Motoring Monday – Bikes for everyone!

Hey there, thanks for coming back!  Next up in our semi-irregular series explaining the motorcycle culture: Bikes for everyone!  *Crowd cheers ecstatically*  Thought you just hit the jackpot of blog giveaways, didn’t you?  Sorry to disappoint.  You get no free bike and are only left here, stuck with having to read on before I get to the point.  Which is: Types of motorcycles.

If you have ever paid attention to passing motorcycles, you have no doubt noticed that they come in all shapes and sizes.  It’ll be my responsibility to describe them all (or at least most-okay, well…some) and maybe explain the people who ride them.  Maybe.  If we’re lucky.

standard – What better place to start than with your average, ordinary bike?  These bikes are pretty simple, bare-bones models with limited styling and options.  Typically the rider is in an upright position with their feet directly beneath their butt, leaving their legs bent in a pretty decent angle.  These bikes don’t usually sport a front fairing (the fiberglass body piece that wraps around the front of the bike to reduce wind drag and increase aerodynamics) or offer luggage space, such as a trunk or saddlebags.  Typically thought of as older, Japanese bikes, and classified as Universal Japanese Motorcycles (UJM).

cafe racer – These bikes were born in England in the 1960s, and are the grandfathers of modern sport bikes.  They are aptly named after what they were used for.  Bikers, known as “Rockers” (equivalent to a “Greaser” in America), would modify their motorcycles by eliminating any part that wasn’t essential in order to cut weight and increase speed.  Then they would hang out at truck stops, or “cafes,” and challenge each other to races – hence “cafe racer.”  They would pick a record from the juke box, run out to the parking lot, fire up their machines, race to the nearest roundabout, and the first one back before the record was over was the winner. 

sport bike (crotch rocket) – Here is where my personal bias may shine through.  I have no appreciation for these bikes.  Recently, I have tried to amend that thought though, because it’s not the bike’s fault for how they’re ridden.  The difference between my appreciation for cafe racers and hatred for crotch rockets is pretty simple.  Cafe racers were pioneers.  Garage mechanics with no training who created their own style.  They pushed their limits to the breaking point.  Crotch rockets have none of that.  They’re produced from an assembly line to go fast.  People buy them, throw a shiny paint job on it, slap a japanese character on the side of the fairing, then try to show off by doing wheelies and stoppies.  Motorcycles are dangerous enough by just being on 2 wheels.  Why make it even worse by trying to ride on 1 wheel??  Of course, every rule has an exception.  Those exceptions?  Ducati, Hayabusa, and Buell.  Buell has been discontinued in recent years, and had a bit of an odd profile, but it was the only sport bike created by Harley Davidson.  Which means that it is the only sport bike that doesn’t sound like a swarm of pissed off bees when you get on the throttle.  Ducati, Or “Ducs,” are the Ferrari’s of the sport bike world.  Italian design and engineering leave room for a lot of tinkering though…it’s hard to get them running “just right.”  Hayabusas are made strictly for performance and there’s not much on the road that can keep up.

street fighter – If you put the last two types of bikes together, you get what’s known as a street fighter.  Take a sport bike, remove the fairing, side covers, and other miscellaneous body parts and unnecessary equipment, and you’re set.  These are also referred to as “naked” bikes, since they are stripped down to the bare minimum.  The types of people who ride these are essentially modern-day Rockers – modifying their bike to make it go faster, handle better, and look more aggressive.

cruiser – These are your standard, prototypical “American” motorcycles.  This is what you think of when you think of the Hells Angels or watch Sons Of Anarchy.  These are signified by a V-Twin engine, and usually a loud, deep exhaust.  Harley Davidson is the popular choice for “true bikers,” but Honda Shadows, Yamaha V Stars, and Kawasaki Vulcans are all good substitutes.  You’ll normally see the general idea of a “biker” on these – blue jeans, leather vest/jacket, boots, etc.

chopper – These have somewhat mutated in recent years.  They started way back in the post World War II era.  Riders would remove, or “chop,” anything that wasn’t necessary to remove weight and make the motorcycle more appealing.  In the early days, these became known as “bobbers.”  With the release of the movie “Easy Rider,” choppers took on a whole new look.  The Captain America bike ridden by the main character brought in a new fashion of lower, stretched out frames and front ends, sissy bars on the back, and chrome on everything. 

touring – These bikes are also known as “full dressers.”  These bikes are made for long distances.  They offer a lot of body work for supreme comfort for the rider.  Full front fairings and windshields are used to protect the rider from wind and rain.  These motorcycles often have larger gas tanks to go farther between fill-ups.  They also provide a lot of storage space by employing the use of saddlebags and a trunk.  Touring bikes often have a radio and air ride suspension, while some models even include heaters and reverse because of their sheer size and weight.  I’ll give you a second to absorb that last part – reverse on a motorcycle.  These are to be considered the Cadillacs of the motorcycle industry.

trikes – These three-wheelers offer more stability than your standard motorcycle by adding a third point of contact with the pavement.  Pretty self-explanatory, no?  Usually you’ll see an aging biker or handicapped rider on these because they may not have the strength or capabilities to wrestle with holding a regular motorcycle upright. 

reverse trike –  These have two wheels in front, as opposed to two in the back.  Typically referred to as “Spyders” in the United States, I consider these to be the sport bike of the trike world.  They are a little more aggressive and boast more agility to go along with that.  They offer more performance than a standard trike, and are much more comfortable than a sport bike for going on longer rides.  Oddly enough, I don’t despise these as much as I do a regular crotch rocket.  (Perhaps because they force the rider to keep all of the wheels flat on the ground.)  Hmm…

There are certainly more types than what I have listed, but this is a good list to get familiar with.  This link is a wealth of basic knowledge with even more links that you can jump to included within.  Notice any glaring absences from my list?  Tell me about it in the comments below!

(By the way, you’re welcome for the knowledge that I’ve been laying down these last few weeks.  This is something you won’t learn sitting in Sociology 101!)

Thank you, that is all.


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