Types of Motorcycles You Should Know Before Buying
Riding a motorcycle is a unique experience, something you do not get while driving. The challenges and adventures you face during your journey make you a better person and the memories gathered from these road trips remain with you till eternity. If you are reading this article it is probable that you are a new rider and have absolutely no idea as to which motorcycle type will be appropriate for you. Then again, you can be a returning rider who simply took a timeout and found that the motorcycle market you returned to is vastly different than the one that you left in. Not to worry, as we are going to help you out in either of the cases.
Today we’re going to talk about some of the various categories that exist in today’s motorcycle market to help you figure out which motorcycle is right for you.
This article is just the first topic in a series of guide we have for beginner riders; we have some other articles as well on ‘best beginner motorcycles’, top motorcycle brands, ‘A1 motorcycles’, ‘A2 motorcycles’ and ‘used motorcycle buying guide’. As for now we are going to discuss the motorcycle classes, so you know exactly what type of bike you might want to look at.
Types of Motorcycle
These things are mean; they are built for maximum performance with a focus on speed. They are lightweight, have plastic fairings most the time, and are great for track days. Sports bike and super sports bike are racing machines; they are vast aggressive motorcycles that are extremely responsive. Besides, if you look at their angles and the aerodynamics curves you will get carried away pretty easily.
However, they have the most uncomfortable riding position of all the categories we are going to be looking. They are also the least forgiving of all types and thus not a great choice for everyday commuting.
Sport bikes are all about top speed; they’re engineered for responsiveness, precision, and power. And let’s not forget the fun and adrenaline we get while riding a sports bike. Once you’ve mastered your sports bike you can feels that its responsive, has an incredible throttle, and precise braking. You will be the proud rider of a performance machine that will literally knock the wheels of anything. When it comes to pure dollar to performance ratios, it just doesn’t get any better. There’s just something about those smooth streamlined fairings and aggressive body styles that will push to you bend through the corners. And if fairings are not your style, you can strip those sport bikes down and turn them into what’s known as a naked bike.
Yet, it is important that you don’t let all that speed go to your head before you commit to a bike. Make sure you have taken the time to really consider the type of riding you want to do if you’re looking for a motorcycle.
Naked bikes or standard bikes are a hybrid between sports bike and a commuter bike. Unlike a sports bike, naked bikes do not have fairings, they offer a more comfortable seating position, they have enough speed and power and are fun on the track but the comfortable ride makes them more reasonable for commuting. These bikes are also called standard style motorcycles because they offer a glimpse of power but a comfortable commute as well. Naked bikes make an excellent starter bike for riders who aren’t sure of themselves. They offer the quasi aggressive look of a sports bike without the aggressive responsiveness.
Naked bikes offer the best of all worlds as a street motorcycle and the occasional track day weapon. A properly set up naked bike looks really beautiful and has tons of power; something like Kawasaki Z650. They provide you with bucket loads of torque and fun which you will love.
These bikes in comparison to sports motorcycles are just cheap and affordable to ride. Also they are easy on the gas; so when it comes to fuel they are easy on the pocketbook and much more economical. Another brilliant advantage over sports bike is the ease in commuting on road. They are just a delight as you can whip these things around extremely well since they are extremely light and you get a lot of power on a light frame. Another benefit is getting around in city traffic; they are easy in to ride since they are small and nimble. So, even if you do drop the motorcycle they are pretty much easy to pick up and keep on going. One of our favorite reasons is the fun factor involved in riding a naked bike. With all the wind hitting you on the face, for long stretches of times it can become fatiguing, but it takes you back to an old school raw riding.
Perhaps you are interested in the freedom that riding a motorcycle offers but you are more interested in off-road riding. If that’s your wheelhouse a dirt bike is going to be perfectly suited for your riding needs. They have got great suspensions with lots of travel which makes all those rocks and potholes you are going to hit hurt significantly less than they would. They also have a considerably higher seating position than the other bikes and hence offer more clearance. This also allows you to traipse around the wilderness without damaging your bike. They usually come equipped with a scuff guard and are made to handle just about anything you can find out there in the wild.
A dirt bike is lightweight easy to maintain and relatively affordable machine. Besides, you can learn to ride a dirt bike pretty easily as compared to other motorcycles due to its extreme lightweight and agility. So be it a dirt track or your friend’s backyard, the thrills of riding are going to be the same. Of course professional motocross dirt bikes are a little more specific; the forks will be bigger, it will give you more power, and the main controls on the bike will be on the handlebar, but engineering remains the same for both types.
However, dirt bikes are absolutely not street-legal. They do not have headlights, blinkers or mirrors and they do not meet road safety regulations. So while these are fun, you need to keep it off the streets and in the dirt unless you do a conversion. A proper dirt bike is basically a motocross bike just like Kawasaki KX 450F which are not sold with headlights and may require some adjustments in the valves based on hours of usage.
Dual sports motorcycle or Enduro bikes in classic terms are dirt bikes that have been reared a little bit and set up for the street. It resembles little bit with a dirt bike but it’s been geared differently, equipped with indicators, mirrors, headlights and all possible accessories that make it compliant with the legal street norms. Dual sport motorcycles are never going to be the absolute best street bikes you could have, what they really are meant for is the dirt track but you can then get on the street and go to the next trail. Lately, a lot of these bikes have become popular as commuter bikes since they have really good economy. Most of them are single cylinder motors and they are not super-fast but will reach up to 60-80 miles an hour depending on motorcycle brand. Their engines are typically detuned to make them street legal and they don’t need their valves adjusted constantly.
So, if you like to go off-roading but you want to hit the pavement as well then something like a dual sport adventure bike is going to be a better fit for you. Also known as Scramblers, these are street-legal dirt bikes will give you the best of both worlds.
An adventure bike or an ATV bike is more of a luxury style dirt bike. The seating position is high similar to a dirt bike and are better suited for tall riders. They have a more comfortable seating position than a dirt bike and are meant for both street as well as off-roading. Although serious dirt bike riders might moan the fact that ATV bikes are not able to compete with the likes of something like a KX 450F. The ATV is more expensive than a dirt bike – and like most motorcycles things can get really expensive really fast on these. So a beginner rider probably isn’t going to be interested especially not when you can take that same amount and get a high-end version of something else.
Adventure riding is all about being able to enjoy your motorcycle as a means of not just getting you where you want to go but a means to appreciate the experience that you are having. That’s what an adventure motorcycle does. You will be able to feel the journey and experience the adventure at its full. These bikes really outperform when you go out on an adventure trail and still gives a lot of mileage. Unlike the dirt bikes where you cannot carry your equipment and luggage along, you can ride on these types of motorcycles very comfortably even for long durations.
Now if off-road riding isn’t your style and you are interested in taking long road trips then for these kinds of rides you may want to check out a cruiser. Cruisers are built for long rides so manufacturers have placed priority on comfort rather than speed. These bikes have a lot of power and come equipped with really big engines. They are heavier than the adventure types we talked about but they are also one of the most forgiving bikes for beginner riders to learn on unless you are thinking about buying something like a Harley VRod or a Yamaha VMax.
They are well made to put a lot of miles in the saddle. If you have never ridden a cruiser, you are seriously missing out, especially if you enjoy longer rides. Unlike sports bike, where the ergonomics of seat, handlebar and riding position are not made for comfort; a cruiser is loaded with all the essential things that improves comfort and convenience.
They have a lower center of gravity so they are easier to control with basic steering maneuvers. The steering and handling are so forgiving that a lot of motorcycle safety courses actually use cruiser for student lessons. Cruisers also have a very distinct aesthetic, so if that’s the look you want, the cruiser is the one you are going to have to go with.
Touring motorcycles are the sort of Bentleys of cruisers and are often called as bagger, full bagger, full dresser, full dress tourers, or dresser. They are equipped with saddlebags, extra storage and are built for ultra-comfortable riding. They are a perfect motorcycle for someone who is looking to take a serious long distance road trip on his bike. Although any bike can be used for this purpose, but the aesthetics and ergonomics of a touring motorcycle are designed as such to provide a much enhanced riding experience. With an aerodynamically designed large front fairing, riders experience much less fatigue due to the constant wind gushing towards the chest. They are built to focus on comfort over speed, so while they do have a lot of power, they are also incredibly heavy and thus providing stability on the ground over quick acceleration.
Touring bikes are some of the most expensive bikes out there as well, they usually have a built-in navigation system, on-screen stereo system, and some may even have cup holders! These bikes probably aren’t great for someone just starting out unless you are a veteran rider who is probably going to ride after a long gap.
These are hybrid beauty that offers most of the comfort and features of a touring bike but with a smaller price tag. Sports touring motorcycles are smaller than a regular touring motorcycle and have some of the aggressive styling as a sports bike. They offer the comfort of a touring bike in a lighter, more responsive, more affordable package. You won’t find all the upgrades and accessories that a normal touring bike has on a sports touring but because of that sports touring bikes are lighter and faster than full-fledged touring bikes.
Everyone likes to think about covering some famous North American road trips, and if you try that on your sports bike or a naked bike, not only will your spine need a thorough realigning before you have made it to your destination, but your hands would be completely numb from the vibrations.
A sport touring motorcycle is a perfect amalgamation of the cruiser’s easy going nature with the powerful engineering associated with the sports bike. Compared to a traditional sports bike, a sport touring motorcycle makes less top-end power but has more low-end grunt. It has a lower seat height, higher clip-ons or true handlebars, and typically has a longer wheelbase. They come with more wind protection, rider comforts like heated grips, and the ability to haul luggage or pillion with ease.
It is typically meant for someone who enjoys the look of a sports bike but wants something more comfortable.
Categories & Specifications
|Motorcycle Category||Length||Width||Height||Fuel Capacity||Saddle Height||Ground Clearance||Wheelbase||Kerb Weight|
|Naked Bike (Kawasaki Z650)||2115 mm||765 mm||1065 mm||15 L||790 mm||130 mm||1410 mm||191 kg|
|Sports Bike (Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX)||2100 mm||825 mm||1190 mm||19 L||835 mm||135 mm||1440 mm||238 kg|
|Dirt Bike (Kawasaki KX 450F)||2185 mm||830 mm||1275 mm||6.2 L||955 mm||340 mm||1485 mm||110 kg|
|Dual Sports (Kawasaki KLX 250)||2199 mm||820 mm||1203 mm||7.5 L||889 mm||284 mm||1430 mm||138 kg|
|Adventure (Kawasaki Versys 650)||2165 mm||840 mm||1400 mm||21 L||840 mm||170 mm||1415 mm||218 kg|
|Cruisers (Kawasaki Vulcan S)||2310 mm||855 mm||1090 mm||14 L||705 mm||130 mm||1575 mm||235 kg|
|Touring (Vulcan 1700 Voyager)||2560 mm||995 mm||1550 mm||20 L||728 mm||134 mm||1666 mm||405 kg|
|Sport Touring (Kawasaki 1400 GTR)||2230 mm||790 mm||1465 mm||22 L||815 mm||125 mm||1520 mm||305 kg|