This article was originally featured on Motorcyclist
As a kid, I was really short, or as my grandfather, a hog farmer from Western Ohio, so colorfully put it, “pecker high to a short duck.” He qualified this by telling me, “You’re tall enough for your feet to hit the ground, and that’s all that matters.” When you’re the shortest kid in school and the perennial last pick in gym class, the sarcastic remarks of an old man offer little consolation. However, the first time I straddled my brother’s Honda CBR600F Hurricane and both feet hit the ground, I had to laugh. My grandfather’s words took on a whole new meaning.
For the motorcyclist, if you’re tall enough for your feet to hit the ground, then you’re tall enough. Period. Even if you’re a beginner rider. Thankfully, there are a lot of great bikes for shorter riders. Here are five of our favorites.
With its narrow leather saddle and 25.8-inch seat height, the Indian Scout is one of the lowest bikes in its category—even the little Honda Grom has a taller perch at 30 inches. Not only that, the Scout’s low center of gravity makes it easy to get it off the kickstand and maneuver at low speeds. Indian specifically designed the Scout with people from 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-6 in mind, so ergonomically it’s a good fit if you’re looking for a feet-forward cruiser. The Scout also happens to be one of those bikes that has universal likability, making it great for beginner motorcyclists and experienced riders alike, and even the occasional non-cruiser rider.
Indian Scout Price: $13,299
The ever-expanding line of Ducati Scramblers is a great place to look for a bike for the inseam challenged. If you can look past the marketing hype, the Scrambler doesn’t take itself too seriously. Really, it’s an “archetypal motorcycle” with a desmo twin, upright bars, and a squishy seat. Ask a little kid to draw a picture of a motorcycle, and it’ll kind of look like a Scrambler—but with misshapen wheels, obviously. It scores well on the accessibility factor with its relatively low weight and low 30.3-inch seat height—with the optional lower seat, 31.1 inches without—which makes it easy to back out of the garage and go for a spin.
Ducati Scrambler Icon Price: $9,395
Yamaha’s diminutive R3 is a versatile machine ready for track duty (with some modification) or as an entry-level sportbike. When a machine can serve such distinct purposes without major sacrifices, you know it’s doing something right. In this case, it’s the light weight, lively parallel-twin engine, stylish silhouette, and low seat height—30.7 inches from the ground—that hit the right notes. Flat-footing at stoplights and dragging knee at the track has never looked so good for so little.
Yamaha YZF-R3 Price: $4,999
Triumph Street Twin
If you’re thinking about tapping into the retro-cool world of Triumph’s Bonneville line, consider the Street Twin. It features a 29.9-inch seat height, compared to the 30.9-inch seat of the Bonneville T120, and is also 57 pounds lighter than the T120. Rather than the 1200cc engine of the T120, the Street Twin uses a 900cc parallel twin. It’s another classic and compelling machine from the English brand. Waxed-cotton jacket sold separately.
Triumph Street Twin Price: $9,300
KTM 790 Duke
With a 32.5-inch seat height, the KTM 790 Duke is by far the tallest bike here, but its low center of gravity makes it easy to handle. So, even if you’re on your tiptoes, you always feel in control of the motorcycle. Besides, what’s cooler than one whopping 799cc piston throwing itself around beneath you? Even though the 790 Duke is thoroughly modern, its single-cylinder engine gets us all nostalgic for a time—well before our time—when racing circuits were booming with the sounds of the famous Geoff Duke cruising to victory on a Norton Manx.
KTM 790 Duke Price: $10,499