The Definitive Guide to Different Types of Motorcycles
If you’re looking to purchase a motorbike, the first thing to do before buying it is to decide exactly what it'll be used for. For example, buying a Honda GL1800 Goldwing when all you need is a 50cc scooter to nip through city traffic is not the best idea!
Once you have decided what your bike will be used for you need to consider other issues. For example, if you fancy a sports bike, be aware that your insurance premium could be higher. Insurance companies may be unlikely to cover a novice rider for powerful bikes, unless they already have proven experience on smaller bikes.
The cost of motorcycles can range between a few hundred and tens of thousands of pounds.
Those on a budget should aim for a less-powerful bike, which is likely to be cheaper to run, cost less to tax, as well as attracting a lower insurance premium. Those with bigger budgets can look at premium models and makes as well.
So, what are the different types of bikes and who are they best suited to?
Different Types of Motorcycles
Here is a basic outline of the most common types of motorbikes on today’s market.
Th naked motorcycles is the most commonly sighted bike known for its upright riding position. The seat height is usually in the shorter to middle range and will usually fit most riders comfortably. The handlebars and the foot pegs are also positioned so that the rider is able to adapt a comfortable position without having to reach too far forward. Their moderate-size engines, ranging from 125cc up to 1,000cc together with their basic user-friendly design make this bike a good choice for new riders.
With no fairing or windscreen and fewer added features, the bikes typically cost less than most other models. The lower price makes the naked bike an excellent choice for novice riders who may want to ride for a while before deciding to splash out on something more substantial.
Cruisers are styled after the iconic American machines made between the 1930s and early 1960s, such as the Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior-Henderson bikes and it is the Harley-Davidsons that largely defines the cruiser category.
These bikes have a V-twin engine designed for low-end torque and offer a low riding position, high handlebars and forward foot pegs, which results in a slightly backward leaning riding position.
At lower speeds, cruiser bikes are more comfortable than other styles. However, this seating orientation may not be ideal for beginners who are wanting to ride at higher speeds for long periods of time, since pulling back on the handlebars to battle wind can be tiring. Although, as engines are tuned for low-end torque, in other ways it makes the Cruiser less demanding to ride as it isn’t necessary to shift gears as frequently to accelerate or maintain control. Cruisers do, however, have a limited cornering ability as a result of their lower ground clearance.
Choppers are a type of cruiser and earned their name because they are a "chopped" down, version of a production cruiser. Choppers are often custom projects resulting in the bike being modified to suit the individual owner's particular requirements. Typically, a chopper will have raked-out forks, a small fuel tank and high handlebars. Choppers were made popular by the 1969 film “Easy Rider”. As they are designed primarily for visual effect, the chopper will not usually be the most efficient of riding machines.
Touring bikes are designed for long-distance riding and consequently have large engines, bigger fuel tanks and fairings and screens that offer good weather and wind protection. They provide riders with a comfortable, upright seating position and good storage, although their size and higher cost may make them more suited for experienced riders.
Passenger accommodation is good, and the expansive luggage space is the norm for this class. Such bikes can handle weights up to 600 kg or more fully loaded with a rider, passenger and gear. You often see touring bikes with over 100,000 miles on the odometer and with their original owner, which is testament to their powers of endurance.
Sports bikes are optimized for high speed, acceleration, braking, handling and grip on roads and consequently have high-performance engines built on a lightweight frame. Foot pegs are in a higher position which results in a longer reach for riders to the handlebars. This is helpful when riding into the wind at high speed, but at low speeds sports bikes can be tiring for the rider as they put more weight on the rider’s hands and wrists. The seat height is usually on the higher end to be able to lean the motorcycle farther without scraping foot pegs or fairings. Shorter riders may be on their tiptoes with the taller seat height.
The braking systems in Sports bikes combine higher performance brake pads and multi-piston callipers that clamp onto their oversized vented rotors. The suspension systems are advanced in terms of adjustments and the materials provide for increased stability and durability. Most Sports bikes have fairings which completely enclose the engine and have windscreens that deflect the air at very high speeds and reduce the overall drag.
The sport genre of motorcycles is meant for speed and agility with its forward-leaning ergonomics. One of the largest differences with a Sports type motorcycle is the weight. They are one of the lighter motorcycles being made from a lot of aluminium and lighter materials which increases the side to side manoeuvrability.
Dual-Sports (also known as Dual Purpose Sports)
Dual-sports bikes have high seats together with a high centre of gravity for better handling on rough ground. Although they are similar to dirt bikes, they have mirrors, lights and instruments that make them legal to ride on public roads.
They typically have limited storage options, although they can be fitted with a number of extra bags to carry quite a bit of gear if required.
As they have small engines and a lightweight frame, they are a good choice for a new rider, providing they can straddle the bike and maintain both feet planted on the ground.
Off-road bikes have taller seat heights to accommodate the terrain and high suspension that can handle the likely bumps along the way. They don’t typically have any lights, mirrors and the instruments necessary to be legal on the road and therefore they will probably need to be trailered to the riding spot. Most off-road bikes are lightweight and designed to ride the roughest of tracks.
Scooters are suited for urban riding. They are lightweight and low to the ground making them easy to navigate through city streets. They come in varying sizes, with engines from 50cc through to 500cc. They have a relatively small fairing and have limited storage for a few items making them great to cruise around on.
Scooters typically have smaller wheels than other bikes and they also have all-enclosing bodywork which means that they are both cleaner and quieter than motorcycles. The automatic clutches and continuous variable transmissions (CVT) make them a good bike to learn to ride on.
Get Started with Venhill
Whatever bike best fits your needs, be sure to take a look at our cables and braided brake lines here at Venhill.
We stock a wide range of motorcycle products and equipment so you can get more out of your bike.