Top 10 best low-seat adventure bikes

Short legs? Don’t let that put you off an adventure bike - there are plenty of options for more compact riders

Ducati Multistrada V2

The popularity of adventure bikes has been going on so long now that it’s hard to call it a trend – this is simply a popular market segment and one that manufacturers are pressing to expand even further.

And that means reaching out to a large chunk of the riding population who have previously been denied a spot in the adventure bike crowd by virtue of nothing more than a diminutive inseam. The thing is that the bikes which now fall into the ‘adventure’ class are what we used to refer to as ‘big trailies’ back in the days of the DR800 and XTZ750. They got that name because they’re, well, big. Big and tall. So traditionally, unless you also meet that description, you’re unlikely to feel comfortable manhandling one about.

A DR800's big, garishly-coloured bench towered 876mm off the ground, and its rivals were similarly lofty. Plenty of today’s bikes are equally big – a KTM 1190 Adventure R is a full 890mm tall – but these days there are options with much lower perches. Here are 10 that might be suited to the shorter of trouser.

In terms of practical advice, as with all bike buying decisions nothing can compare to first-hand experience. Seat height alone is just an indicator as to how easily you’ll touch the ground, as the seat’s shape and width will also have an influence. If you’re short of leg, try as many bikes as you can to see which suits you the best.

10. Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT – 835mm

The last time we looked at this category, Suzuki’s long-lived and popular V-Strom 650 was one of the more accessible road-oriented adventure bikes, with a low price and a similarly low seat. It still is, although with the arrival of the newer and taller V-Strom 800 DE (at 855mm) its days are probably numbered. And while its 835mm saddle means it’s still not one for the tiniest of riders, most people will be able to get at least one foot fairly firmly down.

9. Honda CB500X – 830mm

Honda’s adventure version of its popular, A2-friendly 500 twin also featured here before, although it’s not as low as it once was. Updated with larger wheels, new dash and more in 2019, the CB500X's seat is now 20mm taller at 830mm, but it’s also slim enough to be not too intimidating for most. Plus, it's a great, versatile, well-put-together all-rounder. Interestingly, it’s also still lower than Honda 2023 adventure bike newcomer, the XL750 Transalp, whose seat is 850mm tall.

8. Moto Guzzi V85 TT – 830mm

Italian legend Moto Guzzi’s latest adventure bike offering is a slightly oddball mix of adventure and retro but succeeds in being a charming, practical all-rounder and one with a lower seat height than most – just 830mm. It’s also got Guzzi’s traditional, shaft-drive, transverse V-twin motor, plenty of comfort, quality touches and detailing and a distinctive style that stands out from the adventure bike crowd.

7. Ducati Multistrada V2 – 830mm

The Multistrada V2 is Ducati’s ‘entry-level’, more affordable version of its range-topping Multistrada and was originally launched as the Multistrada 950 in 2017 (Ducati renamed it as the V2 in 2022 following the arrival of the all-new V4 Multistrada 1200). As such, it’s also the most novice-friendly of the Multistrada family with the lowest seat height of 830mm, something which can be lowered further to 810mm with the aid of a kit. (The V4, meanwhile, has an adjustable seat height of 840-860mm, lower-able to 810-830mm with an optional kit). Although no true off-roader, the Multistrada V2 is a great, versatile V-twin road bike with bags of Italian character.

6. BMW F800 GS – 815mm

BMW’s GS family remain the definitive adventure bikes and its newbie-friendly F800GS is the one with the lowest seat of all (the flagship R1250GS is 840mm+ and, surprisingly, the A2, novice-targetted G310GS has a seat height of 835mm). Based on the parallel twin F900GS but with a softer tune, more basic spec and lower seat and suspension, the F800GS comes as standard with a seat height of just 815mm which can be lowered to 780mm via a low seat option and all the way down to 760mm with a suspension lowering kit.

5. Benelli TRK 502 – 800mm

Benelli is a historic Italian brand that’s now Chinese owned. Its TRK 502, despite being effectively being a slightly cruder, more budget rival to Honda’s CB500X, is a remarkably competent, middleweight adventure bike that also has an impressively low seat. The base TRK has a saddle height of just 800mm while the upspecced ‘X’ version, with larger wire wheels and more off-road ruggedness, has one of just 815mm. Both are great value, impressively versatile and more than worth a look.

4. Honda NC750X – 800mm

Although updated again in 2021 with refreshed styling (and an even lower seat, down from 830 to 800mm) Honda’s low-revving, commuter-orientated NC750X might spark some discussion – after all, it’s not the sort of thing that you’re about to ride across the Serengeti. But despite sharing most of its underpinnings with the Integra scooter, the ‘X’ model is clearly styled to fit the adventure mould, is immensely practical (there’s even a storage compartment in the dummy tank), comfortable and novice-friendly and even comes with Honda’s very clever, semi-automatic DCT gearbox option. Of course, if you want a ‘pukka’ Honda adventure bikes, there’s always Honda’s 1100cc Africa Twin, but that bike’s seat height is 850mm (although there is an 825mm option).

3. Sinnis 125 Terrain – 800mm

Another adventure bike with an impressively low seat height of just 800mm – although in this case, we may be pushing the ‘adventure’ bit. Chinese brand Sinnis introduced its 125cc, single-cylinder Terrain in 2021 and it remains one of the few A1 class compliant but full-size learner adventure bikes. The low seat height of 800mm comes as a result of that. Unfortunately, too, however, does its fairly measly 13bhp output and limited ability both on and off road, but if you want a full-size, low-seat adventure for under £4k not much comes close.

2. Royal Enfield Himalayan – 800mm

This leads us fairly neatly onto our final 800mm adventure bike seat height offering, but this time one that’s both more than 125cc yet still impressively affordable. Indian brand Royal Enfield’s 411cc, air-cooled, single-cylinder Himalayan may push the definition of ‘adventure bike’ to those more used to BMWs and KTMs but it’s a decent, rugged, versatile performer with genuine off-road ability – even if it’s more suited to the foothills of Nepal than the Autostradas of the Alps. A pokier Himalayan 450 is in the works. 

1.Triumph Tiger 900 GT Low – 770-790mm

The last time we hunted down the adventure bikes with the lowest seat height, a special Triumph came out on top (or should that be bottom?) and the same thing is true this time round – albeit with a different bike. Triumph’s three-cylinder Tiger 800s were replaced by an updated and enlarged 900 family in 2020 with improved performance and technology. As before, the British firm also offers a ‘Low’ version, with a lowered seat to suit smaller or less experienced riders. Before the lowest offering was the Tiger 800 XRx Low, with a 760mm saddle height. Today’s lowest seated adventure bike is the Tiger 900 GT Low, with one that’s adjustable between 770 and 790mm. If you want a full-bore adventure bike this is currently as low as you can go.