Start Out With a Standard Motorcycle

Tip #15 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

Triumph standard motorcycle studio side view
Standard MotorcycleCourtesy of Triumph

Standards are the decathletes of the two-wheeled world, machines that haven’t become so specialized that they sacrifice versatility. They’re often the best “starter bike” for new riders.

ENGINE SIZE Standards come in a wide variety of displacements, and you need to choose an engine that's big enough for the kind of riding you plan, but not so large as to get poor mileage or add unnecessary weight.

OPEN SEATING A good standard will let you sit upright; you don't slouch as on a cruiser or lean forward like on a sportbike.

FOOTPEG POSITION Look for a model where the pegs fall pretty much right under your seat or a little farther forward. You should be able to stand up on the pegs with no difficulty, just as you can on a dirtbike or a dual-sport.

ACCESSORIES The key to making a standard work for you is to add any accessories you need, but not too much. A trunk or tankbag lets you carry gear, and a windshield makes winter or wet-weather riding more pleasant.

FUEL CAPACITY Most standard riders want a fuel tank that holds at least 3.5 gallons (13.25 liters) of fuel—enough for them to ride up to 150 miles (240 km) or more.

PASSENGER CAPACITY Even if you don't plan on regularly carrying a passenger, you'll want the option. Find a seat comfortable enough that your partner doesn't hate you after a long ride.

TRANSMISSION Most standards feature standard transmissions (of course), but a growing number of options (like automatics and dual-clutch transmissions) are appearing on the market.

STYLE Many standards—though not all of them—evoke the classic bikes of the 1960s and '70s.