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Types of Motorcycles

Learn the Difference Between a Scooter and a Supermoto

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Types of Motorcycles
Dave Fletcher/Flickr
Motorcycles have, in recent years, become more focused and specialized in their function. Here are definitions of a few key types of bikes; to get a visual sense of the differences between these motorcycles, check out our photo gallery:
  • Adventure/Touring, Dual Sports
    The offspring of rugged dirtbikes and long-distance tourers, these bikes boast lots of suspension travel and upright postures that are comfortable for lengthy rides.

  • Choppers
    Epitomized by the Harley-Davidson Panhead in the film Captain America, choppers tend to have extremely raked forks, reclined seats, and lots of showy chrome.

  • Cruisers
    Cruisers are like sedate choppers; their fork rake is less extreme, and they're designed for laid-back riding.

  • Dirt Bikes
    Dirt bikes generally refer to motorcyles designed for offroad riding, and typically feature knobby tires, long suspension travel, and minimalistic frames and bodywork. Variants of dirt bike designs compete in Enduro, Motocross, and Trials events, among others.

  • Enduro Bikes
    Designed for long distance offroad competitions, Enduro bikes are usually equipped with headlights and taillights for nighttime riding, and can be outfitted with timers and roll chart reading devices that aid riders with navigation and timekeeping.

  • Naked Bikes
    Naked bikes recall British motorcycles of the sixties, and lack bodywork or a fairing that would normally hide their engines and inner-workings.

  • Power Scooters
    Power scooters are like scooters on steroids, and they share a similar step-through (or near step-through) design. But they also boast large engines (sometimes up to 650cc) rivaling the powerplants found in some motorcycles. Power scooters usually offer commuter-friendly creature comforts and numerous storage compartments.

  • Scooters
    Typified by Italian-made Vespas, scooters are like small motorcycles with bodywork that allows the rider to "step through" and sit without getting his or her clothes stained by oil. Scooter engine sizes can be as little as 50cc.

  • Sport Bikes
    Designed purely for performance, sport bikes tend to require arms-forward posture, powerful engines, and tight handling.

  • Supermoto Bikes
    Based on race machines that compete on a combination of road and dirt surfaces, Supermoto bikes combine offroad characteristics such as deep suspension travel with road tires and bodywork reminiscent of so-called "street fighter" bikes.

  • Touring Bikes
    Created solely for long-distance comfort, touring bikes often feature backrests, large windscreens, and creature comforts such as radios and navigation systems.

  • Trials Bikes
    These specialized competition bikes are tailor made for trials events, in which motorcycles are maneuvered around offroad or man-made obstacles, and riders are penalized if their feet touch the ground. Extremely lightweight, trials bikes lack seats and feature stiffer suspension than most dirtbikes.

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