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Upright Ergos The New Trend?

We’ve written about this before, but the trend seems to be strengthening.  I believed from the beginning that the popularity of the Adventure Touring bikes is largely related to their bolt upright ergonomics, including plentiful leg room.  The seat heights are frequently tall, but once on board the rider is in ergonomic bliss.  No weight on the wrist, no cramps from legs folded like paperclips.

As Adventure Tourers continue to gain in popularity (Triumph, for instance, now has four different models in their line-up with their new Tiger Explorer 1200), we are seeing more upright ergonomics in bikes considered sport models, as well.  The diagram at the top of this article was provided by Honda and represents their CBR250R, and Kawasaki now has three models, the Ninja 650, the Ninja 1000, and the ZX-14R that are modern, sportbike-style machines with upright ergos.  Standards fit in this category, of course, but they lack adequate wind protection.

Kawasaki 2012 Ninja 650

Hard core sportbikes are not selling as well as they did in the past.  Is the trend towards more comfortable ergonomics here to stay?  Is this a growing trend going forward?  Do any of you prefer the extreme ergonomics of a pure sportbike for street use?

77 Comments

  1. Kendal says:

    I own a Yamaha FJR1300, and have 3 sets of pegs on it. Those pegs allow me to shift into a tremendous number of different positions, which allows me long days in the saddle. Ran last August from Albuquerque to Houston in a day (just over 850 miles)…*never* could have done it without 3 sets of pegs.

    One set allows standard upright, one set legs out, and then can kick low to push legs back on the pillion pegs.

    But, the key is a more upright starting position.

    btw…am 52 years old.

  2. harry says:

    At age 50 I just came off a ZX7-R, literally a car ran a stop sign took it right out, so now I am on an ’05 GSF1200S Bandit but unlke most to the folks here I am not happy with the upright ergos (hate would actually not suffice) so the payments and insurance on. an R1 to ZX10 are looking easier to swollow every mile.

  3. Kent says:

    I loved my Ducati Monster, which was very conservative in its ergos, at least compared to sportbikes. But my knees and legs ached when I rode it and I had to park it after about 45 minutes in the saddle!

    Sold it. Bought an Multistrada 620. I can ride all day! Plus, as someone who started out on dirtbikes, I have always felt that I needed the control (or at least the feeling that I am in control) that comes with upright handlebars.

  4. Walter Ross says:

    I agree with most of your readers. I sold my 2006 Suzuki 1000 GSXR of a 1340 Hayabusa. I’m 59 yrs and also have a 2003 Ducati 999S. Because of the comments above I cannot ride for hours bent over. My Hayabusa now has LSL bars on it and geared 6 teeth lower. The manufactures better figure this out quickly or LSL will be making a lot of money.

  5. Tim says:

    Let’s face it: hardcore ergonomics are for hardcore riding (extreme lean angles, top speed, etc.) How often do you ride like that on the street, honestly? Even in the “twisties” the best of us are not using even half of the bike’s potential. Those who actually race their bikes on the track, and squeeze every ounce of performance out of them are a tiny minority. For most riders more upright ergonomics only make sense.
    Next on the “to change” list: monstrously oversized and overpowered engines.

  6. LCC says:

    I’m always telling my riding buddies (most of us aging gracefully despite most of us being ex-roadracers and lucky-to-still-be-alive idiots) that “Handlebars are where it’s at.” I’m only 5’8″ tall so the seat to peg relationship doesn’t bother me much, even on my sportier bikes. But bending over so far and having weight on my wrists just isn’t as fun as it once was.

    In recent years I’ve had two new ZX-10’s, and a 636 as my sportiest bikes. All nice and very fun, but I’ve had more fun on my handlebar-equipped bikes like my ZRX1200, SV1000 (with LSL handlebar kit), and my current bike, a Versys 650. Most handlebar-equipped bikes seem to have better real-world motors as well…the Versys is as satisfying on the street as anything I’ve owned…lots of bottom end, power all the way through the range, etc.

    For fooling around I’ve always wanted to build a Streetfighter…a literbike with an LSL kit on it. Now THAT would be fun…and a bit comfy, too! LSL makes those kits for most modern sportbikes and some even require no fairing or windshield mods. It transformed my SV1000.

    Handlebars are where it’s at.

  7. Ed says:

    It’s about time, had enough of laying down on bikes. Seems the only ones with standard riding position have been dual purpose and so called adventure bikes. Which explains why a lot of owners rarely take them offroad. I still can’t believe the cost of insurance jump between my ’09 DR650 and the new Ninja 650.(As in 4X)

  8. shane says:

    This only makes sense and is why I love my Bandit 1200. 76,000 miles and every one of them comfortable.

  9. william says:

    The reason I have not owned a sportbike is due to the leaned over riding position. If I can’t wait to get off of it after 15 seconds on the showroom floor, I doubt I will like it later. The trend sounds good, it might make a customer out of me. Will it gain more customers or lose more, I guess that is the question. If the trend continues, they will probably make more tall seat height touring bikes, and then lose customers and conclude people did not like upright riding instead of considering the tall seat height was the problem.

  10. Steve P says:

    There is no reason a bike with the latest technology can’t be offered in an ergonomically comfortable
    package. Better yet, offering adjustable ergonomics would be even better so it can be adapted to the individual rider.
    Because one size does not fit all. It is not that difficult or expensive to do. It would open up many more choices for riders
    and I expect it would increase sales.

  11. ApriliaRST says:

    >>I had an Aprilia Mille and due to the tank I hated riding it more then 20 miles. <<

    Shoulda bought a Futura, the upright bike I've been riding for 11 years when I'm not on my upright FJR.

    The trend to upright ergos is a good one, IMO.

  12. Doug Westly says:

    I gave up street sportbikes for exactly this reason. Why be all pretzled up when you don’t have to? I still have a Ducati 1098 track bike, but now exclusively ride my Ducati Multistrada 1200S Touring on the street. All the power of a sport bike, removable hard bags when I want them, awesome handling (like a giant motard on steroids!)…and COMFORTABLE! I can tour 500 miles a day on it and still be fresh at the end of the day, or strip the bags and hunt down sport bikes in the corners… :)

  13. Superlight says:

    For the street the roadrace ergos are too extreme. Honda had it right with the VFR models, but not too many others followed, until now. They say the new Panigale is somewhat comfortable. What is the world coming to?

  14. Brutus says:

    I bought the most upright positioning bike on my short-list. The helmet weight on my neck and torso weight on my hands is too much for long rides on anything less upright.
    I might add that a ZX14r is only about half-way between sitting up and laying flat on your belly. I test rode one with friends and we were all a bit uncomfortable (yet thrilled) in a matter of minutes.

  15. George Krpan says:

    Riders are aging and they can’t lean over anymore.
    I see it all the time with bicycles. Abdominal strength diminishes with age unless something is done to preserve it, namely excercise.
    It’s nice sitting upright but eventually the butt gets sore and the wind is more tiring.

  16. donniedarko says:

    I think it has to do alot with the rearsets and and tank profiling. I ride my R1 daily and find it super comfortable. I had an Aprilia Mille and due to the tank I hated riding it more then 20 miles.