DIFFERENT STRIDES: Types of Motorcycles (Part 1)
TYPES OF MOTORCYCLES (PART 1)
Your guide to choosing your two-wheeled entertainment
To the uninitiated, that two-wheeled, motorized thingy, regardless if it’s a car that’s missing two wheels, is called a “motorcycle.” That’s an exaggeration, but truth is, there are still many who can’t tell the difference among the different types.
Truth is, there are those among us bikers who get it wrong too. It’s not entirely our fault, as manufacturers do tend to blur the lines between the segments, by producing bikes that could serve more than one purpose, although they may be biased toward a certain function.
Let’s see what we have.
Sportbikes are the closest to the bikes you and I watch hammering around the racetracks around the world on weekly basis. While MotoGP bikes are purpose-built, thoroughbred racing prototypes, most of their technology had trickled down to sportbikes that are available to the public. In turn, these bikes form the homologation models of the Superbike, Supersport, Superstock championship contenders around the world.
Sometimes called “race replicas,” sportbikes are intended to do one thing: Go fast.
Hence, they usually combine the highest power output and lowest weight among motorcycles of the same engine capacity. Sportbikes are also where manufacturers cram in the latest technological developments such electronics, engine, chassis (suspension), aerodynamics (bodywork), frame, and even tyres. Not surprisingly, most – if not all – manufacturers view sportbikes as the showcase of their engineering abilities.
Engine capacities typically range from 600cc to 1000cc machines for racing homologation, and all the way to the 1300cc monsters. Power outputs currently hover around 160 to more than 200bhp.
Among the pre-eminent models are the BMW S 1000 RR; Ducati 959 Panigale and 1199 Panigale; CBR600R and CBR1000RR; Kawasaki ZX-6R, ZX-10R and H2/H2R; KTM RC-8; Triumph Daytona; YZF-R6 and YZF-R1.
There are also smaller capacity sportbikes such as the Kawasaki Ninja 250R, KTM RC200/250/390 and Yamaha YZF-R25.
A sportbike is easy to identify: It’s usually wrapped in a sharp bodywork decorated with “fierce” colours and livery, and has a tall seat with low handlebars necessitating the rider to sit crouched over the fuel tank.
2. NAKED SPORTBIKES
Naked sportbikes are the siblings of the “race replica” sportbikes.
Manufacturers usually utilize the engines of the full-on sportbikes, detune the engine’s horsepower and increase the torque, then stick them into the same frames, sans the fancy bodywork.
The clip-on handlebars also give way to more conventional ones, allowing the rider to sit in a more upright position.
The main appeal of naked sportbikes is that they could fill the function as “everyday sportbikes” very well, then switch over to racetrack duty or canyon blasting during the weekend. Most owners also use them for touring.
They are still plenty fast for the majority of street riders, for example the Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory 1100, BMW S 1000 R, Ducati Monster 1200R, and of course, the KTM 1290 Super Duke R (177 bhp, 141 Nm aptly dubbed “The Beast”).
However, it’s the “midrange” segment (sub-700cc to 900cc) that’s most hotly contested as the power output and more importantly the prices are within realistic reach mere mortals. Perhaps the best example of a midrange naked sportbike is the 2017 Triumph Street Triple.
Smaller capacity naked sportbikes include the KTM 200/250/390/690 Duke.
Standards could loosely be classed as motorcycles designed to be all-rounders, without being biased toward any one segment. One may say standards are not as performance oriented compared to naked sportbikes, therefore having lower engine power and fewer or no high-end equipment.
Standards usually take the guise of naked bikes. But make no mistake, standards are usually fun to ride since they are generally less intimidating, uncomplicated and comfortable.
Good examples are the BMW F 800 R, Ducati Scrambler variants and Yamaha MT-07. The upcoming Ducati 900 Supersport should also qualify as a standard. Modern classics such as those from Triumph and Royal Enfield may also qualify as standards, but we’d rather describe them in their own specific category.
4. FULL-DRESS TOURERS
Just as its designation suggests, a tourer is made to travel long distances while coddling its rider in comfort.
As such, a tourer is generally equipped with every imaginable touring apparatus such stereo system, cruise control, seat and handlebar grip warmers, large-sized luggage system, and a large and wide bodywork for wind protection. Manufacturers also offer factory options such as GPS and CB radio. Additionally, they have large-capacity fuel tanks and large seats.
Certain models such as the Honda Gold Wing and BMW K 1600 LT feature hydraulically controlled suspension.
American tourers are based on cruisers, such as the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide and the Indian Chieftain.
Sport-tourers are motorcycles that combine the speed and lightness of the sportbike with the comfort of the full-dress tourer.
What results is the thrill of high-speed riding and handling characteristics close to those of the sportbike, with the touring appointments such as luggage systems, cruise control and comfort, all in one practical package.
Sport-tourers usually feature taller seat heights, a consequence of having long suspension travel. Besides allowing for more luggage capability, longer suspension travel soaks up road irregularities, providing a comfortable ride in return.
With the recent preference for sport- and adventure-touring motorcycles the world over, manufacturers have started equipping their sport-tourers with the latest technology such as electronically-controlled suspension systems, and rider aids such as advanced traction control, cornering ABS, cornering lights and so on.
Good examples are the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT (arguably the fastest sport-tourer), Ducati Multistrada 1200, Kawasaki Z1000SX, BMW S 1000 XR, Yamaha MT-09 Tracer.
Here are a few links to the manufacturers and distributors’ official website or Facebook page in Malaysia. Do not hesitate to contact them should you require more enquiries, by clicking on the respective names below: