For those new to the world of two-wheelers, and for those who wish to learn more about them, we’ve prepared for you a guide that explains the different types of motorcycles that exist around the world at the moment. Read on, and enlighten yourself.
Standard motorcycles are the simplest form of motorcycles. They consist of nothing much apart from the basic mechanical systems, and in most cases, are devoid of any advanced technology. They offer an upright seating posture, with adequate seat space for a pillion as well. Engine capacities range from 100cc all the way to 1300cc. Standard motorcycles offer the purest, most undiluted riding experience on two-wheels. Most motorcycles sold in India fall under this category. There are many distinct styles of standard motorcycles, such as café racers, scramblers, streetfighters, and muscle bikes.
Sportsbikes are motorcycles that are designed with an emphasis on dynamic performance. Compared to standard motorcycles, the mechanical systems of a sportsbike are designed to offer enhanced acceleration, braking and cornering abilities. They are commonly fitted with what’s called a full-fairing, a set of panels that enclose the entire frontal section of the motorcycle, and seat the rider in a forward-bent posture. This offers maximum control of the motorcycle, and lets the rider crouch behind the fairing, allowing it to slip through the air more easily. Sportsbikes are classified as entry-level, mid-level, supersport, superbike and hyperbike, according to their engine configurations.
While sportsbikes are fast and agile, their focussed ergonomics puts a lot of pressure on the body, so touring long distances on one won’t really be a pleasurable experience for most riders. That’s where sport tourers come into the picture. Sport tourers are essentially sportsbikes, albeit with relatively more relaxed ergonomics and factory-fitted storage boxes. They are almost as fast and agile as sportsbikes, but a whole lot more comfortable and practical, which makes them well-suited for quick cross-country road trips.
Cruisers are motorcycles that offer a laid-back riding experience. They are characterized by their raked forks, low stance and armchair-esque ergonomics. Cruisers are generally fitted with slow-revving large displacement engines that generate a lot of torque at low RPMs, although there are some examples that use sport bike engines.
Given their chassis design and weight, cornering and braking are not a cruiser’s forte, and they feel heavy and cumbersome to manoeuvre. However, their ergonomics make them really comfortable to cruise sedately from one place to another.
If you wish to ride long distances in utmost comfort, one should look at touring motorcycles. Along with the laid-back ergonomics of a cruiser, they come fitted with either a large wind-screen or a full-fairing, comfier seats for both rider and pillion, and storage boxes for your luggage. Many tourers also come loaded with creature comforts such as heated grips for cold climates, satellite navigation, and even an audio system!
As the name suggests, off-road motorcycles are those that can be ridden on different terrains apart from tarmac. They are designed with a high seat and high-ground clearance, and are equipped with long-travel suspension. This provides them the ability to ride on rough surfaces without being impeded by obstacles. The different types of off-road motorcycles are motocross, enduro, dual-sport, and adventure.
Motocross – These are the simplest off-road motorcycles available. Most motocross bikes are not road-legal, as they lack lights or speedometers, which restrict them to be ridden only on closed trails and dirt tracks. This is done primarily to reduce the number of parts susceptible to breakage, as falls are very common when riding off-road.
Enduro / Dual-sport – Enduro motorcycles are motocross bikes built for riding long-distances. They come with larger fuel tanks, sturdier cycle parts for better reliability, and have lights for road use. Dual-sport bikes are similar to enduros, albeit with a slight bias towards use on tarmac.
Adventure - Adventure-style enduro motorcycles are built for extreme touring on unpredictable terrain. They come with a half-fairing to protect the rider from wind blast at high-speeds, and luggage boxes on the sides and tail. Many models also come equipped with a whole suite of electronic rider aids like terrain-responsive ABS & Traction Control, and electronically adjustable suspension.