Ever since our streets have been graced with automobiles, a somewhat more courageous group of individuals have been strapping engines on to two-wheeled vehicles in an attempt to use them for transportation.
Over the years these motorized bicycles, more commonly known as motorcycles, have amassed an enormous following of people who prefer them over cars.
Riding a motorbike can be much more dangerous than driving. If the rider makes the slightest miscalculation, loses focus even momentarily, or otherwise fails to manage one of the countless circumstantial factors, they will be thrown off of their mechanical steed into a world of violent injury or even worse.
However, they do offer quite a few advantages. Most notably, in the hands of an experienced rider, motorcycles can typically outmaneuver their four-wheeled counterparts.
They require less horsepower and use less fuel than a car or truck traveling at the same speed. And their small size can help them squeeze through otherwise sticky situations.
There are lots of different types of motorcycles available. You wouldn’t take a Corvette off road, and a monster truck would be equally out of place in the Indy 500. Likewise, you can find a different kind of motorcycle for almost anything you could ever hope to come across. Here are a few examples:
Off-road motorcycles, better known as dirt bikes, are designed from the ground up to be used away from the tarmac. Featuring chassis’s, drive-trains, tires and more designed specifically for challenges presented off the asphalt, these bikes are awkward, slow, and uncomfortable on pavement. But they are well known to be capable of going places where, sometimes, you can’t even walk.
There are lots of offerings in this genre from just about every motorcycle manufacturer in existence today. When somebody says “I’m gonna get a motorcycle” this is usually what they’re thinking of.
Designed exclusively for comfort and style, this is the perfect machine for going to the store or riding around back roads after work. A split second of rider error is easier to recover from on one of these. They also get very good gas mileage and tend to be inexpensive to own and operate.
Dual Sport Motorcycles
These things offer the best of both worlds. They aren’t quite as nimble on the blacktop as a street bike, but they aren’t rendered completely useless either with chunky, knobby tires and unbelievably squishy suspension systems. Likewise, it can still be used off road too.
They are most definitely outperformed by dirt bikes in the mud and the muck, but a dual-sport motorcycle can be thought of as a “jack of all trades”. A runner runs. A swimmer swims. A biker bikes. But someone who competes in a triathlon better be good at all of them, even if they don’t happen to be the best at any particular one.
Sport bikes are loud, brash, and unapologetically dangerous. These things are some of the fastest rides available regardless of the number of wheels. With a stiff suspension and barely enough room for the rider to hold on, they are the definition of uncomfortable.
It takes a special kind of person to handle one. One misstep with the controls and you will find yourself hurtling through the air toward certain doom. Why would anyone want to get anywhere near something like this? It’s hard to say. But for those willing to risk their neck in the pursuit of the ultimate driving experience, here is your pièce de résistance (main dish).
Some bikes are made for the dirt, some are made to go fast, and others are made just to ride around on. But one of the biggest practical drawbacks of riding a motorcycle is the near total lack of cargo space. There really just isn’t anywhere to put anything.
That’s where touring bikes come in. Meant for long road trips, they tend to be very large and feature creative designs that allow them to carry the rider, a passenger, and lots of luggage with ease. Even though they are so large, they’re built in such a way that makes them fairly easy to ride, and capable of returning decent mpg numbers too.
Motorcycles aren’t for everybody. In fact, they aren’t for most people. They do, however, fill a specific niche within the world’s community of motorists.
They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, perhaps ever. This author used to ride motorcycles back in his days of young and reckless race car ya ya’s (if that makes any sense). It was a lot of fun. But if you do ride, make sure you’re prepared to face the sometimes brutal consequences. And if you aren’t, then don’t even try it!