A Shopper’s Guide to the Different Types of Motorcycles on the Market

To the untrained eye, a motorcycle is just a motorcycle. They all have two wheels, a seat, and some handlebars.

But there are actually many different types of motorcycles, each with their own history, features, and advantages. If you’re new to motorcycles and doing your research on an upcoming purchase, the number of options on the market can be boggling.

Luckily for you, we’ve created a handy guide to the different types of motorcycles here. Whether it’s your first bike or your tenth, you’re sure to find useful information, so keep reading!

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Standard Motorcycle

A standard motorcycle is the everyman’s bike. This is one of the most popular types of motorcycles, as they are generally inexpensive, easy to maintain, and easy for beginner riders.

The neutral geometry and upright seating make for a comfortable ride: not too far forward or too far back. These are the original motorcycle style, no-frills, and bare bones.

There are a few different subtypes of standard motorcycles as well. The café racer style is well known for its vintage, hot-rod looks, and slightly more aggressive posturing.

Scramblers tend to look more like dirt bikes with their stripped-down, utilitarian appearance but are not quite as off-road ready. Naked bikes and streetfighters also fall under the standard tent.

Adventure Bikes

If you’re looking for a motorcycle that can handle the asphalt and off-road equally well, an adventure bike is one of the many different types of motorcycles that you might be interested in.

Adventure bikes are basically a hybrid of a sport-touring bike and a dirt bike. Designed for comfort over long periods of time, adventure bikes can also handle off-road conditions.

Adventure bikes are also known as ADV motorcycles. If you’re looking for a cross-country mount that can handle the highway and the country roads, an ADV motorcycle may be for you.

Touring Bike

Touring bikes are big, low, and comfortable. They are purpose-built for the ultimate long-distance comfort, with all the amenities a touring motorcyclist might want.

Touring bikes generally have large fairings and full windshields. Hard panniers are common as well, with plenty of storage space.

They also have big gas tanks to maximize mileage, and powerful engines with torque in spades. Full-backed seats and comfortable, upright handlebars round out the touring bike look.

On top of all that, many touring bikes have the full package of upgrades you might find in a car: radio and Bluetooth connectivity, GPS systems, heated seats and handles, and even airbags.

If you’re looking to ride in style and comfort for long hauls, you might want to look into a touring bike.

Sport Bike

If speed and performance are your wishes, then you’re probably in the market for a sportbike.

These are the high-performance, aggressively styled muscle cars of the motorcycle world. Ergonomics take a back seat to function here; the geometry of the bike is generally very aggressive and forward.

Footpegs are generally much higher to allow for tighter turning. Rounder, wider wheels also make for sharper cornering and better traction at high speeds. Sportbikes also feature aerodynamic body fairings.

Sportbike engines are generally not the most fuel-efficient but boast extremely high acceleration and top speeds when combined with the lightweight frame and body.

Sport Touring

Sport touring bikes are exactly what they sound like: a combination of a sportbike and a touring bike. Amongst the different types of motorcycles, they definitely stand out as unique.

They generally have a middle ground geometry between the laid-back position of the touring bike and the aggressively forward position of the sportbike. Sport touring bikes usually take more styling cues from the sports side of their ancestry.

If you’re looking for a long-haul bike that can still get low on a tight corner, look into a sport touring bike.

Cruisers

Cruisers are the ubiquitous “hog” motorcycle. Long associated with the stereotypical biker look, cruisers are the classic laid-back style of motorcycles and are easily recognized. They are probably the most popular style of bike in the United States.

Cruiser bikes typically have low seats, forward footpegs, and swept-back handlebars. Their large V-twin engines are unmistakably loud and powerful, but lack the acceleration of sport-style bikes, favoring strong torque at low RPMs.

Enduro Bikes

Enduro bikes and motocross bikes are close cousins. The Enduro is intended to ride long distances over rough terrain.

Enduros feature a larger gas tank to support these longer journeys. They generally have a more precision-tuned engine than motocross bikes, and typically have a slightly heavier weight to them as well.

Many Enduros are not street legal but can be easily modified to meet requirements with add-ons like headlights, brake and taillights, and a street-legal exhaust system.

Motocross

Motocross bikes are intended to be used and abused on dirt tracks and other controlled off-road conditions.

Like Enduro bikes, most are not street legal. They generally have smaller gas tanks and lighter bodies to allow for tight maneuverability on motocross tracks.

Motocross bikes feature a 4-stroke engine in the 550cc class and generous suspension systems on the wheels to handle the jumps.

So Many Different Types of Motorcycles, Which Do I Choose?

Ultimately, it’s up to your needs as a rider. Many avid motorcyclists end up collecting a small stable of different types of motorcycles for different purposes, including ADV motorcycles, touring bikes, and standard bikes.

When in doubt, a standard motorcycle is always a good starting point for any rider. For more motorcycle information, news, and reviews, make sure to check out our other blog posts!

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