The popularity of motorcycles hasn’t diminished since the time they first set their two wheels on the road. On the contrary, thanks to their numerous benefits, these iron horses are winning more people’s hearts than ever. They are easy to park, fuel-efficient, don’t cost so much as cars, and are highly maneuverable, which is especially valuable on heavy-traffic city streets. If you belong to those biking fans looking for a suitable machine, below we’ve described the most common types of motorcycles for you to choose from.
1. Before you select
Before picking your first motorcycle, though, ask yourself a few essential questions:
- How much money are you ready to spend on your gleaming dream?
- How exactly are you going to use your bike? Are you going to use it to go to work and back home only? Do you intend to travel long distances?
- What kinds of roads are you most likely to move along? Roads with asphalt paving or ground roads?
- Have you ever ridden a motorcycle before?
Answering those questions as precisely as you can will help you choose the best bike for yourself.
2. Types of motorcycles
There are a great many bikes from different companies for all kinds of purposes. That said, according to the classification of The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, all motorcycles are divided into three main types:
- Street motorcycles. As the name suggests, you ride these on paved roads either within town or city limits or on highways. This group is the most diverse.
- Dual-purpose motorcycles. If you want to veer off the highway and ride down ground roads, but at the same time wish to have all the safety features a street bike provides such as side-view mirrors and turn signals, choose a dual-purpose vehicle.
- Off-road motorcycles. These are normally used for motocross and off-road trail riding. If you are not afraid of mud and various obstacles on your way, an off-roader is an excellent choice.
Those three groups are represented by various individual types. Here are the most common of them.
This type of motorcycle is often called “naked” because it doesn’t have windscreens, fairings, or other accessories of street bikes. Among other features of a standard motorcycle are these:
- Versatility. You can use them in many ways: for traveling long distances, riding to work, or speeding along a track for enjoyment.
- Low price. They are quite cheap in comparison with their brethren.
- Excellent for a novice as they represent a good mix of comfort and practical application.
- Ergonomic setup. The shifter and foot pegs are found right below the center of the rider’s body, which contributes to a comfortable upright position. The motorcyclist doesn’t have to lean forward or backward.
- Fuel efficient midsize engine.
On the negative side, if you’re after the “wow” effect, you will not achieve it with a standard bike. Besides, manufacturers normally prefer leaving this vehicle without the latest innovations. Still, owners can customize their machine with suspension, hardware, special tires, and other blows and whistles and use it on the ground or on a track.
A couple of examples: Yamaha SR400 and Harley-Davidson Sportster.
When you see leather-clad, stern-looking bikers roaring past you on the road, you will instantly recognize the chromium monsters they are riding. Those are cruisers such as Harley-Davidsons, which were especially popular among the Americans in the 1930’s through 1960’s. The most distinctive traits of this type include the following:
- High handlebars, as well as foot pegs and shifter located closer to the front wheel. Owing to this arrangement, the rider has to lean back, outstretching their arms to the handlebars. This may be a little uncomfortable at greater speeds as the rider has to fight with the wind. At the same time, it’s easy to get feet down quickly and easily.
- V-twin motor intended for low torque.
- Can be customized for traveling long distances.
As for drawbacks, cruisers are quite expensive, although smaller and thus cheaper versions exist, too. They are also not good for beginners due to the awkward sitting position.
Apart from Harley-Davidsons, cruisers are represented by Yamaha’s V Star 250 and other models.
As must be clear from the name, these vehicles are designed to embrace two worlds: ground and paved roads. Their share of the market is not significant, but more people are choosing them for these benefits:
- Upright sitting position thanks to the location of foot pegs and shifter below the rider’s waist, plus straight handlebars and a high seat.
- All the features of a street bike: turn signals, headlights, and others.
- Small engine.
- Versatility. You can load them up with travel gear and ride long distances. They are also good for commuting thanks to their light weight, maneuverability, and low gas consumption.
- Good for beginners, who can straddle a dual sport with both feet on the ground.
Honda CRF250L is an example of a dual sport motorcycle.
Touring motorcycles or “dressers”
This type of bike is designed for covering many miles at once. Thus, it has all the characteristics a long-distance vehicle can boast:
- Large and mighty engine, big gas tank.
- Enhanced storage capacity.
- Natural sitting position: shifter and foot pegs are found right beneath the rider’s waist.
- Comfort features: heated seats, electronic suspension, GPS navigation screens, to name a few.
The demerits include these:
- Hefty price.
- Comparatively low speed.
- Need for advanced handling skills, which make tourers a poor choice for a novice rider.
Among touring motorcycles you will find such models as Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and BMW K1600GT/L.
Sport bike or “crotch rocket”
Finally, consider the fastest of all types of motorcycles. Speed is all a sport bike, also known as “crotch rocket,” has been made for. It’s definitely not for someone who has just started exploring the world of motorcycles. This is what makes sport bikes different from others:
- Lightweight frame.
- Powerful engine.
- Sitting position designed to ride at high speeds: high foot pegs and a greater distance from the saddle to the handlebars. That makes the rider lean more towards the handlebars in order to avoid the aerodynamic drag. To feel that, though, the motorcyclist must be moving at a speed exceeding 100 mph. So, slow riding is not an option with a sport bike.
- State-of-the-art equipment. New sport bikes are typically overloaded with the latest features like aluminum alloy frames. That’s why the cost of repairs, maintenance, and insurance with sport bikes is higher than with other types of motorcycles.
- Not suitable for long-distance travel.
Examples of a sport bike include the likes of KTM RC390 or Kawasaki Ninja 250R. We highly discourage you from buying a crotch rocket as your first bike if your motorcycling experience is not extensive.
3. Used against new
Apart from choosing a specific make or model, you also need to decide whether you want to buy a used or new motorcycle. Both of these options have their merits and drawbacks.
- No prior record. A new motorcycle is like a clean sheet of paper: you can be completely confident it hasn’t been in an accident or damaged in any way.
- Warranty. Every manufacturer provides a warranty in order to attract more customers. So, if something breaks down in your machine or it simply won’t start during the warranty period, you may fix it for free.
- Mileage. In contrast to a used bike that may have covered a considerable distance, a new motorcycle can be compared to a toddler who has just learned to walk.
- More expensive insurance.
- Higher price.
- Lower price. This is true even for comparatively new machines that are just a couple of months old.
- More suitable for novices. For someone who has never been in the saddle before, a used bike is the top choice. Damaging a spanking new vehicle is not so painful as damaging one that has been in operation for a long time.
- Cheaper insurance. On the average, insuring a used motorcycle is less expensive than buying an insurance policy for a new one.
- Misty past. All that glitters is not gold. Even if the bike you are going to buy looks perfect, it may have hidden defects because the previous owner neglected it.
- No new features. With the rapid development of technologies, even bikes made a year ago are not so advanced as their up-to-date counterparts.
- More money on maintenance and repairs. It’s obvious. Older vehicles are more susceptible to all kinds of issues.
The number of types of motorcycles and individual models is overwhelming. Start with the most basic standard bike in accordance with your skills, budget, and goals.