The Complete Guide To Motorcycle Categories

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What’s the difference between a Sport Bike and Sport Tourer? How does a Cruiser compare to a Standard motorcycle? What on earth is an Adventure bike anyways? Here’s your complete guide to motorcycle categories so you’ll never be in the dark again.

Adventure Touring

Adventure Touring Motorcycle

The Image

BMW R1200GS

Frustrated with the constraints of modern life, a grizzled adventurer sets out to explore the hinterlands, unsupported, on this most rugged of machines. Years later, now sporting a beard, the ADV rider emerges from the wilderness equipped with the wisdom of the road. All you need to do the same is to write BMW a very large check, then add a little more for some own-brand riding gear.

The Reality

Honda NC700X

It turns out that riding a really, really heavy bike off-road is actually really, really hard. It also turns out that — despite the advertising — really, really heavy, really, really complicated bikes are quite fragile, requiring the most expensive gasoline, routine fettling by specially trained mechanics, thousands of dollars in aftermarket protection parts and a long and dedicated approach to learning the specific riding skills necessary. It also turns out that most people are buying ADV bikes for that rugged, bearded image, not to actually take them to far away places. Knowing that, all the motorcycle companies these days make big ADV bikes that are actually just tall tourers. Muster the courage to actually take one onto the dirt and you’ll be shocked at just how poorly they perform. You see JUMPS and SLIDES and ACTION in all the promotional material, but the reality is that it’s incredibly hard just to ride one down a dirt trail at walking pace. Good luck.

The Promise

Honda XR650L

Want to actually explore far away places? You’ll want something as light, simple and common as possible. That way it’ll be easy to ride and easy to pick up when you drop it; easy to fix and unlikely to need much work; and you’ll actually be able to find parts and tires and gas for it in Timbuktu. Large-capacity dual sports from the Japanese manufacturers haven’t received much update in 20 years, but that’s a good thing — parts are common, they’re dead simple and most mechanics already have experience with them. Fit a large fuel tank, fix the ergonomics and you’re good to go, often for a fraction of the price of so-called “Adventure” bikes.

So why do we rate ADV bikes so highly and ride them so often? The reality is that — on the road at least — they’re versatile, comfortable machines that are equally at home carrying a passenger, carving a mountain road or putting in huge miles on the open highway. What makes them uniquely good at all that is that they do one thing most other motorcycles forget: they’re comfortable.

Cruiser

Cruiser Motorcycle

The Image

The Wild One

“What are you rebelling against, Johnny?”

“What’ve you got?”

Oh, that most iconic image of motorcycling. It’s as tangible a part of American culture as the cowboy, but unlike getting around by horse, it’s now available with Low Monthly Payments ™.

The Reality

Wild Hogs

In pursuit of some ideal motorcycle look from the past and subjective “character,” all objective standards of motorcycle performance go out the window. And we’re not just talking about speed. Like using brakes to slow down? The raked-out front forks that define the cruiser look work against you, meaning the front wheel locks up long before meaningful decelerative force can be achieved. Like comfort? Placing your legs way out to the front means you can’t put any weight on them, directing all your pounds and every single little bump through your spine. Like to ride around in confident ease? The immense weight exaggerates all the other problems created by the cruiser archetype, limiting performance, increasing braking distances, ruining handling and making this type of motorcycle very hard to ride, even at the fairly limited speeds that they’re capable of. But none of that matters, because this is all about buying into a lifestyle, one in which very serious men spend a lot of time with other very serious men while wearing leather chaps.

The Promise

2014 Triumph Bonneville

There’s more kinds of motorcycles than cruisers and sportbikes. Want to recapture the simple ease and the classic good looks of the past? How about a nice retro standard like a Triumph Bonneville; it’s actually what Marlon Brando rode in “The Wild One.” Want character and history? Moto Guzzis have been handmade in the same factory in Northern Italy since 1921, are equipped with simple, air-cooled v-twins, but also manage actual performance, braking, handling, comfort and safety rivaling that of modern machines. No chaps required.

Dual-Sport

Dual Sport Motorcycle

The Image

Dual Sport Motorcycle

A dirt bike with a license plate! You can commute on weekdays, taking advantage of the light weight, narrow proportions and tall riding position to destroy traffic, then ride to the trails on the weekend and carve up some dirt.

The Reality

2013 KTM 500 EXC

Actually, this is one category that totally lives up to its promise. Some dual sports are a little more street oriented, some a little more dirt-focused. Just be honest with yourself about what kind of riding you plan to do and buy accordingly. Want the best of both worlds? A second set of wheels allows you to go all road safety with one and dirt performance with the other. Also be aware of the maintenance requirements of some of the faster machines; most KTMs and such are incredible to ride, but have maintenance intervals measured in tens of hours, not thousands of miles.

The Promise

And you can have all this versatile awesomeness for cheaper than you might think. The Honda CRF250L is just $4,500 and costs pennies to run. Ride it to work, ride it to trails, take it camping, whatever you want, it’ll do it.

Sport Touring

Sport Touring Motorcycle

The Image

Suzuki Hayabusa

All the speed, handling and fun of a sport bike in a package you can live with day-to-day. Ride thousands of miles to a fun road or track, then have a blast once you’re there.

The Reality

Suzuki Hayabusa

As Baby Boomers aged out of sport bikes, the manufacturers spent most of the last decade transforming this once-practical class into an expensive farce in one extreme and, as spending power reached unprecedented levels last decade, an outrageous, high speed horsepower war in another extreme. Bikes like the VFR1200, Hayabusa, ZX-14, Concours 14, K1600GT etc etc etc are a long ways from the honest capability offered by sport tourers of yore like the VFR800 or Ducati ST2.

The Promise

2013 Honda CBR600RR

What you want is capability only slightly blunted by comfort and practicality, combined with styling that’s simple more…mature than tribal ghost flame skulls. It turns out you can have a genuinely track-capable, totally awesome sport bike that just-so-happens to be all-day comfortable in the form of the Honda CBR600RR. They may not advertise it that way, but it’s the closest thing to the original sport tourer image that’s out there. Want a little more practicality at the expense of razor sharp handling? The Kawasaki Ninja 1000 has a powerful motor, upright seating position, adequate pillion accommodation, hard luggage and a huge fairing, all at a fairly reasonable price.

Sport Bike

Sport Bike Motorcycle

The Image

2013 Ducati 1199 Panigale R

The fastest vehicles on the road aren’t $200,000 Ferraris, they’re $15,000 sport bikes. Pretty much anyone with a decent job can afford to buy one. Bad ass, bro.

The Reality

Motorcycle Squid

Race-bred machines require racer-like skill to operate competently. The vast majority of sport bikes are bought by young men with…inadequacy issues, no experience and are promptly crashed. Want to look like Marc Marquez or maybe just be capable of impressing a girl with how fast you can go? Then you need to invest a lifetime practicing, working your way up the ranks and just getting better before you’re ready to ride even a 600, much less a 1,000. Sport Bikes are called that for a reason, riding them is a sport. Were you a starting quarterback for an NFL team the first time you played football? Don’t expect to be able to operate a fast motorcycle until you invest an equal amount of time and practice into becoming a two-wheeled athlete.

The Promise

Honda CBR250R

Just like any sport, practice makes perfect. You didn’t learn to play football by going up against professional linebackers, so don’t try and learn to ride a sport bike by starting on something that’ll do 200mph. Bikes like the Honda CBR250R, CBR500R and Kawasaki Ninja 300 are specifically designed as tools to help you practice and develop skills. Once you’ve mastered one of them, move up to something like a Kawasaki Ninja 650 or Yamaha FZ6R. Take classes, read books, do trackdays and, years down the road, when you’re ready, move up to a 600. Take more classes, read more books, do more trackdays and, years down the road, when you’re ready, move up to a liter bike. Once you’ve done that, you’ll realize that on-paper numbers are irrelevant and what you really want is a Triumph Daytona 675 R, probably the best handling bike out right now.

Standard Motorcycles

Standard Motorcycles

The Image

Triumph Street Triple R

Did you know that motorcycles actually make far more practical personal transportation than a car? Lower prices, lower running costs, greater fuel economy, easy parking and they neither contribute to congestion nor make you sit in traffic. Of course, to achieve that practicality, you need a nice practical motorcycle. One that’s comfortable and easy to ride and light and simple and capable. That’s the standard motorcycle.

The Reality

Suzuki SFV650

The problem is, most standards just aren’t that sexy. Walk into a Suzuki showroom, and which bike are you immediately drawn to, the SFV650 or GSX-R600? Standards also often sacrifice much mechanical specification in order to achieve low prices. Suspension, brakes and motors don’t tend to be as good as other, fancier types of motorcycle.

The Promise

Honda CB500F

The Honda CB500F starts at just $5,500 (ABS is $500 more, spend the money) and gives you all the bike you’ll ever need. At 71mpg, it’s cheap to run too, something further emphasized by the fitment of reasonable size tires and an engine with low maintenance requirements. Buy one and never drive a car ever again.

Tourer

Touring Motorcycles

The Image

ural sidecar

Never had tacos in Mexico? Fresh Fish in Nova Scotia and still have a state or two to check off before you can claim all 50? Hit the open road and ride for days, weeks, months or even the rest of your life.

The Reality

Honda Gold Wing

Big touring bikes are great at doing distance. Once you’re out on the open road, nothing is more comfortable, allowing you to sit back, turn on the stereo, enjoy a sandwich and just take in the sights. The problem is, all those luxury features, huge engines and hard luggage makes them unwieldy anywhere that isn’t Route 66. Using one every day would be like driving a Winnebago to work.

The Promise

Honda Gold Wing

You really can’t match the long-distance comfort of something like the Honda Gold Wing or BMW K1600GTL. Smaller Sport Tourers like Yamaha FJR1300 get close, but a passenger is never going to fall asleep on the back of one. Most people that own a Gold Wing, also own something smaller that they ride day-to-day or several bikes, giving them the ability to choose whether they want to hit a trail, a city, a track or yes, the open road.

  • Michael Howard

    There are really only two categories of motorcycles: those that run and those you wish would run.

    • Stuki

      And a third; those that are probably best left not running; like the 120 ci, unbalanced rigid mounted VTvin hardtail a proud client once let me take for a spin around the block…..

  • Doug

    Excellent write-up! Loving Ride Apart more every day!

  • Phil Mills

    Never thought I’d hear an FJR referred to as a “[s]maller Sport Tourer”. Also not real sure why it’s mentioned down along with the wheeled couches like a ‘Wing or a Kxx00LT and not, oh, up in the “Sport Touring” section where it belongs.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Hi Phil!

      RTFA!

      Love and cuddles,

      Wesley

      • Phil Mills

        I did. Hence why I said “I don’t get it.”

        Here’s what I don’t get, specifically:
        - You feature the FJR’s athletic silhouette as what I think you’re using as the Platonian ideal of a Tourer, but then you start talking about Goldwings and K1600LT wheeled La-Z-Boys. One of these things is not like the other, as Sesame Street would say.

        - Then (despite it’s apparent placement as the idealized Tourer) kind of slot it in as “Well, it ain’t as comfy as a ‘Wing, but I guess it’ll do in a pinch”. Damning your ideal with faint praise confuses me.

        - Related to the first two, you use the FJR as your ideal Tourer and then say “Oh, no – it’s a *Sport* Tourer” as soon as it actually appears in the article. Which is it, man?!?

        -If you’re going to suggest the CBRRR (which requires a nest of bungee cords to do any actual Touring) or the Z1000 (which requires a thousand bucks in add-on hard luggage), surely the FJR deserves a little nod up in the section it actually belongs to.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          But, the FJR is specifically called out as a “sport tourer”: “Sport Tourers like the Yamaha FJR1300…”

          Is that an FJR silhouette? Looks like a Honda Pan European to me. They were created by our designer. Honestly, I’ve always been confused by the American predilection to define dedicated touring bikes with barge-like handling as “sport tourers.” To me, that class belongs to VFR800s and ‘Busas and the K1300S and its ilk: comfortable sport bikes.

          • Tyler 250

            There are so many options between a CBR600RR and a FJR, though. Ninja 1000? F800ST? Sprint GT? Anything with a subframe that you can actually mount luggage to and carry a passenger? Your choice seems WAY to sport-focused and basically forgets the touring component.

            To me, the BMW R100RS birthed the sport-touring genre and its successors continued to define it for 25 years. Maybe that’s not sporty enough for some people, though.

            I thought all the other categories were pretty good, though. Especially dual-sport. Yep. You can actually do that.

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              Strap a couple Kriega bags onto the CBR and your problem is cured.

              What I want from a sport tourer is a bike comfy enough to ride on the highway for a full day, that’s then genuine fun on a good road or track. Most bikes in that class struggle to deliver that, even if they do have some luggage.

            • Stuki

              Any subframe capable of carrying even the tiniest passenger, is strong enough carry luggage for 1up. And I assume Wes isn’t thinking of the CBR as a two up ST.

              The bigger bikes make more sense one your mission includes a passenger, but for solo riding, what extra you get is mostly detrimental. Without having been on a supersports for a decade, other than in showrooms, I do suspect Wes is flaunting his youth by calling the darned thing all day freeway capable…

          • Piglet2010

            Maybe because you grew up in the UK, where Pan’s, FJR’s, etc. are regarded as touring bikes, and Fazers, SV’s, etc. are called sport tourers?

          • BillW

            I’m pretty sure the entire rest of the motorcycle industry disagrees with you, Wes, at least in the US. In particular, I have NEVER BEFORE heard anybody use “Hayabusa” and “Sport Tourer” in the same sentence, let alone imply that there was any connection between the terms.

            Besides, where are you gonna put your luggage on a ‘Busa?

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              If it’s not a sport tourer, then what is it?

              There’s a huge variety of panniers, top boxes, tail bags and tank bags available for the ‘Busa.

              • BillW

                You can throw on some aftermarket luggage and tour on damn near anything, but that doesn’t make the bike a “tourer”. And where all these luggage-laden ‘Busas? I’ve never seen one on the twisty roads I frequent in Utah, Colorado, or California. Suzuki’s marketing of the bike has always been about speed and power. When it was new, it was the fastest bike on the planet in a straight line.

                To me, a sport-tourer is a bike that was designed by the factory to cover long distances over multiple days, while still allowing you to have fun in the twisties along the way and when you get there. You can roll your own with aftermarket parts, but it likely won’t handle the “tourer” part of the equation as well as a factory-designed sport-tourer, and your additions may compromise the handling.

            • HellomynameisAG

              got to disagree with you…

              http://www.pashnit.com

              And for whatever reason whenever I hear of person that buys a Busa (that isn’t into the custom bike lowered stretched bullshit) they are always buying it to ride cross country on something fun and fast that is super stable. These guys always have motards or something small that they can’t really do super distance stuff on and then grab a Busa.

            • Piglet2010

              In Europe, the Hayabusa would be considered a sport-tourer, while the ST1300, FJR, etc. would be considered touring bikes.

          • Michael Howard

            The “sport tourer” silhouette is none other than Shamu, the Honda VFR1200.

          • CruisingTroll

            “Honestly, I’ve always been confused by the American predilection to define dedicated touring bikes with barge-like handling as “sport tourers.” ”
            Americans do that because we have Goldwings, Ventures, Electra-Glides and such occupying a huge segment of the market, whereas they are a small segment in Europe. Compared to those bikes, especially when the segmentation took place, the FJRs, Pan Europeans, Concourse, and assorted “T” model Beemers are downright sporty, yet still capable of touring “American distances” two-up.

    • Stuki

      As long as the CBR600RR is considered the epitome of sport touring, the FJR is probably closer to the Couch end of the spectrum than to the ST one.

      And I’m not really going to argue with them. I still remember how surprised I was when realizing that the “greatest bike of all time”, the ultimate sport tourer VFR800, was inferior at pretty much everything other than mindlessly racking up miles on the super slab and theft resistance, to the CBR954. And while I always assumed that the newest sportbikes were much more ergonomically extreme than those of the 954 vintage, I may well be wrong about that. Perhaps I should take some Yoga classes, to see if I can coax enough flexibility back in my knees to do 3-500 mile days on that darned CBR…….., instead of plunking down the $30,000 I assume BMW will charge for the next gen RT…..

  • Mark Vizcarra

    I get it. You guys really hate Harley’s and Cruisers especially Harley. I read the whole article and you seem to emphasize the hate on Sportbikes, ADV, and espeically Cruisers.

    As much as I like going on this website everyday. I tend to see the hate you guys have against them. I have no problem with that, but consider that a good % of crusier riders ride as much as everyone else.

    At least Ill know what to expect when you guys review, if you ever review another Harley.

    Im still waiting on the 690 Duke review

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Every word of this article is God’s honest truth @vizcarmb:disqus. Cruiser riders definitely ride, but they do so on machines with inferior performance, braking, handling, comfort etc. That probably actually makes them tougher than the rest of us. I know I won’t put up with a crappy motorcycle for long periods of time.

      • Send Margaritas

        Seriously Wes, you do seem very biased on Cruisers. It’s like you think their design goals are the same as those for a sport bike. Tim is much more objective.

        • Piglet2010

          Uh, Tim Watson does cover cruisers for RideApart.

          • Send Margaritas

            I’ve seen Tim Watsons RA articles Piglet2010. The comment was in response to MVizcaras post, in which I think he had a point, on this article by Wes. I like Wes’s articles on other bike classes, but whenever he mentions Cruisers, I feel he is describing his mother-in-law.

            • Kevin Boggs

              Nicely put. I’m sorry but Wes is coming across as a know it all that should be able to dictate what we should all ride.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Compromising comfort, braking, handling, safety, fuel economy, performance and every other objective merit of a vehicle in pursuit of image isn’t a reflection of an opinion, it’s a factual description of the cruiser class of motorcycle.

          Want an opinion? I don’t like riding cruisers. Why? Because I know better.

          Hopefully one of the things I can achieve with this whole motor journalist career thing is helping people find bikes that will better suit their needs and help them enjoy motorcycling a little more.

          • Send Margaritas

            See, you’ve come to the conclusion that Cruisers are in pursuit of an image? Different people can seek different images Wes, or none at all.

            A compromise? Found something more comfortable than a Goldwing? No handling, performance, or braking in a F6B? How much torque out of that that new Indian? 45mpg in my v-twin is something I can live with very nicely. So does the vast majority of motorcycle buyers.. but you must know what they want better than they do?

            Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes unseen at all. Again, Tim gets it. Some folks just want to ride.

            Other folks seek higher levels of performance. Saw the article, I hope your arm gets better.

            It is good we have choices of motorcycles, and can pick the ones we like. To each, his own.

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              If some folks just want to ride, why are they doing so on drastically compromised machines? The answer is they’re seeking a certain style and they’re either prepared to accept mechanical compromise to achieve it or simply don’t know better.

              Bikes like the Gold Wing and F6B aren’t cruisers. Have you taken a look underneath their skin? (attached images) There’s a huge aluminum beam perimeter frame, Pro Link rear suspension, pretty sporty suspension geometry and a quality shock and forks. Also a flat-six motor, side-mount radiators etc. It’s a thoroughly modern motorcycle designed to handle, brake and all that good stuff. It’s a very technologically advanced touring bike. All that stuff is also what makes it a superior choice for distance work than a cruiser. It’s more comfortable, safer in all weather conditions and works with the rider to achieve a riding experience that defies its weight.

              Sure, each to his own, but hopefully we can help people make more informed decisions by, well, informing them of facts.

              • Send Margaritas

                It’s OK to be a ‘Hater’ Wes. But, folks who appreciate cruisers, may better enjoy reading about them from someone who isn’t a hater.

                You seem to be poking holes in your own generalizations about Cruisers Wes, with your analysis of the F6B (Yep, it’s on Honda’s site as a Cruiser, Home>Street>Cruisers.)

                Or was the entire category damned, and it’s just HD you hate? The most popular brand of motorcycles sold in the US. Clearly that very large market of folks rate what they want on a different priority scale than you.

                Maybe you can win them over at Sturgis. lol!

                • Mark D

                  Harley Davidson is such a mind-fuck because its like if Coors Light cost $15 a sixpack, and was still the number one selling beer in America.
                  Yeah, sure, sometimes a Frost Activate Cold Coors Light Taste The Rockies is nice after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day. But why the hell would I drink it if it costs as much, or more, than objectively better beer? Nobody else makes a beer like Coors Light because its shit, not because its “unique”.

              • Kevin Boggs

                I’m really sorry that it bothers you so much that I like riding my Harley and that I’m apparently an idiot for thinking that way. Just curious, I know it’s beneath you, but have you ever really ridden one? BTW, check out chopcult.com for an insight to my world. Sometimes simple tech is the best tech even if it’s outdated.

          • Kevin Boggs

            Sorry, didn’t realize that you were the grand sage of all motorized two wheeled vehicles.

    • Tim Watson

      Not strictly true that we all hate H-D at RideApart. I’ve owned several and still ride one every day and I really like the cruiser world too. H-D gets a fair crack of the whip here and if it’s not up to scratch we will say so. And if it’s done a good job – like the 2014 Touring models we give it credit too. I have a H-D review coming up soon on one of its 2014 non-touring bikes. Watch this space.

      • Kevin Boggs

        I’m just insulted by the insinuation that Harley riders are idiots who are just trying to project/pursue an image. We call those guys RUBs. My 1990 Sporty is lean, simple, gets good gas mileage and has 50,000 plus miles on it. I know a lot of HD guys are hate spewers too but I don’t see any reason that anyone gets their panties in a bunch because of what someone else chooses to ride. It’s like telling someone that red is the best color and if you like blue then you’re an idiot image chaser. Everyone has different preferences. Why should that bother anyone?

        • grb

          “It’s like telling someone that red is the best color and if you like blue then you’re an idiot image chaser”

          Hmmm… I see you cant see past the visual image of a bike and your preferences about it, failing completely to understand what Wes is saying, for which you would need a bit of general understanding about motorcycle riding and dynamics. The reason you love your harley is in fact because you dont know any better, you cant learn nor perfect any actual riding skills (cornering, trail braking, body position, etc. etc.) on a bike that handles so terribly bad, and it does so because its geometry, suspension, riding position, etc are all determined by its image and not by riding dynamics. If I was to ask you what riding characteristics made you choose a HD you wouldn’t be able to tell me one thing HDs do that other type of bikes cant do much better. So this is how you know a motorcycle buyer wouldnt choose a HD if he actually has in mind proper riding characteristics, there are simple far better options for that, depending on where and how you want to ride, making it clear and obvious HD buyers buy for the image. Someone who doesnt understand riding and motorcycle dynamics wouldnt be able to comprehend or see the difference.

          And about harleys being comfortable, again you need to really learn to ride to understand this, not just accelerate and shift gears. Putting the horribly inadequate suspension aside for a moment, a harley may seem comfortable in the show room or on a straight line (barely, imo), but when you are actually riding a motorcycle you are performing a task, one that involves movement and body-position. A bed may seem very comfortable, but only if your not doing anything, try doing an activity like drawing, or building a carburetor and it soon become very uncomfortable, you need to sit up and a stool or working chair is the most uncomfortable, yet a stool wont be if you want to watch a movie, right? So you need to understand that riding a bike is an activity, and when you learn to actually ride you will definitely be more comfortable on a bike with the right body position for the specific type of riding you will be doing, and not one designed just to be posing statically like a HD.

          Definitely nobody is trying to be rude because of your personal taste, Its just that “cruiser riders, ride machines with inferior performance, braking, handling, comfort etc.” and if they where interested in riding they could be doing it so much better, its just that they dont know any better, thats why we are trying to help.. unless they are poseurs and they are fine with their fake bad boy image.

    • Piglet2010

      Speaking of the Duke 690, how would it be for the next step up from a Ninjette for track days?

      P.S. Anyone who says a 600cc super-sport is a good starter bike should be publicly flogged.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        That’d be a reasonable step. Very different bikes, but the Duke is light and accessible while being appreciatively more capable.

  • Ceol Mor

    Title of next RideApart article: “A car has four tires, a motorcycle has two.”

    Sorry, just poking fun at how basic this article might appear to veteran riders. That said, RideApart has been doing a fantastic job at catering to all levels of motorcyclists – keep up the good work!

  • Joe

    Decent explanation for the motorcyclist who just woke up from a 40 year coma.
    I am also an avid reader and fan of RA, but I have to say that I’m getting tired of hearing how great these 500 Hondas are. I just can’t imagine how you could live with one of these for more than a few months without being bored out of your mind. You guys must be getting a really really nice donation from them. It seems like besides these and the new Ducatis, everything else is a POS. What’s the deal?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      First: do not accuse someone with my track record of honest, objective journalism of pay-for-play without presenting evidence. It’s simply unacceptable and any future suggestions in that vein will be removed.

      Second: yeah, they’re that great. They give you more motorcycle than you often get from stuff that’s twice as expensive. Ask anyone who’s ridden one or read any of the reviews you can find online from any outlet.

      Third: some bikes suck. Sorry, but that’s just the way of the world. It’s our job to say so when they do.

      • Joe

        My apologies, no offense intended. As I said I am a fan and habitual reader of your work. It was meant to be witty, not an accusation.
        Please continue to call out the ‘suck’, since i do use this as a resource when purchasing gear.

        I’m still not convinced about the 500 Hondas though. Maybe i need to arrange a test ride. To me, this bike screams Asian market. I’d like to see how they hold up after a few years.

        • Guillaume Béliveau

          I ride since 2006 and had 5 bikes since then.

          Last month, I test rode a Street Triple R and was about to buy it. Then, I got bikecurious and test rode the CB500F.

          Guess what ? For all the fun I had, for half the fucking price, I’m getting the CB500F. Nuff said ! :)

          • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

            “Bikecurious” is my new favorite word. Thank you.

          • HoldenL

            Bill, you came up with “bikecurious” and English isn’t your first language? (Just a guess) I am impressed, sir!

            • Guillaume Béliveau

              Hahah thanks !

          • Toly

            I had both, and agree with you. 90% of the fun for 1/2 price.

        • pete bloggs

          I don’t think it’s a case of people thinking the 500′s are the best thing since sliced bread it’s a case that they think they are great value and a lot of bike for the money. Yes, there will be better naked bikes than the 500F, better adventure bikes than the 500X and better sport tourers than the 500R but for the money, everyone I’ve heard speak about them thinks they are the fantastic.

        • Piglet2010

          The Honda 500′s scream CE A2 license market, which determined their minimum weight and maximum horsepower.

        • Daniel

          FWIW I love my 500 (F).

      • Stuki

        Motorcyclist seemed somewhat underwhelmed by the CBR500, claiming it was suspended softly enough to make the whole package uneventful; and that it’s redline was too low for anything pretending to be sporty, or some such. All the reviewers seemed to prefer the Ninja 300 to it. Their writers do seem to be of the “bring a laptimer to the daily commute” variety, for what it’s worth.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Yeah, those guys are all failed racers with a chip on their shoulder and don’t understand most people just want a fun little bike to ride around on.

          • Stuki

            Dayummm…..
            So much for professional comraderie…..

            • Smitchell

              Agreed, Wes has been less than diplomatic with his customers of late.

            • Piglet2010

              Well, at least they like Adam “Wheelie” Waheed over at MotoUSA.

          • Piglet2010

            By “failed racer” do you mean someone who tried to have a professional career, but did not make the cut?

          • BillW

            Yeah. Geez, they don’t even know CBR600s are really sport-tourers. ;)

          • HoldenL

            Yeah, those guys aren’t exactly Kevin Ash, who understood that a motorcycle should be reviewed in terms of what the bike is trying to accomplish. The Honda 500s aren’t trying to be track bikes. Reviewing them as being too slow and cushy for the track — that’s beyond silly.

            I know that hauling out Kevin Ash’s name is bringing a howitzer to a knife fight, but … well, Wes and his crew are following his example, and most of the guys at the cycle magazines are following some other example.

            • Justin

              As a new rider, I find RA’s comprehensive view of the motorcycling world incredibly refreshing, in that I appreciate that they don’t review every bike from the perspective of someone who compares a CBR500R to a Hayabusa, they understand that those bikes are built for two different customers, one is looking for a rocket ship and the other for a reasonably priced, well made motorcycle that just does what it sets out to do.

              After coming into the moto world a little over a year ago, reading most industry publications you would think that any bike that’s not a MV brutale or zx-14 is a huge waste of time and made with ‘ho-hum joe the accountant’ in mind.

              Ride Apart is one of the few motorcycle journalism outlets following in that grandest of traditions, truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality and fairness. I can’t testify enough about my love of RA’s always approaching a motorcycle from the view of, 1. who was it designed for, 2. what capabilities would that customer want when purchasing this motorcycle, and 3. does this piece of machinery accomplish the goals for which it was designed and what the intended customer would most likely want?

              Bravo.

              I’m with the crew that says anything that gets people off of four wheels and onto two is a good thing, a very good thing, the new CB’s might be less exciting to ride and less pleasurable to look at then a Ducati or gixxer but they were never meant to be compared, Honda is doing a great job of producing well-built and efficient machines that are a joy to own and provide the same level of entertainment whether you’re out on a twisty or commuting to work and for that they deserve our respect. For too long the entry-level market has been devoid of anything interesting and these 500′s fit that bill quite nicely.

              $.02

          • runnermatt

            I can say reading stories and reviews on Motorcyclist and Moto-USA I got the seeming impression that most, not all, of them have a holier than thou attitude when it comes to reviewing bikes. The Moto-USA article comparing the NC700X to a BMW SuperScooter and an SFV650 (I think) it was apparent that they didn’t understand what Honda was aiming for with the NC700X. They seemingly hated the NC7X simply because they didn’t seem to understand it because it didn’t fit into their preconceived notions of what a motorcycle “is”.

            I’m not saying that I haven’t found useful and informative information for the new motorcyclist on their sites. Just that sometimes they seem “out of touch” because the industry has moved on from what they “knew”.

            While I used to check every site almost every night looking for new information to fill my intellectual appetite I now find that I only come to RideApart almost every night and the others I only check on the weekend at most and sometimes I forget to check them for several weeks.

    • Jen Degtjarewsky

      Hi Joe – I gotta chime in here… We do not now, nor have we ever written anything in exchange for money. Not ever. Not even once, and we never will.

      Here, I can promise you that all of our writers ride every day, they have years of journalistic experience, and their opinions, words and stories are based on real-world experience.

      Its OK if you don’t agree with everything they come up with. If you did, that would be equally problematic.

      Truth is, we really like hearing back from you guys about your opinions on things we are riding and on what we are writing. When you respond (bad or good) it keeps the discussions we have here relevant. And at the end of the day, that is why we are all here. To discuss something we are passionate about with other people who get it.

      So Joe, please keep giving us your best and we promise to always give it right back. Just know that when we do, its not for money, but because its what we really think.

      ~Jen

  • grb

    At first I thought writing about this would be pretty dumb and obvious.. but started reading and I really liked how its all condensed, it is spot on, great writeup!

    • grb

      I still love my sport bikes, even if I have no intention of ever becoming a Rossi, I like them because everything about them is 10 times more intense, the looks, the sound, the vibrations, the telepathy, the brakes, the materials, etc etc. everything. Even outside the track just one ride around the block is always more of an event then on any normal bike, and thats worth something for me. (I could include motocross to that statement, also “sport” bikes)

      • taba

        “In fact, it was riding bikes like this with incredible ability that made me want to sell my Bonneville because I never felt safe on it afterwards.”

        http://rideapart.com/2012/12/sweet-gixxer-bro/

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          That sounds familiar

        • Piglet2010

          I traded my CBR600F4i in for a Bonnie, and do not regret it for a second.

  • Lee Scuppers

    Actual categories:

    Fugly/retarded/plastic (w/ or w/o beak, fairing, ceratopsian headlight frills, Abu-Ghraib-inspired ergonomics, luggage)

    2. Slow/unreliable/lousy brakes (old)

    3. Slow/fugly/hip/macho/unrideable/retarded (a.k.a. “custom”)

  • Dan

    You’re missing a niche: super-nakeds! I only mention it because it’s my favorite category. It’s true that this could be slotted as a subgroup of standards based on the seating position, but I think it’s worth distinguishing these bikes because they are derived from different DNA (coming down from sportsbikes rather than up from UJMs).

    Also funny: the bonnie is the only bike to show up on this list twice – as the promise for cruisers, and the outline for standards. I agree with both characterizations, just shows you how many nice ways there are to look at that bike.

    • Piglet2010

      The Bonnie does not make that much sense when compared objectively to more modern designs, but…

      I bought one as an impulse purchase.

    • http://stellarplum.tumblr.com/ Marie Delgado

      I second the favor in super-nakeds! Super aggressive sporty handling with standard comfort, yeeees.

      • Corey Cook

        Youre bike is standard Marie, just like the street triple ;)
        The big 1090 brutale is a super naked though!

    • roma258

      Supernakeds/Streetfighters (Brutale, Tuono, Streetfighter, etc…)
      The Image- Superbike with handlebars
      The Reality- Superbike with handlebars and slightly worse components
      The Promise- Superbike with handlebars and slightly better components

  • Piglet2010

    Complete guide? Motor scooters are sub-category of motorcycle, you know!

    • http://www.RideApart.com/ Jen Degtjarewsky

      Hey Wes – Piglet2010 makes a good point…

    • Khali

      I only consider something is a motorcycle when its engine is bolted to its chassis!!

      Just joking, would love to see a scooter guide.

      • Mark D

        They might need a scooter editor. Hard to test them objectively when your reference point is RSV4 or a Road King.

        • Piglet2010

          Yeah, the current maxi-scooters out-perform the Road King.

        • Michael Howard

          In a race across town to buy a week’s worth of groceries, then back home, my Yamaha Majesty would beat both of them. ;)

      • Piglet2010

        Some scooters have chassis mounted engines, and some motorcycles lack engines (e.g. Mission, Brammo, Zero).

        • Mister X

          Yes, but those bikes actually do have a “motor”, unlike most motorcycles.

  • Alex Tsinos

    You know it’s a good write-up when you get this much response. Basic, yes. Entertaining, definitely! Keep it coming! Question though: in what world (state) is motorcycle ownership so cheap that folks can afford to own more than 1 bike (re: your comment about Goldwing owners)? In Quebec, license and registration costs roughly $600 per year if you have a non-sport bike. Anything with clip-ons is deemed super sport and license and registrations jumps to $1200 per year. As much as I want 3 bikes, there’s no way to justify or afford it for such a short riding season!

    • Hooligan

      Move to Europe then. There is all year riding – well I do in England. It’s raining here in London this morning, but no problem – I’ve got real good wet weather tyres on both my bikes. Annual Road Tax for my 600 Hornet – £45. My Street Triple R? £75.

      • Afonso Mata

        Seriouslly @Alex Tsinos? That’s an awful lot! :(
        I second @Hooligan ‘s point. Whenever us Europeans read American guys talking about “riding seasons” we get kinda puzzled. Our riding season is year’round.
        I live in Lisbon, Portugal, Europe, and a lotta guys have 2 bikes. Since most of our commutes are shorter than 10 miles, a lot of us commute on a 125cc scooter. Annual Road Tax is €5,73 :D
        Then, for longer rides and/or fun rides with friends, people have “bigger bikes” of which Annual Road Tax is never higher than €100.

        • Michael Howard

          I bet Europeans in Norway and Sweden aren’t puzzled by “riding seasons”. ;)

    • Mr.Paynter

      Or South Africa… Year round riding here too, or in Durban on the East Coast anyway.

      Our bikes are a touch more expensive to buy but my annual registration is about US$25 and insurance is probably US$400, on a sport bike you’re probably looking at US$800 at the most annually and the same registration costs.

    • Piglet2010

      Here in Iowa, I pay the county (yes county, not state) $20/year per motorcycle – age, value and displacement do not matter. As for insurance, the logic must be that I can only ride one motorcycle at a time – when I bought a new Yamaha TW200, my rates were bumped up $4/month for full coverage.

  • Sean Tempère

    Excelent article, very interesting.
    May i just add, it would have been interesting to also include a second-hand option in each “promise” section?
    You kinda sometimes get it along the way (VFR800 or ST2 for sport cruisers for instance) but adding a clear used, less-expensive option may add something to the piece don’t you think? Specially for very recent bikes like the honda 500′s (no second hand available yet) or bike that are very different today as opposed to a few years back (BMW k’s that went to a 6 cylinder engine for instance, great today, not so much before).

    • contender

      Seconded. The only time I ever considered buying new was never*. I’ve got four bikes that combined costs less than a new comparable bike.

      *If/When EBR releases additional models I may change my tune. But probably not.

  • HammSammich

    Just a small, annoying correction – Brando rode a 1950 Triumph 6T Thunderbird in the 1953 film, “The Wild One.” If I recall correctly, the Bonneville didn’t go into production until 1959 or 1960…
    Great article.

  • PeteN95

    Great article, but no Supermoto?!?
    The image: Hooligan wheelie king
    The reality: visiting hours are 4-6 ;-)

    • contender

      Image: Wheelie.
      Reality: Wheelie, then maintenance.

      • PeteN95

        XR650R Supermoto reality: wheelie for 1000s of miles, then easy maintenance! :-)

        • MichaelEhrgott

          Then jail. :)

  • CruisingTroll

    “The problem is, all those luxury features, huge engines and hard luggage makes them unwieldy anywhere that isn’t Route 66. Using one every day would be like driving a Winnebago to work.”

    As someone who is closing on 100,000 miles on one of the silhouetted “tourers” (i.e. ST1300 aka Pan European), I have to say that the above statement comparing it to a Winnebago for daily usage is absolutely,

    100%,
    pure,
    Grade A,

    unadulterated,
    bullcrap.

    For 3 years I had no car, only my ST1300, and then I added a SV650 to the garage. The ST is far and away the most practical bike I’ve ever had for every day use. Yes, it is heavier than the SV650. That only came into play when I would be paddling backwards. I learned within the first month of ownership to conduct myself in such a way as to minimize the necessity of such maneuvers, even though I can do so on level ground without any difficulty.

    In exchange for moderately increased difficulty foot-paddling the bike, I get hard storage sufficient for a week’s worth of groceries for myself, superb environmental protection, a pillon seat that is second only to that on luxury tourers, and the ability to pull my trailer so that if I need to get a week’s worth of groceries for my family of five, I can. Oh, when I have my trailer hooked up? I can go ANYWHERE paved for pretty much ANY event, two up, wearing ALL the gear. Once I’m at the destination, the helmets, riding jackets, riding pants, gloves and boots all go into the trailer and get locked up. I can spend the rest of the day in comfortable street clothes without worrying about my gear, without having to tote it around. That’s practicality.

    Even for California, Golden State of Lane Splitting, the difference in actual perimeter dimensions between my ST and my SV is modest. Sure, the bike LOOKS so much bigger, but aside from parking or transporting by truck/trailer where you’re jamming a bunch of bikes in, it doesn’t take up more than maybe 10% more space than the SV, because the limiting dimension for a motorcycle (except those with massive aftermarket bags) in operation is usually the handlebars and/or mirror width.

    I’ve driven vehicles as large and larger than a Winnebago for a living. The contrast between the dump truck I drove and a regular passenger car or even light truck (F150, Silverado, etc) is night and day. The difference as a daily user between an ST1300 and an SV650? Analogous to the difference between a Ford Explorer and a Mazda Miata. Sure, the Miata may be more fun, and slightly easier to park, but the Exploder is a LOT more practical. Every day.

    • Piglet2010

      A ST1300 is not similar to a Gold Wing, Electra Glide, or Cross-Country Tour in size and weight – what the article was referring to.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      I’m glad that works for your individual situation, but I think you’ll agree that a big touring bike like that simply isn’t practical in most cities or in most traffic situations.

    • Stuki

      How tall, heavy and strong are you? And have you ever been stuck crosswise in gridlock halfway up a San Francisco hill?

  • MrDefo

    I’m a little surprised to see a bike with the “RR” distinction being listed as comfortable for touring. Is that with raised bars or is it really that comfortable?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      It’s pretty darn good as stock, but you can always fit some Heli Bars or something.

      Most bikes should be viewed as only an ergonomic starting point. Whether you’re just riding around town, dragging elbow in the canyons or plodding down the highway, you’re gonna want to dial in the screen, bars, seat and pegs to your individual dimensions.

      • MrDefo

        Thanks for the reply. One final question that has been bugging me. I don’t feel like I ride my current bike anywhere near its limits yet, but is a CBR600RR going to do well at highway speeds with a pillion rider? Currently I ride a Speed Triple 995i and it does everything without complaint, but in looking for a new bike I’m contemplating stepping down to that Honda 600.

  • LiberalNightmare

    Its not a bad list as long as you remember that the difference between the “promise” and the “reality” is at least half the fault of the same motorcycle media that made this list in the first place.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      I think you’ll find we do things a little differently here at RideApart.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      half the fault? I wish we had that kind of pull, but only a segment of motorcyclists look to media outlets like ourselves for info, while everyone is subject to the different brands PR and marketing efforts. We had no hand in Biker Boyz or Wild Hogs nor that ridiculous commercial they’ve been showing on the NFL network where the guy get’s off the his 600 supersport, looks in the mirrors, and see’s umbrella girls behind him.

      • Stuki

        Perhaps a rather realistic ad, as long as you allow for the umbrella girls being angels……..

        I thing you are underestimating the size of that “segment” these days. Either directly, or indirectly through knowledgeable (or at least knowitall) friends, exposure to “expert opinion” is pretty pervasive in most fields these days. Too pervasive, some would say.

  • runnermatt

    Quoted from the dual sport section: “Also be aware of the maintenance requirements of some of the faster machines; most KTMs and such are incredible to ride, but have maintenance intervals measured in tens of hours, not thousands of miles.” Does “most KTMs” include the 990 Adventure or 690 Duke? I’m assuming that this maintenance interval is relegated to the non-street oriented models.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Both of those models require less service than KTM’s high-strung dirt bikes.

  • runnermatt

    Comment/question on sport tourers and sport bike sections. I ridden neither, but wouldn’t the CBR500R make a better sport tourer then the 600RR and vice versa the 600RR the better sport bike than the 500R. Honda actually sells a rear rack for the 500R.

    That said to each their own. I remember seeing this several months ago… http://rideapart.com/2013/02/coast-to-coast-with-an-italian-supermodel/

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The 500R is a great new-ish rider sport bike or sport tourer. The 600RR is a great sport bike or, with a little modification (screen, bars, luggage) a great sport tourer for an experienced rider.

      • taba

        I appreciate you excluding used bikes, but new leftover 2012 600RRs are available at $8000.
        Not a better deal than the 500R at $6500? Even for new-ish riders?

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          That depends on your ability and what you are looking for. The RR is definitely better on the $/HP ratio, but that doesn’t mean most people should prob end up with the 500. You really shouldn’t be comparing those two bikes in your search. Keeping in mind that all 500′s are the same (regardless of shape), you’re either looking for a super sport or you’re looking for a small motorcycle, do-it-all, standard.

          We aren’t here to say every person should buy one bike over another, just to try and provide you with information about which is best for you.

          • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

            What Sean says, they’re very different bikes. The CBR600RR is a razor sharp tool for experts. The CBR500R is a fun, sporty, affordable bike that’s easy to ride and very practical.

            • taba

              But they overlap when it comes to sport-touring, no? And that’s what I’m looking for. Is the 600RR a better sport-tourer?

              (Or should I hold out for the CBR600F?)
              Thanks.

              • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

                The CBR600RR is a razor sharp tool for experts.

                the CBR600F is a fun, sporty, affordable bike that’s easy to ride and practical. It won’t be coming to America.

                • taba

                  Thanks, guys.

  • Fresh Mint

    So wes, where does the hypermotard fit into all this?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Upright riding position and no fairing? It’s a standard.

      Obviously not every bike adheres to class conventions as rigidly as an R6 is a sport bike or a Gold Wing is a tourer, but they all try to fit in there somewhere.

  • sospeedy

    My wife fell asleep every time she rode pillion on my FJR. I was starting to as well so traded for a Speed Triple. No worries about falling asleep now!!

  • Piglet2010

    And if no one was “silly” enough to buy a new motorcycle, you would not have used motorcycles on the market to choose from. Duh.

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Regardless of asinine local legislation, motorcycles don’t contribute to congestion, don’t damage roadways, are far, far easier to park and can return far higher MPGs than any car.

    Clothes? Get a Roadcrafter: http://rideapart.com/tagged/aerostich-roadcrafter/

    Luggage? Kriega: http://rideapart.com/tagged/kriega/

    Helmet hair? Embrace it. Or cut your hair short. You won’t find anyone more vain than me and I’ve learned to deal with being the guy in the leather jacket and messy hair.

    • Piglet2010

      “Clothes? Get a Roadcrafter”

      The way people go on about Aerostich gear is really annoying, until you finally break down and try it. Then you transform into one of those annoying persons.

      • mulderdog

        ;-) Don’t you hate that…… +1

    • David Magallon

      How do they not contribute to congestion when you’re not allowed to split/filter lanes?

      I don’t think it’s a comparable product, but I owned the Olympia phantom suit and didn’t like it. The Roadcrafter or one piece suits might not be for me. Where do you keep that once you’ve arrived anyway?

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        Did I say “cheap knockoff”? No.

        You stash it somewhere. Put it in coat check/under your desk/chain it to your bike. Figure it out, you’re a big boy.

  • David Kent

    Now THAT was a great piece of moto journalism! The most truthful and accurate description of the current state of the industry I’ve ever seen. RideApart has just been moved to the top slot in my MC favorites folder!

  • Josh M.

    Awesome!…and nice work on the image collection!

  • Roy Karny

    Excellent!
    Much love and appreciation from the holy land.

  • Send Margaritas

    Yes, there were two different design goals, as such the design priorities are different. You completely lost me on the comfort, you even listed several reasons why a sportbike is uncomfortable, and I very much agree. I can’t imagine what bike you think is so much more comfortable than a Goldwing/F6B? I’ve not heard many complain about them in terms of comfort, especially with passengers.
    Face it, the comfort remark was completely without merit.

  • Justin McClintock

    Oh Lord. Here we go with that, “Bikes make more sense than cars,” argument again. In the US, maybe in SoCal. Anywhere else in the US? No. Not even close. Cost of running isn’t lower than a compact car by a long shot, fuel economy typically isn’t much better (if any), and you’re still stuck in traffic anywhere but California (again, in the US). That doesn’t even begin to cover the cost and time associated with having to gear up all the time you ride (that stuff isn’t free and my clothes don’t put themselves on me). You guys regularly have a list of over $1000 in gear alone you post with each article. And God forbid you actually need to carry a passenger. Got an extra $1000 for their gear too?

    • mulderdog

      You forgot to mention tires…….
      OTOH…….
      I’m getting 50+ mpg
      2 minutes to gear up (‘stich (8 yrs. old, (really not THAT expensive !))
      tho on the east coast, I don’t happen to deal with traffic
      I took passenger pegs off (passengers a non-issue)

      I do hear what you are saying, but for me and I’m sure many other commuters a moto is working out fine.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Figure that your average supersport 600 will out perform any Porsche. Now give me a side-by-side cost breakdown between owning a CBR600RR and a 911….

      If you’re comparing costs of owning a compact car, then give me a side-by-side with a Piaggio BV350 or Honda CRF250L or similar.

      • Justin McClintock

        Sure Wes. How many CRF250L’s will you go through in 150,000 miles? Because you’ll go through 1 Honda Civic, with plenty of life left if you treat it halfway decent. Tires, for a Civic….for really nice ones you’re looking at $400 for a set of 4 that’ll last 40,000 miles. Good luck with that on any motorcycle. How long is that chain gonna last on the bike? 20,000 miles? I think a Civic’s timing chain is good for about 115,000 miles. It costs roughly the same as any bike chain plus sprockets for something like a CRF250L. Lets see….air filters…the Civic’s is cheaper and lasts longer. Oil…the Civic’s is cheaper and lasts longer. Oil filters…see the last two points. Coolant swaps…see the last three points. Brakes? See the last four points. But hey, you won’t have to change wiper blades! The Civic is good for over 30 mpg around town (I speak from experience). You don’t need rain gear with it. You don’t need riding boots. You don’t need a helmet. You don’t need a jacket. You don’t need gloves. You don’t need a seperate winter jacket and gloves.

        The bike is cheaper up front, it gets better fuel economy, and it’s insurance is marginally cheaper. Total cost of ownership for the car is, for most people, FAR less. Again, I’ve got 3 bikes sitting in the garage and they all cost me more per mile to operate (even when I put more miles on them than the car) than my former Civic did. Nevermind the fact that the bike has A/C and is really handy driving from South Carolina to Texas, back to SC, up to Ohio, back to SC, down to FL, back to SC, and back to Florida all in a month (did that immediately after I graduated college so many years ago). How do you think that’d work out on a CRF250L? That’d be a couple sets of tires and a couple oil changes right there. And it’d take longer on that CRF250L too, unless you want to hold the thing at 80 mph for hours on end. That’ll do wonders for the engine. Do we get to add rental car costs into the bike’s end of things? That won’t help your argument. Then again, try that at those speeds on the bike and you might have to add in the price of a replacement engine.

        Again, I love my motorcycles. I put more miles on them than I do my car. But in just about any situation except single in SoCal, a bike is not a substitute for a good compact car. Period.

        • Scott Otte

          I hate that this is true.

          • Justin McClintock

            For what it’s worth, I agree with Wes when you’re talking comparable performance and you’re looking at sporty stuff. But let’s be honest…once you’re comparing Porsche 911s (or even Corvettes) and 600RR’s, you’ve admitted that you’re tossing practicality straight out the window.

            • Scott Otte

              Exactly, when I compare costs with my MINI Cooper S, the motorcycle does fairly well.. when compared to my Honda Civic, it loses badly. It hasn’t stopped me from ridding my bike over driving the car, but I know I’m spending more money than I have to and have decided it’s worth it. Commuting in a car is just a slow form of suicide.

              • Stuki

                Parking fee differences in San Francisco can quickly tilt the balance in favor of the bike. At SFO alone, it’s a difference of, like $40/day. Ditto in many European cities.

                In addition, 30 minutes of looking for parking, and walking from the hinterlands you found yourself stuck parking in, billed at a decent hour rate for such dreadful work, is another big + for bikes.

                But in much of the US, where every store and office building is surrounded by a ballpark sized parking lot, and the oppression loves nothing more than robbing and harassing their relative betters for wanting t save a minute or two on their commute, I suspect it’s hard to beat a Prius on running costs alone.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          ~$20k vs $4.5k will pay for the marginally higher running costs and that CRF250L will absolutely last 150k miles. I personally put 57k miles on a CBR900RR and the only thing that ever went wrong was a regulator/rectifier.

          • Justin McClintock

            A CBR900RR and a CRF250L aren’t the same thing Wes. Those engines aren’t built the same either. If you think you’re going to run a 250 single for extended time at any kind of real speed, you’ll be going through engines in a hurry. Again, how many cross country trips do you plan on taking with a CRF250L where it actually matters how long it’ll take to get there?

            Again, you like to put qualifiers on this to make it sway in favor of the bike. But it doesn’t matter. The bike just isn’t going to be cheaper than the car, and that’s under the assumption you can even use it for everything. And again, pretty much anywhere in the US outside of SoCal and maybe FL (with some REALLY good rain gear), that’s just not going to happen. And even in SoCal, again, that’s assuming you’re single and either planning on staying that way or bumming your friends’ cars every time you need one. How’s that CRF gonna work on a ski trip? How well does it carry a kid? (Here’s a hint…legally, that better be one big kid or it won’t.)

            And what’s up with asking ME to you YOUR job of providing cost of ownership data anyway? You’re the journalist. YOU have access to that data. I don’t. Let’s see some numbers!

          • Justin McClintock

            BTW, do you own a car? Because if you do, your argument goes straight out the window. At that point, the only savings is purely in gas since the ownership costs of the car are there already. I’ve had that discussion with my neighbor plenty of times. He thought about getting a bike to save on gas (he drives an SUV). I told him I as all for him getting a bike, but unless he gets rid of the SUV, the cost of the bike would pay for a LOT of fuel for that SUV. And then he’d be paying for insurance and upkeep for BOTH.

            • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

              Wes doesn’t own a car. I have a Mazda3 I’ve been trying to decide if I want to keep, but I only put 2500 miles on it this year (and most of that was the 500 mile trip home fro Christmas) and the rest of that was to Trader Joes and back or the gym.

              I would sell it, but it’s hard not to find value in an almost paid off car with only 40k on the clock. Anyone want it?

              • Justin McClintock

                Again, single in SoCal. Doesn’t mean a whole lot to the rest of the riding population, let along the general masses. When I lived in West Palm Beach, I think I only put maybe 4K miles on my Civic a year. But about 3K of that was hauling my kayaks around on the roof. Hard to do that with a motorcycle.

                I’ll take the 3 if you give it to me. :-)

        • socalutilityrider

          Damn Son.

          Whole lotta effort to calm some demons in your head.

          If you feel guilty about owning three bikes no need to work it out on the internet. F your nagging subconscious. Just enjoy them!

          • Justin McClintock

            Hardly feeling guilty. Just trying to clear up some misinformation being spread by somebody who hasn’t bothered to actually run the numbers. I love me some bikes. But for 99% of the population (in the US), they’re just no substitute for a car, either for practicality or cost (especially once you factor in additional transportation costs when I bike just won’t work).

      • Justin McClintock

        You know, I just realized something. We have calculators all over the place that’ll tell us almost exactly what to expect on how much a car will cost to keep for 5-10-15 years. We don’t have something like that for a bike. Wes, you’re a journalist. You have access to all kinds of information like that. I’m sure you guys keep cost spreadsheets around for long term bikes. Why don’t you guys put something like that together?

        P.S. Don’t forget the cost of gear. Too many new riders never factor that into the purchase and are rather rudely surprised when they realize there’s another $500-$1000 worth of stuff they need.

    • Kevin Boggs

      Um, try Hawaii. I ride every day of the year.

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    What’s more comfortable? An Electra Glide (or whatever the biggest harley touring bike is) or a Gold Wing/K1600GTL?

    And why is that (more expensive) Harley less comfortable than the more modern, more thoroughly engineered bikes? Riding position.

    And why does Harley sacrifice riding position? Image.

    Sure, some big sofa-like harley is more comfy than a sport bike, but it’s not more comfortable than, say, a Honda NC700X or a Suzuki V-Strom 650 or Kawasaki Versys. And that’s simply pathetic.

    • Send Margaritas

      Seriously Wes, you position is that extreme that you’re trying to sell us that the NC700X (which may be comfortable for its class) is as comfortable as a HD CVO? Seriously. And a Glide vs a goldwing? They’re both really roughing it!
      I think you would pick a Prius over an original AC Cobra, or a ’63 Split window Corvette.

    • Stuki

      Plenty of people have gone EGlide->Goldwing->Back to EGlide, for the specific reason that the width of the opposed 6 makes it impossible to move the footpegs forward for less kneebend. And also makes highway pegs awkward.

      Personally, I’m more comfortable with some weight on my legs instead of ALL of it on my ass/lower back; hence never saw the purpose of highway pegs; but plenty of long distance superslabbers swear by them.

      Also, lots of people feel more comfortable sitting closer to the ground than high up. Particularly lots of pillions. And the only way to combine kneeroom with a low seat, is to move the pegs forward. A 28″ seat height with a Vstrom riding position, would have you dragging pegs going straight down the road.

    • CruisingTroll

      “What’s more comfortable? An Electra Glide (or whatever the biggest harley touring bike is) or a Gold Wing/K1600GTL”

      Depends whether one is more prone to back discomfort (Goldwing/K1600 wins) or knee discomfort (E’Glide wins). An Electra-Glide IS a pretty comfortable bike, it’s basically a toss up between the Glide and Wing. The GL1800 Wing though vastly outperforms the Glide. Of course, the Electra-Glide is not an “average” cruiser, but rather a cruiser optimized for comfort. It therefor comes up lacking in the style points compared to other cruisers, at least from the cruiser buyer perspective.

  • Stuki

    A GW has a cruiser’s riding position, compromised only by the need to keep the footpegs closer, to fit behind the heads of the flat6.

    I guess one could also argue that an EGlide ain’t all that much of a cruiser either. At least compared to the raked out, skinny 21″ front, 240 rear, single front disc bikes that tends to be the standard bearers for the class…..

    • CruisingTroll

      A GW doesn’t have a a cruiser’s riding position, although it is close. The ‘Wing’s position is upright with perhaps a very modest (couple of degrees) forward lean. A cruiser’s position generally has a modest backward lean, and we won’t even get into the ergonomic nightmare of aftermarket apehangers.

      Now, a case can be made that for EVERY bike there is a rider specifically suited, for whom any other bike is going to be uncomfortable/torture. Yes, even the most extreme contraptions coming out of custom chopper shops and, on the other end, the most tortuous examples of Milan’s finest. In the showroom, cruisers tend to be the most comfortable bikes, with sportbikes being the least comfortable. On the road, things change.

      No bike will be comfortable for everybody, nor will any one person be comfortable on all bikes. I think it’s important that those without a broad experience and/or knowledge of bikes simply be cognizant of the various tradeoffs that are generally made within each class. That’s what this article is about.

      It’s kinda sad that cruiser riders are so insecure that they can’t simply say:

      “yeah, we know that compared to other bikes, our bikes go like crap, turn like the Titanic, stop like a hockey puck on fresh ice, and are usually as comfortable as sitting on a ef’in’ jackhammer operated by an epileptic. What the fuque do you care?! WE like ‘em, and we ain’t gonna let you ride our bikes anyway. Ride your own ride, and keep the rubber side down.”

  • Anonymous Raw GM

    could you please link the source of the image with the two cbr500s please? thanks

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      my cell phone. shot it on the side of the road up to Laguna Seca while Wes was peeing.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        I pee a lot.

  • Send Margaritas

    Well, Honda does. It lists the F6B as a Cruiser.

  • Binoy

    It is one of the best reads I ever read, especially on the Cruisers. Lolzzzz :D

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Sure. Tried a proper touring bike? Or a modern standard? Or a big ADV bike? You’re missing out on comfort and control dude. Potato potato.