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A Detailed Guide to Motorcycle Riding Positions

A Detailed Guide to Motorcycle Riding Positions

Each type of motorcycle requires a different riding position. Riders should know how to sit on a motorcycle properly to ensure stable and comfortable handling. Sitting in an improper riding position can cause pain in your back, shoulders, legs, arms, and wrists.

Sports bikes, café racers, and naked bikes are designed for high-speed travel and aggressive riding. Meanwhile, touring bikes and cruisers are designed to provide maximum comfort on long-distance rides. A riding position can tell you a lot about a motorcycle’s purpose and features. Read this article to learn which riding positions are best for comfortable and fast rides.

1. Types of Motorcycle Riding Positions

The types of motorcycle riding positions include the following:

1.1 Aggressive Riding Position

Sports Bikes

Sports bikes are the most uncomfortable bikes as riders have to lean forward into an aggressive riding position. Sports bikes are usually used for track racing and fast rides. The knees are bent and raised high, resulting in discomfort.

Sports bikes have low-mounted clip-on handlebars that force riders to lean forward to reach them. The foot controls are installed below seat level, resulting in tight legroom. This ensures less air drag and better aerodynamics when traveling at high speed. Despite being uncomfortable, sports bikes are popular among motorcycle riders and racers due to their being powerful and fun.

Café Racer

Café racers are custom motorcycles that travel fast over short distances. There are only a few factory-made café racers since they have uncomfortable ergonomics. Café racers are lightweight motorcycles with clip-on handlebars, tight legroom, and rear-mounted foot controls. It becomes uncomfortable to ride a café racer after half an hour due to intense back pain.

Naked Bike

Naked bikes are lightweight versions of sports bikes without fairings. Naked and sports bikes have almost similar riding ergonomics except for a few differences. Naked bikes have slightly taller handlebars than sports bikes. The handlebar position ensures a forward riding position. However, the rider does not need to lean forward too far to reach the handlebars. However, it does have tight legroom due to having rear-mounted foot controls. For faster performance, the rider can sit in an aggressive riding position.

1.2 Upright Riding Position


Cruisers are one of the most comfortable motorcycles due to their providing an upright back position and comfy ergonomics. They are fitted with low- to mid-mounted pulled-back handlebars that the rider can reach without having to lean forward. Some cruisers also provide a laidback riding position that allows the rider to recline slightly. Cruisers ensure a relaxed riding experience on long-distance trips, open roads, and highways. They are adjustable, allowing you to shift the position of the rider’s seat to better suit your needs.

The foot controls are positioned towards the front to provide adequate legroom so riders can adjust their legs. Your knees are slightly bent and level with your hips while your feet are ahead of your knees. Cruisers also have low seat heights, making them ideal for shorter riders.

Motorcycles with Ape Hangers

Most Comfortable Motorcycle Riding Position

Motorcycles with ape hangers offer the most comfortable due to providing an upright back position. Ape hangers ensure that the rider does not slouch by keeping the arms straight and level.

Best Motorcycle Riding Position for a Bad Back

Ape hanger handlebars can help relieve stress if your back is hurting. Ape hangers are tall handlebars that require the rider to position his/her arms high to hold the grips. Due to the high arm positions, the rider naturally sits with an upright back.

To ensure your back stays straight, ape hangers should not be over shoulder level. Ape hangers over shoulder height are uncomfortable, can obstruct the rider’s vision, restrict blood circulation, and cause hand numbness.

Sports-Touring Bike

A sports touring bike is a heavyweight motorcycle due to being fitted with full-body fairings and luggage bags.

The riding position of a sports touring bike is comfortable as the mid-mounted, pulled-back handlebars ensure an upright back position. They are also fitted with mid-mounted foot controls that provide adequate legroom. When seated, the rider’s knees and hips are almost leveled and the thighs and shins are perpendicular to each other.

1.3 Neutral Riding Position

Standard Bike

Standard bikes have a neutral riding position with an upright back position and mid-mounted foot controls. However, the rider triangle and the ergonomics are tight. The rider has to slightly extend his/her arms to reach the handlebars due to the small pullback angle. Riding a standard bike does not naturally put you in an upright riding position. The rider has to force his/her back straight without the support and fight the urge to slouch his/her back while riding.

Adventure Bike

Adventure bikes are designed for long-distance on- and off-road rides. However, they are not very comfortable on continuous rides. Luckily, you can get into an upright back position if you adjust your pelvis slightly forward. The knees are bent and raised due to the tight legroom.

1.4 Laidback Riding Position

Touring bike

Touring bikes are modified versions of cruisers that offer optimal comfort on long-distance rides and tours. Most touring bikes are fitted with stock saddlebags to carry luggage on trips. The stock fairings and windscreens on touring bikes offer wind protection.

Touring bikes are fitted with mid-mounted swept-back handlebars that provide a laid back riding position. The rider and passenger can comfortably recline against the backrests mounted to the sissy bars. Most touring bikes also come with forward-mounted floorboards so riders can rest their feet.

Despite being comfortable, a touring bike is not ideal if you have a bad back. Riding in a laid back riding position for a long time can cause your back to bend slightly and result in back pain. To avoid back pain, keep your back straight while riding.

1.5 Active Riding Position

Dirt Bike

Dirt bikes can travel on off-road trails. They are a lightweight version of adventure bikes but are not road legal. When riding on dirt trails, you may hit potholes, maneuver around obstacles, and climb uphill. You cannot maintain your posture while riding a dirt bike since you constantly have to sit, stand, and adjust your weight.

2. Final Words

To ensure comfortable rides, you will need to select a motorcycle appropriate to your body type. Make sure to take a motorcycle on a test ride before buying it. Even touring bikes and cruisers can be uncomfortable if they do not suit your height.

Riding with an upright back is the most comfortable riding position when going on long-distance rides. An upright back may not seem like the most relaxed riding position but it helps reduce stress on the back and spine.

If you want to improve your posture and make your rides more comfortable while traveling long distances, you can install a sissy bar and a backrest from Viking Bags. Viking Bags also offers other aftermarket parts, including crash bars, fairings, handlebars, and seats to customize your motorcycle. You can also increase your motorcycle’s storage capacity by installing various luggage options, including saddlebags, sissy bar bags, handlebar bags, and tank bags.

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