Depending on specifics of construction, functionality and purpose, there are such types of motorcycles: classic, sport, super-sport, sport-tour, tour, chopper, cruiser, custom motorbikes, dragster, scarver, mini-bikes, heavy motorcycles etc.
There are also many subtypes. And this is no surprise! Such transport as motorcycle is used for more than century. For this time it appeared in sports, leisure, video-games etc. That means it has become a part of different spheres of human activities. Citizens of almost all countries in the world move by motorbikes. As a result, we gained a variety of modified two- and three-wheel motorcycle constructions.
Now let’s get back to our topic and describe types of motorcycles. Classic motorcycles are motorbikes of universal construction and purpose. These motorbikes are the most wide-spread in the world.
Use of such type of motor-tech provides straight-seat drive, which allows cover long distances with comfort. This type of motorcycles can be divided into: streetfighter, naked and neoclassic. We consider "naked” subtype as most beautiful among them, because there were removed all extra conveniences.
Road, naked or cafe racer (in Europe and America they are also called standard) - all of them are the same type of motorcycle. So, you can call it whatever you like. Unlike sportbikes, standard ones have no cowling.
These bikes are good for driving around city and on route. Handlebars are installed pretty high so the rider doesn't have to lie on bike tank. Usually there is no windscreen on classic motorcycles or they are of small size. They are often recommended for unexperienced riders because of low cost, light weight and moderate engine power. The only inconvenience for newcomers is controlpanel, turn signals and clip-on breakdown in the fall.
Neoclassic. The same as classic, but a bit remodeled. It differs from classic by reversed fork, ellipsoid or rectangular headlight and monoshock. The purpose is the same - this is road motorcycle with straight seat and no cowling.
Iron horses of this type are designed specifically for races. But in series these motorcycles are produced for use beyond race track. These are high-speed motorbikes.
The distinctive characteristics are: high speed, high aerodynamic properties and perfect handleability. These bikes look gorgeous. The speed doesn't affect its handleability. Sportbikes maintain close contact with the road. These bikes are equipped with extremely powerful engine. Often its horsepower exceeds the weight of a motorcycle. The engine power exceeds 1000 ccm and it is more uprated and harsh, than of other types of motorcycles. Most models have 6-speed gearbox.
Sportbikes are comfortable to ride. The rider lies on the bike. The pillion footrests located higher, than of other types. Due to this, legs are positioned close to the body. Handlebar is set maximum low.
Riding out of town, the rider must correlate the bike speed with the speed of wind. The biker is exposed under big wind gut. High maneuverability allows using sportbike in city traffic.
Such type of motorcycle is not suitable for newcomers at all. And there will be exceeded fuel consumption, while using it in city traffic.
Supersport is also a subtype of sport bike, but more powerful and speedy. These bikes are heavier, than sportbikes and have longer wheelbase. Mostly, these motorcycles easily speed up to 280-300 km/h.
Streetfighter. This is a sybtype of sportbikes. By specifications it is closer to sportbike, but it has no plastic cowling. Often the bikes after crash become streetfighters.
This motorcycle is suitable for extreme tricks performance and used for street racing. The signature of this type is demonstrativeness of all components.
Their purpose matches their name. This type allows covering a very long distance with maximum comfort. Standard parameters for these bikes are massive cowling, prolonged windscreen (to protect from foul weather and front wind), very convenient seat, extensive tank and other devices (cases and panniers) for cargo keeping/carrying. The seat is soft and double, has enough of space for placing a passenger.
Weight of touring bikes can vary from 390 kg to 640 kg under full load.
Touring motorcycles can be divided into following subtypes:
Full – Dress usually equipped with large cowling and wide bodyshell, in comparison to other tourers. Rough carrier (including bags and panniers) is often installed into the construction. Usually standard specification includes built-in stereo system (AM/FM radio with CD or MP3 player), satellite broadcast also becomes more widespread, seat and handlebar heater, GPS navigation and even reverse gear. After 2006 they are also equipped with airbags and ABS. Full-dress tourer is developed for asphalt pavement. In theory, you can ride them on solid backroad. Though, this bike is not meant for it. Full-dress touring bikes are among the most heavy and expensive motorcycles.
Examples of Full-dress tourers: Yamaha Royal Star Venture, Goldwing Honda, BMW K1200LT, Harley-Davidson Electra Glide.
Dual-sport or dual-use. These are some kind of two-wheel jeep. Sand, dirt, rocky surface are no problem for these bikes. It has small weight in comparison to cruisers, and is easy to handle even for untrained rider. Features: high gravity center, high seat and road clearance, small windscreen (not for all models), extensive tank and straight seat. The arm position is more comfortable, than on cruiser.
Has a lot of space for baggage. The cost of bike and its maintenance is reasonable. Dual-sport motorcycle is perfect for long-distance journeys.
Sport-tour motorcycles are so-called hybrids of sportbike and cruiser by specs, not by looks. This type of motorcycles is developed for suitable use in different conditions. It covers long distances and looks stylish. It is not as massive and expensive as cruiser. And rider does not lie on this motorcycle as on sportbike, so, he/she doesn’t get tired while riding. Sport-tour is heavier, than sportbike and has more extensive tank.
This subtype combines possibility of high-speed long-distance trip and compete in different races. This is a combination of sporting functional and tourist estheticism. Being adapted for different purposes it can be used for any task except off-road races. Unlike sporting models, it goes well on low rpm, not just on unlimited speed. It has more cowlings, longer wheel base and large handlebar turn angle, which adds it stability and makes it easier to handle. Mild nature makes this bike friendly for inexperienced riders, but engine capacity should be less than 400 ccm.
If you want to buy a motorcycle for riding around the city or out of town, then you should pay attention to cruiser. All cruisers are massive and heavy, but the seat is the most comfortable. Arms are almost parallel to the ground. Usually these bikes have low seat and wide rear wheel. Pillion footrests are placed in front part of motorcycle. Rear suspension softens the blows, which makes riding very comfortable.
Cruisers look very stylish. They are easy to control on high speed. But on low speed you can lose stability if you turn handlebars sharply or pull front brake hard. These bikes are considered the most convenient for short distance. But while driving on a long distance, the arms can get tired. Straight seat provides quite high resistance to the front wind. But windscreen solves this problem. You better not to ride it off-road, because this type of bike is meant for asphalt paving.
Chopper - one of the fanciest motorcycles
Chopper is a subtype of cruiser. These motorcycles are simple and esthetic. More often, these are altered serial motor bikes, decreased in weight and equipped with reinforced rear wheel, lengthened front fork and handlebar of unusual form. Often these bikes have a customized engine, which is empowered by changing of gearbox impacting mechanism.
There is no place for plastic elements on choppers. The seat of biker is mostly straight. Among great variety of motorcycles this one is considered most desirable among bikers of this world since 1950-s.
This type is often confused for choppers. Though, chopper is more likely one of subtypes of customized motorbikes. And the most widespread one. Often they are made without copies and of set of unique parts. Maximum perfection in beauty is most typical feature for it. Functionality takes the second place, so, often they are quite problematic to ride. They are designed be something else. Customized elements are present in every unit of once factory-supplied motorcycle. It is hard to recognize a standard model after customization.
Scarver/Minibike or pocket bike is a small motorcycle. This is no toy. With its small weight and 40 ccm engine it is capable to accelerate to 80-100 km/h.
This bike is suitable for those, who learn how to ride. Though, this is quite hard to learn to counterpoise on minibike.
There are many contests for scarvers as on open-air, so on roofed go-cart tracks.
Classic dragster is a specific motorcycle with very powerful uprated engine, high handlebar and large wheels. This bike is meant for short-distance races, which are very popular in the USA.
Off-road types of motorcycles
This is quite widespread type of motorcycles nowadays, which is used beyond surfaced road. These motorbikes can cross sand, mud, puddles, fields, small bushes and other places, which are not meant for vehicle movement.
This type of motorcycles can be divided into such subtypes: enduro, motocross, trial, motard and supermotard. Almost all these bikes are meant for races. Dirt road races with various side-hills are becoming more popular nowadays. Though, you can easily move asphalt road with this motorbike.
Motocross or dirt bikes. These motorcycles are meant for off-road races. Usually they are equipped with 2-stroke powerful engine, light in weight, have solid frame, reliable and long-stroke suspension. Mostly, these bikes have no lights and start with kick-starter. There are also mini-versions of these motorcycles, which are called pit bikes. Pit bikes have almost the same specs as dirt bikes and are suitable for gaining riding skills on track and mud.
Enduro looks like dirt bike, but has a bit different purpose. They are a bit heavier, than dirt bikes. Enduro motorcycles fit for track and off-road races, streetracing. This bike gives freedom in movement. Main differences of enduro from motocross bike: front and rear lights, speed counter, mirrors, muffler, turn signals. Seat is straight and comfortable for arms. Enduro is easy to handle. It is very maneuverable in city traffic and comfortable off-road. Enduro is a perfect bike for gaining riding skills.
Motard is an enduro motorcycle equipped with 17 inch wheel disks, macadam tyres, more powerful brakes and suspender and is meand for asphalt pavement. This type of motorcycles is suitable for common city roads and for overcoming city obstacles such as borders and stairs.
Supermotard is one-cylinder dual-use motorcycle. It is based on dirt bike or enduro and equipped with sporting tyres meant for surfaced road. The diameter of wheels on supermotard is 17 inches, because any other diameter significantly reduces variety of tyre modification.
So, this is just basic classification of existing motorcycles, because it's really impossible to strictly divide all of them in different types. But don't let any systematics turn you from the bike of your dream. The only things that matter are your wish and your skills!