How to Pick the Right Motorcycle

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How to Pick the Right Motorcycle

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

Have you ever taken a motorcycle out for a ride only to feel like something was off?

Maybe the bike was too high, or it was so broad that you could not balance.

These types of discomforts not only make riding unenjoyable, but extremely dangerous.

Choosing the right motorcycle is critical to your safety and the safety of passengers as well as those on the road with you. You must be in full control of your bike, have a good fit, and enjoy the road ahead.

Tips for Chicago Residents Ready to Buy a Motorcycle

Whether you have ridden bikes for years or you are new to the motorcycle game, make sure you choose the right bike for the correct use.

Riding is all about comfort, feel, and excitement. To get the most out of your experience, you need a motorcycle that fits your budget, height, weight, and riding skills.

Consider Your Riding Experience Level First

Your level of riding experience is by far one of the most crucial factors to picking the right bike. Some bikes are more newer-rider friendly than others. And if you were to choose the wrong bike, you may find yourself at higher risk of severe injuries.

If you are new to riding, you want a motorcycle that features:

  • Lighter Weight Frame – You want a bike that is lighter when you are new to riding. A lighter frame helps you steer, balance, accelerate, and stop with ease. These bikes are also more forgiving while first learning to ride.
  • Lower Seats – A lower seat height lets you put both feet down on each side of the bike when you come to a complete stop or when you are ready to start the bike. This is more reassuring for the novice rider and keeps you balanced when you stop and go.
  • Anti-Lock Braking Systems – ABS systems are not standard on all types of motorcycles. But if you are new to riding, get a bike that has ABS equipped. This ensures you can stop quickly and safely.
  • Affordability – New riders are more likely to crash. While not always a severe accident, you may drop the bike numerous times while first learning to ride – you do not want to do so while riding an expensive bike.
  • No Specialized Use – All-purpose bikes might not be as exciting, but they are more suitable for newer riders. These bikes do everything well, which helps you build a well-rounded riding experience before you pick the type of bike right for you.

Know the Types of Motorcycles

There is no universal agreement on how many different types of motorcycles there are, but there are broad categories of motorcycles – and you should consider these categories before you pick your bike.

Street Bikes

Street bikes are designed for the asphalt and paved surfaces of city streets. They have lighter tread patterns and smooth tires for better handling and include the following types of bikes:

  • Naked Bikes – Naked bikes, also known as standard motorcycles, do not have all the features of others. They are general purpose use bikes. They keep you upright and in a natural seated position on the bike, and they are highly recommended for riders who are new to street biking.
  • Touring Bikes – Touring motorcycles are designed for longer trips, have bigger engines, and include features like high-capacity fuel tanks, luggage storage, screens for wind and weather protection, and fairings. These bikes are incredibly dense and not ideal for newer riders. They are one of the broader styles of road bikes too, which makes them bulkier for smaller riders.
  • Sport Touring Bikes – These combine the slimness of naked bikes with the comfort of touring bikes. As a hybrid, they are sportier but still have more luggage capacity and systems than naked bikes. They also handle turns and curves differently than a touring bike.
  • Sport Bikes – Sport bikes are one you commonly see on the road. They are those compact, sleek motorcycles built around aerodynamics and speed. They have high-performance engines but are also lightweight. The braking and suspension is better than a naked bike, and they are easy to handle for the most part. You are, however, forced to lean forward when riding these bikes; therefore, they are not ideal for long distances.
  • Cruisers – A cruiser or “chopper” is one you see from manufacturer’s like Harley-Davidson. These have riding positions that force the rider to have feet stretched out in front and their hands placed at about shoulder height. These bikes are much harder to handle around tight curves, which is why they are suited for experienced riders over the novice.

Off-Road Bikes

Off-road bikes are just as they sound: designed for off-road use. They have a lighter weight, rugged construction, and the tire treads are thick and capable of handling dry or wet surfaces. The suspension of these bikes is stronger than street bikes. That is because they are designed for uneven terrain.

Generally, an off-road bike can handle everything from grass to sand to dirt.

Hybrid Motorcycles

Hybrid bikes combine street bikes and off-road bikes to create one dual-use motorcycle. These also ensure the bike is street legal, regardless of the surface you are on.

Hybrid bikes are harder to predict because they depend on the manufacturer’s design and what two bikes they are combining into one. Some come as adventure bikes, which are touring and off-road motorcycles combined.

These bikes are harder to maintain, often require higher grade gasoline, and can be difficult to handle if you are new to riding.

Pick the Right Size

You know the types of motorcycles, but do not forget the size.

Bikes are measured out by engine size. An engine size measures in cubic centimeters (CC), which is the volume inside the engine where fuel and air mix to propel the bike. More CCs does not always mean a bike is faster than one with lower CCs.

Usually, engine sizes are designed around the style of bike. However, various styles come with different CC sizes too. For example, a sport bike will come in multiple CCs.

Most motorcycles that require a motorcycle license range from 350 cc to over 600 cc. These are then put into two classes, which are those above the 35 kW/48 HP class and those below.

Typically, a motorcycle with more than 48 HP will have an engine of 600 cc or higher. When looking at bikes, consider this: every 14 to 17 cc equals approximately 1 HP (horsepower). Therefore, the bigger the CC, the more horsepower.

Newer riders are safer going with a bike that does not have a high CC, simply because those bikes are designed for higher performance and speeds – something a newer rider does not necessarily need.

Word of Caution on CC-Only Decisions

Never solely base your selection on CC. Some starter bikes have a higher CC amount than others but are still suitable for new riders. For example, the Yamaha FZ-07 has a displacement of 689 cc but is still equal to another beginner-friendly bikes. One is known as the KTM 390 Duke with a displacement of 373 cc, and the other is the Suzuki DR 200, which only has 199cc but is very user-friendly.

New or Used?

If you are a new rider, it is safer to pick a new bike over a used bike. While you might think that a used bike is more cost-effective for those incidents you might encounter, you cannot predict how a used bike was cared for or how it will perform. Experienced riders know how bikes operate and respond. Therefore, they are more equipped to handle the unpredictable nature of a used bike.

If you do want a used bike, go to a reputable dealership and request the ownership history of that bike – including accident information. That way, you can ensure you are not buying a rebuilt bike or one that might not be street legal.

Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? Contact an Attorney Today

Accidents on motorcycles happen even for the most experienced riders. If you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle accident, contact an attorney immediately.

An attorney can help you receive compensation for your injuries. A motorcycle accident often results in more catastrophic, serious injuries than your average passenger vehicle incident. Therefore, you will need someone experienced in these types of accident claims to help you receive the compensation you deserve for medical costs, lost wages, and more.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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