NOTE: For anyone who missed my last piece about [The Strenous Life] tagged posts, read it before this one! This post is written to satisfy the "Name basic types of motorcycles and features" requirement for the ‘Easy Rider’ badge.
The ‘Easy Rider’ badge on the Strenous Life is (unsurprisingly) focused around getting one’s motorcycle license. I know how to ride reasonably well, and own a motorcycle , and even had my learner’s permit for a year. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or money to take the licensing test when I first got it. Thanks to the New South Wales government, there is no way to renew a permit without forking out a stack of cash and spending two days doing remedial review on how to start a motorcycle and similar things. The upshot is that I’ll have to wait until I’ve got a paying job and a weekend to burn re-learning the basics to start working toward my license again.
For now I’ve had to settle for learning a bit about motorcycles, and how to operate and maintain them. This has included some more general mechanical knowledge (I finally know what a carburetor does), and random motorcycle specifics (like why two-strokes need oil mixed in with their fuel). In this series of posts I’ll be summarizing the six main types of motorcycles, listing the major mechanical components and controls that make them go VROOOOM, and briefly describing the pre-ride inspection as it applies to my own bike.
|I call her Kira|
Without further ado, lets dig into the different types of motorcycles. According to Wikipedia (or rather, the four sources that Wikipedia points to), the most widely recognized classes are Standard, Cruiser, Touring, Sport, Dual-sport, and Offroad. There are also the various sub-categories of scooter, which won’t be covered here.
My own bike is a standard or “naked” bike, which disappointingly has nothing to do with whether or not I need to be clothed to ride it (always wear your full safety gear, kiddos). These bikes are characterized by a lack of fairings (the sleek-looking bits that cover the front end of sportier motorcycles), no windscreens, and an upright riding position where one’s shoulders are above the hips. Great for beginners, they are the vanilla ice cream of motorcycles.
This makes choppers, like the Goldblumobile from Nashville, those weird Ben & Jerry's flavours that cost $50 a pint. They come in all shapes and sizes, but generally are a cut-down and customized (‘chopped’) version of a production cruiser, our second type of motorcycle. Cruisers still lack fairings and windscreens, but unlike naked bikes the riding position is leaning-back, with the riders feet forward and hands up. They tend to have low-end torque (meaning less shifting gears at low speed), but wind against the rider’s chest can make riding them at high speeds tiring. Ideal for, well, cruising.
But what if you are really looking for a small, non-sporty, two-wheeled convertible, with the top always down? Enter the touring bike. Typically with both fairings and windscreens, these bikes provide relatively good weather and wind protection. The riding position on touring bikes is relaxed and upright, which combined with the large fuel tanks means long distance travel is both possible and comfortable. Ample storage space has earned these bikes several (not entirely complimentary) nicknames: bagger, full bagger, dresser, full dresser, and full dress tourers.
|Although this one prefers to be called 'Steve'|
On the other hand, if you want the vroomiest vroom out of your bike, you are probably better served by getting a Sport motorcycle. Like the touring bike, sport bikes have windscreens and fairings, but - and this a critically important distinction - much cooler looking windscreens and fairings. Instead of sitting upright like a chump, you ride leaning forward, with your legs up and back, and your arms reached out in front of you. This position allows the wind resistance to actually support your body at high speeds, and makes it easier to take those ridiculous racing corners where your knees almost scrape the ground. These bikes are way too cool for me, and I’ll probably never own one.
The remaining two bike types are slightly different from the others. While the previous types have all been designed with various road-uses in mind – dirt bikes are for the roads less travelled (the ones that aren’t actually roads). The dual-purpose/dual-sport bike is either an off-road worthy naked bike, or a road-worthy dirt bike (and more commonly the latter, from what I am given to understand).
So there we have it – six types of bikes. For the next two posts on this topic (going over parts and controls, and the pre-ride inspection), I’ll be focusing on my own bike – a 2006 Honda VTR250, but will try to note where significant different possibilities exist. Or not, it’s my blog after all and I can be as capricious and inconsistent as I like.