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What motorbike should I buy?

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Want to buy a motorcycle but stuck on which sort to go for? Our guide looks at seven common types of bike and will have you distinguishing your mopeds from your nakeds in no time.

Motorbike showroom
If you’re looking to purchase a motorbike and you’re confused as to which sort to go for, here’s a quick guide to the different classes of motorbike available on the market.

1. Sports bikes

Triumph Daytona
Sports bikes have fast and powerful engines, sharp styling and handling, and aerodynamic fairings.

Dominated by Japanese giants Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha, other makes include Ducati (Italy) and Triumph (good old Blighty).

As sports bikes are built for speed and have blistering acceleration, novice riders should be extremely careful if opting for one of these as your first ride.

As you might expect, bike insurance in this class is generally more expensive than in other classes.

2. Scooters and mopeds

Scooter

Synonymous with the swinging 60s, scooters exploded back into popularity in the mid-90s.

The reason for the boom was the increased frustration at urban gridlock, cheap running costs, and the advent of desirable new models from the Japanese firms and Italian maker, Piaggio.

Scooters tend to have smaller, less powerful engines (though bigger engines are becoming more and more popular), and are more affordable than bigger bikes.

Also, scooter insurance is often considerably cheaper than sports bike insurance.

Mopeds are small-engine bikes (max 50cc) that also use pedal power to drive the chain.

Surprisingly, this means they also fall under the category of hybrid vehicles, defined as a vehicle with two modes of power – one conventional and one unconventional.

As mopeds have such low power, motorcycle cover could be very cheap.

4. Naked bikes

Sports bike

The term "naked" refers to road bikes without a fairing to obscure the engine and frame, and little or no fairing over the handlebars.

However, not all bikes without fairings are naked bikes.

Exceptions include custom bikes, off-roaders and adventure sport bikes.

Naked bikes are often un-faired sports bikes or modern bikes with a retro 70s styling.

5. Custom/Cruisers

Harley Davidson riders
For all you wannabe Easy Riders, cruisers are most easily described by one evocative and legendary brand, Harley Davidson.

Typically, cruisers have low seats, long wheel bases, loads of chrome and, most importantly, a laid-back attitude.

Harley’s aren’t the only name in town though, with Japanese bikes able to provide that custom look for a lot less cash but also less heritage.

Other cruiser makers include Italian firm Moto Guzzi and BMW.

Some cruisers, such as the massive Kawasaki VN2000, have larger engines than some mid-size cars and are definitely not recommended for bikers who’ve just removed their stabilisers.

6. Adventure sport

Suzuki V-Strom 1000 Adventure 
Used by bikers who want to ride both on and off road - think Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in the travel programme "Long Way Round" - these endurance machines often have larger luggage compartments and petrol tanks for long distance trekking.

A tall profile and upright riding position means good visibility over the car in front and also makes the rider highly visible to other cars.

King of this class is the huge BMW RG1200, a veritable Hummer of the motorcycle world, while Suzuki’s V-Strom 1000 (pictured above) is one of the more affordable big adventure bikes.

7. Touring motorcycles

Honda Gold Wing
If you’re going to be travelling long distances, these mile munchers could be for you.

Built for on-road comfort and continent-cruising ability, many tourers have large windscreens, generous luggage capacity, plush seats, driver/passenger intercom, and heated handlebar grips.

Some bikes, such as the 1500cc and 1800cc Honda Goldwing, even have reverse gears to help move their massive weight out of tight parking spots.

Motorbike classes can be subdivided even further like naked sports, classic bikes, sports touring, but the above should give you a general feel for the types available.

Whether you’re brand new to two wheels, a born-again biker, or you’ve been riding for years, please travel carefully, always stay safe and make sure you have the right level of insurance.

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