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.
When you see a sleek, compact motorcycle rocket past you on the highway, it’s most likely a sport bike. These machines were built for the thrill of speed Tey’re as light and powerful as possible, and typically not as comfortable as other types of motorcycles.
Sport bikes are the speed machines of the motorcycle world. High-powered with sophisticated suspension systems and high-performance brakes, sport bikes typically are stuffed with the latest and greatest technology you can find on two wheels (or four). A common sentiment about sport bikes is that they are not comfortable unless you’re going over 100 mph, at which point they become very comfortable because they are in their element. While most sport bikes are not designed for distance riding, that hasn’t stopped many riders from adding some soft bags and a better seat so they can ride to distant stretches of challenging roads or racetracks. Sport bikes are typically not the best choice for a beginner due to their hair-trigger nature and prodigious power, but a lower-powered, middle-weight sport bike or a “sport bike lite” might be a good choice to start with if this is the kind of bike you definitely want to ride.
These machines are also referred to as “naked bikes” because they offer very few of the bells and whistles now being incorporated into more specialized motorcycles. They are general-purpose street bikes.
One of the most obscure genera of motorcycles is the naked, or standard. It looks like a sport bike at certain angles, but where did all the bodywork go? Why are the handlebars upright like a dirt bike, and what’s up with the large, comfortable seat? The naked motorcycle really hit the limelight back in the ’80s, when Eddie Lawson raced the beastly Kawasaki KZ1000R, which revealed a hellish inline-four engine, Kerker megaphone exhaust and minimal lime-green bodywork. The allure of the standard is that riders get sport bike power with cruiserlike comfort. Standards excel in versatility for that reason and can handle longer trips with the ability to intimidate track riders with tuned-up power and confident handling in the twisties. The Kawasaki ZRX1200R is one of the most beloved and multifaceted standards on the planet. Styled after Eddie’s liter bike, the ZRX is a torque monster that’s comfortable to ride, and one look at the green monster might transform you into a naked freak.
Sometimes called dual-purpose or on/off-road motorcycles, are street legal machines that are also designed to enter off-road situations. Typically based on a dirt bike chassis, they have added lights, mirrors, signals, and instruments that allow them to be licensed for public roads.
Dual-sports, sometimes called dual-purpose or on/off-road motorcycles, are street legal machines that are also designed to enter off-road situations. Typically based on a dirt bike chassis, they have added lights, mirrors, signals, and instruments that allow them to be licensed for public roads. They are higher than other street bikes, with a high center of gravity and tall seat height, allowing good suspension travel for rough ground.
Adventure motorcycles are motorcycles with touring capability on paved and unpaved roads. As a dual-sport they have a significant on-pavement bias and perform well on pavement at higher speeds unlike most dual-sports. Their size, weight and sometimes their tires, however, limits their off road capability. Most adventure motorcycles function well on graded dirt and gravel roads but are less than ideal on more difficult off-pavement terrain.