A scooter is a two-wheeled
motor vehicle with a step-through frame. Many modern scooters
have their engines located forward of the seat and affixed to
have been produced in myriad different models for innumerable
purposes. This page is concerned primarily with contemporary
designs of motorcycle.
Road motorcycles are motorcycles designed for
being ridden on paved roads. They feature smooth tires with
a light tread pattern and engines generally in the 125 cc and
over range. Most are capable of speeds up to 100 mph (~160 km/h),
and many of speeds in excess of 125 mph (~200 km/h).
In India and Pakistan, motorcycles are more
popular than cars as means of transport due to cost of ownership.
Typical displacements are small (50 to 450 cc), and as a result
these motorcycles give better fuel economy — reportedly
1.25-2.5 l/100km (94-188 mpg) being common.
Road motorcycles are themselves broken down
into several sub-categories.
Main article: cruiser (motorcycle)
BMW R1200C CruiserThese motorcycles mimic the style of American
machines from the 1930s to the early 1960s, such as those made
by Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior and Henderson, even though
they have benefited from advances in metallurgy and design.
The riding position places the feet forward and the hands up,
with the spine erect or leaning back slightly, which many find
to be more comfortable for long-distance riding. The riding
position of American style Cruisers and Choppers evolved from
the saddle and riding position used by Western Cowboys. This
position allows greater long distance comfort, with some compromise
Chopper-style motorcycles would be categorized
as a type of cruiser.
Some cruisers may have limited performance
and turning ability because of a low slung design. Riders who
enjoy cornering at higher speeds may need to customize to enhance
lean angle, or start with a performance or sport-cruiser. Cruisers
are often custom projects that result in a bike modified to
suit the owner's ideals, and as such are a source of pride and
accomplishment. Cruisers are sometimes called custom even in
the absence of aftermarket modifications.
Main article: Sport bike
Kawasaki sportbikes.Sport bikes, sometimes called performance
bikes or "crotch rockets", are typically much smaller
and lighter than cruisers, and are essentially consumer versions
of the motorcycles used in production-based forms of Motorcycle
sport road racing. The bikes are designed with an emphasis on
handling and speed.
The riding position places the feet towards
the back, the hands low and the spine inclined forward. Sportbikes
derive their seating position from sporting oriented horse riding,
notably the English Saddle. Sport bikes are almost invariably
capable of very high speeds as compared to most vehicles, with
great stability in corners. Large-displacement sports bikes
offer large power-to-weight ratio with explosive acceleration;
most bikes reach 100 km/h from stand still at or about 3 seconds
and can do a quarter mile under or about 10 seconds. They are
difficult to manage by those not experienced in their operation;
for the less-experienced or who have requirements of a smaller,
lighter vehicle, smaller-displacement, sub-75 horsepower (56
kW) motorcycles are also manufactured. The 2006 Kawasaki Ninja
ZX-14 (stock) can reach 100 km/h (62 mph) under 2.5 seconds
and does a quarter mile in 9 seconds flat with an experienced
rider, however top speed is electronically limited to 300 km/h
(186 mph). The many engine sizes available often reflect the
difference professional and amateur racing classes which adhere
to strict engine-size and weight rules. The late 1990s saw "power
wars" between various motorcycle manufacturers that culminated
in Suzuki's 1300 cc GSX-1300R Hayabusa, the first production
motorcycle to exceed 300 km/h (186 mph), and Kawasaki's ZX-12R,
designed to exceed 320 km/h (200 mph). The Japanese manufacturers
have allegedly had "gentlemen's agreements" to limit
production motorcycle engines to a maximum output of 125bhp
in the 90s & later a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph)
in an effort to promote safety - typically accomplished with
an electronically-controlled speed governor. Aftermarket manufacturers,
however, do not hesitate to satisfy the need for even greater
speeds - several produce parts or systems designed to defeat
the factory-installed speed limiters.
Modern sportbikes are raced in production-based
racing categories such as "superbike," "supersport"
and "superstock" around the world. Superbike generally
refers to classes in which substantial modifications to the
bikes up to 1000cc are allowed, whereas supersport and superstock
are classes in which only limited modifications are permitted.
Main article: Touring motorcycle
BMW K1200LT at Glacier National ParkAlthough any motorcycle
can be so equipped and used to tour with, manufacturers have
brought specific models designed to address the particular needs
of long-distance touring and heavy commuting riders to market.
Common to the touring market is usually large displacement fairings
and windshields (to offer a high degree of weather and wind
protection), large capacity fuel tanks (for long ranges between
fill-ups) and a more relaxed, more upright seating position
than sport-bikes. These motorcycles can be further subdivided
into multiple sub-categories, which are commonly used terms
within the motorcycle industry.
Main article: Naked bike
1997 Suzuki GS500E fully naked bikeAlso known as a "standard"
or "street bike", this is the basic form of the motorcycle
stripped down to its fundamental parts. The emphasis is on functionality,
performance and ergonomics rather than aerodynamic body panels
and exaggerated riding positions that are most common on sport
This style of motorcycle became the "norm" in the
1970s and early 1980s (with the advent of the Universal Japanese
motorycle), but fell out of favor as motorcycles evolved and
niches developed for sport, touring, and cruising. The "naked"
saw a resurgence at the end of the 1990s, driven in large part
by the European market, with many manufacturers releasing new
models with minimal or no fairings. Current naked bikes are
usually given a modern, more-or-less sporting suspension, unless
they are intended to be have "retro" styling. The
BMW's K1200R, R1200R, and F650CS, and the Ducati Monster, Yamaha
FZ1, Honda 919, Honda Hornet (599), Triumph Speed Triple, Triumph
Speed Four, MV Agusta Brutale, Buell Lightning, Buell Ulysses,
Buell Blast, and Suzuki GSF600 Bandit are popular examples of
naked motorcycles. Large engine displacement versions of naked
motorcycles, especially those built in Japan, are often referred
to as "muscle" bikes.
With a feet-forwards motorcycle, the rider's
feet are positioned ahead in a position (like a car), rather
than below and astride, as with conventional bikes. Usually
these are designed with a low-slung faired body, with the rider
in a reclining position. These motorcycles are somewhat experimental
and hard to find.
Motorscooters are similar to motorcycles and
are also designed for being ridden on the road. Scooters usually
have the engine as part of the swingarm, ie. their engines travel
up & down with the suspension. They are often have smaller
wheels (generally less than 14 in (357 mm) diameter), automatic
transmissions, small (generally less than 125 cc) engines, and
a step-through configuration allowing the rider to ride with
both feet on a running-board and knees together. In Mediterranean
Europe, particularly Italy, scooters are very popular. In the
United States scooters have long been a fixture on college campuses
and strapped to the back of Recreational Vehicles due to their
portability and exceptional fuel economy. However much larger
scooters with engine displacements greater than 250 cc are becoming
more popular. The Honda Silver Wing, Honda Reflex, Yamaha Majesty
and Suzuki Burgman are the most popular "maxi-scooter"
models available in the United States. Australia is about to
introduce the Honda Silver Wing 650cc in Late November 2006.
The moped used to be hybrid between the bicycle
and the motorcycle, equipped with a small engine (usually a
small two-stroke engine up to 50 cc, but occasionally an electric
motor) and a bicycle drivetrain, and motive power can be supplied
by the engine, the rider, or both. In many localities, mopeds
are subject to less stringent licensing than bikes with larger
engines and are popular as very cheap motorbikes, with the pedals
seeing next to no use. Mopeds were very popular in the United
States during the late 1970s and early 1980s, but their popularity
has fallen off sharply since the mid 1980s.
- Underbone - In Asia, moped were usually call as Underbone
There are several different types of off-road
motorcycle, designed and specialised for specific functions.
For off road use they typically, when compared to road going
- Light weight, small engines
- Long suspension travel and high ground clearance
- Simple, rugged construction with little bodywork and no
- Large wheels with knobby tires, often clamped to the rim
Off road motorcycles are often specialised
for a variety of off road motorcycle sports, notably
- Motocross - A race over jumps - Thus these machines have
small fuel capacities, extensive suspension travel, no road
legal necessities (e.g. lights, indicators, instruments,
etc), number plates for riding numbers, no passenger attachments,
etc. Engines can be two or four stroke, typical capacities
125cc to 500cc (smaller for youth), as the weight and utility
of the power of larger capacities is not needed).
- Enduro - A long distance competition, through forests,
etc. Similar to motocross machines but with the bare minimum
of equipment for road legality and additional fuel.
- Rallies - long distance racing, typically through deserts
for long distances. Road legal machine (like enduro) but
with significantly more fuel. Capacities tend to be larger,
around 450cc to 660cc (two or four stroke), an upper limit
is often imposed for rider safety.
Trials - An extremely specialised form of competition focused
on balancing skills and precision rather than speed. Thus
low weigh and quick power is the priority leading to small
(125cc to 300cc) engines, often two strokes being used.
Seats are unnecessary and affect the centre of gravity so
they aren't installed (sometime they are jokingly referred
to as banana bikes due to the lack of a seat). Fuel is kept
to a minimum so range is very limited. These machines are
also road legal.
- Track Racing - High speed oval racing, typically with
no brakes, no suspension, at most two gears, fuelled by
methanol (not road legal machines).
adventure-touring and Supermoto
Dual-sport is a broad term for steet legal
machines that are also designed to enter offroad situations.
Dual-sport motorcycles are often a compromise between offroad
and onroad capability.
Adventure-touring machines are large capacity
road machines intended for touring like road tourers but with
gravel tracks in mind, they can also be dual-sport machines
equipped with larger fuel tanks and or saddle bags. Their weight
and other features precludes them from tackling the extremes
of off road where off road machines are found.
Supermoto machines are motocross and enduro
machines (typically 450cc to 550cc) fitted with road tyres and
rims while keeping the other features synonymous with off road
machines. They compete over a course that mixes tarmac (ie road
racing) and off road (eg motocross) sections.
These adaptations of trail bikes were first
used by dairy farmers in New Zealand from the early 1960s. They
wanted a light, simple machine that could be started easily
and that would negotiate particularly muddy paddocks and steep
hillsides in all weathers. A range of bikes were tried by a
number of farmers and they came to use a mild-off-road machine
that could carry a good load (mainly a tray for their dogs,
instead of a rear seat) that was easy to mount, start and ride
with heavy rainwear. Large profile low-pressure tyres with knobbly
tread were found best for grass, mud and rocky tracks. Ultimately
Japanese manufacturers developed a range of specialised bikes—about
the time that the farmers came to use ATVs instead.
Despite the development of the ATV, farm bikes
retain certain advantages for some tasks. They are faster on
uneven ground, which can be useful in rounding up livestock,
and most are quicker in an on-road setting (and can be registered
for on-road travel). They can also operate safely on steep terrain
where ATV's have a risk of rollover. For these reasons, farm
bikes are still reasonably common in some places.
A Derny is a specialized type of motorcycle
that is designed and built for use in track cycling events where
a derny driver blocks the air-resistance for a racing bicycle
riding close behind the derny.
Aftermarket trailers designed to be towed by
motorcycles are available. However, because of the added risk
involved, no manufacturer of single-track motorcycles recommends
that they be used to tow trailers.
Although there are aftermarket trailers that
allow motorcycles to tow, factory-made motorcycles specialized
for towing are rare. The only known vehicle for towing is Retriever
by a Swedish company named Coming Through, which is a modified
version of Honda GL 1800 GoldWing. With the use of a high torque
engine, low centre of gravity design, and retractable trailer,
towing motorcycles can reduce response time for retrieving cars
and light trucks on congested roads.
The same limitations of solo motorcycles do
not apply to "outfits" or sidecar equipped motorcycles.
It is not known when the first sidecar drawn trailers appeared,
but as far back as 1928, Rudge offered a caravan for its outfits
and towbars are an aftermarket accessory offered for the current
sidecar equipped Ural motorcycle.
Harley Davidson made a factory trike for towing
from 1932 to 1973. Called the Servi-Car, it was a conceptual
copy of the Indian Dispatch-Tow. It could also push the vehicle
from behind while someone steered. It had nearly the same 750cc
engine through all the years it was made. The greatest change
was a redesign of the oil system in 1936 to recirculate the
oil instead of dumping it on the ground as was customary on
motorcycles at that time.
Concept bikes are one-off motorcycles built
as prototypes to test or showcase the desirability of a design,
the integration of new technologies, cost effectiveness, or
general design studies. Most concept bikes never see the light
of day as full mass-production vehicles; those that do rarely
match the original concept perfectly, instead representing a
combination of some of the concepts presented in the proto-type
combined with marketing realities and tooling capabilities of
Examples of recent concept bikes can be see
in the press release for any of the major global motorcycle
exhibitions, including the Tokyo Motorcycle Show, the various
primary European Motorcycle Shows (Intermot (Cologne), Paris
Motorcycle Exhibit, Milan Motorcycle Show)