Get To Know Your Sportbike Motorcycles

Tip #17 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

yamaha FZ6R studio side view
2013 Yamaha FZ6R.Courtesy of Yamaha

Sportbikes are all about performance, speed, and handling. Here are some of the characteristics they offer.

STRONG BRAKES Slowing down is just as important as gaining speed. Sportbikes' brakes afford better stopping power.

STIFF FRAME The curves on tracks or mountain roads put a lot of stress on the bike's chassis. Reinforced frames help the bike handle well.

HIGH CORNERING CLEARANCE A sportbike's superior ground clearance allows the rider to lean more during turns without dragging parts.

LOW HANDLEBARS These controls aren't made for cruising. The handlebar arrangement tucks the rider in low to cut down on wind resistance.

ADJUSTABLE SUSPENSION The action of the suspension can be fine-tuned for different roads and rider weight.

MINIMAL SEAT Comfort is a secondary consideration for many models; speed matters more.

LOW-PROFILE TIRES Wide, low tires give better road response.

AERODYNAMIC BODYWORK Sleek body panels provide some wind protection and reduce drag.

POWERFUL ENGINE Two-, three-, or four-cylinder engines rev higher than most cruisers or touring bikes—up to 15,000 rpm!

COMPACT RIDING POSITION On a sportbike, your arms and legs are tucked in, your body's tilted down close to the tank, and your head's just peering over the windscreen. Athletic riders will find it gives them maximum control, but others may find it confining.