Low-Slung Sleds: 12 Best Motorcycles for Short Riders

Jul 31, 2018

Category: Rides

Here’s the thing about motorcycles. As fun and freedom-inducing as they may be, manufacturers have to take into account the average human height when building them. That’s because, unlike cars, SUVs, trucks and the like, the saddles aren’t automatically adjustable at a moments notice. And neither are the handlebars. This, of course, is the unspoken enemy of short riders. In fact, the majority of sleds out there actually require above average height just to swing a leg over – something those with more modest inseams will certainly struggle to accomplish smoothly.

There are ways, however, to fix the issue if needed. Aftermarket adjustments like modifying the motorcycle’s suspension, shaving the seat, or lowering links exist for this particular reason but come highly unrecommended since the odds of you reducing the bike’s overall performance increases dramatically – not mention the increased likelihood of bottoming out or dragging parts around corners. Instead, we suggest opting for a bike that’s manufactured in favor of short riders. That way, there’s no aftermarket nonsense to contend with, and you can enjoy the same level of performance those damned vertically gifted compadres get with their standard sleds.

Honda CB300

Simple, straightforward, and reliable. If those are the characteristics you’re looking for in a new sled then feast your eyes on the CB300. Odds are, however, you’re already familiar with the storied model but it was nearly impossible not to include this fun little bike in the list. Here, the CB300 boasts a narrowness that makes it highly agile and maneuverable while its single-cylinder engine is a real beaut that ups the MPG in your favor while simultaneously delivering serious street performance.

Seat Height: 30.7 inches
Weight: 348 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.4 gal

Purchase: $4,350

Kawasaki Ninja 300

A street bike through and through, the Kawasaki Ninja is – and has been – an adrenaline-inducing force to be reckoned with. Don’t believe us? For starters, we wouldn’t suggest letting the bike’s lightweight build fool you. Because combined with a fuel-injected 296cc engine, you’ll feel like a rocket is at work beneath you. Best of all smooth, near effortless shifting is made possible via an F.C.C clutch with assist and slipper functions. Additional features also include a supersport-inspired aerodynamic design, large tachometer, and multi-function digital display to round things out.

Seat Height: 30.9 inches
Weight: 383 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal

Purchase: $5,000+

KTM RC 390

Looking for a sports bike in it’s purest form without all the worry of tiptoeing at every stop light? KTM knocks it out of the park with their 2018 RC 390 that’s fast, agile, and sporty as hell. It’s all thanks to a 32 kW of power and 26 ft-lbs of torque, a 6-speed transmission, a liquid-cooled 4-stroke engine, and steel trellis frame. The RC 390 also handles quite well – whether you’re tearing across open country roads or on the racetrack, and boasts a price tag that won’t steer you wrong either.

Seat Height: 32.28 inches
Weight: 324 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 2.64 gal

Purchase: $5,500+

Honda Rebel 500

With a low slung seat, customizable looks, and worthy engine to rely on, this stripped-down performer is a fine addition to the garage. It’s a casual rider without a doubt, built for cruising the city streets in style, but without a doubt could very well be one of the most funs rides you’ll experience on the weekend. The Rebel 500 runs efficiently via a 471cc parallel-twin four-stroke engine to help reduce the overall bike size and is managed by a 6-speed transmission for good measure.

Seat Height: 27.2 inches
Weight: 408 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 2.96 gal

Purchase: $6,100

Kawasaki Vulcan S

Fusing together the comfort of a classic cruiser with the power and agility of a sportbike, Kawasaki’s Vulcan S is a fantastic split personality bike for those short riders out there. Think about the Vulcan as a powerful option minus the stance of a street bike and you get the idea. And to be frank, it’s a fine idea at that. Here we have a 4-stroke, 2-cylinder liquid-cooled 649cc engine in conjunction with an ergonomic adaptable fit featuring a reduced reach combination of footpegs to handlebars to seat. Not a bad strategy if you ask us.

Seat Height: 27.8 inches
Weight: 498 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal

Purchase: $7,100+

Suzuki DR-Z400SM

At first glance, you may be wondering if this Supermotard style bike is even street legal. Not to worry, Suzuki ensured to include all the necessary features to allow street and highway enjoyment. For them, the SuperMoto DR-Z400SM is based on the proven DR-Z400S – resulting in its narrow stance that’s powered by a 398cc liquid-cooled four stroke engine. From lane-splitting rush hour traffic to carving tight canyon corners, this exhilarating ride offers a sportbike experience like no other.

Seat Height: 35 inches
Weight: 322 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 2.6 gal

Purchase: $7,300+

Honda Shadow Aero

Nothing like a classic cruiser to relieve some stress from the workweek and allow you to – literally – kick back and enjoy the ride. Honda’s Shadow Aero does just that. Based on tradition, the bike’s spoked wheels, full fenders, and long chromed mufflers pair white nicely with its meaty 745cc liquid-cooled V-twin making it ideal for low-revving torque. A custom two-into-two exhaust system provides music to the gearhead’s ears and its overall retro look is clearly a timeless staple that isn’t fading into distant memory anytime soon.

Seat Height: 25.9 inches
Weight: 560 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal

Purchase: $7,600+

Honda NC700X

A casual commuter on the weekdays transforming into a rugged weekend rider at a moment’s notice. That’s what you’ll get with the Honda NC700X. It’s a dual-purpose bike at its finest – boasting a formidable 670cc liquid-cooled parallel-twin engine with a generous helping of torque for obvious reasons. Additionally, a larger windshield offers better wind protection while tough bodywork, a pentagonal muffler, and a 22-liter luggage compartment allow for extended road trips into whatever realm you’re looking to reach. As versatile as you can make it.

Seat Height: 32.7 inches
Weight: 474 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal

Purchase: $7,700+

Ducati Scrambler Sixty2

A bike inspired by counterculture movements? Say no more. We’re sold. Needless to say, when Ducati release their Sixty2 Scrambler that takes after the youth culture surrounding skateboarding and surfing, it’s no wonder it quickly became their most popular scrambler of all time. It’s all powered by a 399cc L-Twin cylinder desmodromic air-cooled engine and features Pirelli dual-sport tires, a steel tank, lowered seat, and LCD dashboard with interchangeable aluminum cover.

Seat Height: 30.3 inches
Weight: 403 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal

Purchase: $7,995+

Moto Guzzi V7 III Stone

We’ve seen them doctored up and outperformed in the aftermarket world on the regular so it only made sense to offer up a stock Moto Guzzi for the taking here in this roundup seeing how the V7 Stone is such a fantastic option for shorter riders. That, combined with the fact that the ride is a full 100 lbs lighter than the lookalike Triumph Bonneville with, arguably, better handling and as much reliability, this 744cc V-Twin 4 stroke Italian masterpiece is certainly difficult to ignore.

Seat Height: 30.3 inches
Weight: 470 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 5.5 gal

Purchase: $8,490

Harley-Davidson SuperLow

Looking for some American muscle and confidence? Harley-Davidson has you covered with their 2018 SuperLow. And if you’re wondering where the name came from we invite you to take an educated guess. That’s right, complete with a low bucket seat, long travel rear suspension and easy-grip handlebars, the ergonomics of this ride are practically unmatched in the bike world. Not to mention its rubber-mounted 883cc Evolution engine that runs hard and rides smooth – keeping you in sync with the road no matter what.

Seat Height: 25.5 inches
Weight: 545 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gal

Purchase: $8,700+

Indian Scout

An obvious finale, the Indian Scout is a timeless as Americana itself thanks to their storied history over the course of two world wars. Without a doubt, this legendary bike is an icon to say the least and is catered specifically to those who are interested in a beefy legacy ride complete with a 1,133cc liquid-cooled V-Twin engine, split dual exhaust to help her breathe, and peak torque clocking in at 72 ft-lbs. Not to mention, a set of Pirelli tires keep you grounded while a lightweight but balanced chassis delivers a smooth agile ride.

Seat Height: 25.3 inches
Weight: 550 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 3.3 gal

Purchase: $11,500+

The Complete History of the Cafe Racer

And for a more historical perspective on one of our favorite motorcycles, be sure to check out this comprehensive history of the cafe racer. We’ll give you a hint, it involves coffee and counterculture.

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