What Size Motorcycle Do I Need?

Apr 3, 2024


a group of different motorcycles parked in a row what size motorcycle do i need

Picking the right motorcycle isn't just about the color or brand; it's about how it fits you, literally. Imagine spending hours on a ride only to realize your bike feels more like a mismatched pair of shoes - uncomfortable and, frankly, a bit of a letdown. The size of your motorcycle plays an important role in not just your comfort but also your safety and enjoyment on the road.

Read on for tips to determine what size you need, things to keep in mind, and the different size motorcycles you have available to purchase. 

Why the Right Size Motorcycle is Non-Negotiable

Imagine being one with your motorcycle, gliding through turns, and feeling every bit the road warrior you intended to be. That seamless connection? It's only possible if your bike's size is just right. A mismatch can mean struggling to reach controls, poor handling, and even a heightened risk of accidents. And let's not even get started on the woes of a bike too tall or too heavy. Picture trying to tiptoe at every stoplight or wrestling your bike through a slow-speed maneuver. Not fun, right?

Motorcycle Sizes

Motorcycle sizes can vary widely, not just in terms of physical dimensions but also engine displacement, which is a key factor in determining the bike's power and suitability for different riders and purposes. Here's a list of typical motorcycle sizes by engine displacement:

  • Under 125cc: Ideal for beginners, urban commuting, and learners. Bikes in this category are lightweight and easy to handle.
  • 125cc to 250cc: Great for new riders and those looking for a balance between manageable power and fuel efficiency. Suitable for city riding and short commutes.
  • 250cc to 500cc: A step up in power and speed, suitable for beginner-intermediate riders. These bikes handle well on highways and are versatile enough for both city and longer rides.
  • 500cc to 750cc: Offering more power and torque, motorcycles in this range are well-suited for more experienced riders. They are capable of long-distance touring, carrying passengers, and handling varied riding conditions.
  • 750cc to 1,000cc: High-performance bikes that cater to experienced riders seeking powerful engines and advanced features. Suitable for touring, sport riding, and enthusiasts.
  • Over 1,000cc: These bikes include large touring motorcycles, powerful sportbikes, and cruisers with large displacement engines. They offer top-tier performance, comfort, and amenities for long-distance travel and demanding riding scenarios.

How Big of a Motorcycle Do I Need?

The size of the motorcycle you need is determined by several factors, including your riding skill level, physical size, and what you intend to use the bike for. It’s not so much a matter of how “big” the motorcycle is, rather than how powerful of a bike you can handle, paired with your physical size. 

If you're a beginner, a smaller, lighter motorcycle in the 250cc to 300cc range is ideal to help you learn and build confidence due to its ease of handling. For more experienced riders or those with larger builds, a bike ranging from 500cc to 750cc could offer a more satisfying blend of power and control for various riding conditions, including highway travel and longer rides. Ultimately, the right size allows you to reach the ground comfortably with your feet when stationary, handle the bike’s weight easily, and meet your riding needs without overwhelming your skill level.

Zeroing in on the Perfect Size

So, how do you dodge these pitfalls and ride off into the sunset with the perfect motorcycle? Let's break it down:

  • Rider Height and Inseam: While manufacturer recommendations offer a ballpark, they're not the be-all and end-all. Your inseam (the distance from your crotch to the ground) is a better starting point, but the real test? Sitting on the bike. You're aiming for easy reach to the handlebars and foot controls, without feeling cramped or overstretched.
  • Motorcycle Types Matter: Your ride's purpose influences its ideal size. Touring bikes prioritize comfort on long hauls but can be bulky. Cruisers, with their low seats, offer a middle ground. Sport bikes, light and nimble, demand a bit of a reach. Adventure and dirt bikes, geared for the rough stuff, stand taller.
  • Engine Size and Power: Beginners might lean towards a manageable 250cc to 300cc bike, balancing power and ease of handling. Heavier riders or those seeking more umph might eye something heftier. Yet, comfort and control should always lead your choice.
  • Assessing Weight and Balance: Your bike's weight impacts handling. It should feel like an extension of you, responsive and balanced. During a test ride, ensure your feet can firmly touch the ground, and controls are within comfortable reach.
  • Rider Experience and Confidence: Choosing a bike that matches your skill level is crucial. Start with something you can handle confidently and build from there. Remember, jumping to a larger, more powerful bike is no rush.
  • Suspension and Handling: Comfort is key, especially for long rides. A good suspension system ensures a smooth ride, while proper handling makes the bike feel like a natural extension of your body.
  • Seat Height and Foot Placement: Check the manufacturer's specs and how it feels when seated. You should be able to plant both feet firmly on the ground and reach the foot controls comfortably.

Diving Deeper: Research and Test Rides

Before committing, do your homework. Manufacturers often target specific rider profiles, offering insights into who their bikes best suit. And when possible, test ride! Nothing beats firsthand experience to gauge a bike's fit and feel.

Seeking advice from seasoned riders, exploring forums, and even consulting professionals can offer invaluable insights. And if you're eyeing a second-hand ride, a little guidance can help you avoid common pitfalls.

Test Ride Your Next Motorcycle With Riders Share

A short test ride often provided by dealerships may not fully reflect the real-world conditions you'll encounter on your daily or longer journeys. This is where renting a motorcycle with Riders Share comes into play. Renting allows you the flexibility to experience the bike in a variety of conditions and for an extended period, giving you a deeper understanding of how it handles, its comfort levels, and whether it truly suits your riding style. Choosing to rent before you buy significantly reduces the risk of buyer's remorse. Imagine discovering two days after your purchase that your new bike is incredibly uncomfortable or difficult to handle on the rides you love most. Renting first through Riders Share can help ensure that your investment is one you'll be happy with for the long haul, making every ride enjoyable rather than a regret.

Consider if You’ll Be Riding Two-Up

When deciding on the size of your next motorcycle, considering passenger riding is an essential aspect. If you plan on regularly having a companion on your rides, opting for a bike that can comfortably accommodate both you and your passenger becomes crucial. Larger bikes typically offer more spacious seating areas, superior suspension to handle the added weight, and a stronger frame for increased stability. These features ensure a comfortable ride for both you and your passenger, maintaining performance without compromising safety or enjoyment. Therefore, if duo rides are part of your biking lifestyle, factor in the necessity for a motorcycle that supports passenger riding seamlessly. This consideration will not only influence the engine size and type of bike you choose but also ensure that your riding experiences are enjoyable and comfortable for everyone involved.

Bikes that Probably Won’t Hit the Mark if You Want Passengers

In terms of size, motorcycles that are less suited for two-up riding typically fall into the smaller and lighter categories. These include:

  • Small Displacement Motorcycles: Bikes with engine sizes under 250cc generally lack the power and torque necessary to comfortably and safely accommodate a passenger, especially on longer rides or at higher speeds.
  • Compact Sport Bikes: While some sport bikes can manage short two-up rides, their compact size and design focused on performance and agility often compromise passenger comfort and bike stability when adding the extra weight of a second person.
  • Lightweight Dirt and Dual-Sport Bikes: These bikes are designed for agility and handling rough terrain rather than carrying passengers. Their light frame and suspension setup, which excels in off-road conditions, may not provide the stability and comfort needed for two-up riding on paved roads.
  • Café Racers and Custom Bikes: Many café racers and custom bikes are built with a focus on aesthetics and individual riding experiences. Their unique design often results in limited seating space and minimal passenger amenities, making them less ideal for carrying a companion.

When planning for two-up riding, selecting a motorcycle with a larger frame, a more robust suspension system, and adequate engine size (typically above 500cc) will ensure better performance, comfort, and safety for both the rider and passenger. Touring motorcycles, larger cruisers, and some adventure bikes are designed with these factors in mind, making them more suitable choices for riders looking to share their journeys.

two motorcycles riders with passengers sitting on side of road on their bikes what size motorcycle do i need

Looking to Upgrade to a Bigger Bike? Consider Using Your Current Bike to Fund the Purchase with Riders Share

If you're contemplating upgrading to a bigger bike but are concerned about the financial aspect, consider leveraging your current motorcycle to fund your purchase through Riders Share. This innovative platform allows you to rent a motorcycle for extended test rides and offers a unique opportunity for bike owners. You can turn your current bike into an income-generating asset by listing it for rent. This approach has a dual advantage: it can help cover your upgrade costs and validate the type of bike you're considering for your next adventure. It's a smart strategy to ease the transition to a larger model, ensuring that your upgrade is financially viable and perfectly suited to your riding preferences. This way, you’re not just upgrading your ride but making a savvy financial move that keeps you on the road in style and comfort.

Bringing It All Together

Choosing the right-sized motorcycle is a journey, not a sprint. Take your time, test extensively, and let comfort, safety, and handling guide you. Your perfect ride is out there, and with a bit of patience and research, you'll find it. Remember, the best bike for you is one that fits not just your body but your spirit for adventure.

Stay tuned to our blog for more tips, insights, and guides to fuel your passion for riding. Because at the end of the day, the right motorcycle doesn't just make the ride smoother; it makes every journey unforgettable.