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Welcome to the first-ever episode of my podcast 30 Minute Motorcycling, a podcast where you’ll learn more about motorcycles (and other two-wheelers) in 30 minutes or less.
Tune in to discover:
In this inaugural episode of the 30 Minute Motorcycling podcast, I talk about:
- The types of motorcycles – from standards to touring bikes (even mopeds and scooters)
- The pros and cons of each class
- The 3 things you MUST consider when you’re shopping for your next bike (whether it’s your first or your 21st)
Hello and welcome to 30-minute motorcycling – a podcast for new, aspiring and returning riders where you’ll learn about motorcycles, and other two-wheelers in 30 minutes or less.
And what better way to start up this inaugural episode than by talking about the types of motorcycles?
There’s a motorcycle to fit almost any tastes – so we’re going to go through the most common ones, some pros and cons of each one, and the 3 things you must consider when you’re shopping around for a motorcycle.
So let’s start with the standard. These motorcycles have very few fairings and body kit panels on them, which is why they’re often called “naked bikes.” In either case, they have good all-around capabilities and are fairly lightweight and reasonably priced.
Some examples of Standard motorcycles include:
- The Suzuki SV650,
- The Triumph Bonneville,
- and the Kawasaki ER-7.
The biggest pro of a standard is the fact that it’s a good all-rounder. If you’re looking for your first motorcycle, but you’re still not sure of what kind of riding you want to do, this is an excellent choice.
It’s also a great commuter bike, and easy to work on, largely thanks to its lack of fairings.
As for cons, while Standard motorcycles are fairly good at doing everything, they’re not going to be great at one particular thing – they’re a “jack of all trades, master of none”
On the other hand, if you fancy an Easy Rider-style long-distance trip with Steppenwolf playing in the background, a cruiser might just be your thing.
These motorcycles have forward footrests, swept-back handlebars and a “classic” style that makes you sit quite upright – even more so than on a Standard or naked bike.
There’s also a more customized version of the cruiser called the “Chopper” – these have huge wheels, tall handlebars, and large engines – if you’ve ever seen an episode of American Chopper, you know exactly what I mean.
Some examples of cruisers would be
most Harley Davidsons,
as well as the Kawasaki Vulcan, and the Suzuki C50 Boulevard.
The biggest pro of the cruiser is that it’s very good for a long cruise – after all, it’s in the name.
Also, while many of them have large engines, there are also a few great beginner-friendly models, like
the Honda Rebel,
and the Yamaha Virago 250.
So what about the cons of cruisers? Their Achillies’ heel is that they’re not really fast. Remember – they’re designed to be ridden across long distances and for minor commuting. So it’s not going to be ideal if you’re looking for speed.
The middle and heavyweight cruisers can also be quite heavy to manoeuvre for a beginner rider, especially at slower speeds.
Next up, we have the stark contrast to the cruiser- the sportbike. These motorcycles have body panels to make them more aerodymanic, a high power to weight ratio and a forward-leaning seating position for blazing-fast lap times.
Some examples of sportbikes include
the Honda CBR 900,
the Kawasaki Ninja, and the almighty Suzuki Hayabusa.
So what are the pros of sportbikes? Well, they’re fast. If speed is your thing, a sportbike might be what you’re looking for.
Maybe you’re looking for a track bike, or even a bike that you can show off at your local Bike Night? Either way, this is an excellent choice.
So what about the cons? Well, they’re fast. And because of this, they can be quite dangerous to ride – especially on the street.
They also tend to be expensive not just to buy, but also to insure. And the reason for that is that not only do they get crashed a lot – they also get stolen quite a lot, something which is reflected in the insurance quote – which tends to be quite high .
Furthermore, they’re also not going to be ideal for long-distance trips – remember, unlike a cruiser, your seating position is going to be quite aggressive, with you leaning over the bike as you ride it.
When you’re at a track, this isn’t too bad, but after a while on the motorway or the interstate, you’ll start to feel very uncomfortable.
Next, we have the touring motorcycle. As the name is might imply a tourinbg bike is designed for comfort and for riding long distances. Think of them as the Super Size version of a cruiser, with larger engines, windscreens, and heavy bags for additional storage space.
Some examples of Touring motorcycles include
the Harley Davidson Electra Glide,
The Honda Gold Wing, and the BMW K1200 LT.
Obviously, if you’re planning to take a trip that’ll take you across one or more countries, this is an excellent choice.
However, it’s not going to be ideal for beginner riders simply because of how heavy it is. Also, plan on commuting to work on one – it’s just too heavy for that.
So we’ve covered riding on-road, but what about if you want to take it off-road? If that’s the case, consider getting a dirt bike.
Dirtbikes are small motorcycles equipped with knobby tires to get maximum traction on unpaved road surfaces and other off-road terrains. Many dirt bikes are 2-stroke, although some manufacturers make 4-stroke dirt bikes.
The biggest pro of getting a dirt bike is the sporting opportunities they offer. Having a dirt bike is a great way to get into motocross and Enduro.
One of the biggest con of dirtbikes is that they’re often not street legal. They usually don’t have a horn, headlight, or a licenses plate – all of which are required to ride legally on the street in many countries.
If you do want a street-legal motorcycle that still offers off-road capabilities, then consider a dual-sport
Dual-sports are similar to dirt bikes, except that they’re equipped to be ridden on-road and off-road.
They’re equipped with special tires to provide good all-around traction on both paved streets and dirt roads.
Some examples of dual-sport motorcycles include
The Suzuki DRZ-400SM,
the Honda CRF250L, and
the Yamaha XT125X.
So more pros of the dual-sport motorcycle include the fact that they are reasonably lightweight, making them easy to handle. And since they have both on-road and off-road capabilities, you get the best of both worlds.
One con of dual sports however is that their seating position tends to be quite high off the ground.
In other words, if you’re short, you might struggle putting your foot down while the bike’s stationary..
Adventure Motorcycles (ADVs)
There’s also a heavier class of dual-sport motorcycles called adventure bikes or “ADVs”.
Have you ever read the book or seen the TV series Long Way Round where Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman ride across the world? That trip was done on this type of motorcycle.
These motorcycles are big, heavy, and tend to be written in areas where there are very bad roads.
Examples of Adventure Motorcycles include the BMW 1050 GS, the Honda Africa Twin, and the Kawasaki KLR 650.
Scooter and moped
But what if motorcycles are too intimidating for you? What if you want to start out on something that’s easy to handle?
If that’s the case, consider a scooter or moped.
Some people might debate whether or not these can be considered “motorcycles”, but here we consider them to be part of the two-wheeler family.
Mopeds and scooters tend to be grouped together, but there are differences between the two.
Scooters have a step-through design and often have a storage compartment underneath the seat, while mopeds are often built from a bicycle or motorcycle frame and have no storage space under the seat.,
Scooters also have automatic transmissions, while mopeds can sometimes have manual transmissions.
Scooters also have much smaller wheels, while mopeds can have larger wheels, that can be as big as most dirt bikes.
Perhaps the most well-known example of a scooter is the iconic Vespa, which became a fashion icon back in the 1960s, particularly in the Mod subculture in Britain.
Examples of mopeds include
- The Puch Maxi
- The Zundapp KS50
- Tomos Sprint
Some pros of scooters and mopeds include, that they’re generally quite affordable and in many countries, you can ride one on a moped license.
They’re also quite easy to ride, largely thanks to their low-powered engines – making them ideal for commuting in urban and even suburban areas.
Some cons are that they’re slow. In fact, in some countries, they have a restricted top speed of 45 kilometres an hour. So in other words, they’re not suited for highway use, nor are they fast.
And because of this they’re not even allowed on the highway, so keep that in mind.
In some countries like Sweden for instance, mopeds and scooters are divided into Class I and Class II – a topic which I’ll cover in a future episode.
But for now – how do you determine So which motorcycle, moped, or scooter is the right fit for you? Well, it depends on these factors
First of all, how old are you and how much riding experience do you have?
Depending on how old you are, you might not be able to get a full motorcycle license right away – you might only be able to get a license to ride a moped or a 125cc motorcycle.
Regardless of age, you also want to take your experience into account.
If you don’t have much riding experience, it’s generally a good idea to stay away from the heavy and big motorcycles – look for something in the 250 to 500cc range.
Next, consider what kind of riding are you planning to do.
For example, are you just going to commute to work? Then you want to avoid touring motorcycles – go for a scooter, a standard, or a cruiser.
Similarly, if you want to go on a lot of long-distance rides, a sportbike is probably not the best choice for you – you want to get a cruiser instead.
Your height is also an important factor – as I mentioned earlier, a short person might struggle with a dual-sport that’s high off the ground, just as a tall person would be uncomfortable on a
One of the best ways to get a general idea of what you’ll fit on is to visit https://cycle-ergo.com/, which I’ll include a link to in the shownotes
This is a website where you can input your height and inseam and view if you fit or don’t fit a certain motorcycle.
So, that concludes the very first episode of 30 Minute Motorcycling.
I hope you enjoyed listening and above all that you learned something new.
Until next time, keep your helmet on and your eyes on the road! Bye!