Types Of Motorcycles – 2021 Guide

| Last Updated: March 14, 2021

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There is such a wide range of motorcycles in the market that it can be confusing to determine which one is right for you. While there are bikes as small as 120cc, others are above 2000cc.

Some bikes are ideal for off-road riding, others for paved roads and freeways, while others do well both on-road and off-road. Similarly, some bikes are built for short-distance riding, while others for long-distance.

This article offers you a guide to the most common motorcycle types.

What Are the Different Types of Motorcycles?

Below is a look at the different types of motorcycles.

What is a Scrambler Motorcycle?

The scrambler motorcycle is a hybrid of a street bike and a dirt bike. It is excellent on freeways and paved roads but also offers capability off-road.

It is a street bike with off-road rubber wheels and a high-mount exhaust. Some scrambler bikes are fitted with long suspension.

Photo credit: Autowise.com

What is an Adventure Bike?

The adventure motorbike is designed to fit the look, comfort, and lifestyle for long-distance traveling.  Most are designed to ride well on both paved and unpaved roads. They have a strong frame and subframe to adequately support the traveler’s luggage or a passenger.

Photo credit: GearPatrol.com

It also has a large fuel tank to allow the rider to cover up to 200 miles before needing to refuel. The adventure motorcycle is designed to require minimal and easy servicing. Due to its bigger frames, more suspension, and large tank, it is heavier than non-adventure bikes.

What is a Cruiser Bike?

Cruiser bikes are heavy and low to the ground offering a low center of gravity and excellent stability. They ride well on-road, but they are not ideal for off-road riding. They have a minimalistic tech-design with a vintage-like look. Their cooling systems range from water, air, or oil cooling.

Photo credit: HiConsumption.com

The cruiser bike offers a relaxed, upright riding position, usually with feet forward, hands up, and spine erect. It has sufficient luggage space.

What is a Street Bike?

Street bikes are designed for riding on paved roads and freeways. They have well rounded and smooth rubber tires that offer adequate grip on both wet and dry roads.

What is a Dirt Bike?

Dirt bikes are built for off-road riding. Their design incorporates long suspension for comfort when maneuvering rough terrains. They are also designed to be lightweight. Most range between 80cc and 500cc and are powered by small but powerful motors. Their tires have deep trends for amplified traction on gravel or slippery surfaces.

Photo credit: RideExpeditions.com

What is a Touring Bike?

Touring bikes, also commonly referred to as dressers, are designed for long-distance traveling. They are built for comfort and luxury. Most are heavy with wide wheels for enhanced stability on the road.

Photo credit: Cycleworld.com

Modern touring bikes incorporate technology such as navigation screens, Bluetooth, audio systems, heated seats, and electronic suspension, among others. These offer advanced comfort and functionality when traveling a long distance.

What is a Sportbike?

A sportbike is designed to operate at high speeds, usually on paved roads and over short distances. As such, they are fitted with high-performance brakes and top-notch suspension systems. They also have excellent corner maneuvering capabilities. However, their speed performance features come at the cost of comfort and fuel economy.

Photo credit: RideApart.com

Chart Difference Between Types of Motorcycles

Below is a comparison chart summarizing the difference between the various types of motorcycles.

Bike Comparisons

Adventure Bike vs Cruiser

While cruiser bikes are designed to be ridden on paved roads, adventure bikes do well both on-road and off-road. Cruiser bikes offer a low seating position for a hand up and feet-forward riding position, while the adventure bike offers a feet-directly-below the knees riding position.

The rider can ride on an almost-standing position on rough patches with the adventure bike, while the cruiser riding position does not allow you to stand.

Cruisers vs Sportbikes

There are major differences between cruisers and sportbikes concerning operating mechanisms and riding positions.

The cruiser bike offers a spread-out eagle riding position with feet forward, spine erect, and hands up for comfortable and easy changing of lanes. On the other hand, sports bikes have a higher footpeg position that keeps the lower body close to the body of the bike.

Photo credit: Motorbeast.org

When riding a sportbike, your hands are in a lowered hand position so that your body is leaning forward towards the tank.

When it comes to power, sports bikes have higher power and torque for instant acceleration, while cruiser bikes have high torque but low power. Therefore, while cruiser bikes can accelerate instantly, their maximum speed is much lower than that of sportbikes.

The cruiser bike is designed for comfort and functionality since it is meant for riding longer distances, while the sportbike is built for speed and efficiency when accelerating and braking.

Street Bike vs Cruiser

While a cruiser offers you comfort, the street bike offers thrill. Street bikes have a futuristic, sporty design. They are made from lightweight materials and are available in various colors.

On the other hand, the cruiser has a uniquely classic look, in most cases with a chrome finish. It is made with heavy iron or steel. Both types can be customized up to a certain degree to fit your comfort and accessories preference.

Generally, cruisers are heavier with a bigger engine capacity than street bikes. Cruisers range between 250cc and 2300cc, while street bikes range between 500cc and 1400cc. In terms of speed, street cruisers are way faster than cruisers.

Dirt Bike vs Street Bike

Like their names suggest, dirt bikes are built for off-road riding, while street bikes are built for paved road riding. Dirt bikes have a bigger suspension than street bikes.

Another key difference between these two types of bikes is in their tires. Street bikes have smooth and round tires for maximum grip on the road, while dirt bikes have knobby tires for traction on loose surfaces.

Street bikes tend to be heavier and faster than dirt bikes. When it comes to a sitting posture, the dirt bikes offer an upright sitting pose that allows you to ride standing on extremely loose surfaces, while street bikes offer a slightly leaning forward riding position.

Photo credit: Motoshark.com

Cruiser vs Touring

Both cruiser and touring bikes are big, heavy, and powerful motorcycles designed for paved road riding. However, touring bikes offer extra features and functionality for long-distance riding.

Touring bikes are particularly built with extra cargo space ideal for whether you want to pack up some camping gear, food, or souvenirs. Cruisers accelerate faster and have a higher maximum speed than touring bikes.

Photo credit: Twisted-cycles.com


The most important factor to consider when determining which type of motorcycle to buy is the primary purpose you intend to use it for. Then, consider your preferred riding style, features, size, and match the bike options available against your budget.

People Also Ask

This section provides concise answers to two of the most commonly asked questions regarding the different types of motorcycles and their features.

What Types of Motorcycles Have Storage?

Most motorcycles do not have a built-in storage compartment. However, there are a few that are exceptional such as the Suzuki Across and Honda NC700. The Honda NT650V and 700 above models have interlinked saddlebags. With that said, you can optimize your bike’s storage space with motorcycle storage accessories such as bags, saddlebags, top box, bungee cords, and tank bags.

Are European Motorcycle Types Different Than American Ones?

Most European and American motorcycles in the same category are similar, with minor differences in design and specifications.

Photo Credit: ParataMoto.com

However, some regulations are specific to the different regions that influence slight differences in the design of European vs. American motorcycles.

For instance, in Europe, it is mandatory for all bikes above 125cc to have ABS. Europe’s emission standards 3,4, and 5 make certain motorcycle models unacceptable in the region.

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.