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Options for Shorter Riders

Shorter-inseam?  Vertically challenged?

Physical size/height seems to be the biggest challenge in finding a bike that is right for those with shorter-inseams!

There is some hope! Manufacturers are s-l-o-w-l-y starting to figure out that 37-38” seat heights make it very difficult for those with shorter inseams to enjoy off-road riding.  Although once you manage to swing your leg over that height, the suspension will compress ~2-3” making reaching the ground at “least” a possibility for some.

In general terms, the handlebar, hand controls and foot pegs are well within reach for most people on most bikes made. The issue is more being able to touch the ground when not moving, or having to “dab” your foot momentarily to maintain balance while on the trail.

This leaves those with short inseams 3 general options:

  1. Shorter Recreational Bikes - See the Recreational Bike category above for suggestions here.  Shorter bikes typically (with a few exceptions we’ll get into) smaller wheel sizes as well.  Models like the CRF150, KLX140 have the smaller wheel size while the TTR230 and CRF230F have the full-size wheels. 
  2. Shorter Trail Bikes – There is a small and (hopefully) growing segment of Models being built that are well suited to those with shorter-inseams.  We will have to give some model specific examples as it is a short list*:
    1. KTM Freeride 250
    2. Beta Xtrainer 300
  3. Lower your favourite bike - Many dirt bike riders aren’t aware that you can actually modify the height of your dirt bike to suit you. There is not one simple adjustment switch, but there are many different modifications that can have the same effect. Getting a bike to fit you properly will significantly improve your feeling of comfort on long or more technical rides. Until you are more experienced, take your bike to your favourite local shop and discuss your options to have your bike lowered. These options can range from simply shaving down the foam on your seat to complex modifications of your suspension.

(*The KTM Freeride and Beta Xtrainer are extremely capable, detuned, shorter versions of their full factory-size dirt bike equivalents. These models have better than average clearance (for getting over obstacles), plenty of very predictable/useable power and are bikes you can really grow into from a capability perspective.  There may be others on market.  But these are two of the more popular options)

Once you have the suspension/seat-height variable checked off, you’re left with the displacement (CC’s… 125, 250, 300, 450CC, etc) decision. In general terms, the larger displacements bikes are heavier and more powerful.  If you are prone to a couple tip-overs-per-ride (we ALL are), picking up a heavier bike is going to drain your energy that much faster.

For bikes that are friendlier to a shorter inseam off the factory floor, a typical displacement bike we see is a ~125 – 250CC. Ironically, most of this is due to the physical size of these smaller displacement bikes!

Talk to your local professional/dealer as choosing a bike needs to be based on many variables. Outside of your physical characteristics, budget and preference/feel all come into play.