Almost 20 percent of motorcycle riders are women. This is double what it was a decade ago. Motorcycle manufacturers are taking notice and building bikes that are geared towards women. While motorcycles are technically unisex, there are some models that have features that work better for riders with a shorter stature.
If you’re ready to start riding, the first step is to find the right bike for you. Start on your bike search with this list of the best motorcycles for women.
Features To Consider
There are three features that you need to keep in mind when bike shopping: the engine size, total weight, and seat height. First, look for an engine size that matches your experience level.
Those that are true beginners who have never sat on a bike before should stick with a 250cc to 500cc engine. If you’ve ridden a little but don’t have a lot of experience, then a 600cc to 750cc sportbike engine will work. If you plan to ride a cruiser, you can go a bit higher to the 1,000cc range. Cruisers don’t have the same tuning, so they don’t have the same “go power” that a sportbike has.
When it comes to seat height, you should be able to comfortably place your feet flat on the ground when you’re sitting on the bike. Supporting the bike on your tiptoes will not give you the stability and leverage you need to balance and control your bike safely.
Finally, consider the weight of the bike. You need to be able to balance and control it. If the bike is too heavy, it will overpower you and easily tip over. It may also be so heavy that you won’t be able to pick it up on your own.
Harley-Davidson Sportster 883 Superlow and Iron 883
Harley first introduced the Sportster Superlow in 2011 as a model change from the XL 883L in 2010. It’s the most popular motorcycle among women. The low seat and balanced weight distribution make it easy to maneuver on the road.
You will feel secure with the handlebars, which provide a more upright riding position. Your feet are comfortable in front of you but aren’t too far forward. Unfortunately, 2019 is the last production year for the Superlow, so your only option is to buy used.
If you’re looking to buy a new motorcycle, consider the Iron 883 instead. It’s modern and urban cool with its blacked-out styling. It’s comparable in size and riding position to the Superlow. The low seat height on the Iron is 25.7 inches, and the weight is 564 pounds.
Weight: 569 pounds
Seat Height: 25.5 inches
Engine Size: 883cc
With a seat height of 33 inches, it’s the tallest on this list. Shorter riders may struggle to put their feet flat on the ground. However, taller women will appreciate the extra seat height as their legs comfortably reach the ground and their feet rest flat on the ground.
Despite the seat drawback, the R6 is a street bike legend. Its ergonomic riding position and aerodynamic styling make it a popular choice among both beginners and experienced riders alike.
The 599cc engine is nicely sized to provide pleasing performance and responsiveness without being too powerful and intimidating. Yamaha is a force to be reckoned with on the racetrack, and it brings that knowledge and technology to the performance of the R6 on the street.
Weight: 419 pounds
Seat Height: 33.5 inches
Engine Size: 599cc
Kawasaki Ninja 250, 300, and 400
Behind the Sportster, this is the second most popular motorcycle among women and new riders. If you’re looking for a sport bike, this is a great beginner motorcycle. Kawasaki is unique because it styles its smaller bikes to look like its larger counterparts. This gives you the impressive looks of a big bike without the added weight and overpowering engine.
You can find several used 250s on the market. Kawasaki produced them until 2013 when it replaced it with a slightly more powerful 300. This year, Kawasaki dropped the 300, and the lowest cc bike in the Ninja lineup is the 400. These bikes are perfect for the true beginner who has never ridden before.
As you gain more experience, you can easily upgrade your 250/300 to a larger 600, 650, 1,000, or even ZX14. Keep in mind that as you move up in engine size, the seat height and weight also increase. If you plan to buy a new 2020 Ninja 400, its specs are quite similar to the 250’s listed below. It’s slightly lighter at 366 pounds, has a seat height of 30.9 inches, and a 399cc engine.
Weight: 374 pounds
Seat Height: 29.3 inches
Engine Size: 248cc
Suzuki Boulevard S40
This single-cylinder engine is perfect for the woman who wants a dependable, lightweight motorcycle that is perfect for local rides and quick commutes. You may know this bike as its former name, the Suzuki Savage.
This bike first became a part of the Suzuki lineup as the LS650 Savage back in 1986. In 2005, it was brought under the Boulevard name and was called the Boulevard S40. Unfortunately, its last production year was 2019.
The body position on the Boulevard S40 is meant for smaller-framed riders. If you’re under 5’10” you’ll feel comfortable, but at this height, it starts to feel a bit cramped. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ride it if you’re taller, it’ll just take some getting used to.
Weight: 381 pounds
Seat Height: 27.6 inches
Engine Size: 652cc
Yamaha V Star 250
This super lightweight cruiser is perfect for smaller riders. While the seat height may be a bit tall, there’s plenty of room to drop it two inches, and it’ll be on par with other bikes on this list.
You get the sound and rumble of a full-sized V-twin but in a slimmer and lighter package. This makes the bike easy to ride and a perfect entry-level machine. You’ll also notice that the fuel tank is smaller and slimmer than it is on other motorcycles. This helps keep the weight centered and the seat slimmer.
Weight: 326 pounds
Seat Height: 27.0 inches
Engine Size: 249cc
Ducati Monster 797
Embrace your inner rebel with the Ducati Monster. This bike prowls the city streets with its naked styling that features an exposed frame. Its distinctive look will have you standing out among motorcyclists on cruisers and fairing-covered sport bikes.
The riding stance on this bike is secure. The low wide handlebars will have you leaning forward but still feeling secure as you corner and lean. Your feet are up under you, which gives you a feeling of agility.
Ducati is known for including advanced features and technology on its bikes. This means you can enjoy a smoother riding experience thanks to the ABS brakes, LCD instrument panel, and advanced LED lighting system.
Weight: 386 pounds
Seat Height: 31.69 inches
Engine Size: 803 cc
Honda Shadow motorcycles have been on the scene since the ‘80s, though they’ve gone through quite an evolution since their first production in 1983. These days, Honda is getting back to its roots with a more retro-styled Shadow that features a chrome exhaust and multi-spoke wheels.
With so many bikes produced over the years, you’re sure to find a quality used one. This is perfect if you’re not ready to invest in a brand-new bike. If you’re looking for a new bike, however, the 2020 Shadow Phantom is sleek in both black and white versions.
There’s an easy riding position with the Shadow models. It’s best suited for the open road, however. If you plan to use the bike as a commuter, it can get uncomfortable to have your arms outstretched to reach the handlebars.
Weight: 549 pounds
Seat Height: 25.8 inches
Engine Size: 745cc
As one of the largest and most powerful bikes on this list, the Indian Scout is best for experienced riders who have a few years of riding under their belt. It’s also quite heavy at 560 pounds, but it makes up for it with a low center of gravity.
The retro styling of this motorcycle gives it a modern feel while still staying true to traditional motorcycle aesthetics. Hidden behind the retro styling is modern technology. It features ABS brakes, cartridge fork front suspension, and a powerful V-Twin engine.
It also comes in six different color options. Then there are a ton of accessories for customizing your two-wheel ride. This lets you express your personal style and personality through your bike.
Weight: 560 pounds
Seat Height: 25.6 inches
Engine Size: 1000 cc
Find Your First Bike
The best motorcycles for women have slightly lower seat heights to accommodate their typically shorter stature. They are also lighter to make them easier to manage and balance. But these are generalizations; keep your own height and skill level in mind when selecting your bike.
If possible, start by sitting on each of the bikes on this list. Test ride the ones you feel the most comfortable on. You’ll know pretty quickly which bike is best for you. You’ll feel comfortable, and the bike will feel like an extension of your being. So, get out there and take control of your motorcycling experience.