What type of motorcycle is right for me?
Types of motorcycles
- Sport bike
- Dual sport
Does life temporarily stop every time you hear rumbling bikes cruise by? If motorcycles turn your head and you’re ready to think about cruising your own rig, be prepared to balance expectation and reality when shopping for — and financing — a motorcycle. It’s not uncommon for an overenthusiastic novice rider to realize the brand-new bike they purchased doesn’t suit and then have to sell it off at a loss.
Street, off-road or dual-purpose
When deciding what kind of motorcycle is right for you, consider why you want the bike — weekends flinging dirt, long highway cruises or the daily commute. Motorcycles are broadly categorized as: street bikes that can be taken on city streets and highways; off-road bikes designed for rough terrain and not legally allowed on streets; and dual-purpose bikes that can navigate both paved streets and challenging topography. Even if you plan to use your motorcycle as your main mode of transportation, lenders consider bikes luxury items and set their interest rates high accordingly.
Be realistic about what size bike you can physically manage. Motorcycles can be heavy and hard to maneuver even for large individuals. Newer riders should select a bike that is light enough to handle confidently and low enough to the ground so you can put your feet down comfortably when you stop. Consider which of these types of motorcycles suits you best.
The smallest of motorized bikes, scooters are also usually the most affordable. There’s a reason they are ubiquitous in Europe and Southeast Asia, as their nimble size, automatic transmission and fuel efficiency make for a practical bike to easily navigate small streets. Most are not safe or powerful enough for long-distance and highway use, however.
Also known as a naked bike, a standard motorcycle is generally the most practical type of bike and ideal for new riders. With an upright riding position, medium-sized engine and more versatility, standard motorcycles are a good choice for commuting or daily transport. While standard bikes come in all shapes and sizes, they are typically less expensive than other types of highway-capable motorcycles.
For all the free individuals out there, the chopper is a customized motorcycle either built from scratch or modified from a different style of bike. These loud, flashy bikes are more for tinkering with and showing off than getting you from point A to point B in comfort.
Many cruisers are purchased for aesthetic purposes rather than comfort. Characterized by a low riding position and slower speeds, cruisers are not designed for performance. The slightly reclined position can extend feet and arms some, making for uncomfortable riding after a while. Still, a good choice for Sunday drivers and short commutes.
The most notorious of motorcycles, the sport bike is designed for performance, high speeds and agile handling. It’s best to have riding experience so you can safely operate a sport bike. These bikes also require expert maintenance to keep in good working order. The high risk, complex design and high repair costs make insuring sport bikes relatively costly.
Recommended by many bike aficionados, dual sport motorcycles are capable of both on- and off-road use. Essentially dirt bikes outfitted with the mirrors and lighting required to legally drive on city streets and highways, dual sport bikes are typically smaller, lightweight and easier to maneuver. With high, upright seats to handle bumps, they are more comfortable than many other bikes. The versatility that allows dual-sport bikes to be suitable for varied terrain and driver skill makes it a popular choice. Depending on the bike, maintenance costs can be quite expensive.
There are several types of bikes within the touring family, including adventure tourers and sport tourers. Generally, touring motorcycles are very heavy with a large engine, large fuel tanks and ample storage space designed for long-distance trips. While their size requires some skill to maneuver and makes them unwieldly for everyday use, they are the most comfortable ride, with upright seating, heated handgrips, wind screens and weather protection. These features and their bulk translate into a more expensive bike.