A beginner's guide to 9 common types of Motorcycles

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

So you’ve decided that two wheels are better than four or even two legs for that matter. You have given yourself enough reasons to decide on taking a motorcycle test in Hong Kong with the hope of passing and getting a bike to take you wherever you want. However, you’ve hit a brick wall to realize that you are not quite sure which bike to get. What you really need now is a simple breakdown as to what the different types of motorcycles are to help you make a decision.

For this article by Kwiksure, we will do just that by listing out the core characteristics for each category of motorcycles to help you as a beginner.

Standard motorcycle

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

The standard type of motorcycle is a common favorite among riders for the following reasons:

  • Simple design
  • Suited for different purposes including touring to commuting
  • Variations range from 125cc up to 1,000cc
  • Average seat height
  • Can be fitted with additional luggage space
  • Includes a tank bag
  • Usually comes with a small front fairing or none
  • Changeable seats
  • Suitable for beginners

Standard motorcycles don’t usually come with large flarings. These flarings are used to reduce air friction to allow the bike to travel faster and are common in sportbikes (one that we will introduce later). The ergonomics of this type are fairly neutral in that it isn’t very forward-leaning or rearward reclining. Great for keeping the back almost upright but with the hands firmly on the handle for complete control. In terms of height, it is in the short to middle range, allowing you to sit over comfortably and have at least one foot on the ground when static.

Cruiser motorcycle

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

The cruiser is a widely known type of motorcycle, which was originally designed for cruising, hence where the name was derived from. Also nicknamed the chopper, it has a few interesting features including:

  • Lower seat height
  • Added luggage storage
  • Suitable for longer trips away
  • Engine ranging in displacement from around 125cc all the way up to 1,000cc
  • Powerful
  • Comfortable seating
  • Laid-back design

While cruiser bikes cannot handle the rigors of off-roading, stunts, or endless miles of pebblestone roads, they are perfect for those who wish to ride around in comfort, whether its for leisure or for an errand or two. Cruisers are meant to be load, fast, and fun to ride, packing some real horsepower to give you that surge of adrenalin. For beginners, it would definitely make you look cool on the road as most people would have seen one on the road if not most definitely in an old movie or TV show. Consider choosing a less powerful option, to begin with until your experience allows you to fully control the more powerful models.

Sports motorcycle

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

Now unless you are planning to go on a race track, getting a sportbike isn’t really considered the first option for new beginners. The fact that it is designed for speed isn’t going to change the fact that you will be stopping at red lights quite often in Hong Kong. However, for your interest, this genre of motorcycles is meant for agility with forward-leaning ergonomics to carve across corners while riding. Some of the interesting features include:

  • Fairing to the body of the bike
  • Light in weight
  • Made from lighter materials such as aluminum to increase side to side maneuverability
  • Seat height is on the higher end, so the rider can lean the motorcycle farther to the side without scraping footpegs or fairings
  • Higher footpegs, so the rider can pull in the legs closer to the body for better aerodynamics
  • Excellent braking system along with high-performance disks, pads, and calipers
  • Elite suspension system
  • Larger types than other types of motorcycles
  • Engine size range from 500cc to over 1,300cc

As sportbikes are optimized for speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering on paved roads, they often lack the basic comforts and amenities. Definitely recommended on suitable roads or tracks that allow for speed and for those looking for a thrilling experience. However, on Hong Kong’s roads, it may be better to opt for a more suitable urban type of motorcycle. For beginners, it may be best to choose a standard type of motorcycle before advancing to using a sports motorcycle.

Continue reading: 5 tips for beginners to choose the right motorcycle

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Touring motorcycle

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

The touring type of motorcycle is typically larger in build than most other motorcycles as they normally include extra amenities for cross-country touring across long distances. Some of the interesting features include:

  • A huge amount of storage with well-designed ergonomics
  • Large if not the largest fairings found on a type of motorcycle to block the wind
  • Large fuel tanks for longer journeys
  • Large engine size to sustain speed on motorways
  • Soft seats for a comfortable ride
  • Engine sizes range from 1,000cc to 1,800cc
  • Electrical and charging output plugs
  • Handlebars that are placed at an optimal height

For beginners looking to travel long distances this type of motorcycle has everything set for travel. However, considering the heavy load and additional features, a typical touring bike can weigh more than average motorcycles. With the added weight, it will require greater fuel to keep it running. So if you choose to buy a touring motorcycle, expect to pay more at the pump. Maneuverability is also considered poor as they are designed for riding on long, open roads. If you find that the bike is too heavy to handle, it may be best to opt for a lighter type, such as a scooter or moped.

Sports touring motorcycle

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

The sport-touring type of motorcycles is a blend of sport and touring, as the name suggests. They are suitable for people that are considering performance and distance in their travels and require certain features that include:

  • Taller seat height than a standard touring motorcycle
  • Better luggage options than the sports motorcycles for hauling extra gear on the longer trips
  • Engine sizes are usually in the mid-range to some of the larger available - ranging from 750cc up to 1,300cc and more
  • Excellent wind protection with large fairings
  • Good pillion support
  • Semi-sporting riding position
  • Powerful breaks

Other than giving riders the best of both worlds, beginners can expect to see their experience grow as the motorcycle is fairly versatile for urban and long-distance travel. It may be worth checking out what a sports motorcycle and touring motorcycle offer separately, so you can get a feel of what they have to offer.

Dual-sport motorcycle

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

So you have come across sport, sport-touring, but have you heard of dual sport? Also known as dual-purpose or adventure sports, this type of motorcycle is meant to go anywhere and do almost everything. A few features to note include:

  • More aggressive off-road suspension
  • Lights and horn system
  • Knobbly off-road tires
  • Higher seat height
  • Engine sizes range from 125cc to 800cc

Although dual-sport motorcycles are considered great for off-roading, they typically have limited storage options, however, you could outfit one with a number of storage compartments or units. They are also considered a good option for beginners looking for both on and limited off-road riding.


A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

Some enthusiasts may argue that scooter isn’t a real motorcycle, but with their smaller design and style, they can certainly get you around places more easily compared to their bigger siblings. For new beginners living within an urban setting, scooters are a great choice. They are best suited for a metropolitan area like Hong Kong. Scooters are great for getting around for many reasons, including:

  • Being lightweight for better control
  • Having a lower center of gravity, which makes it easy to navigate through small, narrow city streets
  • Various engine sizes, from 50cc through to 500cc
  • Space for extra passenger

However, with all things great, there are certain aspects that don’t score well. As a beginner, you may want to have a motorcycle to store all your belongings, be it shopping or bag. With a scooter, a smaller fairing with limited storage is offered. Also, unless you are not into speed, the pace of a scooter is considered slower than bigger motorcycles. 


A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

People may question if a moped should be called a scooter, or rather a subcategory of the scooter, but in this guide, we consider it technically different. Differences include:

  • A lighter frame
  • Smaller engine (50cc or less)
  • Some mopeds have an electric motor
  • Minimal to no storage
  • Little to no fairings to block the wind and weather

For beginners looking for a bit of fun, opting for a moped is considered a simple choice for those eager just to get from A to B across short distances. Taking into account Hong Kong’s traffic and congestion, you wouldn’t be traveling anywhere far or fast for that matter.

Off-road motorcycles

A beginner's guide to types of motorcycles

As a beginner, your dreams and aspirations for extraordinary travel may be limitless. With an off-road motorcycle, those dreams and aspirations may actually come true. Exactly as they sound, they are designed for going where typical riders cannot. Features include:

  • Taller seat height to clear obstructions
  • A long suspension that can handle a few bumps along the way 
  • Wheels as wide as 18 inches
  • Dual-purpose knobbly tires
  • Engine sizes can range from 125cc to 450cc

Some models also come with riding modes, traction control, ABS, low-rpm assist, adjustable windscreen, and fuel tanks as big as 20 liters. With all these features, getting off the beaten track and into unfamiliar terrain not only possible but also exhilarating. 

What type of motorcycle insurance you should purchase

Having explored the different types of motorcycles above, we can guess that you are more than informed and already have the type of motorcycle in mind to buy. But before you sprint off to the nearest dealer, make sure you have purchased motorcycle insurance.

Motorcycle insurance in Hong Kong is available under three different tiers, namely third-party insurance, third party fire and theft insurance, and comprehensive insurance.

Continue reading: 5 things to consider when buying motorcycle insurance 

Speak to a Kwiksure expert for more information

Our expert consultants know the ins and outs of motorcycle insurance policies and can ensure that you get the right coverage as a beginner. For a free quote or to discuss your motorcycle insurance requirements, contact the team at Kwiksure today!

Continue reading: How to save money on motorcycle ride in Hong Kong

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The above information is for reference only. Kwiksure takes no responsibility for the accuracy and timeliness of the information. For the coverage, mode of compensation, benefit limit and premium levels of any specific insurance plan, please refer to the relevant policy terms.