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Founded in 1903, Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle manufacturer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Its motorcycles are known for their style and performance. Choose from a set model or build your own motorcycle.
Read 873 Reviews
Honda is a Japanese manufacturer known for its cars, aircraft, power equipment and motorcycles. It makes motorcycles in six categories, including touring, sport, adventure and cruiser.
Read 15 Reviews
Based in Japan, Yamaha is known for its motorcycles, ATVs, personal watercraft and marine engines. They have over 10 motorcycle styles to choose from in the dirt, road and touring categories.
|Kawasaki Motors||Read 72 Reviews|
Kawasaki Motors Corp. was founded in 1966 and is headquartered in Foothill Ranch, California with regional sales and manufacturing offices across the United States. It is known for making recreational vehicles including ATVs.
Read 10 Reviews
Suzuki is based in Japan and manufactures cars, engines, motorcycles, ATVs and outboard motors. It sells motorcycles in the sport, cruiser, touring, standard and dirt categories.
|BMW Motorcycles||Read Author Review|
Based in Munich, BMW has been in business for more than 100 years and is known for its luxury cars. Today the company produces over 25 models of motorcycle in the sport, tour, roadster, heritage and adventure categories.
|Ducati||Read Author Review|
Ducati is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer that’s been around for more than 90 years. Style and speed take center stage with Ducati bikes. The company makes more than 30 models of sport, supersport and cruiser-style motorcycles.
|KTM||Read Author Review|
KTM is based in Austria and is known for its off-road motorcycles for enduro, motocross and supermoto racing. It now sells street and adventure motorcycles designed for long-distance road riding.
|Triumph||Read Author Review|
Triumph is a British motorcycle manufacturer that designs and makes adventure, cruiser, modern classic, roadster and supersport motorcycles. Prices vary depending on the type of motorcycle you buy.
|Victory||Read Author Review|
Victory was formed in 1998 when a group of motorcycle riders and designers started their own line of motorcycles. Today they make touring, cruisers, electric and cross-country motorcycles, all with varying specifications.
What should you consider before buying a motorcycle?
What are the different engine types for motorcycles?
Most motorcycle engines are two- or four-stroke internal combustion engines. Engine sizes are measured in cubic centimeters (cc). Once you know which type of riding you want to do, you’ll be able to find the perfect-size engine that produces the amount of power you want for your riding needs.
- Engine displacement: CCs measure the volume of the cylinders in a motorcycle's engine. This is called engine displacement. Most standard, cruiser, touring and roadster motorcycles have an engine displacement of anywhere from 250 to 800 cc. High-performance sportbikes will have engines of over 1,000 cc.
- V-engines: V-engines are common in the motorcycle world, especially in the United States. These engines have two big cylinder blocks mounted at an angel in a V shape. V-engines produce a lot of torque and make the unmistakable loud motorcycle sound. They can have two, four or six cylinders.
- Inline engines: Inline engines have two, three, four or six cylinders running parallel to one another. They offer smooth power delivery and crank out a lot of horsepower at high revolutions per minute (RPM). Inline engines power most sportbikes.
- Boxer engines: Boxer engines are basically the same as a V-engine, but their cylinder blocks are 180 degrees opposite each other instead of at a V angle.
What are some common suspension features found on motorcycles?
Motorcycle suspension is one of the most important features on the bike. Not only does it keep you comfortable by minimizing road bumps and noise, but it also keeps you safe by contributing to how the motorcycle handles and brakes.
- Telescopic forks: Telescopic forks are the most common type of front suspension for motorcycles. They’re lightweight and made up of large hydraulic shock absorbers with internal coil springs. The top of the fork is connected to the motorcycle's frame, and the bottom is connected to the front wheel’s axle. Sportbikes usually install telescopic forks upside down (USD forks) to make the bike more rigid, which improves handling.
- Preload adjustment: Motorcycle suspension systems are made so that the springs are always a little compressed, even when fully extended. The amount of preload can be adjusted based on your weight and the weight of the bike. The difference between the length of your suspension when it’s fully extended and the length when it’s fully compressed is called sag. The sag setting is used to prevent the suspension from compressing and extending too much.
- Damping: Damping, sometimes called rebound, controls the extension of the fork after it compresses when you ride over a bump. The slower the rebound, the cushier the ride. Your motorcycle manufacturer or mechanic can help you tune your suspension's damping based on your sag setting.
Why is seat height important when choosing a motorcycle?
Your motorcycle seat is the biggest point of contact between you and the bike. It’s important you can put both feet on the ground and you’re comfortable in the riding position. You can take measurements, but the best way to make sure you’re a good fit for a motorcycle is to test it out in person.
- Inseam measurement: Seat height is directly related to your inseam. Measuring a motorcycle’s seat height and matching it to your inseam is a good way to determine if you’ll be able to put both feet on the ground.
- Rider’s triangle: Seat height, foot pegs and handlebar grips are the three points that make up the rider’s triangle, which determines your overall comfort level while riding. The distance from the foot pegs to the seat determines how bent your legs are when riding, and the distance from the seat to the grips determines how far you’ll have to lean forward.
- Seat by motorcycle type: The height of the seat varies with each type of motorcycle. Cruiser and standard bikes typically have lower seats, while touring and adventure bikes usually have higher ones. Most motorcycle seats are not adjustable, so if you’re interested in a bike, it’s a good idea to try it on in person.
Why does the weight of your motorcycle matter?
Understanding the weight of your motorcycle is key when it comes to handling it on the road or a track. Motorcycles made for the road and long-distance riding are heavier, while sportbikes are lighter. Here’s why the weight of your motorcycle matters.
- Highway riding: Heavier motorcycles are better for highway and long-distance riding. Experienced riders like to say that once a semi passes you going 75 miles per hour on the highway, you’ll understand how important weight is. Keep in mind, heavier bikes are harder to maneuver.
- Drops: If you drop your bike, which is inevitable, or it gets knocked over in a parking lot, you’ll need to be able to pick it back up under your own power.
- Handlebar weights: Many cruiser, touring and highway-worthy motorcycles come with weighted handlebars to reduce vibration and increase stability from the wind. Make sure you test-drive the bike so you know how the handlebars feel when you take one hand off as opposed to when you have both hands on the grips.
What are the most common types of motorcycle tires?
The type of motorcycle tire you require depends on the kind of bike you ride, where you ride it and your riding experience. Here are three of the most common types of motorcycle tires.
- Cruiser tires: Cruiser tires are the work boot of motorcycle tires. They’re thick, long-lasting and designed for the highway. They have deep tread grooves to divert road water, are great for stability and offer some of the best gas mileage a motorcycle can get.
- Racing slicks: Think of racing slicks as track shoes. They’re expensive, specialized and used strictly for racing. They provide a lot of grip and react to temperature and pressure, which enhances the grip.
- Sport touring tires: Sport touring tires are the cross-trainers of the motorcycle world. They offer great grip and gas mileage while providing traction on off-road trails. They’re designed to perform in most temperatures and under most weather conditions.
- Dirt bike tires: Dirt bike tires are like good hiking boots. They are very grippy, have durable thick tread and are made to handle dirt and rocks. Dirt bike tires have tall knobs for maximum traction in dirt and sand and durable sidewalls to help prevent punctures.
What kind of technology is built into motorcycles?
While sport and adventure motorcycles focus on engine and suspension technology, touring bikes focus on comfort and amenities that make riding long-distances more enjoyable.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth connectivity is a standard feature on a lot of touring motorcycles. You can wirelessly connect your phone to speakers in your helmet so you can hear phone calls and listen to music and GPS directions.
- Wireless headsets: Communication with your passenger is important during long road trips. Many touring bikes come with helmets that have integrated radios so you and your partner can communicate while you’re on the road.
- Heated grips: Your body is exposed to the elements on a motorcycle but, your hands control the bike. Almost all types of motorcycles come with heated handgrips to help you maintain dexterity on the road.
What are the different types of motorcycles?
Standard motorcycles are built to do a little bit of everything. Most people choose a standard bike design as their first motorcycle. These bikes have midsize engines and decent price points and can handle many different riding conditions. Standard motorcycles typically have neutral ergonomics to make them comfortable and easily controlled.
Cruiser motorcycles are built with style in mind. They usually have low-sitting seats and low centers of gravity, creating a hands-up, feet-forward riding position. Cruiser engines are often built with lower RPM power output, making shifting easier. Some brands include saddle bags that match the bike’s look and provide extra storage space.
A touring motorcycle is a long-distance bike that combines luxury and distance. Touring motorcycles are designed for comfort during long-distance rides. You’ll find features like tall windshields to protect against the weather and wind, large-capacity fuel tanks, relaxed upright seating positions and engines with low horsepower. They also have multiple storage compartments to keep luggage safe and dry during your ride. Most companies include technology features like Bluetooth connectivity, heated handgrips and radio connectivity in both helmets.
Sportbikes are built for speed, corner handling and braking and traction on paved roads. Engines are tuned to produce high RPM and require more maintenance than most motorcycle engines. You’ll usually see three classes of sportbikes: lightweight, middleweight and superbike. Lightweights are for beginners and have an engine displacement of about 500 cc. Middleweights qualify for most races and have an engine displacement of about 600 to 750 cc. Superbikes have an engine displacement of more than 1,000 cc and are used in high-speed racing.
Dual sport or adventure bikes are designed for riding on and off the road. Think of them as street-legal dirt bikes, with equipment like lights, a speedometer, mirrors, mufflers, horns and license plate mounts.
Motocross motorcycles are made for off-road dirt-track motorcycle racing. They’re lightweight, weighing about 200 to 230 pounds; have long-travel suspension to handle jumps; and deep tire treads to grip dirt tracks.
What’s your motorcycle persona
Are you ready to hit the open road on a long road trip with nothing but two wheels and a GPS system to guide the way? Touring motorcycles will get you where you want to go in comfort and style. Built for the open road and long-haul riding, touring motorcycles are designed to give you a smooth ride.
If you love the open road but like to see what kind of fun is just off it, a motorcycle built with on- and off-road capability needs to be your weapon of choice. You can enjoy the paved-road ride and let loose once you get to the trailhead.
Motocross and supercross to street and track racing, there’s a race-worthy motorcycle out there that will help you compete for the podium.
Motorcycles are a great way to travel locally. Whether you’re commuting, running errands or just getting out to enjoy the weather, there are plenty of roadster-style bikes that can be customized to your tastes.
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Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
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