Back To School Bikes

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Heading to (or back to) college next month? The right motorcycle won’t just get you to class fast and efficiently, but it’ll end up saying as much about you as that backwards Abercrombie hat and those acid washed jeans. Get the right bike with our help.

College isn’t just a chance to put yourself in massive debt, thereby locking yourself into a lifetime of indentured servitude to The Man, it’s also a good opportunity to learn stuff. Keg stands, music piracy, Ramen noodle recipes, the list is endless. So, why not learn a little about motorcycling while you’re there, too? Easier parking, drastically lower fuel bills and a chance to wear a leather jacket without looking like that funny student visiting from Italy. Of course, it’s important to choose a motorcycle that conveys your desired social image, allowing you to adequately conform to a specific cultural strata.

The Frat Boy

If all your dude bros are driving Jeep Wranglers you a) don’t have to worry about hauling kegs, because they can do it for you and b) need something that appears suitably rugged parked outside the frathouse. The F800GS Adventure’s badge will be recognizable even to the sorority sister, while the outdoorsy image should perfectly accentuate your popped collar. Buy the beige one.

The Fine Art Major

You need a bike that demonstrates your elegant taste, wasn’t appreciated by the masses during its lifetime, but that can still bring home big boxes of material from the art store. The Ducati Multistrada 1100 was designed by oft-misunderstood genius Pierre Terblanche who, just like you, wears black turtlenecks and black framed glasses. It was considered odd and overwrought in its day, but now looks futuristic and clean next to Ducati’s current range. It’s also comfy, fairly light, handles more than well enough to manage a track day and has plenty of room for a passenger or tons of luggage. They’re cheap in the used market right now, too.

The Redditor

Reddit is a popular online forum for fans of creepy photos and Ninja 250s. If you’re the kind of college student that prefers Internet friends to real world friends, make sure you choose a bike that’ll be accepted by your community. The new Ninja 300 may simply be refreshed styling on a 27-year old motorcycle, but it also guarantees you acceptance by, and virtual friendship with, other Internet nerds. Other bikes, the groupthink goes, just aren’t sensible. And sensible decisions are why you’re sitting in the computer lab, all alone, at 3am, right? Go green for the full nerd effect.

The Jock

Look, we know your school can’t technically pay you to play for it, but they can help you offset the cost of attendance by subsidizing your transportation, right? And, when it comes to an athlete’s needs, there’s nothing that says “First Round Draft Pick” like Suzuki’s Hayabusa. Just ask that Redditor down the dorm hall to read the fine print on your contract first, it may ban dangerous activities like motorcycle riding and actually showing up for English 101.

The Sorority Sister

The Finance Major

Work out all the cost of ownership factors in a spreadsheet — down payment, monthly payments, gas, insurance, maintenance, wear items — and you’ll soon figure out that there simply isn’t more economically sensible transportation than the CBR250R. The $4,700 price tag for the ABS model is around what you earned each month as an Intern on Wall Street last summer and, at over 70mpg, your monthly fuel costs will be lower than your Android phone bill.

The Silver Spooner

You walk into a room and everyone knows you’re different. Maybe it’s the $200 haircut, the $800 shirt, the $9,000 Rolex or all that dental work. But really, those are just external signs of your good fortune. Achieve the same effect with the Moto Guzzi V7 Racer Record. It’s rare, expensive, flashy and timeless. More importantly, it’ll look just as good parked outside your college town condo or your family’s ancestral home in the Hamptons.

The Hipster

Handmade, dead stock canvas duffle bags full of faux workwear ready to go? You’ll need a bike that projects a suitably classic sense of masculine identity. Something from a bygone age when men were men, beards weren’t ironic and you’d have been laughed out of the working mans club for your puny little arms. The base Bonneville is the fastest, most capable bike in Triumph’s Modern Classic range, giving you all the classic bike image without having to get your hands dirty or leaking oil onto your $800 “work” boots.

The Goth/Emo/Metal Head

Nothing says “rebellion like repurposing your parents’. The Iron 883 is the cheapest bike in Harley’s range and, at 573lbs, the lightest. So it’s the easiest way to be ironic with your motorcycle choice while retaining some actual two-wheeled function. The blacked-out looks go great with skinny jeans and guy liner too.

The Slacker

Well, you won’t find a better excuse for skipping class than going for a motorcycle ride, so you may as well have a fun bike. And a cheap one, since working nights and weekends obviously isn’t a choice. The Honda CB500F is a blast to ride, will save you money on gas and, at $5,000, shouldn’t be that hard to convince your parents to buy you one. Just promise to get a C average this semester.

The Class President

You’re responsible, you’re a forward thinker, you’re an influencer and you’re an agent for change. Or so you tell everyone, over and over and over. The electric Zero S will make short work of campus commutes, allow you to leach off the school’s electricity (a student government privilege, surely) and keep your late night…rendezvous private thanks to its silent operation. Plus, you get to be all smug about riding an electric vehicle that’s kinda, sorta made in America.

The Hippy

Everyone thinks you just care about the environment, but really, you’re more worried about leaving the trials and tribulations of the modern world behind, preferring a more simple, connected way of life. There’s nothing simpler or more classic than the Ural Solo ST, a motorcycle based on a pre WWII design and still largely hand made at an old factory in Siberia. Not quite the two-wheeled equivalent of a VW Bus, but much of the same character.

  • Stuki

    The NC700x is the only bike you can make an underage liqueur and other contraband run on, safe in the knowledge Ponch and Jon won’t know where to look for the stuff when they pull you over. Beats the heck out of a plastic bag full of the stuff dangling off the handlebar of a superbike….. The DCT is less abrasive to shift in flip flops as well…

    • Wes Siler

      Don’t forget the Aprilia Mana.

  • Rei

    There’s a difference between the fine arts major and the hipster?

    • Wes Siler

      Flannel shirts and black turtlenecks have never paired well.

      • Rei

        Everything pairs with flannel shirts here in Kanuckistan

    • Hercules Bagadonuts

      Yes. Round my way, hipsters have 70s Hondas or mopeds, and fine arts, that’d be more the Vespa crowd.

    • Jesse

      As a recovering arts major, I can tell you that being a hipster would probably pay better.

  • kentaro

    The Chubster: FLHRCIBBQ

  • uberbox

    Reading this was time well wasted. I chuckled–frequently. I honestly don’t think I could have paired better bikes with each stereotype.

  • Eric Marc-Aurele

    That’s a Multistrada. (I’ve got the fine arts background to state this with authority)

    The NC700X is commuting nirvana. Wish I had one when I was in school instead of a clapped out Katana.

  • TheSeaward

    “The new Ninja 300 may simply be refreshed styling on a 27-year old motorcycle” Yeah, ABS and fuel injection with a reworked motor is obviously BNG. Like someone else said your Multistrada is misidentified. Come on guys.

    Unfortunately hipsters aren’t comfortable supporting the modern motorcycle market, so they continue to ruin every CB they can get their hands on. With the rate they’re chopping them up a stock one will be worth real money soon.

    • Campisi

      Most hipsters (most young people, for that matter) don’t make any money. CBs, while going up in price, are still many times cheaper than any new motorcycle with a similar look. A retro-look CB500f woulf fly out of the dealerships.

      • TheSeaward

        Most young people have differing priorities. They could afford a lot nicer bikes if they didn’t go to the bar twice a week or have $100/month phone bills.

        • Campisi

          As a young person that gets a cell phone through work and doesn’t drink, the only way I could afford the Bonneville I rode (until a Volvo binned it) was by living at home. While in a technical sense it was true that changing my budget priorities allowed me to own a newer motorcycle, most working young people don’t realistically have the option of completely eliminating their housing costs. Decades of stagnant wages in the face of skyrocketing costs of living and student loans that cost as much as rent each month will do that.

  • kaze919

    I’d so love to be the slacker this semester but riding season is pretty short in upstate NY. What am I if I buy a KTM RC 390 next semester?

    • Wes Siler

      On your study abroad semester, that’s what.

      • kaze919

        I am actually going to do a semester abroad in Graz, Austria. I did not even think about this. But thats spring ’15 the mini duke should be out in the states by then.

      • ghaash

        Best advice you can take and hear in college.

    • gregory

      Get a quad. Great for snow.

  • EchoZero

    As someone who’s active on r/motorcycles… yeah, that’s pretty accurate. The only thing worse than the “Start on a 250 or you will die” brigade are the “ATGATT/Shut Up About ATGATT Already” debates.

    • Wes Siler

      Ha, yeah. Anytime one of our articles gets posted there, the first comment is inevitably, “not as practical as a ninja 250!!!1!!! your (sic) a Squid lol rofl fml” I try and talk some sense into them, but the hivemind has grown too strong for my mortal powers of logic.

    • C.Stevens

      Ninja 250 is like the motorcycle equivalent to the Mazda Miata on Jalopnik. It’s always the right answer to every question :)

      I had a later model Pregen. They actually kind of suck quality-wise, except the engine. The insanely revvy motor never gets old. Glad they finally have some competition from Honda.

      • Piglet2010

        The good thing about the pre-gen Ninjette is you can pick them up for $2-$2.5K, so it is not a big deal when you low-side on a track day (BTDT). And since they are cheap, one does not feel bad about flogging the h3ll* out of them, which is good fun.

        *Ironic on a website that has a section called “H*ll for Leather”, using the non-munged spelling of the first word will get your comment held for moderation.

      • Adam Waheed

        haha +1 on mazda miata comment.

      • runnermatt

        I have been thinking that my CBR250R would compare to the Miata. I would think the Ninja 250 is the better comparison though. That said what would the CBR250R be compared to?

        • E Brown

          Honda S2000?

          • runnermatt

            I would think it would be the other way around. The CBR250R makes less power, less displacement (than the Ninja 300) weighs less and doesn’t rev as high as the Ninja 250R or 300. In that respect the Miata would compare to the CBR and the Ninja would compare to the S2000.

            I can understand the argument of Honda CBR and Honda S2000 as they are both Hondas.

  • Mark D

    I just tagged along with the old lady while she was scooter shopping. I think the Sorority girl is onto something. Scooters rock.

    • sean macdonald

      all motorcycles rock

      • Piglet2010

        Except the Kawasaki Eliminator 125 – designed to eliminate fun from riding.

  • Daniel

    I guess I’m The Slacker then. Whatever man.

  • Benjamin Reynolds

    It’s funny that the CB500F is listed as the Slacker bike. As it’s my favorite bike on this list and I often cut class in college to go on joy rides. Although I was riding my Ninja 250R (I’d probably have went with the CB500F if it was out at the time).

  • Guest

    ill keep my bonneville tyvm! and my corcorans were 140$!

  • Jeremy Chittenden

    No rocket III but a hardly. Boo

  • gregory

    No scooters? Aside from the overly-fashionable Vespa, there are tons of practical, no nonsense scooters. I recommend Kymco or SYM or some such… even the big four make plenty of scoots. Automatic tranny means you can ride in your flipflops. Rear trunk means you can carry a flat of beer or whatnot. Can easily carry at least three people. Why no big scooter love, Hell For Leather?

  • Garrett Nelson

    No Honda Grom?! That bike looks perfect for getting around a campus…or beach community. Anywhere where lots of beer will be consumed.

  • Sasha Pave

    Hilarious! Well done!

  • worker88

    No RAV4s made the list?

    • sean macdonald

      my mom has a RAV 4

      • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

        It’s pronounced “Rah-Vah”

  • Jono

    The truant/no-show: DRZ400sm

  • TP

    Lol this is pretty funny. Although, the silver spooner in my neighborhood has a red 1198/848, and most fratstars around here are on scooters.

    P.S. how many bonus points do I get for posting this from the uni library?

    P.P.S. You guys forgot the ROTC kids on Gixxers.

  • Zachary Church

    This was great!

  • Jeremy Alvarado

    funny… i was a slacker in school and now im driving a cb500f

  • Piglet2010

    Is this satire? Long ago, I sold my Honda CB400T since I could not get affordable insurance that would allow me to keep it on campus. :(

    More realistic student bikes would be 1990′s scooters and unloved Honda Nighthawk 250′s.

    • eviladrian

      Find the ideal student bike!
      Open ebay, search “motorcycle”, max price $250, sort by “lowest price first”…

  • appliance5000

    I’m glad someone agrees with me about the oddly baroque nature of the recent Ducatis. I think KTM has taken up the mantle of modern functional design – obviously in a more Germanic manner – but beautiful none the less.

  • Scott Otte

    I’d rather have new tires and service my Ducati…

    • Piglet2010

      Part a Ducati and a Kymco on campus – see which is still there when you come back.

      • Scott Otte

        Rode my Ducati to School every day for years… and to work today.

  • Campisi

    “The Sorority Sister” is the greatest literary triumph of our time.

  • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

    What does the speed triple notch me into?

  • mulderdog

    Is anyone here old enough to remember Bill Morrissey”s “Car and Driver” ?
    It would fit nicely if there were audio to go with this fun article….

  • Tuscan Foodie

    I am Italian, and I own 12 leather jackets. Do you have a problem with that?

  • LS650

    When I was a university student, I could barely afford a ratty old 10-speed bicycle.

    • Jesse

      Yep, this. I rode a cobbled together old BMX bike with only a front brake, until I got left turned. Ah, to be young and asphalt resistant again.

  • 80-watt Hamster

    …$800 work boots exist?

  • Branden Hellman

    Damn this is awesomely funny and maybe,… dare I say it accurate to a certain degree in some locations and colleges. But what about all of those college students that have the exact ideals, but they are the ones buying that CBR600F2, or the Maxim, or original VMax.
    The oil cooled GSXR.
    The tattoo’d chic who wrenches on her own pan head.

    (wish list): old bikes of days gone by that would be amazing used bikes for the poor as hail college student.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    This article is hilarious. Might I add in the drunk Party-Bro who rides a Tribal Skull scheme R6?

  • nomad2495

    I am a metalhead and despise Harleys.