Motorcycle Seat Height Requirements
Pulling up at the traffic lights, a rider reaches for the ground with his right foot, slips on an oily patch and falls sideways with the bike coming to rest on top of him. Avoid this common accident by choosing a bike to match your seat height requirements, a very important part of fitting the motorcycle to its rider for safety and comfort. Too high a seat can mean the rider looses his balance at stop signs, and too low will feel crowded with the knees too high and arms deeply bent at the elbow. While the average seat height of models on the market is between 28-32 inches, those shorter than 5 feet 6 inches may have trouble finding a compatible bike, as do taller riders with a longer torso and shorter legs. Test driving a bike before buying is the best method to be sure the seat height is right for you.
Finding Your Inseam Measurement
To take an inseam measurement, lay a pair of close-fitting pants on a flat surface. Place all the leg seams on top of each other, as if for ironing. Fold up one leg and measure the inside seam from crotch to hem. The measurement in inches is your inseam, a helpful guide when browsing bike reviews. Bike seat height information for a particular model is found at the manufacturer’s web site and in brochures. To compare bikes, try online motorcycle magazines where current models are indexed by seat height.
Three Ways to Safely Add or Subtract Inches
Try a different pair of boots. If your usual riding gear includes boots with no heel, consider wearing ones with a medium heel to help feet reach the ground. Taller riders taking on a lower bike can try boots with a smaller heel. Custom made boots come with a variety of heel sizes, and boots for women are more likely to have a higher heel.
Mechanically altering the height of your bike. Is it worth the cost?
Bike seat height can be changed by altering the front and rear suspension using replacement parts to increase or decrease the seat height. This is an expensive option and needs to be done by someone with sound mechanical skills. Home modifications often leave the rider with a bike that handles badly due to suspension problems. Even small adjustments can strongly affect handling, so take some time to get used to the changes in clearance when cornering and riding on uneven surfaces.
About Changing Your Seat
Replacing the seat with a custom one can add or decrease its height. An inch or more reduction can result from swapping a heavily padded seat for one specially sculpted from dense, but thinner foam and gel pads. Changing to a narrower seat will also help, but the trade off in comfort for rider and passenger must be taken into consideration.
Styles of Bikes and Their Seat Height Requirements
Styles of bikes and their seat height requirements include:
Cruisers and chopper styles are the most popular choices for shorter riders. They offer more models in lower seat heights than any other class.
Motorcross bikes typically have the highest seats, suiting taller riders, because of the large range of travel needed in the front forks when jumping ditches.
Sports and regular street style bike seats are higher in the seat, giving great clearance when cornering and getting around town. They can be safely lowered 1.5 inches–any more risks grounding and grinding the exhaust pipes and engine casings.
Seat height requirements are different for each rider, so try out different styles and sizes to see which suits you the best. Always remember that comfort is an important part of safety, nothing should distract your attention from the road and enjoyment of the ride.
Beginner riders are safer and more confident if both feet can be placed flat on the ground at a full stop. It is harder to maintain control of the bike when backing out of a garage, for example, when only the balls of the feet touch the ground. More experienced riders can safely tackle a taller bike, but even they encounter problems when stopping on uneven or slippery ground.