If you’ve ever pictured yourself astride a motorcycle, cruising along a wide-open highway in gorgeous weather to the infectious groove of Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild,” you’ve no doubt longed to taste the freedom known by all dedicated motorcycling enthusiasts.
But, you don’t necessarily have to be a romantic to want to ride a motorcycle. Many people do it simply as a way to save money on gas. Whatever your reason, if you’re interested in buying a motorcycle but you’ve never ridden one before, you’re probably not sure where to begin your search. If so, rest assured. We’ve got some helpful information that’ll help cut out some of the necessary research on the various kinds of bikes there are out there.
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, there are three distinct types of motorcycles: street bikes, dual-purpose bikes and off-road bikes. From there, you can branch out into a bunch of different subcategories that will help you identify the exact type of motorcycle that fits what you’ve got in mind for your two-wheeling fun.
Street motorcycles are specifically designed with paved roads in mind and have the widest variety of body styles.
Touring motorcycles are the biggest of the lot. You’ve no doubt seen many of these ambling along the roadways, and you can tell them right away by their practical accessories, such as wind screens that help cut back on aerodynamic drag and large storage compartments. Touring motorcycles usually come with bigger gas tanks that enable riders to go long distances between fueling up. Their seats usually offer a relaxed, upright-sitting orientation that’s also conducive to riding longer distances.
Cruiser motorcycles are the kind most often associated with custom bikes and high-profile brands like Harley Davidson and old-school Indian styles. As a result of their design, which situates the rider in a low position with arms outstretched to reach the handlebars, they’re known for being a bit more difficult to handle than the average motorcycle and may not be the right choice for an absolute beginner.
Sport motorcycles are sometimes also referred to as “crotch rockets” or “sport bikes” because they’re capable of achieving high speeds in very little time and distance. They also rank high in ease of handling and braking, but aren’t known for maximum comfort or optimum fuel efficiency. If you’re in it for the thrill, this could be your ideal ride. But, if safety is at the top of your list of concerns, you may want to keep reading.
Standard motorcycles are pretty much your barebones, basic kind of street bike. Standards usually do not come with fairings or windscreens, offering the basic needs for the novice rider. They’re known for being relatively low-cost and versatile, and are usually the most highly recommended style of motorcycle for beginners because they blend comfort with practicality.
Scooters usually have smaller engines and aren’t capable of achieving the high speeds that most other bikes. Not recommended for highway use, a scooter is your best choice for achieving maximum fuel efficiency and for getting around from one end of town to another conveniently. Their small size can also save you a few headaches when it comes to finding parking.
Dual-purpose motorcycles are made specifically for the rider who wants the best of both worlds: to be able to take his or her bike off road, but to also have some of the necessary safety features associated with street motorcycles. Dual-purpose bikes usually look like off-roaders, but they come with horns, headlights, turn signals and side-view mirrors that make them road-legal. They also have fairings, those fiberglass shells on bikes, for aerodynamics and protection for the rider against the engine block and other moving parts. If you’ve got a mix of street riding and off-roading you’d like to get done, this could be your perfect match.
Off-road motorcycles were made for those seeking a more adventurous experience not available on paved streets and highways. This includes activities like recreational off-road trail riding, Motocross competitive racing and trials competitions where riders make their way through various obstacle courses. If you’re just getting your start and you’re looking for a vehicle that’ll deliver a mix of good, muddy fun, finding an off-roader will fit that bill perfectly.
Motorcycles can be fun and incredibly efficient machines. Once you’ve made your choice, be sure to enroll in a motorcycle safety training course so you’ll know exactly how to handle yourself behind the handlebars.