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15 Types of Motorcycles Explained: Roadsters, Scooters, Motards, Naked Bikes & More

Let’s analyze different types of motorcycles–their unique features, and highlights, and everything in between. Ever since Rossi won his first championship, we have been dying to get on a bike and zoom like it’s the end of the world. But which motorbike is right for you? Can the standard roadster give you the thrill of a sport bike? These questions and more are explored below.

Types of Motorcycles

There’s nothing quite like the thrill and freedom of being in control of the moment, racing the wind into the sunset.

We are talking about riding a motorcycle, of course. If you are a speed freak, you should know that there are many types of motorcycles that can give you your daily dose of adrenaline.

So, which is the best motorcycle for you?

Well, it all depends on your needs and goals. For instance, sport motorcycles are built with speed in mind and can see you hit the rev limiter’s limits with just one flick of your wrist. On the other hand, a dirt bike can cover long distances over all kinds of terrain.

Whether you’re looking for that cool factor in a motorbike or you’re in search of a beast with unrivaled speed and power, this guide will prove helpful.

We will analyze the main types of motorcycles and hopefully help you find a selfie-worthy machine.

15 Types of Motorcycles for Any Rider

Riding a motorbike is fun, environmentally friendly, and straight-out cool. The best part is that some motorbikes are quite affordable and cheap to maintain. The right bike will thrill you and give you the freedom to travel wherever you want to go.

Here’s a guide through the different types of motorcycles:

1. Dirt Bike (Off-Road Motorcycle)

Dirt Bike - Yamaha YZ125
2022 Yamaha YZ125

A dirt bike is built with off-road adventure in mind. As the name suggests, the bike can cruse swiftly through rough and muddy terrain, allowing you to explore grounds no man has set foot before. 

Generally, an off-road motorcycle is like a mountain climber in that it can summit rocky, inhospitable terrain. However, it’s somewhat different from an adventure bike because it features a taller seat and higher suspension.

Compared to a sport cruiser motorcycle, a dirt bike’s built is heavier, ensuring you can hit higher adventure goals.

It’s best to note that dirt bikes don’t have turn signals or lights. You probably want to set your camp before the dawn or dusk–or at least have some means to carry your bike back home like a truck bed or trailer.

Highlights

  • Perfect for off-road adventures
  • Higher suspension for enhanced comfort
  • Supports an upright riding position
  • Excellent for beginner dirt bikers and avid riders alike

2. Sport Bike

Sport Bike - Ducati V4S
2022 Ducati V4S

If you’re looking for speed and agility, sport motorcycles are your best bet. Compared to a dirt bike, a sport bike boasts more aluminum parts that make it lighter for enhanced maneuverability.

Riders assume a forward-leaning position for better ergonomics when cruising through those sharp corners at lightning speed. Engines tend to be around 600cc, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.

Sport motorcycles are speed beasts with complex suspensions that throw the seat higher to prevent scraping of the footpegs. These two-wheelers also feature a high-performance braking system, among other great features made from cutting-edge technology.

There are many types of motorcycles ideal for beginners. Unfortunately, a sportbike isn’t on that list. This is unless you invest in a low-powered and heavier model that’s not built for avid speed freaks.

Also, remember to check the seat height if you are a shorter rider. Most models have high seats that could quickly leave you riding on your tiptoes.

Highlights

  • Excellent choice for intermediate/avid riders looking for an adrenaline rush
  • Excellent aesthetics with plenty of high-tech features
  •  High-powered suspensions, perfect braking system
  • Supports a forward-leaning riding position

3. Dual-Sport (Adventure-Sport Motorbike)

Dual Sport Adventure Bike - BMW R80 GS
1981 BMW R80 G/S

In the motorcycle world, there’s nothing quite like a dual-sport.

Think of the bike as a hybrid of a dirt bike and a sport motorcycle. The versatility of the dual-sport remains unmatched, and riders enjoy the freedom of going anywhere and doing anything they can dream of doing with a motorbike.

Dual-sport bikes fall into two main categories—Eundro and adventure bikes. While the former is lightweight, fast yet ideal for long-distance off-road rides, the latter offers enhanced comfort and outstanding off-road capabilities.

The long-travel suspension system of the dual-sport makes it an off-road riding champion, while its powerful engine allows long-distance riding.

Thanks to the on-road features such as lights and off-road features like knobby tires, this is the perfect motorbike for anyone looking to make lasting memories during long weekend rides.

Highlights

  • A perfect blend of the best features of a sport and dirt bike
  •  Rugged, powerful motorbike with a simple design
  • Riders assume a neutral, upright riding position
  • Perfect for beginner and advanced riders

4. Cruiser

Cruiser Motorcycle - Harley Davidson Low Rider S
2021 Harley Davidson Low Rider S

If you’ve always wanted to cruise your hood with a powerful, good-looking, and low-slung two-wheeler, you probably want to invest in the cruiser motorbike.

The cruiser, aka chopper bike, is designed with “cruising” or the weekend rider in mind. It’s mainly ideal for on-road rides, meaning it has a lower suspension system and low seat height.

Again, the cruiser is ideal for your around-town cruises; hence a high displacement engine isn’t necessary. You get plenty of space for your rucksacks and essentials, so you can always convert the machine into your tour bike.

You could also strip down unnecessary accessories like the windscreen and passenger backrest, depending on your needs.

Generally, cruisers are ideal for relaxed, low-speed rides. However, you can give your machine an upgrade to enhance its engine performance for longer or faster rides.

Highlights

  • Outstanding street aesthetics
  • Offers leisurely, comfortable cruises
  • Perfect for weekend tours
  • The low seat supports a leaned-back, cozy riding position
  • Ideal for beginner and advanced riders

5. Touring Bike (Dresser)

Touring Bike - Honda GoldWing GL1100
1982 Honda Gold Wing GL1100

Compared to most types of motorcycles, the dresser is pretty large. This is a cross-country motorbike with generous storage space, a powerful engine, and excellent ergonomics to allow comfortable rides for hours.

If you want to quench your wanderlust or cross borders in search of adventure, love, or a sense of freedom, the touring bike is a perfect match for you.

Touring bikes often boast high-tech features to make long rides more comfortable.

These features may include heated seats, electronic suspension systems, GPS navigation screens, audio systems, intercoms, and Bluetooth, just to mention a few.

Highlights

  • Giant bike with wide seat for enhanced comfort
  • Upright riding position
  • Lots of impressive features for cozy, long-distance rides
  • Powerful engine and excellent braking system
  • Perfect for all riders, irrespective of their skill level

6. Sport-Tourer

Sport Tourer Motorcycle - Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX
2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Another hybrid is the sport-tourer. This bike is the offspring of a marriage between a sports and touring motorbike.

It’s the perfect comfort wagon for those long road trips that require you to carry luggage or extra gear. While the two-wheeler is a far cry from a speed bike, most models feature a mid-range engine that offers good aerodynamics.

Most people love to think of the sport tourer as a sportbike but with the comfort of a touring bike. Riders assume an upright riding position, allowing them to enjoy their surroundings as they cruise.

Highlights

  • Multi-purpose bike ideal for long-distance rides
  • Big, heavy, and super powerful
  • Supports a more upright riding position
  • Ideal for long-distance riding
  • Works well for riders of all skill levels

7. SuperMotard/Supermoto

SuperMotard Supermoto - Husqvarna 701
2022 Husqvarna 701

The Motard motorbike is a dirt bike uniquely designed to work as a street bike. It is also a hybrid that comes with the bells and whistles of a Motocross and standard bike.

With the motard, you get a dirt bike’s tall stance coupled with a sport bike’s excellent braking system, grip, and speed. Just like the sportbike, the motard isn’t built for long-distance touring, and you may feel a little uncomfortable after hours of travel.

On the bright side, the two-wheeler allows quick acceleration for that invaluable thrill during your weekend on-road adventures.

Highlights

  • Lightweight and thin for enhanced maneuvering capability
  • Excellent braking system
  • Tall stance with a neutral riding position
  • Cool aesthetics 

8. Standard Roadster/Naked Bike

Naked Bike - Ducati Monster M900
1993 Ducati Monster M900

An all-purpose motorbike with a simple design, average-sized engine, and space for extra gear makes perfect sense for most people.

The standard roadsters are just that—standard/universal bikes. They are an all-purpose, jack-of-all-trades kind of machine with just a little bit of the good features you can find on a two-wheeler. For instance, the bikes have neutral ergonomics, a mid-range seat height, and are neither too large nor too small.

They’re traditionally defined by their lack of fairings, or the shell-like moulded body parts commonly added for stylistic and aerodynamic purposes. In practice, modern roadsters as a rule maintain simple aesthetics appropriate for street-style bikes.

Being so versatile, you can enjoy slow and comfortable or fun and high-speed cruises with your naked bike.

Highlights

  • Simple, practical, and all-purpose bike
  • Commendable performance on all kinds of rides
  • Plenty of accessories for enhanced versatility
  • Average seat height with a neutral, upright riding position
  • Best for riders of all skill levels

9. Scooter

Scooter - Vespa Primavera 50 Sean Wotherspoon
2022 Vespa Primavera 50 Sean Wotherspoon

When talking about types of motorcycles, we cannot afford not to mention the scooter. The markets are rich with different scooter sizes ranging from small city bikes to large 650cc machines.

Most models boast high-tech features, including fuel injection, ABS, and automatic transmission. Moreover, you can find more robust, 100% electric-powered scooters.

The scooter is the official street bike ideal for riders who mainly cover short distances within the city.

While this lightweight machine doesn’t provide freeway speeds, it could indeed make your life within metropolitan areas a lot easier by offering acceptable speed limits and torque.

The rig also has just enough storage space for carrying a few items like your groceries or a change of clothes.

Highlights

  • Visually appealing and techie
  • Outstanding gas economics
  • Excellent weather protection features
  • Practical for city cruises
  • Low seat height for an upright rider sitting position

10. Bagger

Bagger - Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide
2021 Harley-Davidson CVO Street Glide

Baggers are light-duty bikes with a smaller fairing and side case compared to the standard touring bike. It also comes with some luxury touches, although not as full-blown as those of the regular touring bike.

Generally, the bagger is just a touring bike but with a minimalist design. It’s ideal for rally road adventures or just chilled-out weekend getaways.

The machine comes equipped with navigation and audio systems to keep your long-distance rides more comfortable.

Highlights

  • A touring bike with a minimalist style
  • Lightweight and practical for weekend getaways
  • Average seat height with a neutral riding position
  • Customizable to enhance the bikes capacity and overall comfort
  • Vintage aesthetics

11. Bobber

Triump TR5 Trophy
1949 Triump TR5 Trophy

Not so much a type of motorcycle itself, as it is a style for customizing a bike.

Bobbers and naked bikes have a lot in common; the naked bike was the result of owners removing broken fairings and embracing the end result. Bobbers take it a few steps further, shedding all the bulk which isn’t structurally necessary for the bike to go faster. It’s all about maxing out speed and mobility.

The Bobber really took off in the 40’s, when soldiers came home used to zipping around on faster, more agile bikes on deployment. (Many had picked up the mechanic skills necessary to make it happen, after all.)

Highlights

  • Functional and practical for everyday use
  • Highly customizable
  • Upright riding position
  • Great gas economics

12. Retro-Classic/Vintage-Style Bikes

Retro Classic Bike - Royal Enfield Continental GT650
2022 Royal Enfield Continental GT650

Retro bikes also referred to as retro-classic bikes, are new models but designed in a classic fashion.

The actual definition of classic is often up for debate; hence these machines are customized depending on the rider’s preferences.

It’s standard for retro bikes to have some modern tech infused in their design for an enhanced rider experience. Other common features include one round headlight, stitched seat, round exhausts wire spokes, and a subtle color theme.

Note that the country where a retro bike is manufactured may have something to do with its design. For instance, retro bikes from Japan often have bike aesthetics that are 20 years or older. Such motorcycles are often easy to maintain.

On the other hand, models from Italy, Germany, and Britain boast the best features. They have robust constructions making them ideal for heavy use. These retro bikes are, however, designed for avid riders who are somewhat good with tools.

Highlights

  • Old-school aesthetics (timeless design)
  • Unique and highly customizable
  • Can be low-maintenance and beginner-friendly depending on the model
  • Some models are perfect for avid riders (but often call for higher maintenance)
  • All retro bikes give riders an excellent excuse to wear eye-catching retro gear

13. Electric Motorcycle

Electric Motorcycle - Arc Vector
2022 Arc Vector

Just about every machine today has an electric-powered counterpart. Apart from electric cars, the markets also have electric types of motorcycles.

While such bikes are still in their introduction phase and far from “perfect”, they are just as handy as their gas-powered counterparts. However, you must do some serious scouting to find models designed for unrivaled performance.

If you’re looking for a convenient street bike, an electric motorcycle is a top choice to consider. With the ever-increasing gas price, it makes a lot of economic sense to own a machine that doesn’t demand a dime in gas or expensive engine tune-ups. 

Once you settle the steep up-front cost, the rest is likely to be a smooth sail. Some of the best electric motorcycles include Mission R and All Zero models.

Highlights

  • 100% electric (no need for gas)
  • Quiet rides
  • Plenty of models to choose from, including high-performance bikes
  • Low maintenance and beginner-friendly
  • High-performance models available

14. Moped

Moped - Peugeot Django 50
2016 Peugeot Django 50

Our second portmanteau, the moped could be the conceptual lovechild of a naked motorcycle and a pedal-driven bicycle.

Given their small size, moped bikes and scooters are often confused as one and the same. Rest assured, these are two distinct types of motorcycles.

Moped bikes have a lighter frame compared to scooters. And more importantly, they feature a smaller engine around 50cc. Increasingly, electric mopeds are dominating the streets (and unfortunately, bike lanes).

Moped bikes are often automatic and are best for riders who are just starting to learn how to operate a motorbike. They have a wide appeal with their vintage styling, though prices for mopeds can climb with all the limited editions manufacturers like to cash in on.

Highlights

  • Vintage aesthetics
  • Perfect for city commutes
  • Some models are automatic or electric-powered
  • An excellent option for riders of all skill levels

15. Hyperbike

Hyperbike - Suzuki Hayabusa
2022 Suzuki Hayabusa

A hyperbike is a sport bike on steroids, typically packing a 1000cc+ engine for maximum power. It also comes packed with all the latest tech, including an adjustable suspension system, ABS, slipper clutches, launch control, and traction control, just to mention a few.

Because hyperbike engines can produce as much as 200 horsepower, they don’t make a good option for beginner riders.

If you have well-polished rider skills, the performance of the hyperbike is likely to knock you off your socks. This is a street-legal racing bike that’s mainly ideal for short-distance rides.

Touring on the motorcycle is expected not to be comfortable, primarily because of the forward-leaning rider position.

Highlights

  • Advanced version of a powerful sportbike
  • An excellent option for speed freaks
  • Powerful bike with plenty of cutting-edge tech
  • Outstanding aesthetics

Different Types of Motorcycles Explained: Conclusion

Riding a motorbike reboots your system, takes away the tension and leaves you with a sense of calm and freedom. Most riders ride to stimulate their brains and flush out worries as they enjoy convenient and fun commutes.

We hope that by understanding the types of motorcycles in the market, you will find it easier to choose a machine that suits your needs. 

So, which is the best motorcycle for your needs and goals? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

 

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