Choosing A Motorcycle

Choosing which motorcycle that is right for you can be very difficult, with so many different sizes and styles to choose from.  In fact I believe that many motorcycle enthusiasts feel that one simply isn’t enough.

Once you have decided that it’s time to purchase a motorcycle you need to answer some questions before going shopping.  It’s important that you answer these questions honestly to avoid choosing a motorcycle that you won’t be happy with once you’ve made your purchase.

Here are the questions you should be asking yourself.

What is my riding experience?  Beginner, ride occasionally or experienced.

What type of riding will I be doing primarily?  Commuting, long distance touring, around town, carving corners, etc.

What type of roads will I be riding on primarily?  City streets, highway, some off-road, paved back roads, etc.

How far will my average ride be?  Short commutes, long, daily commutes, long distance touring,  weekend trips, etc.

Will I be using the motorcycle for daily commuting or just for weekend or occasional rides?

Will I be riding all year or just during good weather?

Will I be looking for a new or pre-owned motorcycle?

Am I looking for a motorcycle that appeals to my heart or my brain?

Once you have answered these questions you can go on to the next step, which is identifying a style of motorcycle that fits your experience and riding needs.


The Five Basic Styles

There are many different types of motorcycles available, however they can be broken down into five basic styles.  

Standard or Naked 




Dual Purpose / Adventure Touring

These are the basic styles, but there is much more variety available to suite the varied requirements and style of each motorcyclist.  Click on the style for a more detailed description of the motorcycles in each category.  

The Standard or Naked Bike


The standard or naked motorcycle is one that puts the rider in an upright position and doesn’t have a faring to deflect wind.  They are available in a variety of engine displacements and are easy to ride and maneuverable.  While they can be ridden on most paved roads, the rider may find the lack of wind protection uncomfortable or tiring at speed over long periods of time.  

This style of motorcycle is ideally suited for city streets and winding roads that may or may not be smooth.  The standard or naked motorcycle is a great choice for someone who wants a daily commuter that they can have fun with on the weekend.

The Cruiser

Harley Davidson Fatboy

The cruiser is a motorcycle that puts the rider in a relaxed or more reclined position.  While many manufacturers produce cruisers, Harley Davidson is the most recognizable producer of this style of motorcycle.  While you can find cruiser motorcycles in all displacements, most are 1000 cc’s or larger, .  The cruiser is not known for maneuverability, but they are comfortable for long rides.  With the addition of a windshield and luggage this style of motorcycle can be used for touring.

The Touring Motorcycle

Victory Vision Touring

The touring motorcycle is one that is designed for traveling long distances in comfort.  Touring motorcycles have large displacement engines and have the fuel and luggage capacity to put on plenty of miles without stopping too often.  They have a faring or windshield to provide protection for the rider and can be equipped with sound and entertainment systems along with plug-in ports for heated rider apparel.  All this hauling capacity and comfort comes at a price, both in money and weight.  A fully outfitted tourer can cost as much as a mid-sized car and can easily weigh over 800 pounds.

The Sport Bike

Kawasaki ZX6

A sport motorcycle is essentially a street legal version of a competition road racing motorcycle.  They place the rider is a forward leaning position and are built for speed and maneuverable at the expense of comfort.  These motorcycles, at least in the models that are 600cc’s or higher are best suited for expert riders.

The Dual Purpose / Adventure Touring Motorcycle

2008 Kawasaki KLR 650

Dual purpose and adventure touring motorcycles are perhaps the most versatile motorcycles available.  They put the rider in an upright position and are designed to manage a variety of road conditions from highway to dirt.  Motorcycles in this category range from dirt focused to world travel.

All About Engines And What Makes A Motorcycle Go

The engine is the soul of a motorcycle.  Engines come in different sizes (displacement), different performance numbers (horsepower and torque) and configurations and understanding the basics of what’s available will help in your search for the right motorcycle.


Displacement is the total volume swept by the pistons in the engine’s cylinder(s).  The displacement is usually given in Cubic Centimeters or cc’s.  Harley Davidson motorcycles, Victory motorcycles and some Japanese cruisers give the displacement of their engines in Cubic Inches.

The displacement of the engine is a significant determining factor in the performance of the engine.

If you want to compare the displacement of an engine in each unit, Cubic Centimeters or Cubic Inches, here are the formulas.

Cubic Inches to Cubic Centimeters:  CC = CI * 16.39

Cubic Centimeters to Cubic Inches:  CI = CC/16.39

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