Ask RideApart: First Bike For A Tall Rider And Motorcycle Dash Cams

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We’re turning our reader’s questions over to RideApart readers. This week: What’s the best first bike for a very tall rider? And, what’s the best dash cam for two-wheeled use?

Jonathan (pictured) asks: “Here’s not only a possible topic for forum discussion but one that poses a problem specific to motorcycle riders.

It’s easy enough to find dash cam reviews specific to automotive use, but try finding enough quality information to make obvious choices for motorcycles and it gets much fuzzier.

As motorcyclists we ofter get prejudged by law enforcement, car drivers, onlookers, medical staff (if you are one so unfortunate) and having footage of an incident can and may be the only way of proving your case in court should it get that far.

Riding in inclement weather, getting pasted by bugs, road grime, etc. makes finding a durable, quality dash cam for daily commuting a much bigger problem than I thought. Auto on/off, looping record function, 720dpi, weather protected lens & body, small/discreet mounting options,vibration resistant, etc. are only some of the things that are needed but I’m having a hard time finding something that fits the bill?

Help?”

And Andrew wants your help picking out his first new bike: “First off, thanks for all the content you have created, its provided enough information in a usable format that I’m finally ready to move from bicycle to motorcycle!

That said, Im having a hard time choosing a first bike. Im a tall rider (6’4″, 34″ inseam, 175lbs) looking for something I can use almost daily, but that will still be fun on weekend trips to some of the twisty roads hidden in Minnesota/Wisconsin.

Being that Ive ridden a bicycle for most of my life, a lot of the control seems natural already, just a lot more weight to work with. Ive also become accustomed to silly power with a car habit I can no longer afford(650hp Subaru). I understand this has no direct translation to the way a bike behaves, and it will probably take 10 years to really learn proper motorcycle riding technique. Rather, Im trying to illustrate Ive faced at least some of the challenges riding presents, particularly dealing with city traffic.

My thinking so far:
Triumph Street Triple
Triumph Scrambler
Triumph Tiger 800
Honda CB500X
Moto Guzzi V7
Suzuki DR-Z400

Thanks!”

We get a lot of questions here at RideApart. By Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and email. And, while we do a pretty good job of responding to all of them, we figure there’s a greater good that can be achieved by creating a public discussion. So, once a week or so, we’ll collate and publish them and turn it over to our fantastic community for responses. The editors will respond too, right here, where you can all see it. Have a question for us? Email
info@rideapart.com
with “Ask RideApart” in the subject. Try to keep questions relevant and interesting and on topic.

  • susannaschick

    a dual-sport seems like the natural fit. I love my Zero FX, but it’s out for the long weekend trips. I know some taller guys who’ve started out on Hayabusas because they’re so comfortable, but that’s not ideal. The DRZ400, like the Zero FX, are great for playing in the dirt or short trips, but you don’t want to be on the freeway much on a DRZ400.

    • roma258

      Only a turbo’d Busa though, you’ll probably want to move up from a regular Busa after a couple weeks.*

      *had to…

      • susannaschick

        oh totally. god, there’s nothing slower than a ‘Busa…

        • Stuki

          Especially given he’s coming from a bicycle. That ‘Busa must feel dog slow…..

  • Stephan Alessi

    Not as much fun as those other bikes but I have to say a KLR650 is great to the tall folks.

    • Justin McClintock

      Yup, a slightly used KLR would fit every one of your initial needs. And if you get a good deal on a cheap one, when you’re ready to get something else you can just keep it since you won’t have too much money tied up in it. Also, it’s less likely to sustain major damage in a drop than any bike you have listed except maybe the DRZ.

  • jeremyobryan

    Best beginner bike for a tall rider may be a Kawasaki Versys. Cheap, in case you find out you hate riding. Tall, because you are. Medium in it’s power delivery, because you are new at this. Fun, because you’ll want to enjoy the ride. I have one after riding a dozen other street bikes over 20+ years and I love it.

    • HoldenL

      Jeremy, are you tall? ‘Cause I have a Versys, and at a half-inch under 6 feet, with a 32-inch inseam, I feel cramped after a couple of hours. I’m not sure I’d recommend the Versys to someone over 6 feet tall, at least if they want to go for long rides. Maybe some tall Versys owners can chime in?

      By the way, I love the Versys. Adore it. Such a blast to ride.

      • Ncarota

        I’m 6’5 250lbs and bought a versys as my starter bike. I have a 33 inseam and althougth I did get cramps in the knees first, it would only begin to be noticeable arou d the 3hr mark. Overall I loved it as a starter bike. Tons of torque really early on on the rev range, short wheelbase so it turned on a time, and a confident riding position to Learn from. Even though I love my current f800st, it’s taken a full upgraded suspension, full exhaust system with a pcV to get to feel even half as hooligan like as the versys.

        • Eric

          I just got a new-to-me 2008 Versys 3 weeks ago. I’m 6’5″ and 250lbs, it’s pretty comfortable for a while, I could see anything over 3 hours would do me in. It’s such an awesome bike, plenty of power in any gear, plenty of RPM to gobble up before the redline, flickable, easy to maneuver at all speeds. My previous bikes were all cruisers and the speed the Kawasaki has given me is intoxicating. I love it, worth throwing a leg over and seeing if it’s for you. The second hand prices on these are really low, but reliable and awesome bang-per-buck.

      • jeremyobryan

        See my reply above in regards to your question, HoldenL. I am not tall, and so spoke out of turn … ;-)

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I share Andrew’s inseam, and agree with Holden that the stock pegs on the Versys (which I own) are realistically too high for that long a leg, though at least one outfit (motowerk.com, no affiliation) manufactures an inexpensive peg lowering kit, and it’s not really bothersome as-is until you’ve been on the road awhile. Other knees may not agree. We tall folk also seem to have trouble nailing down an acceptable windscreen solution, but that’s not much of a bother if you’re not touring.

      • jeremyobryan

        I must say … I am, at five-ten, by no means tall. Sorry. I totally was thinking frame height … not leg and torso length. So my suggestion might be lost to cramped legs and buffeting helmet! Still a fun bike though if you can work those other things out. Triumph’s Tiger 800 may be the way to go — a bit more room, perhaps?. My wife rides a 2012 Street Triple (which is short and cramped, but I love to ride it!) and we both dig that 3-cylinder screamfest.

  • stever

    I’m tall and the Scrambler was my first bike that was bigger than a Puch Maxi. The motor is so friendly and forgiving when you do dumb things like try to pull out of a tight corner in 4th. The only downside is that you can’t fit saddlebags. Put road tires on it.

  • Sergei Petrov

    dashcams: i’ve got a couple of these left http://www.svrider.com/forum/showthread.php?t=204665&highlight= from a group buy we did. They’re not “action cams” (quality leaves some to be desired) but they do the looping, auto on, gps, etc.

    • Christopher Murdock

      That’s nice, seems like there might be a good market for something a little sharper. But for the cost, this seems decent.

      • Sergei Petrov

        i’ve been hunting for better cams that are compatible, but haven’t found much. They seem to be about the same as the backup cameras in SUV/truck kits

    • jonoabq

      Are they waterproof/resistant? What mounting options are there? I’ve got a decent gimbal mount velcro topped platform that I use for a radar detector for out of town trips that can easily be converted to camera use.

      • Sergei Petrov

        the cameras are waterproof. The dvr unit needs to be somewhere dry (like under the seat). They’re tiny so you totaly don’t need to hang them on the radar detector mount, just put them on the front/rear fairings (or triple tree, or headlight, or something).

  • Stuki

    The Street Triple has the tightest kneebend of any bike I have ever sat on. Including the S1000rr. The upright posture puts all load on the knees/knee extensors, instead of more forward leaning bikes, which distributes it between knee extensors and the posterior chain. So I doubt that’s a good one for a tall guy. Particularly one with above average (bicyclist) leg musclature and often tired quads/knees. The Guzzi looks tiny even for “normal” people. The DRZ has handlebars too close for tall guys. I know, probably about the easiest thing in the world to fix, but would you want carburetors in Minnesota? The Tiger 800 is a bit tight too; at least compared to either GS.

    What about a VStrom 650? The world’s best bike ™, according to seemingly anyone that reviews bikes for a living, including this site? Abs, fuel injected, plenty of room, good price, bomb proof, after market second only to Harley. All the bigger Adv bikes are great ergonomically, but perhaps not natural beginner bikes.

    • 80-watt Hamster

      The Street Triple didn’t seem too bad when I test rode it, but I didn’t go very far. The forward lean seemed about right, but the pegs are definitely too high for long rides, though it felt pretty good around town.

      +1 on the VStrom, at least as a canidate; I haven’t actually ridden one and thus have no truly informed opinions. But if the dealer hadn’t had a much better deal on a Versys, I’d likely be riding a ‘Strom today.

      • Stuki

        Is Kawasaki on some sort of market share push, or what? A friend recently ended up getting a brand new 636, for no particular reason other than the crazy deal he got compared to other bikes. And now you’re saying the same about a Versys vs a Vstrom.

        • 80-watt Hamster

          I got my bike back in ’09, and I think most of the discount was a dealer markdown, though backed by a 0% finance program through Kawasaki. You could be right, though. I’m not in the market and haven’t been watching.

  • Maverick Moto Media

    Of the bikes you’ve listed, the DR-Z 400 is the best bet. Suzuki’s MX-based DR platform is a natural fit for the long-legged and has very comfortable ergonomics, with an easy, upright seating position. The DRZ 400′s motor has a wide, flat and mellow power delivery that won’t get a new rider in too much trouble, while its light and agile handling will put a smile on even an experienced rider’s face, every time. It’s arguably the most versatile bike listed, capable of exploring back woods fire roads & trails, tearing up curvy roads, making your daily commute to work a pleasure and is even a hoot at a trackday if you opt for the DR-Z 400 SM.

    The downsides are a bit of buzziness from the DR-Z 400′s power plant that can result in tingling hands and backsides and a smallish fuel tank that restricts range- it’s no long distance tourer. Happily, there is a vast aftermarket for the DR-Z 400 with plenty of parts available, from exhausts to cams and big bore kits to add more power, to aftermarket fuel tanks and seats to extend your range, as well as a plethora of soft luggage options.

  • HoldenL

    Andrew, if you’ve been riding a bicycle on the street for years, you have a big head start on your ability to ride a motorcycle safely in traffic. Those skills are directly transferable. As a bonus, you don’t have to worry about motorists passing you and then pulling a right turn in your path.

  • Dimitry Kaplun

    I wouldn’t suggest the Guzzi V7. It is a great ‘cafe racerish’ little bike that has enough power and is a great beginner bike, but size wise it may be too small. I am 5’8″ and when I test rode it, I was perfectly comfy on it, which makes m suspect that someone much taller than me would feel cramped.

  • John-Paul Andrusky

    Go play here: http://cycle-ergo.com/

    • NextTurn

      Okay. That would have been helpful information several months ago. Great site!

  • Evan Baird

    Andrew – interesting dilemma as I’m in a similar position. I’m a shade under 6’5″ and weigh about 205 (with my gear I’m sure I’m nudging 220). I ride my bicycle all over nyc and would like to make the switch to a motorcycle, mostly for city stuff but also for the occasional jaunt outside city limits. I’ve ridden my buddy’s 2012 bonneville (mcqueen) some, which I really like (though I’d likely get a new or 1 yr old T100) but I’d like to try a scrambler, and I haven’t ruled out a cb500f (though I’m concerned I may feel cramped on this one). Though I honestly would like to start on a cbr250r, I sat on one and forget it. I’m no expert but I definitely understand your position and I’d say the Guzzi would be too small, the street triple too cramped (and WAY too fast for a beginner bike). The cb500x is probably a great ride, though I can’t attest to that. This is a great thread and I’m eager to hear more replies.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Both of you should check out the CB500X. It’s as accessible as that CB500F, but with more room to spread out for us tall guys. Great bike for riding around the city every day, then taking trips on weekends. Riding one right now and I love it.

      • Evan Baird

        Thanks Wes! I’ll definitely check it out. The bike I really want is a bonneville, but the 500x is cheaper, more fuel efficient and i won’t cry over it if it gets scuffed up a bit. Plus I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. Bonne might make a great 2nd bike.

        • Piglet2010

          I am 6’0″ with a 33″ inseam, and I fit fine on a standard Bonnie. Though if you plan to ride long distances, a seat pad such as an Airhawk is a good idea, as even the optional gel seat is not comfortable for long distances.

      • Andy Scott

        I sat on a 500x the other day at the dealer. (6’7″/36″/195lbs) I have to say that it felt really nice. I am considering getting one as a first bike for my wife(or a cbr250)..was surprised how much room it has.

    • C Mad

      As one of the tallest guys around on two wheels (6’8 36 inseam) I have also been in search of the perfect bike for a tall guy. And to date I haven’t found one better, for what I do, than the sixth gen VFR 800 (2002-2009) . Sporty enough to ride with your hooligan buddies and comfy enough to tour on, if you flexible. Ive had mine for 6 years now. They’re super cheap now too. Not to mention the sound they make….

      • Andy Scott

        Wow, great looking bike. I may need to check one of these out.

  • Versys Jake

    I’m also 6’4″ with a 34″ inseem. I started with a drz400sm supermoto and absolutely loved it. However, the Drz400 is not a good highway bike with its 5 speed transmission, small seat, small fuel tank, low wind protection and short rebuild schedule (about 10-15k miles). If you plan on doing high speead or any distance get a Kawasaki Versys. The Versys is fast, has a 5 gallon tank, 6 speeds, wind protection and the motor will last you 50k+ miles if you take care of it.

  • http://ericrshelton.com/ Eric R. Shelton

    Andrew, you’re a bit taller than me, but our inseams are fairly close. My vote is an air-cooled Multistrada. http://fargo.craigslist.org/mcy/3925008734.html

  • Carlness

    I am also 6’4″ with a 34″ inseam. My favorite fitting bike was the KTM 950 Adventure. The motor is also a blast. If you are only going to ride street, the KTM SMT would be worth a test ride. I test rode a Tiger 800 which has a similar riding position but it felt underpowered and unsure footed in comparison.
    I’ve sat on a Vstrom and multistrada and they both seem like a good fit too.

    • Andy Scott

      6’7″ / 36″ – Agree, my 990 Baja is pretty comfy! I’ve done two 2-3000 mile trips on it so far and no aches/pains whatsoever.

      I am also very comfortable on GS 800 / 1200′s.

  • UrbanMoto

    This doesn’t answer the question, exactly, and if Andrew has already Googled the topic, he’s seen it, but the Wirecutter article on dashcams is pretty informative on the topic and worth checking out.

    http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-dash-cam/

    Here’s an idea: for just 70 bucks each, grab 2-3 of the Wirecutter pick, the DVR-027, and swap them out when the inevitable crap-out happens.

  • Afonso Mata

    On the dash cam subject I can’t comment, since I’m having the same doubt. Let’s wait for the RideApart staff to answer that one, since they seem to have that addressed on those fabulous RideApart episodes on the /Drive youtube channel.

    As for the bike for tall guy? I’d say the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 (that thing is mighty huge), but I don’t know if that’s a good choice for a novice. Guess it’ll have to be RideApart’s all time favorite all rounder: the NC700X ;)

  • di0genes

    The best bike bargains around here (ymmv) are slightly used Suzuki DR650s, excellent tall guy bike and an excellent all round commuter bike that can also play in the dirt. If money is no object, any KTM 690.

  • Charlie Winckless

    So… having gone thru’ this dilemma a while ago, I’d recommend you really look hard at a dual-sport. My general ‘guideline’ for ‘first bike’ is: under 50hp, under 500lbs, used. Rules of thumb, sure, but they work pretty well for most beginning riders. Of your list, that’s the CB500X (except not used), and the DR400 (great choice and I LOVE supermotos for tall guys). The Street is an amazing machine, but pretty cramped and powerful. The Tiger would be solid, but up there in the power again. It’s your first bike, not your last and if you buy used you can probably sell it for damn near as much as you paid for it. (My girl put 15,000 miles on an SV650 and when she sold it, she lost $300 on the purchase price).

    I’m a bit taller and a bit heavier than you (6’7, 195 lbs, 34″ inseam) and I don’t think I’d go for the smaller bikes on the list. The big single trailies are really solid choices in this space: XR650, DR650, and KLR650. If you’re feeling frisky, one of the lighter ones (not the KLR :) ) with supermoto wheels would be a tonne of fun. I started out on a KLR, myself, and did 6,000 miles on it before I traded it in — wish I’d known about SuMo wheels back then at my height. Dual sports are cheap, economical, and take low speed drops really well should you have a zero-speed.

    There’s also the WR250X/R, which is a bit pricier but a startling amount of fun. It may not yank your arms off, but the corner speed is pretty amazing on them. And if you want more power, then the V-strom 650 deserves to be on the list, for all that it’s been beaten with an ugly stick. Used examples are plentiful, options are plentiful, and it’s a pretty fun bike.

  • donaldbyrd

    I can address three of these bikes. I was in this situation 3 months ago, and I handled it stupidly. And it cost me quite a bit to resolve it. I’ll give you the gist:

    You’re too tall for the Triple and the V7. The Z400 will feel smaller and narrow after a short time on the bike. Won’t matter if you have a short commute.

    Take them off the list.

    Enter, the Scrambler. There is always mention of the Scrambler as the tall guy’s bike. Truth is, it’s a tall guy’s Bonnie. It’s more comfortable than the Bonnie for tall riders. That’s it. You can scoot around on the seat while riding, but you’re legs are always flailing and you can tell that you’re never really in the natural sweet spot of the seat. I bought it. I traded up after a month. Hurt me to do so, because I still love that bike. I just couldn’t go day to day on it.

    I traded up for a Tiger 800XC. It wasn’t as sexy as the Scrambler, and I definitely got fewer looks from the ladies, but I can ride it every day. Much more natural for my long legs. It feels better. It’s faster, but feels more stable. On highways and twisties. I love it. I don’t love it more than the Scrambler. I love it differently.

    I know, they’re two different bikes. People love to point that out. But you can’t always quantify or rationalize what tugs at your heart strings, and I’m sure there’s a more “appropriate” bike for me as my daily driver than my 800xc. So, there.

    For reference: I chose it over the 800 roadie because it’s a tad higher.

    My advice to you is this. Take the triple, the v7, the Z400 and the Scrambler off the list.

    Ride the Tiger 800, the 800xc and the 500X. You HAVE to ride them before buying them. Don’t just sit on them. And don’t feel bashful about asking or demanding. If you’re nervous about it, go take class and come back… to ride them first.

    Hope this helps.

  • runnermatt

    Dash Cams for Motorcycles. Two of the most popular are the GoPro Hero line ( http://gopro.com/ ) and the Drift cameras ( http://driftinnovation.com/ ). Each company has multiple camera options depending on how much you want to spend, but none of them are cheap in my opinion. That is a good thing though as they will last longer and provide better quality video. Also consider mounting options. GoPro has more types of of mounts, which gives you more options. However, if you want to mount it to the side of your helmet the Drift looks better and will likely catch less wind. Also, if you purchase two GoPro’s and get the 3D housing kit you can get 3D video.

    Lastly, GoPro has free video editing software that you can download from their website. It doesn’t have every editing option available, but it allows you to trim for length and change lighting, etc. but what does one expect when it is free.

    • runnermatt

      Disclaimer: Most helmet manufactures recommend mounting anything to their helmet.

  • Larry

    At 6’5″ and a petite 260lbs, the most comfy bike I ever had was a XR650L. Put some 80/20 street/dirt tires on it and ride,ride,ride. It wasn’t my first bike, and I don’t still have it, but I wish I did. It was awesome.

  • Andrew Eck

    I am 6’4″ 215 36″ inseam and I have a street triple. I absolutely love it. 3 hour rides are perfectly comfortable, but look into clip ons for it cause the straight upright posture catches alot of wind