We were hesitant about putting together a list of motorcycles that suit older riders, as we didn’t want to risk alienating anyone.
With that said, we are all getting older and uglier, so let’s embrace it; just because the years are ticking by doesn’t mean we need to give up riding. We just might decide to change what we ride and want out of the riding experience.
So, we have compiled the best motorcycles for older riders, with each bike intended to meet different desires and needs.
Also see our guide to over 50’s motorcycle insurance.
Let’s get straight to it.
Probably the quintessential older rider’s motorcycle.
I was at a campsite not long ago, and a couple in their 70s were camping using a trailer on the back of their bright yellow Goldwing. I loved the setup and got chatting.
The wife said it was a choice between getting a trailer for the bike or a campervan. The husband piped up and said the Goldwing would be his last motorcycle, and he intended to fully enjoy the world on the back of it.
For touring any distance, there is no comfier motorcycle or more capable than the Goldwing. Known to be a Lazy-E boy chair on wheels for rider and passenger, it is the best of the best in terms of two-wheeled comfort.
In production, in one form or another since the mid-70s, the Goldwing has earned its stripes. Today’s GL1800 is an absolute monster, a futuristic tourer that still manages to pack in all the heritage and features that riders love, plus quite a bit more.
It doesn’t come cheap; maybe that is why it is considered the ultimate bike for many, as it takes you a lifetime to work your way up to afford one.
It is also big and cumbersome, but once you’re rolling, all of that is forgotten, and the 1,833cc SOHC flat-six cylinder thunders all your worries away.
Harley Davidson Road King
Another quite pricey addition but equally satisfying once you have collected all your gold coins is the Harley Davidson Road King.
The Road King is 375kg of absolute muscle backed by 83 horsepower and 147 Nm of torque, all delivered in a rather classy, tidy, chrome-covered package.
No doubt this is the King of the Road, and we all know the real King (Elvis) loved his big boy touring Harley’s.
Be warned, this is a Harley. It is heavy, so if you are beginning to struggle to shift your sportsbike around, then it is probably worth giving this a miss.
On the flip side, the riding position is neutral. Wide bars, mid-mounted pegs, and a plush seat make for comfortable long-distance riding or a simple Sunday run for a bacon sandwich.
Harley’s like this aren’t built for speed; they are made for carrying you in style to your destination.
That is what getting older is all about, right? Slowing down, taking it all in, enjoying the moment, there is no cooler way to do that on a Road King.
Royal Enfield Himalayan
Shifting gears slightly, we have the Royal Enfield Himalayan.
A lightweight adventure machine that has won several motorcycle awards, and rightly so, this little adventurer is up for anything.
As you get older, shifting your big Africa Twin or GS1200 can be more of a struggle than it is worth.
The seats are tall, the ground clearance massive, the weight a lot to deal with and let’s face it, even if we drop the bike at a standstill, it’s going to cause us some pain we would rather not have to deal with.
This is where the Himalayan steps in; the 800mm seat height is no different to a regular road bike, the bike weighs in at 191kg, and there is a reasonable 24 horsepower to contend with.
Keep the adventure style, hit the light trails, but leave the heavy lifting to the kids.
Honda CRF300 Rally
The CRF300 Rally is one of my favourite current motorcycles.
Like the Himalayan, it is a lightweight adventurer/dual-sport motorcycle that can carry you anywhere.
It has more energy with 27 horsepower and is undoubtedly set up for some off-road riding.
With the Rally version of the CRF, you get more touring options that make the ride somewhat more comfortable such as a windscreen, handguards and a bigger fuel tank.
It is quite a tall motorcycle, but this single cylinder is lightweight, easy to manoeuvre, and you shouldn’t have any issues keeping your balance.
Modern retro motorcycles have taken over; every big motorcycle manufacturer has a modern retro-style bike in their lineup. However, in my opinion, none have done it better than Kawasaki, first with the Z900RS and now with the Z650RS.
These bikes have captured the essence of the first big Japanese sporty racers straight out of the 70s, and they create a wonderful nostalgia.
Kawasaki has only paired the bare minimum of modern conveniences with these models to ensure they deliver a great riding experience on modern roads. If you didn’t know bikes, you would be hard-pressed to believe these aren’t bikes of the past.
The Z900RS packs a punch, and so it should, as it is based on the original Z1, 109 horsepower is produced from the motor, and the power delivery is sporty.
If you want to slow down, the Z650RS still has excellent style and boasts a more sensible 67 horsepower.
Upright ergonomics, wide bars, neutral footpegs, and wide seat makes for a comfortable ride, and you won’t struggle to get your leg over too much on either model.
Don’t want to give up the GSX-R, but your wrists can’t take the pressure anymore, and your back gives way 30 minutes into the ride?
You don’t need to give up everything; just shift your perception of what a performance motorcycle looks like. The Katana could be the very solution that you are looking for.
Derived from the same GSX-R 1000 engine, this monster delivers 150 horsepower but is tuned to be street-focused with real-world usability.
The chassis benefits those of us who aren’t suited to sportsbikes anymore.
It is still a bit sporty but mostly upright, the bars are raised and wide to keep you steady, but you can tuck in if you are feeling it.
The Katana was an insanely shaped motorcycle when it was originally released, and the modern version is just as crazy and unique.
If you want to make a statement, stand out from the crowd and still have the performance when you want it, this might be the one for you.
Mutt GT SS 250
Did you get your start riding around on British-built motorcycles from the likes of BSA?
Do you miss that timeless styling and simplicity of a single-cylinder engine with enough power to get the job done but very little else?
Then you might want to look at Mutt Motorcycles; my particular favourite at the moment is the GT SS.
These bikes are designed in Birmingham, home of the best British manufacturers, and that is where they take their influence from.
You will be hard-pressed to find better-looking lightweight motorcycles than those that roll off Mutt’s production line.
Most models are available in a 125cc or 250cc capacity. They are super lightweight, easy to ride, simple motorcycling at its best. The coolest way to slow down life on two wheels.
Triumph Speed Twin (Bonneville)
The entry-level Bonneville, now known as the Speed Twin, previously called the Street Twin, has been an extremely popular motorcycle for Triumph and for good reason.
The Speed Twin provides a base for you to add accessories and create your perfect Bonnie-style bike; whether it is a cafe racer style or scrambler vibe, you can do whatever you want.
Lower powered than the T120 but still punchy enough, the 900cc Bonneville engine is torque-rich and a pleasure to ride.
The 765mm seat height is the perfect ride for shorter riders.
Because this is considered the baby Bonnie, Triumph has spared no expense with high-quality components like Brembo brakes. They have even added useful tech such as riding modes and ABS as standard.
Honda CMX500 Rebel
Old habits die hard, and perhaps those of us diehard cruiser riders will struggle the most when thinking about a more sensible motorcycle.
When it comes to it, they are flipping heavy, packed with torque that could rip your arms off and, depending on the bike, can be uncomfortable over long rides.
So I offer up to you the Honda Rebel.
A funky, lightweight bobber that has captured many riders’ hearts, it is a playful moody little parallel twin that strays away from convention.
It might not be the traditional V-twin beast you are used to, but it does echo the same attitude.
I apologise to those who thought I was joking by offering the Rebel as a legitimate cruiser. Still, it has merit as a cool smaller, lighter motorcycle for older riders.
Maybe you could consider the Indian Scout a hearty thunderous V-twin that is a bonafide cruiser.
Indian, since Polaris Industries took over, has been pumping out magnificent-looking motorcycles with performance specs to match. The Scout was their first model to reboot the Indian name.
In keeping with Indian Motorcycles’ long history and heritage, the new Scout is minimalistic, chunky, mean looking, classy and timeless in its design.
Yes, it is still a heavy cruiser; however, the seat height is extremely low at 649mm, allowing for complete control of the bike at slow speeds.
It is also a well-balanced bike where the weight is held down low and central.
There are now several variants of the Scout, including the Scout Bobber and Scout Rogue.
Like the Triumph Speed Twin, you can take the base Scout and turn it into the perfect ride for you, including the ability to swap the seat and handlebars so you can adjust the riding position for maximum comfort.