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Motorcycle Buying Guide: The Five Types of Bike

Posted in Motorcycle by Vito Rispo | August 22nd, 2008 | 3 Responses |

So you’ve wanted a motorcycle for years, and you’ve finally decided to get one. First you need to go to riding school, learn how to do it to it, then you can get your license. You’ll need that. They won’t let you off the lot without it.

Once you’re all set with your license, it’s time to figure out what kind of bike you want.

What Type of Bike?

First things first, you have to figure out what you’ll be doing with the bike and what you really want it for. Is it just for commuting? Do you want to go on long cross country rides? Do you want freaky high speed or an easy cruiser? And most importantly, which bike do you think looks the best. There are five main types of two-wheeled jauns to choose from.

Which one is you?

A typical ‘standard’ motorcycle – The Honda CB500 4 Cylinder

This is essentially the archetype for all bikes, it’s what all motorcycles used to look like. The engine is exposed and there are no fairings covering up parts of the bike. Your feet rest in a natural position right below your waist, and the handlebars are designed to allow a nice upright seating position. They’re comfortable, they’re inexpensive, and they cover a wide range of riding situations.

You can get an engine in a standard bike anywhere from 50 to 1300+ cc’s. You can get a commuter style standard bike, which is really just a step up from a scooter, or a high end, high speed road demon. These are my favorite.

A typical ‘cruiser’ motorcycle – Harley Davidson V-Rod

Cruisers are heavier, so they’re more solid and stable on the road, especially at low speeds. Your feet sit on pegs that are set further forward, so you’re legs are extended, which can be comfortable, or worse than uncomfortable if the bike is too long and you’re sitting on your tailbone. Mostly the design is for looks, with tons of chrome and custom bits. The handlebars are set high and wide so your arms are stretched out in front of you. These bikes are harder to learn on, especially the more extreme ones, since your arms and legs are in an awkward position. You can get some of the largest motorcycle engines in a cruiser, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the fastest, since cruisers can weigh more than twice as much as some sport bikes.

A typical ‘sport’ motorcycle – The Suzuki Hayabusa

Sport Bike
aka crotch rockets. These bikes are designed to be fast and agile. All of the plastic fairings and the position of the driver are all part of the aerodynamics of these bikes. These bikes are tough to get used to when you first get on them. Your feet are set way back so your legs are bent in a really aggressive posture, and there’s a lot of pressure on your wrists from the handlebars. Sport bikes aren’t really great for cruising long trips or for commuting back and forth. But if you want speed, they’re it. Sport bikes are usually the lightest type of motorcycle and you can get engine sizes ranging from 50cc starter bikes all the way up to 1300+cc.

A typical ‘touring’ motorcycle – Harley Davidson FLHTC

Touring bikes are comfort bikes, they’re like the recreational vehicles of motorcycles. If you’re into distance riding and comfort, this is it. These bikes have the same upright seating position as the standard bikes, in fact, they’re basically standard bikes with a bunch of extras. Saddlebags, a larger gas tank, windscreens, sometimes they even have GPS, cruise control, cup holders, etc. They do it up with these touring bikes. This is hardly ever a first bike, but if you want to get on a bike and take it cross country, this is the type to do it with.

A typical scooter – The Suzuki Burgman 400

If you’re just looking for something low of gas consumption to zip you around the city, you’re probably looking for a scooter. Don’t feel tempted to get a bigger motorcycle if all you need is a scooter, because although they have tiny little wheels and no clutch, they’re super low on fuel, ultra-practical, and cheap.

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3 Responses

  1. john hallaway says:

    Cool article, gj!
    While on the subject, two more types of bike are dual purpose bike and dirt bike. Dual purpose bikes are street legal and can adapt to the backroad. Dirt bikes are usual street illegal but infamous for stun devil. Both of these bike or rather tall also.

  2. As Clint Eastwood’s character Harry Calahan once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations!” (See the end of the movie “Magnum Force.”) There’s a theory that too many first time riders are jumping right on the biggest V-twin motorcycles they can find – Harley has a lot of imitators these days – and that is why there’s a spike in motorcycle accidents.

    That Honda CB500 four cylinder, now a vintage machine that’s appreciating, albeit slowly, is as fine a machine as you’d find and makes an excellent first time piece of transportation. Those who are willing to join a club and search a bit for spare parts, might also consider a Triumph 650 or 750 cc motorcycle (look for one that has been well maintained – same deal as a vintage car).

    A man whose bio I have been working on for five years, off and on, Leslie Eaton “Red” Parkhurst, the first factory racer for Harley-Davidson (circa 1914-’21) would likely have agreed. (Red is no direct relation, but I am happy to share his surname.)

  3. bruce says:

    hello there xx