Are you a female rider, trying to choose a motorbike? Confused about the best motorcycles for women, especially if you’re short, a beginner or planning to do long journeys?
Buying your first bike can be confusing for any gender, but it seems to be just a teeny bit harder for girls. So, to help, we’ve picked 7 of the best motorcycles for female riders- and what to look for when making your choice.
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Motorcycles for women- the problem
If you think female riders should look no further than a Honda Grom or a little 125, you couldn’t be more wrong.
You may want to Google these three names: Jenny Tinmouth, Laia Sanz and Leah Tokelove.
In this illustrious roll call, we have the fastest woman around the Isle of Man TT, a top ten finisher in the Dakar Rally and a professional flat track racer.
Although I don’t think for one second I’m in the same league as the ladies mentioned above, my first motorcycle was a Suzuki Bandit 650 and I’ve toured all over Europe on a 900cc Triumph Scrambler. It drives me nuts that women riders seem to think they’re not allowed a ‘big bike’, especially as a beginner.
*cough* Getting onto soapbox…
The motorcycle, ANY motorcycle, will only go as fast as you twist the throttle. It’s perfectly possible to ride a 1200cc slower and more carefully than a 125. It’s the RIDER that’s the problem, not the engine size. As we’ve all seen from the idiot teenage boys who think they’re invincible on a 50cc…
So, ladies (or gentlemen), do NOT feel restricted by engine size. As long as your licence permits you to ride the bike, let’s broaden those horizons a little.
What motorcycle is best for short women (and men!)
Can a 5 foot woman ride a motorcycle?
So can a 5ft man. The bike doesn’t care what gender you are.
However, like it or not, women are on average shorter and lighter than men. So while engine size or horsepower may not be an issue, a motorcycle’s weight and seat height are something women may need to consider more than men when choosing a bike.
Now, I’m 5’11. I actually have the opposite problem (my legs are too long!) but my friend is 5’1 and she’s a female rider, so I understand the problems she faces when choosing a motorcycle she can fit onto.
Choosing a motorcycle for short riders – tips and tricks
Now, the most important thing when you’re choosing a motorcycle is that you can touch the floor and safely take the weight of the bike. Whether you do this with one foot or two is entirely up to you. Personally, I like to be able to put both feet on the floor, but I appreciate that for short riders this might overly restrict your options.
The good news is there are several tricks you can use to make motorcycles lower. So if you have set your heart on a KTM 1290 Super Adventure (with its 34in seat height), these tricks might help you make it happen.
Here are some easy ways to make a motorcycle more accessible:
Seat Height & width
Most stock seats are well padded, so a visit to your local upholsterer can reduce this by around 2in. Of equal importance is the seat width. Reducing the width or having the sides chamfered will also help get both feet on the floor.
Some manufacturers and many aftermarket suppliers also offer model-specific, low-profile seats.
Adjust the Suspension
Most bikes feature adjustable suspension front and rear. In which case, you can adjust both ends to their softest setting. This exercise alters the ‘sag,’ or how far the suspension lowers once the rider’s weight is added.
However, be aware that ride quality and ground clearance may be affected and if you’re planning to ride the motorcycle on a track, you might need to tighten up the suspension.
If you’re not sure how to adjust your suspension safely, a skilled mechanic should check or carry out any suspension alterations to the front forks or the fitting of lowering kits.
Dog Bones (lowering kit)
A lowering kit may be a solution if you have a single-shock rear suspension. This kit consists of two dog bone-shaped brackets. These allow the shock absorber to be angled, reducing the back of the bike.
In theory, you should lower the fork yokes (triple trees) by the same amount. Lowering kits work great on sport bikes, which are higher at the back.
Any one of these tweaks or a combination of all three will help get your feet on the floor safely.
You may also want to consider wider bars, pullback risers or thick soled bike boots. All of which can help make a motorcycle more maneuverable. As a short female motorcycle rider, you can even get motorcycle boots with heels!
Picking up the motorcycle
One of the biggest challenges female bikers face is what happens if (sorry, when!) you drop it. The trouble with being smaller and weaker (on average- I know there are exceptions!) is that it’s a heck of a lot harder for a girl to pick up a motorcycle from on its side than for a guy.
You only really have two options. Either stick to a smaller bike, which are lighter on average and therefore easier to pick up OR learn how to pick up your motorcycle.
I know it can be done. Honest. I’ve seen YouTube videos. I’m just still working on doing it myself…!
Best motorcycle for female riders- how to choose
So, those are some ways you could modify an existing bike you or a friend may own, so that you are able to safely ride it.
However, if you’re buying your very first motorcycle, or want to change, here are some of our favourite motorbikes for women.
Of course, style and personal preference will play a HUGE part in choosing your favourite. My advice is to take as many as possible for a test ride. Until you really get on one and see how it handles, it’s tough to know whether it’s for you or not.
When I got on the Triumph Scrambler, I fell in love. It just felt ‘right’. Having said that, when I got on my Ninja 636 and rode it 150 miles home, I whinged the entire way about how I didn’t like it and I’d made a huge error. Now, it’s my favourite bike.
A lot of it will depend on the type of riding you’re hoping to do. Obviously, if you want to do track days or ride fast, you’ll probably prefer a sports bike. If you want to go slower in style, a low-rider might be for you. Or, if you want to do longer touring, a tourer or sports tourer is a good middle ground.
Lets check out some of these best motorcycles for women which are ready to go right out the factory!
Best 125cc Bike for Beginner Women Riders: KTM125 Duke
It’s a fact, KTM’s are uber cool. The KTM125 Duke mirrors the look of its much faster big-bore siblings while ticking plenty of learner-friendly boxes.
To begin with, the trellis frame and White Power (WP) suspension ensure handling is impeccable.
Front and rear disc brakes are courtesy of ByBre (a subsidiary of Brembo) and the Duke’s twin-channel Bosch ABS is a class leader.
Seat height: 30in (785mm) Weight: 302lb (137kg)
Best Beginner Bike Runner Up: Suzuki GSX-R125
Racetrack looks and great performance make the baby Gixer an exciting ride and an easy runner-up to the Duke.
Seat height: 30in (785mm) Weight: 295lb (134kg)
Best 250/ 300 cc for female Riders: Kawasaki Ninja 300
I love this bike and there are thousands of women around the world who agree with me. It’s a sportsbike, but isn’t going to terrify you and it’s got great handling.
NOTE: Kawasaki did a 250cc version which stopped around 2013. They’re almost the same thing, so if you want an older bike to learn on (not a bad idea!) look for a Kawasaki 250cc. There’s also now a 400cc version (to comply with Euro emissions rules), which started in 2018. All very very similar bikes and great for learning on.
Seat height: 30.9 in (785 mm) Weight: 385.0 lb (174.6 kg)
Runner up: Yamaha XT250
The single-cylinder Yamaha is solid and reliable. If you fancy trying your hand at some basic maintenance, this is an excellent choice of a motorcycle to christen your spanners.
Seat height: of 32in (812mm) Weight: 291lb (132kg)
(The seat height may sound like a stretch, but the XT250 makes the cut as Best 250cc as lowering kits are available).
Runner Up: Suzuki Inazuma 250
Big bike looks, quality feel and a bulletproof engine make the Inazuma a great all-rounder. The gear indicator and fuel gauge are a practical addition.
Seat height: 30.7in (780mm) Weight 403lb (183kg)
Best Touring Motorcycle for Women Riders: Triumph Scrambler
We have had much much debate of the best motorcycle for women who want to go touring. And because it’s my blog, I win. 😉
I quit my job and toured all over Europe on the Triumph Scrambler and it’s a FANTASTIC machine. Don’t be scared by the 900cc engine. I promise it’s an easy ride and comfy as hell on long journeys. The seat height may be too much for some shorter riders, but if you can ride it safely it’s well worth looking at.
Seat height: 32in (825mm- can be lowered) Weight: 506lb (230kg)
Best touring Bike Runner Up: Harley- Davidson Road King
Everyone picks the H-D Ultra Classic as their top tourer. Yet the Road King comes with hard luggage, screen and running boards and weighs over 100lb less!
The Road King is literally a heavy metal machine however, its low seat height and light steering make it maneuverable.
Seat height: 28in (711mm) Weight: 800lb (363kg)
Honourable Mention: Kawasaki Vulcan 650cc S Tourer
A laid-back vibe and factory-fitted touring kit make the Vulcan a real middleweight mile muncher.
Seat height: 28in (705mm) Weight: 504lb (229kg)
Best motorcycle for Women; Sports Tourer: Yamaha 700 Tracer
The 72hp parallel-twin Tracer offers plenty of performance and poised handling. It can switch from highway hauls to bend swinging in the blink of an eye. Moreover, there’s a reasonably-sized fairing to tuck behind.
For shorter riders (female or male), Yamaha sells a low seat option and aftermarket lowering kits are also available for this model.
Seat height: 32.8in (835mm) Weight: 432lb (196kg).
Best Sports-Tourer Runner Up: BMW F900XR
The F900XR has adventure bike looks but a road bike frame, brakes and performance. This classy Beemer can scrape pegs and haul you and your kit around Europe and beyond.
Seat height: 32in (low seat option available) (795mm) Weight: 483lb (219kg)
Best Low Motorcycle For Women Riders: Indian Scout Sixty
The 1000cc V-twin can out drag and out-handle the opposition. What’s more, with its old school looks and high-tech engine, it’s a winner.
So how low can you go?
Seat height: 25.5in (649mm) Weight: 542lb (246kg)
Runner Up: Honda Rebel 500
This versatile and highly maneuverable Honda cruiser has an almost limitless choice of aftermarket accessories.
Seat height: 27.2in (691mm) Weight: 421lb (191kg)
Best Motorcycle for tall female Riders: Ducati Multistrada 950
Cheaper and almost as much fun and sophistication as its 1200cc big brother, the 950 Strada is one of the most versatile high seat motorcycles on the market.
The Multistrada is fast and oozes Italian class.
Seat height: 33.1in (840mm) Weight: 456lb (207kg)
Runner Up: Kawasaki Versys 650
If you like height but not weight, the dual-sport Kawasaki is a good fit.
Seat height: 33.1in (840mm) Weight: 399lb (181kg)
Best motorcycles for women- choosing your option
So here’s the thing. There are HUNDREDS of motorcycles on the market. And absolutely every single one of them is right for female riders providing:
- Your licence allows it
- You can safely stop and put your foot down
If you’re hell-bent on a particular make and model but you’re too short for the motorcycle, you can make it happen with thick-soled boots, low seats or suspension kits. If you’re too tall, you can add risers.
The best motorcycle is one you are comfortable on and feel confident that you can ride it safely. It’s not supposed to scare you, or make you not want to go out. If that’s the case, you’ve got the wrong motorcycle- which is exactly what happened with my Suzuki Bandit.
Does that mean a Bandit is the wrong choice for female riders? Absolutely not- hundreds of women own and love their bandits. It just meant it wasn’t right for ME as a beginner rider, especially after I lost my confidence with motorcycle riding.
But don’t let anyone tell you you CAN’T ride a certain make or model of motorcycle because ‘you’re a girl’.