by Bruce Mike

15_HipWhen I started riding motorcycles as a kid there were maybe five different types of bikes. We had mini bikes, scooters, street bikes, enduros and dirt bikes. At one time or another I have owned and ridden all these types of bikes. As time went on I was introduced to sport bikes and choppers which were part of the street bike classification. With these new introductions the standard street bike was created. I realize none of this may be historically accurate but in my mind this is how it went.

Now it’s 2013 and we have so many bike classes I can’t keep track of them all. Here’s my best shot at listing them. Mini bikes, scooters, maxi-scooters, sport bikes, choppers, standards, multi-purpose, hyper-motards, dual sports, adventure bikes, moto-cross, cruisers, touring and sport touring bikes. I’m sure I’ve missed some but you get the idea. I’m guessing all the classifications are born out of marketing. We seem to be living in a more complicated and specialized world with each passing day.

The ones I struggle with the most are multi-purpose, dual sports and adventure bikes. What is the difference between these bikes? Are they all the same thing that different manufacturers have decided to label differently? It’s all quite confusing.

Here are some definitions I found on the internet. Cruiser: styled after American machines from the 1930s to the early 1960s, such as those made by Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior-Henderson. Harley-Davidsons largely define the cruiser category, and large-displacement V-twin engines are the norm, although other engine configurations and small to medium displacements also exist. Sport Bike: emphasize speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering on paved roads, typically at the expense of comfort and fuel economy in comparison to less specialized motorcycles. Because of this, there are certain design elements that most motorcycles of this type will share. Sport bikes have comparatively high performance engines resting inside a lightweight frame. Touring: They have large-displacement engines, fairings and screens that offer good weather and wind protection, large-capacity fuel tanks for long ranges between fill-ups, and a relaxed, upright seating position. Sport Touring: combine attributes of sport bikes and touring motorcycles. The rider posture is less extreme than a sport bike, giving greater long-distance comfort. Standard: Standards are versatile, general purpose street motorcycles. They are recognized primarily by their upright riding position, partway between the reclining posture of the cruisers and the forward leaning sport bikes. Dual Sport: Dual-sports, sometimes called dual-purpose or on/off-road motorcycles, are street legal machines that are also designed to enter off-road situations. Typically based on a dirt bike chassis, they have added lights, mirrors, signals, and instruments that allow them to be licensed for public roads. Scooters: Scooter engine sizes range smaller than motorcycles, 50–850 cc (3.1–52 cu in), and have all-enclosing bodywork that makes them cleaner and quieter than motorcycles, as well as having more built-in storage space. Automatic clutches and continuously variable transmissions (CVT) make them easier to learn and to ride.

I found these definitions all in one place which listed only what I show here. This made me think that many of these new classifications either have not caught on or are strictly for marketing purposes. I’ve decided to go old-school with my bike classifications. In my garage right now I have a scooter, an enduro, a chopper and a street bike, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all adventure bikes.


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