Ask RideApart: Best Motorcycles For Surfing?

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You ask, we answer, it’s Ask RideApart. This week: What are the best motorcycles for transporting surfboards.

Photo by: Jen Degtjarewsky

This one comes from Eric, a lifeguard in Manhattan Beach: “I’m not a rider myself, but reading about bikes and safe ways to ride them on RideApart has made me way more aware of motorcyclists on the road, and where they want to be. So, I always make sure to give them the space and awareness they deserve. Anyway, to the meat of my question. I live in Manhattan Beach, CA and I am currently employed as an Ocean Lifeguard. So, in your opinion, what is the best moped/bike to carry a surfboard and other surfing equipment around LA county? The Honda Ruckus looks like a good fit, but it is also a little lacking in power.

Can you guys help Eric out? What do you think the best motorcycles for surfing are?

Have a question for us? Post it on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the #AskRideApart hash tag. We will select the best topic from our submissions and post them here each week.

  • Wes Siler

    I’d keep it in the Honda stable and look at the Grom:

    Deus Ex Machina makes a killer board rack for pretty much any motorcycle that bolts on and off in seconds. They’re on Venice and Lincoln and can do that work for you.

    • eddi

      Wait, this is a real thing? 40 years of riding and still things to learn. Thanks.

    • Geert Willem van der Horst

      Can’t find a better picture of this bike, but I think the rack is similar to this one.

      • eddi

        Kowabunga! Thank you.

        • Geert Willem van der Horst

          It took a while but hey…

          • eddi

            Thank you for your effort. That picture is just what I needed to see how this whole surf bike thing works.

  • Clint Keener

    There is a guy here in Laguna Beach who rides a vespa clone with his surfboard. I wouldn’t be caught dead on a clone though.

    • Jen Degtjarewsky

      I’ll look for him next time I’m on the road.

    • Mr.Paynter

      Clones are a little awkward, I probably wouldnt either, but the closest I have seen/considered were

      LML Stars.

      LML, which is a Bajaj subsidiary and the same factory that made actual metal-body vespas for the South East Asia markets, hence it’s a clone down to everything but the badges.

      • Clint Keener

        His is called a Stella.

      • Stephen Wuebker

        Clone is even a bit of a stretch. When Piaggio pulled out of India, Bajaj purchased the factory and tooling for the Vespa P series and just continued to make them… and still do. The Bajaj Chetak, LML Star, Genuine Stella are all basically the same scooter. Genuine is based in Chicago and imports and rebrands several bikes including the LML Star. So, not really clones, but brand new 80′s Vespas. *shrug*

  • Jono

    yamaha tw200 would be my pick as something cheap + practical. will get you to any beach no matter how beat up and sandy the road and will run on the smell of an oily rag. as mentioned below, check out what deus has done to them… they can actually be made to look pretty cool on a budget

    • Khali

      I would bet as well on a TW200, or maybe a Suzuki VanVan 125.
      Also, on a really tight Budget, you have Hyosung Karion, which is a copy of the VanVan.

      • Piglet2010

        Of course, the TW125/200/250 share tire sizes with the Van Van (which is not sold in the US).

  • Brian

    Ural Patrol/GearUp

    • duuuuude


      • Brian

        I knew it was out there, and thought it to be a no brainer. Thank you for answering my simple and to the point, no argument answer that seems to be so easy, that everything else just pales in comparison.

  • will

    How hard is it to carry a kite surfer on a motorbike? has any one done it?

  • Mark D

    Motorcycles are pretty bad to surf with. They don’t float at all, for starters.

  • Code

    I’m currently building up a DR650 for surf duties. Will get me places even 4wd will struggle with. She is pretty much ready to go, just waiting on an upgraded rear shock to arrive. A Ural touring setup will be next for me.
    A pic in its current state:


    And my previous ride, Piaggio Fly125.


    Used this for around 6 months (with a topbox, sufboard bag and an extra occy strap). Worked great but a little chilly in the middle of winter! You don’t notice the board at all while riding, the added surface area sticking out the back is no more than a large topbox.

  • Dustin

    I had a DR that I fixed a bicycle surf rack to. You can’t go wrong with any bike with a surf rack.

  • Kr Tong

    I would think you would want something heavy, that could take crosswinds with the surfboard. If you’re surfing in CA you’re probably gonna need to use a freeway. If not then a vespa, a ruckus, or something like that would be fine. Im sure they make racks for the ruckus.

    Here’s picture of my first bike with my bicycle on the back. GS750ES. 575 lbs. Went across the state like this a few times.

    If you take off the tail fairing there’s no limit to what rack you can create on any bike. subframes are made to hold two people and change. It’s pretty easy.

    • Generic42

      That’s brilliant and far more cost effective than the 2×2 cycle setup.
      Do did you mount a seat post to your lower peg and then strap the bike to the subframe? How did you attach the rear wheel? I’m looking to do a similar setup, thanks.

      • Kr Tong

        You’ve just gotta buy rok straps or tie downs and play with it. Saddle is on the rear peg, rear wheel is tied to frame. And the frame is attached to the subframe.

        Id take your tail fairing off and just play with the naked subframe.

        • Jesse

          “Id take your tail fairing off and just play with the naked subframe” may be the best/worst moto pickup line, ever.

  • Mr.Paynter

    Eric, Bryan here in Durban, South Africa.
    Get yourself a Yamaha TW 200! Cheap, reliable, a little more power than a ruckus, same rugged big tyres for a little sand-riding if you’re allowed! Our lifeguards and Beach police used them for years.
    It’s sluggish, so no long distances as a suggestion but around town and on the beach, they’re plenty of fun, I’ve just picked up one to custom for my commuter.

    They can be customised really easily to suit your tastes and will be really easy to fit a board-rack to.
    I have our in-house engineers making me up a board-rack now!

    • Piglet2010

      Letting a bit of air out of the tires really helps the Tee-Dub in the sand – I run about 18 psi when I go play in the sand at the OHV park.

      And quite a bit more power than a Ruckus – the 30 mph difference in top speed makes the Yammie freeway capable in a pinch, while the Ruckus will be holding up traffic in 35 mph speed zones if there are any hills to climb.

      But Yamaha really needs to drop the price to $3K, or update the bike with a 250cc engine, fuel injection, progressive clutch, and a dash than is not from 1987.

  • DaveDawsonAlaska

    Anything that a Carver surf board rack would fit on. Mine fit great on my WR250R

  • Davidabl2

    Damn, I thought HFL was gonna talk about “surfing” motorcycles.. you know, where people stand up on the tanks and ride no-hands ;-) Even some hipsters do it nowadays ;-)

    • Piglet2010

      Stick your arms out straight, and it is called the “Jesus Christ”.

      • Davidabl2

        On your TW200? Then I guess it’s the answer to the famous WWJD question of a few years ago “What Would Jesus Drive(ride)?”

        • Piglet2010

          No, that what is what the stunt is called.

          The only thing I stand on when riding is the foot pegs.

  • Mykola

    My first longboard carrier was the Yamaha Virago 250, utilizing a Carver Surf Rack (scooter-type mount, with the two big sandwiching mount plates, “CSR” henceforth) clamped to the luggage rack. I was carrying a 9’2″. On the freeway. The upper limit of steady-speed comfort was ~65mph.
    Using a longboard the key is to have somewhere toward the front of the frame that you can anchor bungee cords to, to keep the nose of the board mostly immobile. The CSR can support the weight of the board and a lot of jostling, but you’ll want to keep the see-saw action to a minimum. The back still stuck out about four feet and the whole thing looked ridiculous, but it worked well for both .5mi trips and 50mi trips. the cruiser-low seat height of the Virago 250 worked to its advantage for low-speed manageability. I really wish I had a good picture of that bike with the longboard on board.
    I moved the CSR to a Honda Reflex. Having no forward anchoring point, I didn’t exceed 35mph with my longboard. I did the 50mi freeway trek with a 7’2″, but I wasn’t satisfied with the board either on the scooter or in the water.
    The CSR has migrated once more to my current surf bike, the Z750, via an SW-Motech luggage rack. Picture below. No problems, but it’s about as tall and heavy as I’d accept for surf duty.

    • Mykola

      Let me try to answer the question more directly: I think an old Honda Shadow or something equivalent is the ideal bike for surfboard transportation purposes. Their low seat height and CoG will make them easier to manage with a board on them, they’re moderately heavier and the long wheelbase will also help with stability at speed, sourcing and fitting a luggage rack is trivial, plenty of exposed framework to hook the nose of the board to, and old/cheap is good if you’ll be parking at the beach regularly, because sea breeze = rust.

    • Piglet2010

      I would not have wanted to be riding that when I got hit by a wind gust on an overpass today – the gust was strong enough to snap my visor shut (I ride visor open, sun shield down at times with my Revolver EVO lid).

    • eddi

      Sweet Mother of Aerodynamics! I can pictures hordes of drivers going into the weeds as you go by, while they stare in disbelief.

      • Mykola

        Hey, when you gotta go surf you gotta go surf; nothing else to it.

  • BryonCLewis

    now what about mounting a kayak to a motorcycle?

  • bbradsby

    Go with the Ural side hack – the Cali coast can get really windy, and one gust hits your board on a scooter and youre gonna get thrown to the curb or under a wheel. And I dont think the LA girls truly appreciate road rash for the proper street cred that it is – they like fashion, you know, ink & piercings.

  • ThruTheDunes

    Back in my ATC days in Glamis, had friends that would get off an walk their ATCs slowly down into the dirt canal – the old 110s would float on their tires while the riders held on and floated alongside. Sure enough, one Halloween, three drunks came upon them floating in the canal. They apparently did not heed the advice to dismount before entering, and full-throttled down the bank of the canal and into the water. when they came up sputtering, all you could see was the bottoms of 9 tires for their capsized rides. That is the closest I ever heard of someone trying to surf with a bike…

  • Eric the Lifeguard

    Wow, I cant believe my question became a #askrideapart…… so weird. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the great suggestions!

  • Kemal Kautsar

    any bike can transport anything in my country. yes, i live near Bali, and yes that’s a moped (not mine ‘tho)

  • akaaccount

    My plan is a used TW200 with a single board rack on the side.