Bikes and Gear For Big Guys

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Bikes and Gear For Big Guys

Are you 300 lbs, plus? If so, average motorcycles and gear aren’t going to work for you. They’ll be too small, too light and incapable of dealing with your size. What to do? This topic has been requested countless times via email and twitter, so without further adieu, here is bikes and gear for big guys.

What To Look For In A Motorcycle

Understandably, most motorcycles are designed for your average-size male. In America, that’s 178 lbs and 5’ 10”. Don’t feel left out in the cold if you’re much larger, those who are smaller than average have an equally hard time finding bikes they can ride and gear they can wear.

Having said that, there are motorcycles on the market that come stock with more spacious ergonomics. Even if you still have to modify those to fit, those modifications are going to be easier to make and your weight will have less of an impact on the motorcycle’s dynamics. We’ll list those bikes below.

What To Look For In Motorcycle Gear

Whether you’re big boned, an NBA player or simply just bigger than the average bear, finding gear is going to be challenging. Again, most off-the-rack stuff is just going to cluster around the most common sizes or a few degrees of departure from the norm.

Having said that, you have the same needs as everyone else does — total protection and comfort. To get that, you may need to go custom. We’ll detail those options below too.

The First Bike

Honda CB500X
Honda CB500X

Honda CB500X — $6,000

Big boy looking to learn on something reasonable? The excellent CB500X has spacious ergonomics as stock, combined with manageable overall dimensions. You’ll be able to flat foot it even if you’re wider than you are tall and the engine will only be slightly limited by your weight. The big limitation is going to be in the suspension. You can probably get away with heavier oil in the unadjustable forks to increase damping rates, but the shock is going to be overwhelmed. Get the dealer to put its preload on max (it’s seriously difficult to adjust) and see if you can pull that off. If not, like the other bikes on the list, you’re going to need to have it rebuilt to suit your weight.

The Budget All-Rounder

Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure
Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure

Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure — $10,049

A little bigger than the CB500X, but that marginal increase in size pays dividends for space and comfort. The increased torque — the Honda makes 32 lb.-ft. and the Suzuki 44 lb.-ft. — will move your weight without issue, but you may have to work the gearbox hard to keep up with fast riders or to climb long, steep inclines. The Adventure model fits a much more supportive seat (crucial for heavier riders) and a tall, adjustable windscreen, good for you tall guys. The suspension should manage your weight just fine, but if you plan on taking it off-road or doing anything similarly extreme, upgrade the fork internals and replace the shock first.

The Ultimate

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure
BMW R 1200 GS Adventure

BMW R 1200 GS Adventure — $21,000

Here’s one bike that, no matter how large you are, will have no problems and no limitations as stock. Its electronically adjustable suspension features not just preload adjustment, but variable spring rates and push-button damping adjustment. Its ergonomics should fit you and the 125 bhp motor will haul you as fast as you want to go. By separating braking and steering forces, the Telelever front end will also mean your weight will have less of an impact on the handling. Buy it to ride around the world, commute to work, or to pass sportbikes on weekends.

The Sportbike

Suzuki Hayabusa
Suzuki Hayabusa

Suzuki Hayabusa — $14,599

In other countries, this thing is billed as the Aston Martin of motorcycles. It’s designed to cross continents at speeds that would make Cannonball Run types weep. Here in America, it’s billed a sportbike for big boys for a reason — it’s spacious, comfortable and, because it already weighs a ton (586 lbs), your weight will effect its dynamics far less than much lighter bikes. You’ll probably want a custom seat to further support you, lower pegs and higher bars. Plan on a big ol’ windscreen for the more upright riding position those mods will create, too.

Gear

The Helmet

Arai Helmet
Arai Helmet

Arai — Price Varies

Look, we’re actually recommending an Arai for once! That’s because every model they make comes in five shell sizes and they cover all head shapes. You’ll find something you can squeeze that noggin into. The greater number of shell sizes means that, when you do find one that fits, its overall size will be closer to your actual head size, without the difference being made up by padding.

Continue Reading: Bikes and Gear For Big Guys >>

  • eddi

    Six foot, 250 pounds. Size 11 boots, XL helmet usually. Size 46 jackets and 42/32 pants. That leaves enough room for extra insulation in cold weather. Since I like a loose fit, I can easily go up a size. My rides have always been midsized bikes. Current joy of my life is a 2012 V Strom 650. The stock suspension does fine for me. Now gloves are another matter. Depending on manufacturer, a comfortable fit goes from Small(!) to XXL.

  • John Ogren

    6’7″, 310 lbs and riding an ’85 BMW k100rt. As to gear, I’ve got size 13 UK (14-15 US) Dr. Martin boots, a 3XL Firstgear Killimanjaro 4.0 jacket, HJC 3/4 size XL helmet and using Mechanics gloves size XL. Don’t have any pants yet (still a fairly new rider), but am looking at the Sliders 4.0 Kevlar motorcycle jeans since they go up to my size of 44 and 36 inseam.

  • Justin McClintock

    One thing to keep in mind on the bike hunt….what parts are available to customize the fit? That’s always an important question to ask yourself if you’re not of average size. For example, I have a 2003 SV1000S. I’m “only” 6’2″, but I’m all arms and legs, with a fair short torso. Those familiar with the SV know the 2003 S models had their own subframe and had ergonomics that weren’t the friendliest in the world. BUT….I was able to do a straight swap for footpegs from a 2003 SV650N that are much lower and further forward, giving me a LOT more legroom. These types of swaps are the things to be aware of when looking for a bike. You can potentially take your dream bike from something that doesn’t fit at all to something that fits like a glove.

    As for gear, several manufacturers make jackets in tall sizes. If it’s not specifically listed as a tall size, (and has correspondingly long measurements…my shirts fit well with a 37″ sleeve), I won’t even consider it unless I can try it on in person.

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Yeah, trying stuff on is going to be the eternal issue.

    I might go so far as to try and get on the phone with Icon and Vanson. They’re both run and staff by friendly enthusiasts, so it shouldn’t be a huge issue. The other outlet to consider is Aerostich.

    • John Ogren

      Yeah, tell me about the “trying stuff on” being an eternal issue… All my life that’s been a problem for non-motorcycle clothes too (doesn’t help I haven’t lived in a “big” city in about 20 years), but since taking up riding, it’s worse. There are two motorcycle shops in the decent sized town (100,000) I live in now, and one being a Harley shop – and me having no interest in Harley’s designs – doesn’t make it any better. Thank goodness for places with good return policies (hello RevZilla!).

    • http://www.pattonstrength.com/ PattonStrength

      Any suggestions for more generous fitting race suits beyond getting a Vanson custom? Slightly out of my price range at the moment.

      • Piglet2010

        Cortech Latigo is worth a try – much more roomy than an Alpinestars suit of the same nominal size.

    • Piglet2010

      With the right size of optional gussets, a Roadcrafter can be made to fit almost anyone. And they are good at talking you through what measurements you need to do, then altering a stock suit. Plus they have the all-important accessory, the Mr. Happy hand puppet.

  • http://instagram.com/real_jason_ip Jason Ip

    …please do one for small/skinny guys aka Asians

    • Max Chen

      One of my buddies is really thin, I mean like 5’8″ and maybe 125 pounds. He fits Dainese gear just fine, usually in a really small size. I think the European (esp. Italian?) brands that are designed for slim Europeans are a good bet.

  • http://www.nathanielsalzman.com/ Nathaniel Salzman

    The Triumph Tiger 1050 (and newer Tiger Adventure 1200) are also great big/tall bikes. I really wish Triumph offered the Tiger 1200 Sport here in the states. Hopefully in a few years once I wear my Tiger 1050 out.

    Definitely have to second the Icon gear as well. I’ve got lots of it and it all fits well and is very well made. My only gripe is that the color choices disappear as you move into the larger sizes.

  • http://daltonrooney.com Dalton

    I’m only 6’2″ so not huge I guess, but still taller than average. I’ve got the V-Strom 650 Adventure and overall it’s a comfortable fit. The Adventure windscreen is taller than the standard one and it does a good job on the highway. The suspension on the newer models (2012 and up) is very much improved over previous years. One of the reasons I chose this bike is because of the huge amount of aftermarket kit available – a taller seat, lower pegs, and handlebar risers are easy to come by. I personally don’t have any problems keeping up, speedwise, even on steep hills, but maybe if you’re 250lbs + it might be an issue.

    The 2014 V-Strom 1000 looks like it’s going to be pretty epic, and more than enough power for anyone, I would think.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    One of the things to consider also is guys who aren’t fat but have bigger arms and chests. My favorite jacket I own would be my Dainese Avro but my forearms will literally get choked numb after about a hour – and forget about keeping the liner in.

    • BryonCLewis

      I have recently gone down several sizes and am looking for a jacket to replace my joe rocket super ego (I love the temperature range of a convertible leather). I’m really interested in the Revit Ignition 2 but I don’t know if the sizes will fit me well. my current XL super ego has a 46-48 inch chest and a 36-39 inch waist and is too big on me. Doing actual measurements I have a 44.5 inch chest and 35-36 inch waist (vanity jeans a 34). It actually looks like the european cut of a revit doesn’t taper as much, a size 56 would get me a 43-44 inch chest but also a 40-42 inch waist. I need to just try one on, but the closes dealer which ‘might’ have one is 150 miles away (cyclegear).

      • http://www.pattonstrength.com/ PattonStrength

        I extensively tried on Ignition 2′s. I am 5’10″, 225 with a 45″ chest. I actually rocked the 54 without issue. I thought it would be too small, but it fits nicely in the shoulders, but is slightly too long for my arms.

        Ended up purchasing the Galactic, mostly for aesthetic purposes, also in a 54.

  • http://dooskiss.tumblr.com/ Damarezky Joedohadi Perdana

    Im about 180kg :)) Is that big enough? :p
    In Indonesia, you could search for maximum 4XL size of an appropriate suit, tops, mostly (Contin and Respiro, they’re famous local brands). Respiro even had the offer to produce a custom size, but an adventure jacket isn’t my taste (This is Respiro’s speciality)
    And dang, i need a 5XL….
    Solutions then comes from the flea market, i bought a 2ndhand tops (equipped with protector and inner rain suit, for me it’s fairly enough for a daily commuting), wrap my foot with a hiking boots, modified the sponge on the helmet so it suits me well, gloves from scoyco (i dropped my mechanix on a trip, mechanix is a good choice, for me at least), bought a waterproof vest as a windbreaker, and that’s it :D Everything comes at a reasonable prices haha!
    I ride a Yamaha SX225, the ancestor of Yamaha Serrow (Yep, everything here is mostly a thumper). Change the handlebar with a wider one, and reinforce the suspension. It works well :)

    • Piglet2010

      180-kg is small for a panda.

  • Don Fraser

    6’3″, 300lbs in my 3XL HJC ,4XL Olympia coat, 42X34 jeans, size 13 Tims and 40000 miles on my ’08 Ninja 250, what you talking about Willis?

    • Devin Byrnes

      If you are looking on the mid-range end of textiles, Olympia tends to skew baggy. Mine came pre-cut for a beer belly.

      • Don Fraser

        perfect

  • mms

    When I first started riding, one of my coworkers was 6’8″ and rode a jacked-up VStrom. I’m 5’7″ and I swear his mirrors were on a level with my head as I walked past it. It was a long time before I found out that all VStroms weren’t that large. I had a Ninja 250 at the time and he was nice enough to take it around the block once and give me his opinion. Total respect for a guy who was perfectly well-aware that he looked like a gorilla on a Big Wheels, but did it anyway.

  • C Mad

    I love this article and wanted to expand on some of the things you mentioned. At 6’8 260 I have had the same issues the rest of the big guys have. So here is my point of view from a big guy that didn’t want to do the whole enduro thing and wanted something at least a little sporty. The 6th gen (2002 – 2009) vfr has to be the greatest bike on earth for big guys. It was pretty squishy in factory form but the addition of a custom Elka rear shock (forum group buy) and some race tech springs it is plenty capable. I have done a couple long trips on it and while I can’t say it was lazy boy comfy, I was certainly doing better than my buds on super sports. And that bike makes one of the greatest sounds you will hear bellowing from something on two wheels. Gear was the next problem. I started my riding career wearing tired, old man looking tourmaster gear just because they had tall sizes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good stuff for the price but is defiantly the ” wrangler jean” of moto gear. After some joe rocket and first gear purchases I finally came across Scorpion. This stuff is the best you can get for those of us with a power forward build. I ended up buying the “stinger” jacket on clearance for 225. Great quality and good looking. In the tall sizes you’ll have to stick with black but to be honest every colorful, flamboyant jacket I have ever thought I really wanted looked dated and honestly a little douchey two years later. Those colors and fades come and go. Keep it classy and classic with black. Match this with a pair of alpine stars track pants , which also come in tall sizes, and you got a decent weekend ride setup.
    Last year I started doing track days and need a one piece. As you can imagine if finding a jacket is rough a suit would be impossible. I searched all the custom suit sites and almost pulled the trigger on a pilot suit but I just couldn’t do it. 1300 was to much so I started looking elsewhere. While attesting the AMA races at barber motorsports park I ended up buying an ill fitting AGVsport suit for 300 bucks from one of the vendors having a firesale on Sunday. It was a size 52 and I have a 46 so it fit like a blanket it some areas and spandex in others. While in Orlando a couple weeks later I stopped by the nice people at syed leathers and brought my suit. The guy measured me up and completely resized it for 240 bucks. He added 2 inches to the midsection to help avoid the male version of camel toe and tightened up everything else. I have now done multiple track days and the thing is all day comfy. Google syed leathers and you will find they make custom suits too. These guys are great .
    As far as other gear is concerned , gloves are always a* because they go all the way to xxxl (in some models xxxxl) and boots are sidi or tcx because they don’t stop at size 13.
    Hope this helps some of you other giants out there. See ya on the road.

  • Nathan Haley

    I think this guy’s pretty huge (I think he said over 6’4 or something somewhere?) and he manages to get a 950cc, 450lb, 100hp dirtbike around pretty quick in this hare scramble (KTM 950 SE). Biggest problem he has is finding room on the trail to pass all the little guys on their 450s and two-strokes!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJOdg_rWMjc

    Whole lotta bike for a whole lotta man.

  • socalutilityrider

    6′ 4″ and 190lb here-any recommendations for tall but not huge guys? I hesitate to modify my vstrom too much as I don’t want to adversely affect on and off road handling, but dang, that thing is cramped.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I can relate to the “small” size of the conversation. I prefer “compact”. I have one jacket that fits my shoulders and arms, but nowhere else. It’s huge even with all the tabs pulled tight.

    • Mark D

      Sizing always all weird. I’m almost exactly proto-typically Ameican sized (5’9″, 165), but its a rare jacket that has the right combo of sleeve length (too long and baggy), neck size (alwasys way too small), length, and bagginess. Sizing down to get a good fit around the waist results in tight shoulders and arms, while sizing up for layers result in arm armor that floats, and a fit across the gut that resembles a trash bag.

  • Scott Jones

    I’m 6’2″ and weigh 240. I wear a 36″x32″ pant most of the time and an XL Tshirt. I know this isn’t huge but is bigger than the average rider. I’ve had good luck with Dianese Leather goods, and that is what I wear currently. I have the Laguna Pro suit in a size 58 (euro) and it fits just about perfect, but is a little tight across the shoulder blades with a back protector on. I also have a Pelle estivo (sp?) jacket and pants set also in a 58. The jacket is my daily wear and I don’t have any issues with it. I run a G2 back protector in it as well. I feel like I’m swiming in size 60 stuff. Cycle Gear is great becasue you can try most of the major brands on and see how the sizes work and fit.

    I’ve had a number of bikes over the years, you just have to accept that you are going to have to make changes to the ergonomics and the suspension. I’ve found stock bars are rarely comfortable and are usually the first thing I change out. I curently have a Ducati 996 and a Triumph Scrambler. I run Speedy Moto Omni bars on the 996 and Pro Taper Henry bend bars on the Scrambler. Racetech has the proper springs for just about any application I’ve looked up so far for my weight range. I used to have a speed triple and ran the Henry bend Pro Tapers on it too, the stock ones kind of pinned my elbows into my torso

  • Chris

    I’ve found that Tour Master has some pretty good stuff for big guys who are saving up for Aerostich. I’m 5’11″ and 290lbs., with a former weightlifter’s build (i.e., 220 lbs of solid muscle and 70 lbs of meat by-products, 54″ chest, 44″ waist and a relatively short inseam: 29″ ). The big problem I have with pants is getting them to fit waist and thigh–I usually have to go up a couple sizes in the waist to get my thigh in. Tour Master’s aptly-named Overpant fits me without having too much leg to deal with. Their jackets also go pretty big in sizes, and both my multi-season and mesh jackets are Tour Master (Transition III and Intake Air III, respectively). As I said, I’m saving up for a Roadcrafter as my understanding of Aerostich gear–especially Roadcrafters–is Ferris Buelleresque: “If it is at all within your means, I highly recommend picking one up. It is so choice.”

    For shoes and gloves I’ve done well with Alpinestars, My foot is size 13, and both the Web Gore-Tex and CR-4 Gore-Tex boots fit well. Their SP-8 XXXL gloves also fit pretty well. For colder days, I use Olympia Cold Throttle XXXL gloves–the fit isn’t as good but they are warmer.

    In terms of bike, I ride a Versys on the “stock” settings (the basic starting points listed in the owner’s manual) and it works pretty well for me. I can easily get both feet down yet I’m not cramped. I did put a Motowerk riser on the bars so I sit a bit more upright and got some mirror extenders so that I could see more than my shoulders.

    I’ve lucked out in that I have a great shop in my town that has worked with me to get products that fit. Come to think of it, other than the handlebar riser and mirror extenders, everything else I have came from that shop. So, if you have a great shop in your area, try them first. You can’t be the only big person in the area, eh?

  • Brian Jones

    I’m 6’2″ 260 and ride a Buell Firebolt. I have been in an accident where I was held together by leather and soft tissue so I know the value of good, complete gear. For gear: I live in San Diego so I have a set of mesh gear, Joe Rocket XL pants and XXL Reactor jacket as well as a second mesh jacket made by Fieldsheer in XXL. They have the industry standard (9inch?) zipper in back to connect them. I also have a much beloved 2 piece Firstgear perforated leather suit. Firstgear is made by Hein Gerrick (sp?) but the sizing is American not European. The Jacket is size 48 and the pants are a 40 The suit has a full circumference zipper as well as the little (9inch?) zipper that the mesh has so parts can be interchanged at will. I have CE armor everywhere but at the hips which is often overlooked in all but the highest end suits. The firsgear pants also have velcro for knee pucks. It fits beautifully and there are snaps on the upper arms and zippers on the forearms to snug them up after you are in the suit. It is a proper 2 piece race suit the perforations and construction passed tech easily at a few track days. I wear Sidi vertebra boots in size 45 which fit my size 10.5-11 US feet perfectly (like a second skin when worn with thin wicking socks) and the calf areas adjust to be worn with the pants inside or outside of them. For Helmet I have an Arai Astral-x in XL but will soon be purchasing an AGV Skyline or Horizon. I also have an icon riot gear spine protector that I wear instead of the in jacket spine protector when i go out for more spirited riding. I will be upgrading this, possibly this summer.

  • Ben

    If all you big guys think this is bad for you, imagine being a big girl. My wife has serious trouble finding gear, even appropriate men’s sizes aren’t really cut for a woman. Good boots can be problematic too because a boot small enough to fit her foot isn’t sized for her calf. We’ve had to make some pretty serious compromises in terms of gear, but so far Joe Rocket has been our best in terms of cut/fit for jackets, and the HJC RPHA series were good for helmet size and head shape. Luckily gloves were relatively easy, and she ended up in a pair of really nice Teknic gauntlets. Unfortunately we’ve yet to find any kind of leg protection that really works for her, so it’s just jeans right now, and we had to take the armor out of her jacket to get the fit correct and comfortable through the shoulders. She made it through her first season of riding in almost non-existant gear (gloves and helmet, essentially), but frankly it was terrifying for me at times to think about her having any kind of, even at low speeds. Luckily she took to riding really well, has excellent bike control (she even did her MSF BRC in a two day downpour), and was able to put on about 4,000 miles last year. I feel like this is something she’ll stick with long term, so I have no qualms about paying for gear, but the options are so, so limited.

  • Khali

    I am a big guy, ride a vstrom and wear a custom-made leather suit (the one on my picture), so i cant agree more with this article.

    For winter and commuting gear, I recommend the european brand “Richa”. Also Rev’It makes plus sizes but not as big as Richa.