb 

Read our 2023 Honda Rebel 1100T DCT First Look Review 


Honda Rebel 1100 

2023 Honda Rebel 1100 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Honda Rebel 1100 

$9,499 

27.5-inch seat height 

487 lb 

Read our 2021 Honda Rebel 1100 First Ride Review 


Suzuki Boulevard C50 

Suzuki Boulevard C50 Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Suzuki Boulevard C50 

$8,609 

27.6-inch seat height 

611 lb 


Suzuki Boulevard C50T 

Suzuki Boulevard C50T Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Suzuki Boulevard C50T 

$10,059 

27.6-inch seat height 

644 lb 

Read our 2007 Suzuki Boulevard C50T Road Test Review 


Kawasaki Vulcan S 

Kawasaki Vulcan S Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Kawasaki Vulcan S 

$7,349 

27.8-inch seat height 

492 lb 

Read our 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S Road Test Review 


Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe

Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe 

$8,099 

27.8-inch seat height 

496 lb 

Read our 2016 Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe Road Test Review 


Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster 

2023 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster in Jet Black and Fusion White Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster 

$13,495 

27.8-inch seat height 

580 lb 

Read our 2018 Triumph Bonneville Speedmaster First Ride Review


Harley-Davidson Sportster S 

Harley-Davidson Sportster S Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders

Harley-Davidson Sportster S 

$16,399 

28.9-inch seat height 

502 lb 

Read our 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S First Ride Review 


Kawasaki Eliminator

2024 Kawasaki Eliminator

Kawasaki Eliminator

$6,649

28.9-inch seat height

386 lb

Read out 2024 Kawasaki Eliminator First Ride Review


Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650

2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650

Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650

$7,269 (estimated)

29.1-inch seat height

531.3 lb

Read our 2023 Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 First Ride Review


Triumph Tiger 900 GT Low

Triumph Tiger 900 GT Low

Triumph Tiger 900 GT Low

$14,995

29.9-30.7-inch seat height (dual-height seat)

425 lb dry

Read our 2023 Triumph Tiger 900 GT Low Road Test Review

45 COMMENTS

  1. SMALL? You have got to be kidding. Some of these bikes are real porkers. 600+ pound bikes are not small. Also, what about the Royal Enfield Meteor?

    • Dave, you’re right. This is an updated version of a post from 2019 called “Best Bikes for Smaller Riders (and Budgets).” In updating the post, we got lost in translation with the title and wrote “Best Small Motorcycles” instead of “Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders.” We revised the title accordingly. Thanks for keeping us on our toes!

      And regarding the Royal Enfield Meteor 350, its seat height is 30.1 inches. This post lists more than 30 motorcycles with seat heights UNDER 30 inches, so the Meteor 350 will be in a follow-up post listing motorcycles with seat heights 30-30.9 inches (nearly 30 of them).

  2. In my opinion, the perfect examples of PERFECT LOOKING bikes, I have to say are: Triumph Bonneville T100 and the Indian Scout 60 (in black or red, not that horrid color shown here).

    At 62, and being a new rider with only 2 years experience, I will likely upgrade from my Kawasaki Z400 to either a Kawasaki Z650 RS, or Triumph Trident. Living in Ontario, Canada, the insurance is too outrageously high for a bigger bike. I really wish the Bonneville would be released as a 500-650. I just don’t need anything bigger, anyhow.

  3. As a height challenged rider, I appreciate your efforts here. When I was first introduced to off-road riding, I was hooked. Unfortunately most dual sport and adventure bike manufacturers believe 33” is a good seat height and those manufactures that do go lower do so at the expense of travel and or ground clearance. I feel that they’re missing a large market of short riders by not offering lower seat height without travel limitations and instead subframe engineering and seat changes.

    • You can always use a lowering kit, like Zeta’s internal front lowering kit. They also have a rear kit as well. These are better than a lowering link in the back, b\c the shock can’t over travel and hit the seat. Also no geometry changes f & r. A lower seat would give you 2+ inches lower seat height.

  4. I have a 29″ inseam at 5′ 6″ on a good day. I got the 1100 Rebel and find the seat height perfect for all around usability (no scraping of hard parts on turns). Just loose the massive sausage pipe and you got a good bike!

    • I am 5’6” as well and have always found the Japanese bikes to fit my height a lot better and not just the seat. The controls, pegs, and other periphery just feel better for me being short.

  5. None of them.
    The Ryker int a motorcycle.
    Foot forward controls are no good for my little legs and arms.
    You’re missing the point.
    A rephrase of your title will need lots of work.
    I wouldn’t buy new anyway because I cannot accept electronics doing the thinking for me.
    I will stick with the 14 rides I already have.

  6. Good article but I would have included the Honda cb500x. It’s a great all around bike. Part adventure part street and highly affordable.

  7. Can’t wait for lists of other heights. How about a list of bikes for short riders who do NOT want cruiser style? Bonneville seems to be the only one here.

    And don’t confuse short riders with wanting “small, affordable” or anything else.
    I have 29″ inseam, don’t like forward pegs and controls, don’t care about weight or price…only one thing – seat height.

    • The Triumph Speed Twin (formerly Street Twin) is even better than the Bonnie. More comfortable riding position, less wind blast. Trident 660 is a blast and comfortable for my sub 30” inseam. I can’t imagine holding up 600 pounds of weight.

  8. Most of the bikes on this list are just too heavy for a smaller rider. I have said this in columns like this one for years. All the manufactures are ignoring an entire market segment of women riders, as well as smaller statured men by insisting on 32-inch-tall seats as their standard. Along with tail sections with more clearance than suspension travel just for style. I modified my wife’s GSX-SF 1000 Suzuki for sport touring, six years before Suzuki did, and at 5′ 6″ 125 pounds she can handle it quite well.

    • Good list. I have ridden a few bikes where I was only able to put my left foot down. Sure it’s possible to ride several bikes that way, but to be totally comfortable riding and coming to a stop having both feet down does it for me.

    • I am 5’4″ with a 27″ inseam. If the seat height is low, they will be able to handle the weight.
      I have had a HD Heritage and an HD StreetBob. Had no problem with the weight.

  9. Mostly a collection of bloated, overweight, and redundant cruisers. Only six iterations of the Indian Scout?

    Speaking of Scouts, I test rode one when they were introduced (2015?). The seat height was great – with my 28″ inseam I was comfortably flat-footed. However, the reach to the forward controls was so great I had to stretch to reach them. I felt unsafe and uncomfortable. Seat height is NOT the only criterion that should be used to evaluate motorcycle for “smaller riders”

  10. Once a person gets comfortable riding, seat height isn’t much of a problem. I ride a CB1000r with a 32″ seat height at only 5’5″. I hang a cheek off the seat and throw one foot on the ground. It helps that the seat is pretty narrow.

    • Oops, we forgot the Super Meteor 650, which has a 29.1-inch seat height. We’ve added it.

      Other Royal Enfields didn’t make the 30-inch seat height cut off for this post. We’ll have other posts soon for bikes with seat heights that are 30-30.9 inches and 31-32 inches.

  11. I agree with some of the posters. As we age, weight becomes just as important as seat height. I’ve been riding a Sportster forever because I’m vertically challenged, but now the 500 lbs. are feeling kind of heavy. Looking forward to the follow-up post.

  12. If bikes can be engineered for children, why is there such a notable gap between those and the bikes engineered for average male riders? I also note year after year manufacturers keep increasing the hp of their models. I have no interest in that but every interest in something suitable in a standard riding position that I can touch or flat foot. Sales would skyrocket for all the frustrated cruiser riders with very sore backs.

  13. For 30 plus years I have ridden my BMW R90/6 with 28 inch legs. Now at 65 I want and need a lower seat. I don’t like cruisers or crotch rockets and I don’t wanna motorcycle that looks like an insect. I want a pair of 16 inch cast wheels, 40 horsepower, 29 inch seat height, low /wide bars and fuel injection or an electric motor. Belt drive or a drive shaft would be nice too.

  14. May I recommend that you hire short riders to write reviews of short motorcycles? I get that there are all sorts of riders out there, but as a short rider (5’5″) I am tired of reading reviews of short bikes by guys over 6′ who say a bike is comfortable. I have nothing against that guy, but literally I cannot triangulate how a bike will be for me from his take. Even if you through in a paragraph from a shorter co-rider, or else someone who was at one of these big press rides who was shorter, that would be hugely helpful. Nearly every click-through review above is from some taller dude. It’s like reading a review of a colorful art show from someone who is blind.

    • Aaron, in an ideal world, we’d assign the target buyer (body size, demographics) for each motorcycle to attend the press launch, but staffing and scheduling do not always allow that to happen.

      • Really? One post would get you a dozen “guest editors” that would show up the same day and write you a paragraph of their impressions.

  15. I like all kinds of bikes but the first thing I look at is seat height. Under 30 inches is good. I had a Triumph Bobber and now a Speedmaster. Had to change the forward controls to the closer set up like the Bobber. Had a BMW 800 GT but it became bothersome to be careful where I stopped to make sure I could get one foot flat on the ground. Have had bikes for over 50 years now and comfort and flat footed stops are more important than when I was a kid.

  16. From the Triumph website which your link sent me to it lists the seat height here:
    “Seat Height 30.32-31.10 in (770-790 mm)” not 29.9-30.7 as you stated. Guess I’ll have to go try one on for size rather than believe what I read on the internet.

  17. Well, just to poke my short fat stick in the muddy waters and stir it around: Flexible lives matter. You did well to make a list of seat heights less than 30.” I’m barely 5’4″ and my inseam isn’t quite 28.” I don’t recall making seat height such an important metric when I was younger, but it’s become a big deal now at 64 1/2 years. One reason surprised me: I couldn’t bring the side stand back up on my KLR650 or on my Multistrada 1000 DS. I have several bikes that I have to push off and then pull the side stand up before the bike starts to fall left or right and catch it with a foot. But even low seat heights can be challenging as they likely have a stepped seat and often have a back rest. I have a hard time clearing the pillion and or that back rest. Also dual purpose bikes that have a workable seat height once seated have angled seats that are higher at to the rear section and are difficult for me to clear unladen. And, as mentioned above, the typical forward controls can be an issue after overcoming the first two obstacles. I can brag about my flexibility during my wrestling days, but I’m embarrassed by having to add physical inflexibility to political and financial inflexibility. I’ve determined to start stretching regularly, but I’m not making much progress. Besides, I mostly only remember when I’m trying to get on one of my bikes. Besides joining a Yoga class, I need a < or = 30" seat that's flat, and foot pegs at a 90* knee bend or slightly + or – a bit. My favorite riding position is a Standard. I value (insist on) good handling as I live at the foot of the Shenandoah/Blue Ridge mountains; so many cruisers need not apply. Although I want to put a plug in for two (classic?) cruisers for shorties: Kawasaki VN 750 and Suzuki VS 800 Intruder; surprisingly good cruisers, and can be found for <$2k! I've been riding since '75, have a couple dozen bikes, and rode every bike I could for decades; until bikes got more expensive than some used Porsches! Think designs like the Triumph Bonneville, slightly lowered if need be, for the ideal 85% do it all bike, TW200 for the other 15%. You can always pick up a cruiser for slow rides.

  18. Best low seat height bike I ever had was a 1986 RG500 Suzuki. With 28″ inseam I could put both feet flat on the deck. Now try and buy a sports bike to fit a short ass. Impossible!
    Japanese motorcycle manufacturers are losing sport bike riders to USA cruiser bikes.
    More fool them! They never learn.

  19. Believe it or not, I’m 5’8″ with a short wheel base and I commute on a 2008 Gl1800. I had the seat foam thinned at an automotive re-upholster shop and can flat foot it with the floor boards up with no decrease in comfort. (Any 2001-2010 gl1800 rider out there who wants to swap their pegs and linkages for my floorboards can contact me.
    The gl1800 handles surprisingly well and is not top-heavy like the 1500s.
    It is definitely not a beginners bike, but anyone with few miles under their belt and MSF training should do well on it.
    Don’t believe me? Test ride one for yourself.

  20. I’m 5’6″ and have been riding for 65 years. In my younger days I raced TT, Flat Track, A little Motocross and Desert. I ended up Road Racing. My last race was in 1980. I now ride a 2002 Buell Cyclone that I lowered about 1 1/2″ but at 75 I have trouble getting on and off. Manufacturers need to realize that we raced with a lot less suspension and got along pretty good on pavement. There is no need to have such long travel and high seats on pavement. Most bikes are over sprung and you can’t use the travel they give you. I’m dying for something sporty with about 100 HP and good handling that weighs about 400 lbs

  21. I’ve read most of the comments here, all valid concerns but I think some of us have missed the point. The Rider staff is simply putting out a list of the current crop of bikes that fall under the 30″ seat height. Sure, there’s other criteria for bikes that ‘fit the bill’ but let’s give ’em credit for this at least.

  22. Seat height isn’t the only issue for short riders. A large number of the bikes on the list have forward controls which are problematic for riders with shorter inseams.

  23. Usually, Harley-Davidson Pan America is a bold step into the adventure touring world, and I’m excited to see the brand expand its horizons. Its versatility, from off-road trails to on-road cruising, is impressive. Adventure touring is a growing segment, and the Pan America is sure to make a significant impact. Can’t wait to see it in action!

    • Large touring bikes/cruisers, full-size adventure bikes, and adventure/sport-touring crossover bikes like the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+, Suzuki GSX-S1000GX+, and Kawasaki Versys 1000.

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