Top 10 low-seat adventure bikes

Short legs? No problem

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 – 835mm

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 is rightfully popular as one of the more accessible road-oriented adventure bikes, with low price and a similarly low seat. While an 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 NC750X – 830mm

The inclusion of the 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 (not to mention the unclassifiable Vultus) the ‘X’ model is clearly styled to fit the adventure mould, even if it’s never really going to adventure any further than an unfamiliar branch of Tesco. At 830mm, it’s low enough for ninth spot.

8. BMW F 800 GS – 820mm

You’re not going to be able to wrench the stock F 800 GS’s seat down to 820mm, but with the use of an official lowering kit it’s able to drop that far, so it earns eighth spot on the list. The stock height is actually significantly higher at 880mm, while it can be jacked right up to a towering 920mm if you’re some sort of giant.

7. Triumph Tiger 800 XC – 820mm

As on the BMW F 80 0GS, the Tiger 800 XC (that’s the off-road-looking version) can be fitted with an optional low seat to achieve an 820mm height at its lowest setting, adjustable up to 840mm. The stock seat ranges from 840mm-860mm.

6. Honda Africa Twin – 820mm-840mm

Given its much larger engine, it’s impressive that Honda has managed to get its new 1000cc Africa Twin’s seat down to just 820mm at its lowest setting. Importantly, it’s also a narrow bike, which means touching the ground is easier than the height alone suggests.

5. Honda CB500X – 810mm

Again, this isn’t a rough-and-tumble trailie but it still sits in the adventure category. At 810mm, the seat is getting down to the sort of level where it’s really not terribly tall at all – by way of comparison, a Yamaha MT-125 also has an 810mm seat.

4. Triumph Tiger 800 XR – 790mm

As with the previous Tiger in this list, to achieve the 790mm height you need an optional lower seat. The stock one is still not a skyscraper, though, at 810mm, and both versions have scope to raise by 20mm if needed. Of course, the XR is the more road-oriented Tiger 800, so it’s not the best option if you really want to go off-road.

3. BMW G 650 GS – 770mm

With its optional low seat fitted the single-cylinder G 650 GS is just 770mm off the asphalt (or dirt, if that’s your preference) so should suit some fairly diminutive riders. While the paucity of cylinders means that it might not quite fit into your mental image of a big adventure bike, it’s still a ‘BMW GS’ if badges mean a lot to you. 

2. BMW F 700 GS – 765mm

Unlike the G 650, the F 700 has (confusingly) got an 800cc twin to its name as well. Fitted with the inevitable optional low seat it can limbo down to just 765mm, and that’s really down in the sort of area where there really isn’t much excuse. For comparison, that’s the same height as a Honda MSX125’s seat, and that’s seen as a mini-bike.

1. Triumph Tiger 800 XRx Low – 760mm

Triumph adds ‘Low’ to the name for a reason – the firm has spotted the demand for adventure bikes for shorter riders and dived straight at it with its Tiger 800 XRX Low, which can be adjusted down to 760mm. Even in its ‘high’ position of 780mm it would still have made fourth place on this list. Want a low adventure bike? This might just be the solution you’re after.

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