Indians are relatively shorter (5’5″) compared to the average male height of the world which is 5ft 7 in. Motorcycle companies look at this data and assume there are no tall people in the country and design their motorcycles that way. Royal Enfield’s current lineup has the highest seat height of 804mm for the Interceptor 650. The Himalayan has a seat height of 800mm. The newly launched Meteor which is aimed at people who like riding long distances has a seat height of just 765mm. Royal Enfields oldest model the classic 350 and 500 has a seat height of 800mm. For comparison, Duke 390 has a seat height of 835mm.
Things look a little grim if you’re a tall person in India and want a motorcycle to do long distances. If you’re tall and want a cruiser in India, there is no option apart from maybe Himalayan. All the other cruisers are made keeping in mind the relatively shorter riders in the country. On the other hand, the motorcycles that have good seat height are unbearable on long distances. Motorcycles that have a good seat height have a terrible suspension for long distances. The likes of Duke that has a perfect seat height for a tall person, has a seat so stiff that after a few hundred kilometres on them you’d want to just lay by the side of the road for all of eternity. I have done 500 odd km on a motorcycle with stiff suspension and it was horrible.
Is seat cushion a solution?
Indian motorcycles are terribly padded. The seats on Duke and Pulsars are, for a lack of a better word, ‘bum graters’. I wouldn’t wish a 100km journey on a Duke on even my biggest enemies, such is the suspension and seat set-up on them. Seat cushions or gel seats could remove this issue but only to a certain extent. A seat cushion cannot nullify the effects of a stiffly sprung suspension. If you, however, happen to own one of those bum graters, do yourself a favour and buy a gel seat or a cushion of any kind.
What is the best option for tall riders?
The Royal Enfield Himalayan seems to be the one-eyed king among the blinds. It has a seat height of 800mm which is not a lot but among the highest that Indian motorcycles offer. The Himalayan’s suspension is made for light offroading which means it’s better suited for the Indian roads than any other motorcycle. Duke 390 adventure is another motorcycle that is well suited for a tall rider. The BMW’s G310 GS also has a seat height of 835 mm and is good for tall riders.
Tall riders in the country are stuck with the choice of Himalayan which is not a bad choice in hindsight. It’s just that if you don’t like Himalayan’s styling there is nothing else with a low revving engine and high seat height on the Indian roads under Rs 3 lakhs.
Update: With the launch of Yezdi Adventure the long-distance touring motorcycle niche is hotting up. The Yezdi Adventure looks like a plain copy-paste of the Himalayan in terms of styling which is not a bad thing but a little cheeky nonetheless.
There is however a whole lot of fit and finish issues with it as is with any newly launched motorcycles. It is to be seen how it does in the long term given touring enthusiasts pay more importance to the build quality of the motorcycle.
Is Royal Enfield Meteor 350 good for tall riders?
Royal Enfield Meteor 350 has all the makings of a great touring motorcycle. It has good torque, a windshield, has massively improved in terms of engine smoothness and also carries the reliability and service network of Royal Enfield.
It however also has a seat height of 765mm which is really low for a motorcycle. Looking at that seat height it seems like the Meteor 350 would not be good for taller riders, however, this is a cruiser styled motorcycle in which the rider triangle is very different from other motorcycles. The footpegs for example on other motorcycles are placed below or behind the rider’s thighs, in cruisers, however, it is placed at the front. This gives leverage to the legs and they are not very bent as is the case with other motorcycles.
This is how the Royal Enfield Meteor 350 manages to be a good ride even for taller riders. I for example am 6’1″ and I was perfectly comfortable on the Meteor 350 the last time I rode it. It could however be painful on your spine since there is no support from your legs and the suspension is placed right below your bum bu the Meteor 350 is perfectly fine for a tall rider.