Some of the different types of motorcycles on the market today include Touring Bikes or Tourers, Sports-Tourers, Sports Bikes , Super Bikes, Standard Bikes, Cruisers and Choppers, Dual-Purpose Bikes, Dirt Bikes, Scramblers, Mini Bikes and Minimotos. The amount of terms for the vast variety of bikes can be confusing. In this FAQ we try and make sense of the main ones for you.
Street bikes are also known as Naked Bikes and Standard Bikes. These machines are built to a basic specification with no fairing or just a small handlebar. They use an upright riding position. Engines are large/medium and are often called retro. Emphasis is on functionality, performance and safe riding positions not flashy body panels and sports riding positions commonly seen on more sporty bikes. The Street style bike is associated with the seventies when it enjoyed mass popularity.
Smaller and lighter motorbikes than cruisers, these are mass produced versions of the bikes used in Motorsport and are often complete with either superb racing technology standards. The riding position places the feet towards the back. The hands are low and the spine is inclined forward.
Offroad bikes is quite a large classification area but these bikes are usually light weight, small engine sizes with big suspension, rugged simple frames and wheels. Dirt Bike and Adventure Bike are all general terms for Off Road bikes. Motocross, Enduros, Trials, Trail and Grasstrack are all identifiably different types of bikes for off road bike sports. Basically Off Road can cover all bikes with an off-road/cross-country capability.
A hybrid dirt bike which has a headlight and license plate and is street legal. Stock tyres are called combination tires and incorporate knobbly spikes. These tires don't have much traction in the street or in the dirt. Not as popular as dirt or street bikes but can be useful for those who live in rural areas or farmland surrounded by dirt roads.
A big craze right now are Hybrids of Standard bikes and Off Road bikes. Common terms for these types of bikes also include Dual-Sport or On-Off Road bikes. These are street legal variants of Dirt Bikes with more suspension travel than a Standard bike but having all the other equipment usually found on a Standard. Adventure Tourers is an example of this growing niche market.
A subset of off-road bikes. They are small no more than 250cc and are very light. They often have no seat. Used in motorcycle trials biking.
Custom bikes are a major category. A custom motorcycle is strictly one that is customised after purchase but the term is more normally used for production bikes like the Yahama Virago which reflect the customised style associated with Harley Davidson. Custom is also often just another name for Cruiser.
These are generally understood to mimic the style of classic American machines from the 1930s to the early 1960s such as those made by Harley Davidson, Indian, Excelsior and Henderson. Cruisers and choppers are known for their cool. Japanese manufacturers have aped the Harley Davidson with cruisers of their own. Honda Shadow Aero, Kawasaki Vulcan, Suzuki Volusia are examples. The riding position for the Cruiser and Custom Bike has the feet placed forward and the hands up with the spine erect or leaning back slightly, a comfortable long-distance riding riding position.
Use of the term Custom is also regularly used in conjunction with Chopper bikes, which are (usually) heavily customized, one-of-a-kind machines. These are often classic powerful bikes of the Triumph, BSA and Harley variety which utilise the classic chopper handlebars and raised seating.
Touring motorcycles are characterised by wind protection for the rider (in the form of a fairing or windscreen), high capacity fuel tanks (for extended riding distances), and the ability to carry some amount of luggage (usually in the form of panniers and/or a topbox mounted towards the rear of the motorcycle), and a comfortable riding position.
Although any motorcycle can be equipped and used to tour, specialised touring motorcycles such as the Honda Goldwing have become increasingly popular.
Tourers are a popular hybrid form between sporting bikes and tourers and allow long-distance riding at higher speeds. The first example of this type of motorcycle was the BMW R1000RS. Other notable examples include the Honda ST1100, the Honda Interceptor and Kawasaki Concours. Ducati also have superb models.
These combine cruiser and tourer characteristics - the original form of this type is the Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide.
American bikes are a powerful niche market similar to American cars and enjoy devoted followers. There is something special about riding a classic American bike synonymous with the American Dream and a sense of freedom. American makes include Indian, Excelsior, Henderson, Big Dog American Ironhorse, Big Inch Bikes, Proper Chopper, Rucker Performance and Wildwest Motorcycle Company.
Like American Bikes classic British bikes offer a certain romanticism and cool which is synonymous with a concept of British robustness, style and elegance. BSA, Nortons, Velocettes, Francis Barnetts are superbly majestic looking bikes built and inspired in a golden era of motorcycle manufacturing. For many though the Triumph Bonneville or Bonny, despite some perceived technical flaws, is the epitome of British biking. The Triumph Bonny enjoys the same iconic status as the equally much loved Harley from across the Atlantic.
These are a subcategory of motorcycle road racers based on heavily modified production motorcycles. The motorcycles are either 1000cc four-cylinder or 1000cc twin-cylinder machines with frames identical to the production bikes but other components are free for extensive and expensive modification. Superbikes are a popular sport and a focus for a lot of interest from most bike fans.
A motorcycle of 125cc or less, with a maximum power output of 14.6bhp or 11kw. If you are 16 and want to ride a moped or scooter on the road you must have completed a compulsory basic training course to validate your provisional license. Compulsory Basic Training is a course designed by the Driving Standards Agency to provide a minimum standard of competence for riders of mopeds and motorcycles before they are allowed on the road on L plates. As well as a driving test for a full license riders are required to sit a theory test.
The moped is a hybrid between the bicycle and the motorcycle and is distinct from the scooter and the go-ped. Mopeds are equipped with a small engine (usually a small two-stroke engine up to 50cc, but occasionally an electric motor) and a bicycle drive-train, and motive power can be supplied by the engine, the rider or both. Moped sales are in decline but their cheap affordability means it is still a substantial market.
Scooters are similar to motorcycles but often have smaller wheels, automatic transmissions, are usually less than 125 cc engines, and a step-through configuration allowing the rider to ride with both feet on a running-board and knees together. In Southern Europe, particularly Italy, scooters are very popular and are associated very much with style and urban lifestyles. Scooters were very much associated with cultural movements in the sixties such as the new wave and mod culture.
Human-powered vehicles with an added battery-powered electric motor designed for people with low mobility. There are those for indoor use, for outdoor use and models that are used for both. An electric scooter is different from a motorized wheelchair, in that the wheelchair is generally intended for indoor use and usually costs a great deal more. An electric scooter may have three wheels or four. A typical electric scooter requires rechargeable batteries.
Mini Motos is the common terms for the trend of mini biking or pocket bikes as they are also known. An increasing number of manufactures are offering Mini versions of standard, sports and off road bikes. Sometimes the term Mini Moto is used only for the mini racing varieties for which it was originally known. Increasingly it refers to the whole variety of Mini Bikes on the market today.
Motorbike buying trends fluctuate but the overall market for motorcycles worldwide continues to be strong. Worldwide demand for motorcycles is expected to continue to show strong growth annually in coming years helped by the enduring and increasing popularity of motorcycles in emerging Asian economies, where motorcycles are used frequently as family, leisure and work vehicles. This combines with a growth in the more industrialized, ie Western nations, where motorcycles continue to be reinvented and remodified, mainly as leisure vehicles.
The motorbike market is very strong at present. 125cc bikes and motorcycles over 1,000 cc are experiencing upward growth. The main general categories of bike which are popular with consumers right now are: Naked bikes, i.e. your Standard Street Bike models; also Adventure bikes, i.e. Off Road varieties. Finally Custom machines are very popular too. Market experts identify the reason for the Off Road/Custom/Adventure Bike trend as being part of a continued shift toward vehicles/bikes which offer an alternative appeal. These types of motorbikes are characterised by their versatility, long-range capabilities and a drive towards exploring places which are off-the beaten-track.
Bike brands/manufactures enjoy huge loyalty amongst bikers. It's fair to say though in the modern era Japanese bikes have been the world leaders. When Japanese motorbikes appeared in the 50s and 60s traditional manufacturers in Europe did not see any threat. By the seventies Japanese bikes like Yamaha and Suzuki had almost destroyed the opposition by offering greater speeds, cheaper models and by developing a reputation for greater, superb even, reliability. All the main manufacturers of bikes offer excellent products though and some of the more alternative brands offer unique qualities which make biking what it is. Brands like Harley Davidson or Triumph have near mythical status among bikers and transcend biking to become cultural icons. There is also clearly a huge amount of loyalty amongst bikers not only for new and old brands of motorcycles but also for generic types of motorcycles such as Choppers, Tourers or Dirt Bikes. Remember to read Review Centre's user reviews and enjoy our forums to explore the great world of biking.