Motorcycle 101: A Crash Course Before Buying One

man riding on a motorcycle

Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation, but not all motorcycles are created equal. There are several different types of motorcycles, each with its unique characteristics and uses. Some motorcycles are better than others for certain jobs or tasks. It’s important to know what type of motorcycle you’re getting into before you buy one!

Know the Difference Between These Motorcycles

Dirt Bike: Dirt bikes are light and often single-track vehicles. They may or may not have a rear suspension and can feature flat bars, ape hangers, motocross-style handlebars, and other parts.

If you’re asking if you need to get a license for your dirt bike, the answer is yes. Just like any other vehicle, you need to be properly licensed and insured.

Enduro Motorcycle: Enduro motorcycles are off-road bikes that usually come with taller tires for better ground clearance as well as a long-travel suspension to help absorb bumps in the dirt;

Dual Sport Motorcycles: Dual sport motorcycles will be street legal at all times, but they also offer an off-road option with knobby tires for harsher terrain. These two-wheelers typically have fairly tall frames and high seat heights, so you’ll need a bit more upper body strength than most motorcycle riders;

Touring Motorcycles: Touring motorcycles are designed to traverse long distances quickly. You’ll find that these motorcycles have larger seats, fairings, windshields for better protection against the elements;

Sport Bikes/Crotch Rocket Motorcycles: Sportbikes are lightweight and nimble-handling machines with smaller engines (250cc-650cc) and a close seating position for improved aerodynamics. These bikes are quick to accelerate, but they also have stiff suspensions that will jolt the rider during aggressive cornering or when riding over uneven surfaces;

Cruisers: Cruising motorcycles come in several shapes and sizes, as well as variations on each type to suit many different styles of riding. Cruiser motorcycles are heavier, more powerful, and have low seat heights for easy mounts/dismounts. Cruisers typically have lower handlebars that keep the rider in an upright position without sacrificing comfort or safety;

Scooters: Scooters feature small engines (50cc-500cc) but offer great fuel economy. Scooters are a great way to get their motorcycle license for many riders since they’re much less intimidating than larger motorcycles.

Moped: Motorized bicycles have pedals and are limited to 30 mph maximum.

Supermoto: Supermoto motorcycles are multi-purpose bikes that can be used to ride on both the road and dirt. They feature an aggressive riding position and knobby tires, but they also offer light handling despite their bulky appearance.

man on motorcycle

Know the Difference Between These Riders/Types of Riding

Newbies: New motorcycle riders have little experience with motorcycles and typically lack the upper and lower body strength necessary to operate a motorcycle. New riders must choose motorcycles that are easy to manage;

Beginners: Beginner motorcycle riders have some experience riding motorcycles but lack the upper and lower body strength required for more powerful machines. As such, beginner motorcycles should be as forgiving and easy to control and should also be fairly lightweight;

Novice: Novice motorcycle riders have enough experience and strength to handle a little more power and speed. However, novice motorcycles will still be mostly forgiving and easy to manage for riders who haven’t yet developed their riding skills;

Expert: Expert motorcycle riders are the crème de la crème – the riders who have been riding motorcycles for a long time and know-how to handle them properly. Expert motorcycles feature powerful engines, stiff suspensions and may not be as fuel-efficient as other options on this list. Expert motorcycles are forgiving enough for new riders but will require some upper body strength from novice or beginner riders;

Enthusiast: Enthusiast motorcycle riders are people who love motorcycles and live for the thrill of riding. This doesn’t necessarily make them professional racers, but it does mean they have a solid understanding of how to operate a motorcycle safely while maximizing the performance potential of their bikes;

Professionals: Professional motorcycle racers are individuals who make their living by competing in races. They tend to choose motorcycles that offer a lot of power and acceleration, off-road terrain.

Off-Road: Off-road motorcycle riding is done mostly on unpaved trails or back roads. Dirt bikes tend to have knobby tires and long suspension travel to handle the bumps and jumps of off-road riding. Sportbikes can also be used for this type of riding, but they won’t handle as well on bumpy surfaces;

Street: Street motorcycle riding is done mostly on paved roads. Sportbikes generally work best for street-riding because they offer increased power and speed over most other motorcycles;

Dirt Bike or Dual Sport: Dirt bikes are smaller motorcycles that are designed for off-road riding only. These small motorcycles typically have knobby tires, high ground clearance, and low seats to make them easier to stand on the pegs.

Dirt bikes can be more difficult to maneuver on public roads because of their size, weight, and limited suspension travel. That’s where dual sports come in – they’re essentially street-legal dirt bikes with lights/mirrors/license plates and other parts. Street legal dual sports offer the best of both worlds: users can feel confident when riding on the road while still having a motorcycle capable of handling mild off-road trails.

There are many different types of motorcycles that can be categorized based on their intended purpose. Riders new to motorcycles should try to find a motorcycle that best suits their skill level and riding needs.

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