Seat Height: 755mm
The only problem with Honda’s baby sportsbike is that it’s so well thought of and sought after that prices can be eye watering for what is essentially a 20-year-old machine.
The NC30 was introduced to the UK in 1990 and was an instant hit. It was a smaller, 400cc replica of the bigger 750cc RC30, but still featured the exotic V4 engine of the RC30. The 755mm seat is standard and its light weight helps make the VFR400 a ‘pocket rocket’.
The later NC35 had a 780mm seat height putting it out of reach for shorter riders but it’s still a great bike for those of a taller stature.
Seat Height: 660mm
The good: The L was designed with women in mind and has an ultra low seat, coupled with a smaller front wheel to help the 883 sit even lower. The bad: it weighs 252kg. Although it’s not light, its weight sits low in the chassis and the bars offer a close reach.
Despite the large sounding engine, it only produces 50bhp, so it’s not a rocketship either. Classic cruiser looks with entry price and insurance, this is Harley-Davidson’s most popular model with female customers.
Seat Height: 710mm
So it’s not technically a motorcycle, it’s a scooter – but give it a chance. For those who want two wheels to get around, a maxi-scooter like the Burgman is a great option. Its 710mm seat is incredibly low, although slightly wider than you’ll find on a motorcycle. You can fit a large rucksack’s worth of kit under the seat and being a scooter, it’s automatic, so you can glide everywhere effortlessly. The newer 400Z comes with ABS as standard.
Seat Height: 740mm
Not everyone wants a sportsbike and the great thing about the Bonneville is its classic looks blended with modern technology and reliability. Weight could be an issue: it’s quite dumpy at 225kg but with its 800cc parallel-twin engine, it goes well. We’d go for the SE variant over any other as it features 17” wheels front and rear and not the 19” front of the standard or T100 models. That smaller front wheel will help keep the bike lower. Owners reckon they benefit from adding aftermarket exhausts to free up the sound. A great option for those who want a comfortable bike with classic looks.
Seat Height: 780mm
Fresh into the UK this year, the Inazuma 250 costs just £3,408 brand new. It’s a no-frills budget commuter that’ll return over 60mpg. Although it is light at 183kg, the getting-on-the-tall-side 780mm seat height isn’t helped by the fact the seat’s quite wide too. Still, if you’re over 5’6” it won’t pose a problem. The top speed is around 80mph, making it great for city riding and the daily commute across town, but a lack of fairing means you wouldn’t want to go much further than 50 miles in one sitting.
Seat Height: 673mm
Alright, so a 1.7-litre engine and 319kg wet weight might sound like a recipe for disaster but the Hammer S is a fantastic bike and this list would be boring if it was full of smaller capacity motorcycles. The Hammer has an ultra-low 673mm seat, making it easy to get both feet firmly on the deck. The engine is sublime, especially with a Stage 1 kit and it handles well too. Really well. The Hammer S is a proper giggle.
They’re around £15k new but you can grab a decent used example for around half that. If you want to look good, feel good and enjoy making some noise, this is a serious contender.
Seat Height: 680mm
This is our pick of the 125s. The way we see it, if you’re choosing a 125, you’re new to motorcycling so you want something that helps you build confidence. The standard seat is a low 680mm; added to that, it weighs just 140kg making it a doddle to control at low speeds. Like all 125s, the fuel economy is great and it’ll return an easy 65mpg in all conditions. You can grab a low miles two-year-old model for around £1,500. What are you waiting for?
KAWASAKI NINJA 250R
Seat Height: 745mm
Kawasaki’s Ninja 250R was introduced in 2008 and has evolved to become the slightly larger-engined Ninja 300 in 2012. It looks every bit like a bigger sportsbike, but under all that green bodywork sits a tame 248cc twin-cylinder engine that’s much more at home on a country road or in town than it is on a race track. You can pick up a decent used example for around £2,500, making the Ninja 250 a very attractive all-rounder.
Seat Height: 750mm
The F650GS was always a single-cylinder 650 until BMW confused the issue in 2008 making it a twin-cylinder 800, just like the F800. Confused? Well don’t be. The newer version of the F650GS is called the G650GS which was introduced in 2008 but we’d stick with a pre-2007 F650GS. BMW offer a ‘Low’ version with a lower chassis that takes the seat height down by 30mm to 750mm, and you can go one step further by fitting a Wunderlich Ergo Low seat that takes the overall height to 720mm. If you’re after a capable and manageable adventure bike, this is a great option.
Seat Height: 785mm
The original ER-6n, up to the 2012 update, had a seat height of 785mm which is low enough, but the factory-fit lower seat option is 30mm lower and 10mm slimmer, making the ER-6n even more accessible. The ER-6n is one of those bikes that suits everyone from entry-level riders to experienced riders. Its parallel-twin engine is gutsy, handling is sharp and it’ll rarely return less than 45mpg. The market for accessories is huge; from larger screens to panniers, top boxes to sporty exhausts. If you want more wind protection, you can opt for the faired ER-6f.