Choosing The Right Type Of Motorcycle For You

Eight of the most common types of motorcycles.

Do you know the difference between a sportbike, a cruiser, and a naked bike? If you don't, no need to worry. We've got you covered with a visual guide to the eight most common types of motorcycles available on the market today.

Sportbikes

Sportbikes sacrifice rider comfort for speed and performance on the track.
If you gotta go fast, then you need a sportbike.Illustration by Rich Lee

Sportbikes are one of the two archetypal motorcycles that everyone thinks of. Ask a kid to draw a fast motorcycle and they attempt to draw a CBR or a GSX-R. Sportbikes are focused on performance, acceleration, cornering, and braking. They're as light and powerful as possible, and typically not as comfortable as other types of motorcycles.

Standard Or Naked Motorcycles

One of the largest growing segments of motorcycles, the standard or naked bike offers sportbike performance with a more comfortable seating position.
Need everyday practicality for getting to work? Say hello to the standard and naked motorcycle class.Illustration by Rich Lee

Many modern standards—also called naked motorcycles—offer nearly all the performance of full-on sportbikes but with more comfortable riding positions and a bit more overall utility. This is a rapidly growing segment showing huge promise in the electric motorcycle segment.

Dual Sport Motorcycles

Dual sport motorcycles allow you to ride on- and off-road with tall suspension and street-legal knobby tires.
Commuting to work during the week and hitting the trails on the weekend? Dual sport motorcycles are where you need to look.Illustration by Rich Lee

Part road, part dirt, so-called dual sport motorcycles are street legal and capable of highway travel as well as urban/suburban commuting. But they can also tackle off-road trails on the weekends. If you want a more street-oriented dual sport motorcycle, look for a supermoto, which is a dual sport with 17-inch wheels and street tires.

Cruiser Motorcycles

The classic motorcycle, equipped with a large V-twin and low to the ground, cruiser motorcycles are there for people who need a relaxed two-wheeled ride.
Want classic motorcycle style and comfort? Cruiser motorcycles are an option.Illustration by Rich Lee

Stemming from the styling themes laid down by Harley-Davidson, most cruiser motorcycles are low, long, and somewhat mean looking. Their main benefit is a low seat height along with a certain visual swagger. Harley-Davidson may be the originator of the cruiser motorcycle style, but other popular manufacturers—including some Italian ones—have created their own.

Touring And Sport Touring Motorcycles

Touring

Touring and sport touring motorcycles are built to be ridden across countries, all while keeping the rider in optimal comfort.
Drive across your state—or country—in optimal motorcycle comfort of the back of a touring or sport touring motorcycle.Illustration by Rich Lee

Today's touring and sport touring motorcycles are built for the long haul and include full weather protection, waterproof luggage, and other amenities like heated handgrips, stereos, and comfortable seats. As the name suggests a sport touring motorcycle is built for riders who want to sacrifice some comfort for the ability to lean the bike over.

Adventure Motorcycles

A touring bike made for the off-road, adventure motorcycles live up to their name and can basically go anywhere on two wheels.
Like touring, but know you want to go off-road as well? Adventure motorcycles are great at doing both.Illustration by Rich Lee

Another fast-growing genre is called adventure motorcycles, or ADV bikes. These bikes are patterned after the long-popular BMW R-GS bikes, which are basically large street machines that also offer off-road capability.

Scooters

Scooters offer the same fun that a motorcycle does, with an economical automatic transmission and step-through design.
The econobox of motorcycles, scooters keep the ease-of-use front of mind, while still letting you enjoy two-wheeled freedom.Illustration by Rich Lee

Often for city dwellers, there's nothing more functional than a scooter. Bigger scooters are comfortable for larger riders, have locking luggage space, and get phenomenal gas mileage.

Retro Motorcycles

Retro

A subgenre of the standard motorcycle, the retro motorcycle has classic styling elements with modern technology upgrades.
Want to ride an old motorcycle without losing all of the rider aids? Retro motorcycles are for you.Illustration by Rich Lee

With styling that recalls motorcycling's roots mated to modern technology like antilock brakes and fuel injection, today's retro bikes are both mechanically simple and utterly reliable.