A motorcycle that fits well is more comfortable to operate, easier to control, safer to use, and ultimately more enjoyable to ride.
It should fit in a few senses of the word. A motorcycle should fit the rider’s body, so hands, feet and backside are comfortably positioned, with all switches and levers easily operable. Likewise, it should fit the rider’s intended purpose and experience level.
Motorcycle manufacturers have evolved several styles. These include sportbikes, touring bikes, sport tourers, cruisers, standards, and dual purpose.
For some designs, it could seem that the old axiom of “form follows function” may or may not be perfectly conformed to, but then this might be more a question of what “function” do you have in mind?
Perfect fit for a sportbike might not work as well for a cruiser rider who wants to relax and take in the scenery, or a tourer who wants to do hundreds of miles a day. Having a good idea of how you expect to use the motorcycle will determine your best compromise, which ultimately is what defines a good riding position.
Acknowledging also whether you have any physical limitations is important. If you have issues with your back, wrists, excess weight, or otherwise; or if you are very short or tall, these will have to be considered.
As it is, many riders try to conform themselves to their bikes. And while this works in a lot of cases, some may not realize they are tolerating issues they might not have to, and how they fit affects how well they wind up liking a bike.
Also to be seriously considered: just because you may be able to ride a motorcycle does not necessarily mean it is a good choice. Too high a power-to-weight ratio for your experience level means you’ll be able to accelerate too easily when trying to learn handling and braking.
But assuming you have at least a fair idea of a bike you’d like to get, there are several ergonomic factors you can size up in order to determine whether you and a motorcycle may be poised for a good long-term relationship.
While you may not want to go so far as to re-engineer a bike on the showroom floor, it is good to know that a few simple changes might be possible. Following are basic criteria to consider, and a few pointers for making an off-the-rack fit more like custom tailoring either when buying a bike, or after you have lived with it for a while.