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Motorcycle Types

This article is for those of you who are not sure what the types of motorcycles are and to help you figure out what type of motorcycle is best for you.  First things first, the following descriptions are not gospel, even the various motorcycle manufacturers use different terminology and classifications.  This makes it very confusing for a beginner.  I will list the major manufacturers classes under some more generic headings, hopefully this will help clear things up a bit.
Classic - 2008 Triumph Bonneville

Classic - 2008 Triumph Bonneville

Classic – Old style motorcycles, typically seen during the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s.  You may still see these on the roads today, and a few manufacturers still offer some of these models.  The new ones typically offer the technology of the new engines combined with the “classic” style of the older motorcycles.  Though many have no current production models, many samples of the 70′s and 80′s bikes can still be purchased used.

  • Royal Enfield – Bullet models (500 Classic, 500 Deluxe, 500 Military, Electra X).
  • Triumph – Bonneville, Scrambler, and Thruxton models.
Cruiser - 2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883

Cruiser - 2008 Harley-Davidson Sportster 883

Cruiser- A style similar to the classic though typically with a low seat height, and a more upright riding position.  Chopper bikes also fit into this class.

  • Harley-Davidson – Sportster, Dyna, Softail, and VRSC models.
  • Honda – Cruiser models (VTX, Shadow, Rebel).
  • Kawasaki – Cruiser models (Vulcan, Eliminator).
  • Suzuki – Cruiser models (Boulevard).
  • Triumph – America, Rocket, and Speedmaster models.
  • Victory – All models except Touring (Custom, Muscle, Low, 8-Ball, Classic, Ness).
  • Yamaha – All “Star” brand motorcycles (Stratoliner, Roadliner, Raider, Road Star, V Star, Warrior, VMax).
Dual Sport - 2008 Honda CRF230L

Dual Sport - 2008 Honda CRF230L

Dual Purpose – Motorcycles capable of riding off-road and on the street. Sometimes not much more than an off-road motorcycle with a headlight and turn signals.

  • Aprilia – SXV models.
  • BMW – Some Urban and Enduro models (G 650 Xmoto, G 650 Xcountry, G 650 Xchallenge, R 1200 GS Adventure, R 1200 GS, F 800 GS, F 650 GS).
  • Buell – Adventure models (Ulysses XB12X and XB12XT).
  • Honda – Some Off-Road models (CRF230L, XR650L).
  • Kawasaki – Dual Purpose models (KLR 650, KLX 250S, Versys).
  • Suzuki – Dual Sport models (V-Strom 1000 and 650, DR650 and 200, DR-Z400).
  • Yamaha – Dual Purpose models (WR250, XT250, TW200).
Off-Road - 2008 Kawasaki KLX450R

Off-Road - 2008 Kawasaki KLX450R

Motocross/Off-Road – Specially built motorcycles for off-road use.  Motocross models are racing versions. Neither are legal to ride on roads.

  • Aprilia – RXV models.
  • BMW – Some Enduro models (G 650 Xchallenge).
  • Honda – Motorcross and Off-Road models (XR and CRF models).
  • Kawasaki – Motorcross and Off-Road models (KX and KLX models).
  • Suzuki – Motorcross, Supermoto and Off Road models (RM and DR-Z models).
  • Yamaha – Motorcross and Off-Road models (YZ, WR, TT, PW).
Scooter - 2008 Honda Ruckus

Scooter - 2008 Honda Ruckus

Scooter – A small motorcycle, mainly for low-speed urban use.  Many have automatic transmissions and smaller engines.

  • Aprilia – Scooter and Scarabeo models (SR50, Sportcity, Mojito).
  • Honda – Scooter models (Silver Wing, Reflex, Helix, Elite, Metropolitan, Ruckus).
  • Suzuki – Scooter models (Burgman).
  • Yamaha – Scooter models (Majest, TMAX, Zuma, Vino, C3).
Sport - 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R

Sport - 2008 Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R

Sport – This is a general classification as there are many types of Sport bikes, however they are all generally race-bred high-performance street motorcycles.

  • Aprilia – All “R” models in the Road section (Tuono, RSV).
  • BMW – Sport and High Performance models (R1200, K1200, F800, HP2 Sport and Megamoto).
  • Buell – Sportbike models (1125R, Firebolt XB12R).
  • Honda – Sport models (CBR1000RR, 919, Interceptor, CBR600RR).
  • Kawasaki – Sport and Supersport models (Ninja, Z1000, ZZR600, Versys).
  • Suzuki – Sportbike models.
Sport Touring - 2008 Honda 1300

Sport Touring - 2008 Honda 1300

Sport Touring – Basically a toned down Sport bike with areas for storing items on a trip.  A bit more of an upright riding position.

  • BMW – Tour models (R 1200 RT, K 1200 GT, F 800 ST).
  • Buell – Adventure models (Ulysses XB12XT).
  • Honda – Sport Touring models (ST1300).
  • Kawasaki – Supersport Touring models (Concours 14).
  • Triumph – Sprint and Tiger models.
Standard - 2008 Suzuki Bandit

Standard - 2008 Suzuki Bandit

Standard – A cross between a Classic and a Sport.  Not as full-out as a Sport bike, not as relaxed as a Classic. Tend to have a blend of modern engine technology with a comfortable riding position.

  • Aprilia – Road models (Shiver SL 750).
  • BMW – Urban models (R 1200 R, K 1200 R).
  • Buell – Street models (1125CR, Lightning XB12Ss, Lightning XB12Scg, Lightning XB9Sx).
  • Honda – Standard models (Nighthawk).
  • Kawasaki – Sport models (Versys).
  • Suzuki – Standard models (B-King, Bandit, SV650, GZ250).
Touring - 2008 Honda Goldwing

Touring - 2008 Honda Goldwing

Touring – A larger bike, typically designed with built in storage.  Designed for long trips.

  • BMW – Tour models (K 1200 LT).
  • Harley-Davidson – Road King, Street Glide, Road Glide, and Electra Glide models.
  • Honda – Goldwing models.
  • Suzuki – Touring models (Boulevard).
  • Triumph – Rocket III Touring.
  • Victory – Touring models (Vision).
  • Yamaha – Royal Star models.
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One Comment on “Motorcycle Types”

  1. Some of the most interesting, groundbreaking, or just plain weird motorcycles that have been built over the past 100 years.


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