The thrill of riding with the wind in your face, the roar of the engine and ease of maneuverability make motorcycles fun. Fuel economy and a lower sticker price than cars make them even more attractive. There are three main types of motorcycles: street bikes, off-road bikes and dual-purpose bikes.
Street motorcycles: Street bikes are the most common motorcycle type. They are designed to be ridden on paved roads.
Features: Street motorcycles feature aerodynamic body panels and fenders to cover the functional components of the bike. They also have car-like features including cushy seats, speedometers and odometers, storage areas and smoother tires for a comfortable ride.
Strengths: Street bikes make excellent modes of regular transportation. They have high fuel economy, with some bikes getting around 100 miles to the gallon. Certain types of street bikes are even ideal for long-distance traveling. Tending to cost less than cars and trucks, street bikes are an affordable option for many commuters.
Weaknesses: If you want to take your bike off-roading, a street motorcycle isnt your best option. The smooth tires and suspension are ineffective on rugged terrain. Also, while these bikes feature some storage, its not as much as you could get in a car.
Types: Among the many types of street motorcycles available, these are most common:
Cruisers: These comfortable bikes are perfect for driving around town. When seated, your feet are forward, your arms are slightly raised and your back is either straight or slightly reclined. A classic example of a cruiser is a Harley-Davidson. Chopper-style motorcycles also qualify as cruisers.
Sport bikes: These racy little bikes are commonly referred to crotch rockets for their speed and loud sound. When you ride one of these bikes, youre hunched forward with your legs bent and feet slightly behind you. Sport bikes are lightweight and have great speed and maneuverability. However, they are less comfortable due to the seating position and lack of compartments.
Touring: Touring motorcycles are built for long-distance travel. The curved seat and high back support allow you to sit in a relaxed, upright position. They also have plenty of storage compartments for luggage as well as a small windshield, large fuel tank and spacious bodies.
Off-road motorcycles: These motorcycles, also called dirt bikes, are best suited to recreational use and in sports such as motocross and rallies. Their rugged designs enable them to travel muddy trails and rocky terrain.
Features: Off-road motorcycles are lightweight due to their small engines and lack of body features. They also have large, knobby tires built to navigate uneven surfaces.
Strengths: This type of motorcycle is perfect if youre an outdoor adventurer. You can ride through trails and up hills and mountains with ease. You can also ride in competitions like motocross or rallies.
Weaknesses: Most off-road motorcycles cant function as regular transportation. They are missing certain features, like lights, mirrors and emissions standards required to travel on streets. Also, many states wont issue license plates to off-road motorcycles.
Types: Off-road motorcycles vary depending on the sport or event for which they are intended. Motocross, perhaps the most popular, features bikes that are exceptionally light so they can easily clear jumps. Rallies, which are races through the desert, require heavier bikes with larger fuel tanks to travel long distances.
Dual-purpose motorcycle: If you cant decide between a street bike and an off-road bike, there is a compromise: the dual purpose. The dual purpose bike can go off-roading and travel on streets, though its not as rugged as an off-road bike, nor as comfortable as a street bike.
Features: Dual purpose motorcycles resemble street bikes with their heavier weights and fuller bodies. They also meet road standards by having lights, mirrors, acceptable emissions standards and license plates. Off-road features of dual-purpose bikes include higher clearance and rugged tires.
Strengths: These bikes can be used for daily travel on paved roads as well as for weekend recreation. They can also handle rougher terrain than some street bikes.
Weaknesses: Due to heavier weight, these bikes cant climb especially rough terrain like an off-road bike. Additionally, sportier versions of dual purpose motorcycles are missing comfort features, making them less suitable for long-distance travel.
Types: Adventure-touring bikes are the most common of these dual purpose machines. They have the weight and look of a street bike, with larger fuel tanks and storage compartments, but can handle gravel and some off-road scenarios. Bikers who want even more off-road capabilities out of a dual-purpose bike should consider enduro and supermoto bikes, which resemble off-road bikes in looks and performance.
No matter which type of bike suits you best, its important to protect your investment with affordable motorcycle insurance. Nationwide Insurance offers motorcycle insurance coverage tailored to your needs and budget. This lets you enjoy riding with peace of mind knowing that youre covered in the event of an accident, damage or theft. Depending on your driving record and the street legal motorcycle you own, you may also be eligible for motorcycle insurance discounts.