Street bikes come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to choosing the right bike, seat height is often an important consideration, especially for new riders.
The average street bike has a seat height of 32 inches (813 mm). Apart from the Suzuki DR-Z 400 SM which is a dual sport with street tires, the tallest street bike is the Yamaha R1M with a seat height of 33.9 inches (861 mm). The Honda Grom is has the lowest seat height of any street bike at 30 inches (762 mm).
Beginner riders often struggle on a motorcycle that is too tall for them. If you cannot put your feet flat on the ground on both sides, it may be tricky to balance the bike while you are still learning clutch and throttle control. Once you have experience, seat height is not an issue anymore since a motorcycle is very stable once it starts moving.
The best way to know whether a motorcycle is the right fit for you is to take it for a test ride. If that is not possible, the second prize is to go and sit on it in the showroom. Below is a list of all the seat heights of the major street bike models, but if you want the seat heights of all the different types of bike, check out this comprehensive post.
List of Street Bike Seat Heights
If you have not made a short-list of your next motorcycle, you may find the following street bike seat height table useful. I’ve listed all the seat heights of all the major motorcycles in inches and in millimeters. Measure your inseam from the ground to your crotch with both feet flat on the ground and compare it to this list.
|Kawasaki KLX300 SM||33.9||861|
|Yamaha YZF-R1 World GP 60th Anniversary Edition||33.7||856|
|BMW R nineTUrban G/S – Edition 40 Years GS||33.5||851|
|Yamaha YZF-R7 World GP 60th Anniversary Edition||32.9||836|
|Kawasaki NINJA ZX-10R ABS KRT EDITION||32.9||836|
|Kawasaki NINJA ZX-10R ABS KRT EDITION||32.9||836|
|Kawasaki NINJA ZX-10RR||32.9||836|
|Kawasaki NINJA H2 SX SE+||32.9||836|
|Kawasaki Z900RS SE||32.9||836|
|BMW M 1000 RR||32.8||833|
|Honda CB1000R BLACK EDITION||32.7||831|
|Kawasaki NINJA ZX-6R||32.7||831|
|Kawasaki NINJA ZX-6R ABS KRT EDITION||32.7||831|
|Kawasaki NINJA H2 R||32.7||831|
|Kawasaki Z H2||32.7||831|
|Kawasaki Z H2 SE||32.7||831|
|Honda CBR1000RR-R FIREBLADE SP||32.6||828|
|Yamaha MT-09 SP||32.5||826|
|Kawasaki NINJA H2||32.5||826|
|Kawasaki NINJA H2 CARBON||32.5||826|
|BMW S 1000 RR||32.4||823|
|Honda CBR1000RR ABS||32.3||820|
|Honda CBR600RR ABS||32.3||820|
|BMW R 1250 RS||32.3||820|
|BMW R 1250 R||32.3||820|
|BMW R nineT Scrambler||32.3||820|
|Kawasaki NINJA 1000SX||32.3||820|
|Kawasaki Z900RS CAFE||32.3||820|
|Suzuki GSX-S750Z ABS||32.3||820|
|Suzuki GSX-S750 ABS||32.2||818|
|Honda CB650R ABS||31.9||810|
|Honda CBR650R ABS||31.9||810|
|BMW S 1000 R||31.9||810|
|BMW R nineT||31.7||805|
|BMW R nineT Pure||31.7||805|
|Kawasaki Z125 PRO||31.7||805|
|Honda CB300R ABS||31.5||800|
|Kawasaki NINJA ZX-14R ABS||31.5||800|
|Kawasaki Z900 ABS||31.5||800|
|Kawasaki Z900 SE||31.5||800|
|BMW F 900 R||31.1||790|
|Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS||31.1||790|
|Kawasaki NINJA 650 ABS KRT EDITION||31.1||790|
|Kawasaki Z650 ABS||31.1||790|
|Suzuki GSX250R ABS||31.1||790|
|Honda CB500F ABS||30.9||785|
|Honda CBR500R ABS||30.9||785|
|Kawasaki NINJA 400 ABS||30.9||785|
|Kawasaki NINJA 400 ABS KRT EDITION||30.9||785|
|Kawasaki Z400 ABS||30.9||785|
|Suzuki SV650 ABS||30.9||785|
|Honda SUPER CUB C125 ABS||30.7||780|
|Honda CBR300R ABS||30.7||780|
|Honda SUPER CUB C125 ABS||30.7||780|
|Yamaha YZF-R3 World GP 60th Anniversary Edition||30.7||780|
|Yamaha YZF-R3 Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Edition||30.7||780|
|Honda MONKEY ABS||30.5||775|
|BMW G 310 R||30.3||770|
|Honda GROM ABS||30.0||762|
If you are interested in a cruiser (like a Harley), check out my post on cruiser seat heights. Cruisers are much lower to the ground than street bikes. I did the same for adventure bikes here. Adventure bikes are much taller than the average street bike.
How Much Does Motorcycle Seat Height Matter?
If you are an experienced rider, seat height doesn’t really matter at all. Motorcycles are very stable while moving and if you understand the static balance of the bike, you’ll be fine regardless of the length of your legs. But you are probably not reading this because you are comfortable on any bike.
For beginner riders is can be very daunting to not be able to put both feet flat on the ground on either side of the motorcycle. Street bikes are generally quite heavy and sport bikes in particular has a high center of gravity. This means that the bike can easily topple over if you lose your balance while standing still. A low seat height will greatly increase your comfort and confidence.
When you are just learning to ride you will spend a lot of time at standstill or at crawling speeds. You first need to get used to clutch and throttle control while pulling away, and balancing the bike after coming to a stop. During this early stage of learning to ride it will help a lot if you are on a bike with a low seat height.
If you can flatfoot it on either side you will have more confidence and worry less about dropping the bike. If you are on a new bike, it will also lower the risk of damage by dropping the bike on the pavement. Once you are comfortable pulling away, shifting gears, and coming to a complete stop without struggling to find your balance, you can move on to learn the more advanced skills of riding a bike that is ‘too tall’ for you.
You may have your heart set on that Yamaha R1 with the very tall seat height, but I suggest you start on a smaller second-hand bike and trade it in once you are ready. The more confidence you have while learning to ride, to quicker you will get good at riding and the safer rider you will be.
There is a lot to think about when learning to ride. If you are unsure how to stop a motorcycle the right way, check out this post.
Why do Sports Bikes Have Tall Seats?
Sports bikes are designed to go fast around a race track with lots of corners. In order to turn at a higher speed, the bike needs to be able to lean over further to counteract the centrifugal force trying to push the bike to the outside.
A sports bike has a tall seat height and high foot pegs as it needs a lot of ground clearance to lean over further in a tight corner. Sports bikes have large capacity inline four-cylinder engines that take up a lot of space. The seat is forced into a higher position by the position of the foot pegs and the size and shape of the engine.
The riding position on a sports bike also places more weight on the front end of the bike, making it steer more easily and directly around fast turns. The higher the seat height, the further forward the body of the rider is positioned.
Not all sports bikes are equally tall. The more aggressive Yamaha R1 is the tallest with a seat height of 33.7 inches which is exactly the same as a large Suzuki VStrom 1050 adventure bike! The Honda CBR 1000 RR is know to be more comfortable and has a seat height of 32.3 inches. Generally, the less racetrack-focused and the smaller the engine size, the lower the seat height.
Best Street Bike for Short or Beginner Riders
If you’ve never ridden a bike before and don’t even know where the controls are located, something like a Honda Grom is perfect. It won’t be intimidating at all, has ABS brakes, and is still a ton of fun. The low seat height of only 30 inches means you will most likely be able to flatfoot it on both sides. And the low weight (231 lbs) means you’ll be able to keep it upright or pick it up on your own in case you drop it.
If you’ve been on a bike before, kinda know how to ride, and are taking lessons, any of the bikes on the table above that has a seat height below 31 inches is perfect for shorter riders or beginners.
The Honda CB 500 F and the Suzuki SV 650 are the quintessential beginners bikes. Both have seat heights around 31 inches and they both deliver smooth, reliable power. But that doesn’t mean they are slow or for learning to ride on only. You can easily commute on both of these bikes everyday, including on the highway. You can just as easily go for a weekend away with a pillion or a breakfast run around the coastal twisties.
If you like the look of a sports bike, the Honda CBR 300 R, CBR 500 R, or the Yamaha R3 are great choices. Low seat heights (less than 31 inches), moderate power, and light weight make these bikes easy to control. Yet their sporty looks will make you feel like Valentino Rossi (at a safer pace).
Remember, riding a slow bike fast is better for your skills progression, is safer, and is hugely more fun than trying to hold back on a quick bike. Just believe me!
To find out what makes the CBR 300 R the perfect beginner bike, check out this post.
Tips for Shorter Riders on Tall Bikes
If you are a shorter rider and struggle to balance your motorcycle when it is stationary or moving slowly, there are a few skills you can learn to make it easier.
Static balance: Motorcycles are stable at speed, but they are also well-balanced around the mid-point when standing still and upright. Stand on the left-hand side next to your motorcycle on a lever surface with the engine switched off and the bike in gear (so it doesn’t roll away).
Now push the bike off the side stand and get a feel for the balance point. Some motorcycles will be more stable and have a wider range where the bike feels balanced. Once you are comfortable that the bike can remain upright without any inputs from you, move around the bike while only holding onto it with one hand at a time.
Keep moving around the bike by holding onto anything from the mirrors, handlebars, saddle, or the rear cowl. The more you understand that the bike is very balanced with minimum inputs from you, the more confident you’ll be when you get onto the bike.
As long as you keep the bike within the balanced range, you won’t drop it.
Balance on one leg: If you have really short legs or are sitting on a very tall bike, it is often not possible to put both feet flat on the ground. What most beginner riders do is to try and balance the bike by alternating from side-to-side on their tip-toes and with their bum flat on the seat.
Instead, pick a side (the side where you have a firmer footing) and plant your foot flat on the ground. You may have to slide your butt off the seat to that side, but that’s okay. Your opposite leg may now dangle from the other side and you might not even be able to touch the ground at all.
By getting used to firmly supporting the bike with one solid foot on the ground, you will have much more control over the bike. The idea is that your one foot on the ground and the bike’s two wheels form a sturdy tripod, instead of you swaying left and right balancing the bike on its two wheels only.
If you’ve never ridden a bike before, I strongly suggest on getting a light motorcycle with a low seat height. You will thank me later.
The seat height on a motorcycle is only important when you are pulling away or coming to a stop. While you are riding, a taller seat may even be an advantage. While you are still learning, get a bike that is totally comfortable for you and that inspires confidence.
Once you are ready and have more experience, you’ll be able to ride any bike no matter how tall its seat is.