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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
Photo by George Guille, It's going to be a long 300km... Bolivian Amazon

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by George Guille
It's going to be a long 300km...
Bolivian Amazon



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  #1  
Old 3 Dec 2023
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Which small capacity adventure bike for a tall rider?

Hi,

I've been away for a few years but am getting drawn back into the scene...

I'm really interested in the newer small capacity adventure bikes, but before I get into other details, which should I discount due to my height?

I can suffer with a bad back so comfort on long trips is pretty important, I want to be upright with my legs not cramped...my old Honda Dominator was probably the best for ergonomics for me in the past...a near 90 degree leg bend at the hip and knee.

Most of my riding will be A & B sized tarmac roads with some exploring of trails or gravel roads thrown in at the destination. Big miles to get to/from trails in the Alps, Pyrenees etc from the UK are likely.

I'm 6ft 4in with a 34in inseam. Bikes currently on the shortlist are...

Royal Enfield Himalayan
BMW G310GS
KTM 390 Adventure
Kawasaki Versys 300X
Suzuki 250 V-Strom

I have checked cycle-ergo but not all are represented.

What bikes should I throw out, what bikes should I add and what bikes should I keep in?

Also are there any measures I can do to make a bike work (higher seat, lower footpegs etc)?

Thanks in advance,
Oly
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  #2  
Old 3 Dec 2023
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Honda CRF300 a tried and tested travel bike with world wide back up, there are loads of aftermarket parts available to tailor it to your requirement.
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  #3  
Old 3 Dec 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mark manley View Post
Honda CRF300 a tried and tested travel bike with world wide back up, there are loads of aftermarket parts available to tailor it to your requirement.
Thanks but probably too off road bias to be honest...the seat looks too slim and thin for many hours in the saddle crossing countries on tarmac.
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  #4  
Old 3 Dec 2023
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Most people do something to improve the seat no matter what they ride--at least an Airhawk (my preference), a sheepskin, one of those beaded taxi-driver things, an aftermarket seat.... As a long-legged person, you'll be wanting to add to the height anyway.

Which is not to argue with your assessment of the Honda, which will not be at it's best when pouring on miles across European asphalt. But when you mention "exploring of trails..." (as opposed to gravel roads), it really does suggest more off-road bias. And when you ask about modifications, well, seating is one of the standard mods.

If what you're after is really a road bike which can be taken off-road on rare occasions only when highly motivated, that's a bit of a different story. I'd suggest that while a lot of ergonomic data can be found online, there's no substitute for test-riding--or at least finding one to sit on, stand on, and lean left and right while making brrrr brrr brrrap noises.

Sorry I don't have more specific info for you. I can offer that riding around on rented CRF250s hasn't been any less comfortable (i.e., hasn't been any more torturous) than putting similar mileage on my unmodified KLR650, and that my DL650 trashes my knees even with lowered pegs and raised seat. How any of that might apply to newer bikes, different models and/or your specific needs I sure don't know.

Hope that's helpful.
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  #5  
Old 4 Dec 2023
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My first thought was also a Honda CRF. The 300cc are quite capable. You mentioned the KTM 390. I test-rode it the other day because a friend was looking for a light bike to load on a platform attached to his RV. Weight is around 150 kg. I'm 6' 2" and found the bike fairly comfortable and with enough power, somewhere around 40 hp. Downside were vibrations through all revvs.
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Old 4 Dec 2023
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If you're looking at new the just announced Himalayan 450 has 2 choices of seat thickness and it's height is adjustable too. The 411 with a stock seat would probably feel a bit cramped for you.

The Versys 300 is on the short side too. I don't know about the others.

You probably need to go and try on a few bikes, cycle-ergo doesn't take into account the seat width which affects how the bike feels a lot. Also worth checking if anything jabs your long legs when stood on the pegs, too.
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Old 4 Dec 2023
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You’re the same size as me. Apart from the Suzuki, I have ridden all your suggestions and wouldn’t buy any of them.
CRF300 rally is a good choice, I’ve ridden one of them too but……..
Long distance A/B roads with the odd gravel track - that sounds twin cylinder country to me and given your size any adventure bike will do.

Personally, if I was a rusty rider with your criteria, I would buy a bigger bike, do a day with i2i and a big bike off road day with someone like Moto Junkies and crack on.
Don’t forget a big bike is as powerful as the rider makes it. I recently did a long trip on a 1200 gs alongside a 411 Himalayan and didn’t go over 58 mph for 20K miles - it was brilliant
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  #8  
Old 5 Dec 2023
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlyLo View Post
Most of my riding will be A & B sized tarmac roads with some exploring of trails or gravel roads thrown in at the destination. Big miles to get to/from trails in the Alps, Pyrenees etc from the UK are likely.

What bikes should I throw out, what bikes should I add and what bikes should I keep in?

Also are there any measures I can do to make a bike work (higher seat, lower footpegs etc)?
I think you are a natural Honda CB500X customer. Start by putting mildly offroady tires on it, TKC70s or something like that, and if you need more trail capability, you can go to a full Rally Raid setup eventually.

Also check out the NC750X. It might feel like too big a bike, but it's just barely above A2 in terms of power and extremely fuel efficient. The engine is essentially horizontal and very low down in the frame, so it's very easy to live with, and I've seen mildly offroady ones on good tires.

I have had lowered footpegs on a couple of my bikes and tbh it makes SOME difference, but not an incredible amount. Had some modified Buell drop pegs on my old Suzuki Gladius, and now an SW-Motech set on my Crossrunner, and they're an indulgence more than a life-changer.
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  #9  
Old 5 Dec 2023
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CB 500x is an excellent bike but still a low seat height - yes I’ve ridden one of them too.
I have a 34/35” leg length and have my 1200gs seat recovered at least 2/3” higher and can flat foot with bent knees.
What is your budget?
You’ve been away from biking for a while - does that mean you’re an older rider?

I’ve spent years reading stuff about shorter riders, no one ever writes about tall riders.
Comfort is my first consideration as I ride all the time (no car) and, may I suggest that you do the same for your proposed long road rides and odd gravel track.
I believe that comfort is the most important aspect to safety when riding a motorcycle. Whether it’s a comfortable helmet, clothing, temperature, state of mind or physical comfort. To me ergonomics comes top of that list.
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  #10  
Old 6 Dec 2023
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Honda Crf250/300 Rally without a doubt!
Yes you will need new suspension and an aftermarket seat - but then pvoila the bike is quite tall. Personally standing at 180 cm tall with Wilbers suspension and Seat consepts seat on my 250 Rally I can just tiptoe the bike. Its actually a little tall for me now…

Himalayan is a low bike - cannot imagine that will suit a tall rider very well.

KTM 390 Adv I have had a go on and it seemed not very suited for a tall tider as it felt a tad cramped for my 180 cm.

Possibly the Kawa 300 Versys - it looks quite big and tall in the flesh! But its a more street oriented with 19/17 wheels.
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Old 6 Dec 2023
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Many thanks all for the responses! Plenty for me to think about!
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  #12  
Old 6 Dec 2023
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The KTM 7/890 is very good, though I know it's bigger engine wise than you were looking for. The S (base) model is more road orientated than the R but still capable of 90% of the offroad stuff if you want to do it. The big thing about this bike is the pannier-style fuel tank where most of the weight is carried low down either side of the engine. This gives it the feel of a much smaller, lighter bike. Fit KTM bar risers and lowered footrests from Rade Garage and you've got a remarkably comfortable and manageable travel bike.
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  #13  
Old 6 Dec 2023
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Consider the Suzuki DRZ400 too. Fits your description for small engine size (and small weight!). Fit decent suspension, especially with a up rated rear spring for your weight and luggage.

The seat is horrendous, but something like an air hawk pad or a remodelled seat will do the trick. My 2006 has 50k miles on the clock without the engine being opened. Just burns a little oil now. (I'm 6 foot tall with a 32 inseam and in MX boots I can just get both big toes on the ground).
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  #14  
Old 6 Dec 2023
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QUOTE
“I can suffer with a bad back so comfort on long trips is pretty important, I want to be upright with my legs not cramped

Most of my riding will be A & B sized tarmac roads with some exploring of trails or gravel roads thrown in at the destination. Big miles to get to/from trails in the Alps, Pyrenees etc from the UK are likely.

I'm 6ft 4in with a 34 inch inseam”

He wants to travel long distances on tarmac roads across Europe, he’s very tall with a bad back
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  #15  
Old 6 Dec 2023
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PS. Forgot to mention: 90 or so percent of my DRZ's 50k mileage were on A and B type paved roads (mainly rtw with the previous owner). My back is bolted together with titanium after an accident in my house.

The DRZ with uprated OEM suspension is a tall bike. And a light, easy to handle one that can nicely sit at 50 or 60 mph (the speed limit on most A roads), with the appropriate gearing. Take a smaller front sprocket to fit for any trails
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