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Pick Your Ride: Finding The Best Ride For You

How to choose motorcycles is like asking what kind of car do you want? Knowing what you expect from your ride will tell you how to choose the right size motorcycle for you.

Guessing which motorcycle is for you (and guessing wrong) can be a very expensive lesson.   Here’s a simple guide help you pick your ride.

how-to-choose-motorcyclesStandard – Years ago almost all bikes were Standards. Your sitting position is upright, placing your back in a perpendicular position.  Because this sitting position is best for your back, Standards are great for all day riding, or general commuting.

Standards usually don’t have much body work on them. Lately, though, some manufacturers have begun to add fairings.

Examples of Standards include Honda’s CB750 Nighthawk, Suzuki’s 600 & 1200 Bandits, Kawasaki’s ZR7S & Z1000 (shown), Ducati’s Monster series; and BMW’s R1150R and F650CS.

Standards are versatile, practical and a lot of fun.

cruiser-motorcyclesCruiser – Over the years the Cruiser has gained in popularity. Often highly decorated, Cruisers are always fun to look at. ‘Never too much chrome’ is the motto of most Cruiser owners.

Due to their lean back position and often small seats, Cruisers are fun for short hauls. But they can get a bit irksome on long hauls. Still… there are plenty that show up each year at the Sturgis Rally.

Cruisers usually have the lowest seat height. This makes them a favorite with shorter riders.

Common Cruiser models include most current Harley Davidson’s including the Fat Boy, Softail (shown), Dyna Glide and Sportser models; Honda’s Shadow and Valkyrie’s; Yamaha’s Roadstar series; Moto Guzzi’s Stone series, BMW’s R1200C and Suzuki’s Intruders.

sportbikeSportbike – Sportbikes are racing personified. A high end suspension; finely-tuned motors, carbs and exhaust; brakes that stop on a dime. And of course, lots of plastic body work.

However there are a ton of drawbacks. The Sportbike was originally designed for racing; therefore it has the lean forward design. It will kill your back if your back isn’t exercised properly and strong. In other words… don’t expect to feel fantastic after a 300 miles in the saddle.

On these bikes, 90 mph can feel more like 45 mph. So watch out for the guys with the (radar) guns.

Examples of popular sportbikes include Honda’s CBR (CBR600RR shown) series, Yamaha’s R1 and R6, Kawasaki’s Ninja series, Apilia’s RSV1000 and Buell’s Firebolt.

motorcycling-with-back-painTouring – Touring bikes are the Winnebago’s of motorcycles… except a lot more fun. They weigh a ton so negotiating tight corners can be difficult.

That said, if you want a week long ride to ANYWHERE, this is the bike for you.  Touring bikes typically come with all the luggage space you’ll need built right into the bike. And they are great for your back health since most are designed with an upright riding position.

Popular touring bikes include the Honda Gold Wing, BMW’s K1200LT (shown), Kawasaki’s Voyager and Harley Davidson’s Road King.

Sport Touring – Many think this is perfect motorcycle. It’s the performance of sportbikes combined with the all day riding ergonomics and storage ability of touring bikes.

Typically lighter than touring bikes, Sport Tourers make motorcycling with back pain a thing of the past. You can ride all day without back pain, enjoying every curve on your ride. If sportbike back pain turns you, a Sport Tourer may be your new ride.

But be warned: Their silky smooth ride may lull you into a speeding ticket!
Common Sport Touring bikes include BMW’s R1150RT, Ducati’s ST4, Honda’s ST1100 & ST1300 and Yamaha’s FJR 1300 (shown).

back-pain-and-motorcyclingDual Sport – If motorcycling had an SUV category, the Dual Sport would be it. These amazing machines are at home both on-the-road and off-the-road.
In fact, they’re the fastest growing segment of motorcycles sales in many parts of the U.S.

A small Dual Sport in the 350-500 cc range can take you by highway to a single track dirt trail… get you all over the woods and back home again.

Size matters though… you, not the bike. If you’re shorter than5’6″, they may be tougher to enjoy.

Weight and mass determine its dirt agility factor. Dual Sports over 700 cc’s are usually not designed for down-and-dirty trail riding. But they can offer hours of fun on unimproved dirt and gravel roads.

Popular Dual Sports include Suzuki’s DRZ400S series, BMW’s GS series, Kawasaki’s KLR series, Honda’s XR650L (shown), and Triumph’s Tiger.

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