“Bigger Woman” Has Question About First Motorcycle

Big bikes mean big engine! What should I do?

If you have a question, email it to gschmitt@womenridersnow.com.

Dear WRN,

Im not finding much information on bikes for bigger women. Im just at 6 feet and weigh 250 pounds. Went to a Harley-Davidson dealership last week and the most comfortable motorcycles for me, with long legs and long arms, were all Big Twins. The smallest bike I could deal with was the Harley Fat Bob, but again, should I be starting off with a 103 cu. in. engine?
Ive been learning to ride on a Sportster with a 1350cc engine after custom work and the power doesnt bother me. I just dont want to make a really bad decision on my first bike. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Orlando, Florida
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19 thoughts on “Bigger Woman” Has Question About First Motorcycle

  1. Women tend to get caught up on the numbers, cc’s, weight, cubic inches. It’s not in the numbers, it is all about if the bike fits you. When you sit on the seat are your knees slightly bent? (Makes backing up a breeze.) Can you put your feet flat on the ground and you’re not on your tippy toes? Don’t worry as much about the handlebars being too stretched forward. Handlebars are an easy adjustment or change. The bike should feel balanced under you. It makes all the difference in the world handling.

  2. What style of bike do you want to ride? Sport, cruiser, touring, standard. Think about that and look at all brands. Don’t limit yourself to having to chose from one brand because “that’s what everyone else rides.” You won’t be happy. If you are comfortable on a bigger bike, find one you like and get it!

  3. I have long legs, so I can ride most any bike. I started with a Harley Sportster, but wasn’t happy. I then test drove most brands at during Daytona Bike Week. My choice was a Yamaha V Star 1300. I also have a Harley Heritage Softail, but my fav is the V Star.

  4. Two words — Street Glide!I’m 5 feet 10 inches and it’s the most comfortable ride on the market. My legs are 35 inches long and I’ve never had a problem with comfort while on long trips. I did 13,000 miles last summer and could have done 13,000 more! Most important things to remember are to test ride and research thoroughly. Good luck!

  5. Like you I started out on a Sportster, but I’m 5 feet 5 inches with long legs. I moved to a Harley Heritage and love it! It has a lower center of gravity than the Sporty and turns beautifully. I found the Harley Road King and Road Glide to be very well balanced & they fit my long legs. I also test-rode an Indian Chief Vintage and really liked it. It has a 111 cubic inch engine and is also well balanced. I can also flat-foot it, although the footboards feel a little high. Sort of like riding English as opposed to western. Go more for the feel and fit of the bike rather than focusing on engine size. If you aren’t comfortable when riding, you’ll either trade it in soon or not ride often. Try out several bikes for fit and comfort, and you’ll enjoy the experience more. Welcome to the sisterhood of riders!

  6. All these wonderful women have given excellent advice, so I have just one thing to add. Don’t limit yourself to Harley-Davidson. My kid sister made that mistake; rode it three times and quit. All the major manufacturers have bikes for the more robust woman. Victorys and the Polaris Indians are bullet proof. The Japanese companies have been in the motorcycle business for decades, and they are outstanding engineers. My Vic out performs many H-Ds; is a sweet ride and nimble. My Yamaha is my road bike because it’s so comfortable and steady. The Ridley is for city riding because it’s no shift, great in a traffic jam.Have fun, don’t stress, take your time. Think about what kind of riding you’ll be doing most. But most of all, have fun.

  7. I am on the other end of the height issue. I am 5 feet 4 inches. I have never let the engine size intimidate. To me, it is much more important as to how the bike fits. As others have stated you can make adjustments to the bike. I do not like messing with the center of gravity so I have not lowered any of mine. I jumped from a 900 Kawaski to a Victory Cross Bike 106 engine with no problem. I now ride a 2014 Indian Chieftain which is a 111 engine. Most important thing is to buy what feels good to you! Have fun shopping.

  8. I’m 5 feet 9 inches and more that 250 pounds. Tried several machines a few years ago and settled on a 2011 Victory Cross Country. (Had a Vulcan 900 LT but wanted more touring amenities/bag space.) It’s a great bike for taller types as it has a longer cockpit than most and the boards and pedals are adjustable. I’ve got 56,000 miles on it and am still comfortable on the stock seat. Not a single issue with the bike but I never miss the 5,000 service either. Purrs like new. Check the Victory website to see when there will be a truck near you. You can take any of the models for a test ride.

  9. I returned to riding after 30 years/rode as a pre-teen. I am 5-feet-7 and of a larger build. On impulse, I bought a Harley Fat Boy off the Internet. Was very nervous when I first saw it. Took a motorcycle safety course and learned on their 250cc. After my first 10 minutes on the Fat Boy, I took off and never looked back. I have no trouble with the extra power or size, just have to know when and how it kicks in. If I had started smaller, I just would have ended up with this size anyway. If you go bigger, just learn the bike; you have to learn whatever bike you buy. If it feels comfortable you will more likely be better able to control it.

  10. Jyssica,If you’re not in too much of a hurry, look for the upcoming International Motorcycle Show in your area. It’s a traveling show that features displays of all of the new models from most of the major manufacturers. You can spend all day sitting on every bike as often as you wish. It’s fun sit on all of the bikes even if you aren’t interested in a particular model.Keep in mind that you can make some adjustments on nearly all bikes. Seats are something to ask about at your local dealer. They’re often available in low, standard and high seats. Even if you choose a used bike for your first bike, you may be able to order a higher seat or explore custom seats. Most custom seat makers can add several inches in height customized to your height, weight and riding position.I’m not tall (I actually have the opposite problem of finding bikes low enough) but I’ve installed a peg lowering kit on my bike to give me a more relaxed seating position for longer distance touring.My dealer investigated other brands of tires for my bike. Some brands and models can make the bike higher or lower.I use boots with an internal lift, but you might be able to choose flatter soled shoes to achieve the opposite effect.Seat cushions like an AirHawk both improve comfort and raise you up a bit. Many bike shops carry them in stock and you can try them out on your bike. Happy hunting!

  11. Hi Jyssica, I totally get what you’re dealing with. I would suggest trying a Yamaha V Star 1300. I think you’ll find plenty of power and room. As others have noted, people who get the smaller engines tend to trade up not long after, which is a money drain. Just ease into the power and have a bike that you can hold onto for many years. Good luck with your search!

  12. I’m 5 feet 10 inches, 205 pounds, and I love my Vulcan 900. It’s not huge, but it’s got enough power to keep up with the big boys, and it’s very comfortable! Try one out. It might suit you as well! Best of luck. You’ll know when you find “the one.”

  13. You should be able to handle a bigger bike without problems. Go for the bike that feels comfortable.

  14. I re-entered the riding world at age 52 after 30 years of not riding and started on a 2006 Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200cc. I rode that for two years. I was never really very comfortable on it due to its high center of gravity. I bought a 2014 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe three months ago. I questioned the added power of a bigger bike, too, but it is a dream to ride. It’s like riding down the road in my recliner! I am a much more confident rider on my new bike and that happened instantly from the test ride, on. It is much easier to handle at low speeds, too. I am 5 feet 9 inches, weigh 150 pounds, and I have no trouble handling this big bike. Others have written that you will only trade up at some point, so if the Softail feels good to you, take it for a test ride. If it fits into your budget, go for it. You will not regret it!

  15. I started out on a Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 Custom and upgraded to a Harley Dyna Wide Glide and finally settled on a beautiful new Harley Street Glide Special and couldn’t be any happier. I just wish I would have done it sooner.

  16. I personally think that you should have no problems with a 103 inch motor, especially if you are doing well on the 1350cc. I think the most important thing about your bike is that it should fit you. You need to make sure you are comfortable riding it. If you have trouble controlling the bike due to fit, then that is where your problems will come in. Good luck and happy riding!

  17. You might want to stop by a dealer that has all different brands and just sit on some. But if you’re learning on a 1350 cc bike it won’t be much of a jump to the 103″ engine. I have a Softail Slim and it is very well balanced. The larger engine just isn’t quite as forgiving if you get off-balance and grab the throttle. They are also harder to stop. The Sportster is a little top heavy so the bigger bikes might actually handle better. Try and test ride several different brands and sizes and then trust yourself. One of them will just feel right.Good luck.

  18. I’m 5 feet 10 inches and my first and only bike is a BMW. It’s big and tall and I love it. It is the R 1200 GS, and I handle it well. Some people tell you to start small. Others tell you to get the bike you want, because you’ll end up trading up anyway. Tall people should check out BMW’s line up.

  19. You are lucky you are tall as this opens up many options for riding motorcycles that our shorter sisters cannot. I ride a Suzuki V-Strom DL650. With your longer legs, this will be a comfortable bike and you can add luggage to make it an excellent touring bike. I’m on my second one. The first I put 100,000 km on it in five years, so I think it’s an excellent beginner’s bike.It’s alright…your Harley riding buddies will still like you. LOL!

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