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Street Motorcycles

In the street category we have standard, sport, super sport, cruiser, sport touring, luxury touring, adventure touring, etc. A street bike is a motorcycle designed primarily to be ridden on paved roads. They can be ridden on gravel or dirt roads or even on some trails if there is enough traction and you have enough ground clearance. They have tires suitable for paved roads, have short travel suspension, moderate ground clearance, and they are prone to damage if they fall over, especially if they have body work (side panels and expansive fairings); some of the adventure touring bikes tend to be more durable or tougher.


Moto Guzzi V7 Classic (retro style)

Standard bikes have more rational upright seating positions with foot pegs located beneath a rider’s hips. They tend to have flatter, wider and often more comfortable seats. The handle bars have a bit of rise which takes the load off a rider’s wrists. Sport standards are sportier standards and may have a small fairing for wind and weather protection. These bikes are good all around street bikes that have ample performance for most riders. They make great light weight touring bikes too.

Sport Bikes

2011 Triumph Daytona 675R

Sport bikes, and especially super sport bikes, offer the very highest level of performance. Many of the super sport bikes could best be described as street legal road race bikes, and many are actually used for road racing. They handle exceptionally well at high speeds (at least on good roads), and have incredible engine and braking performance. Many incorporate technology developed in Super Bike and Moto GP racing. They don’t make the best choice for commuting or touring or for beginners. The bikes are light with high end components. They have low handle bars that cause a rider to lean forward over the tank. This can put a lot of load and strain on a rider’s wrists. This body position makes it difficult to look back over your shoulder for other traffic (shoulder checks). The foot pegs are often set high and rearward (rear set) which may result in a cramped riding position for some riders. Super sport bikes are more extreme than sport bikes.


Suzuki Boulevard S40

Cruisers, generally, have forward foot controls, low seats, often high or pull-back bars, tend to be quite heavy, often have laid back riding positions, have limited cornering clearance, and most often, but not always, have V-twin engines. Harley Davidson motorcycles represent the classic cruiser form. There are many variations such as touring versions, power cruisers, choppers, etc. Some have more rational riding positions and control layouts (closer to standards), while others are more extreme (like choppers). They typically have lower revving engines, especially when compared to most sport bikes. There are some cruisers that offer significantly more performance than the typical bike in this class. Some may put out an impressive amount of torque (power), and / or handle and brake exceptionally well; others are more relaxed or sedate and have suspensions that are easily overwhelmed.

Touring Bikes


A touring bike is one that is suited for long distance travel. You can tour on just about any street legal motorcycle if you want to, even a 250, but some are more suited for the long haul than others. It really depends on your idea of touring and a touring bike. Most motorcycles that are advertised as touring bikes have larger displacement engines, are heavier, have wider and more comfortable seats and have fairings (windscreens and protective bodywork) to provide wind and weather protection. Some have standard side cases (saddle bags), luggage racks, travel trunks and other creature comforts. Some, like the Honda Gold Wing, are very luxurious and have almost every possible convenience and electronic gizmo (one model even comes with an air bag). Others may be sparser. There are many variations in this category including bikes like the Suzuki V-Strom 650 and 1000, Yamaha FJR1300, Honda ST1300, various BMWs, Harley Electra Glide, Triumph Sprint GT and Tigers as well as many others. Some lean to the minimalist side, some to the heavy and luxurious side, some to the sporting side and others more to the adventure touring side. Many riders modify stock motorcycles to make them more suitable for long distance travel. Common touring modifications include the addition of saddle bags, after-market seats, navigation aids, heated grips, etc. There’s something for almost every taste.

Adventure (touring) Bikes

2010 BMW R1200GS

Adventure touring is a variation of motorcycling that is becoming more and more popular, but what is it exactly? I would say it’s touring or exploring off the beaten path; taking the road less traveled. It may include touring the back roads in your state or province or it may be a trip to some far off exotic land only reachable by crossing vast expanses of nearly uninhabited lands. Maybe it’s a ride to Alaska. It just depends what you consider an adventure. I would guess that many adventure bikes are rarely (or never) ridden off pavement, but many most certainly are. So, what is an adventure bike? It’s a cross between a touring bike, a standard or sport standard motorcycle and a dual sport motorcycle. Compared to street oriented touring bikes, adventure touring bikes are generally lighter (much lighter in some cases) and more rugged. In some cases adventure touring bikes can be likened to overly large and heavy dual sport bikes (see below). Some are quite off road worthy in skilled hands, but others are not suitable for anything more adventurous than a good gravel road. Some are more street oriented, and some are more rough-road or trail capable. The bikes more suitable for rougher conditions have large 21 inch diameter spoke wheels which flex a bit, have longer travel suspension, more ground clearance and have minimal bodywork. The more street oriented adventure touring bikes tend to have 19 inch cast wheels, shorter travel suspension and not as much ground clearance; these bikes more closely resemble sport standards than dual sport bikes. Often adventure touring bikes are equipped with saddlebags, windscreens, large fuel tanks, navigation aids, skid plates, crash bars, etc. All of this adds weight to the bike and makes them more difficult to handle in rough conditions. The classic example of an adventure touring bike would be the BMW R1200GS and its predecessors (and the newer F800GS). Another example of a popular adventure touring bike slash dual sport bike that is far more affordable than a BMW is the Kawasaki KLR650. It comes standard with a fairing, large fuel tank and a luggage rack. Remember that the lines between the various sub classes of motorcycles are blurred. For example, the Suzuki V-Stroms could be considered touring bikes, adventure touring bikes and sport standards.

2011 Kawasaki KLR650

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