A motorcycle is a great way to get around town. If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle before or you are new, it can be uncomfortable and intimidating at first, but with the right gear and position, it’s actually really fun and pretty comfortable! But what is the most comfortable riding position and the factors that make it so comfortable?
The “Standard” or “upright” riding position is generally the most comfortable riding position for most people regardless of height, age, and body shape. But what might be an upright, neutral riding position for one person might not be the same for another. That is why it is important to not just look at your riding position but also unpack what the individual elements of the upright position are so you can have the most comfortable ride possible!
Let’s expand on what the Standard or upright riding position is, why it is the most comfortable, and why you might still be feeling discomfort in an upright position.
What is the Standard or Upright Riding Position?
The Standard or Upright riding position is when you’re sitting up straight with the spine in a relatively natural and neutral state. The hips will be slightly leaned back so your weight is distributed around your butt and your legs aren’t fully extended – this provides support for the body and reduces fatigue throughout the ride.
To achieve this position, the handlebars will be above the shoulders and close to the chest (not uncomfortably far away, but not too close either), however, this position can vary depending on personal preference.
Why is the upright riding position the most comfortable?
The upright riding position is the most comfortable riding position because it places the least strain on any joints and places the spine in a natural position of rest. Having the hips slightly leaned back and thrusting your shoulders forward is a position that almost anyone can maintain for hours in.
Why am I still feeling discomfort when in an upright riding position?
Because of their height and reach, some people naturally feel more comfortable with handlebars closer to the chest and some people naturally feel more comfortable with the elements of their motorcycle closer or further away, higher or lower.
Let’s start with the Handlebars…
Experimenting with your handlebar height is a quick way to find out what is most comfortable for you when in the upright position. If you feel like your arms are extended too far when in the upright riding position, try moving the handlebars higher up or even slightly closer to make sure that they fit with your natural range of motion.
If your bars are too low, you’re probably going to have trouble getting over bumps in the road; if they’re too high, you might start getting tired on long rides or feel like your arms aren’t extended enough for proper steering.
Generally, a standard handlebar height for a motorcycle is between the chest and chin level. If you’re in an upright position and your shoulders are naturally thrust back when relaxed, then your handlebars should be just above shoulder level. This will feel most natural in terms of arms being extended to reach the bars comfortably by the top half of your torso (shoulder blades) rather than by your lower body (butt).
Now let’s talk about Reach…
The reach is more complicated because it takes into account not only height but also arm length! To find out if reach adjustment might be necessary, make sure that both hands fit on either side of the bars without feeling too cramped or like they’re reaching too far:
Key Points of Comfort: Hands should be able to rest comfortably on the bars without too much of a stretch or being cramped.
Arms should be slightly bent – not fully extended nor with elbows resting against your body.
This is also where you’ll experiment with different positions for the handlebars so they fit within your comfort range and feel most natural for you! If you feel like your arms are stretched too far or there isn’t enough room on either side, relax them a bit more by adjusting the position of your bars closer or farther away from yourself.
Seat height is another element that you can play with to find the most comfortable upright position for your particular body. Some people prefer sitting closer to the ground and putting less strain on their leg muscles, others like sitting higher so they don’t feel too cramped and have room for adjustment if need be. Leaning back slightly in an upright riding position with a slight bend in your knees will provide relief from any pressure on your tailbone or spine.
There are many other elements that make up a comfortable standard or upright riding position but these two elements of handlebars and seat height are easy places to start when looking for a comfortable riding position!
However, what makes one person more comfortable in this riding position may not make another person as comfortable so be sure to check out heaps of different motorcycles with different height seats.
If there is a motorcycle you absolutely love but the seat is a little too high, talk to the motorcycle salesperson or a mechanic, there are a few different ways you can adjust the height of your seat.
Foot Peg Position & Height
Did you know that your footpeg position can affect how comfortable your ride is? Having a comfortable upright riding position allows you to have a relaxed and neutral spine so being able to move around or shift positions during the ride is important. Be sure to play around with different peg positions and angles, higher or lower depending on what feels most comfortable for your particular body.
The angle of your footpegs can be adjusted as well! We’ve all been there when we’re in a perfect riding position then all of a sudden we need to take a break, fumbling with the pegs trying to get them into an even more comfortable spot isn’t ideal- especially not when it happens while riding. Adjustable footpegs give you the option to adjust them before taking off on your journey.
Height of Motorcycle
This is more one for self-confidence than comfort while riding, but the height of your motorcycle is important. You’re going to feel the most comfortable maneuvering your motorcycle when your feet are flat on the ground, not dangling causing you to tip the motorcycle at an angle of past 20 degrees.
Disclaimer & Words of Caution
If you do suffer from chronic back pain, or have a disability, consult a doctor before using these strategies.