Which Way?

By Chelle Cordero

April 3, 2009 4 min read


Motorcycle types to choose from abound

Chelle Cordero

Creators News Service

The history of motorcycles is long and storied. They have come a long way since the Roper Machine, a steam powered "safety bike" that was demonstrated in the United States in 1867. By the time that Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles in 1903, the designs had evolved and these powerful machines were capable of speeding along roads.

Every company pushes to construct better cycles -- whether they have more power, speed, comfort or prestige. But no matter where you go, there are many types of cycles out there for every rider.

Experienced bikers sometimes stripped their vehicles of unnecessary parts that added weight and drag; these motorcycles were, not surprisingly, called choppers. Touring bikes were designed for long rides with low-slung seats and handlebars that the rider leaned into to reduce wind resistance. Cruisers often were custom projects to fit the owner's preferences, according to the American Vehicle Safety Institute.

"The riding position places the feet forward and the hands up, with the spine erect or leaning back slightly, which many find to be more comfortable for long-distance riding," the group said on its website. "The riding position of American style cruisers and choppers evolved from the saddle and riding position used by western cowboys. This position allows greater long distance comfort, with some compromise of control."

Greg Lasiewski from Kawasaki's media relations department said that new riders have a variety of entry-level machines to choose from. "People often have an idea of what they want," he added. "They see the bikes that their friends are riding, they do research and they understand their own lifestyle."

Which bike you choose depends on what you're going to use it for. "Choppers and cruisers are basically the same category -- it really depends on who you ask. Mopeds and scooters are generally low maintenance and good around town vehicles," he said.

Motorcycles like the 2009 Honda Gold Wing offer more amenities than just a vehicle that goes from one place to the next. Riders can listen to complex radio systems, enjoy jostle free suspensions, pack their bikes with roomy carry cases, enjoy heated seats and handlebars in the cold weather, and follow the directions of a navigation system. The bad boy biker now gets pampered.

The Harley-Davidson Company recommended that you decide what you want before you go shopping. Choosing the right accessories as well as your fit on the motorcycle is important. Are you looking to take a long distance trip with luggage or go tooling around the neighborhood to do your shopping? Will you need a windscreen or space for a passenger to sit?

Lasiewski also pointed out that many daily commuters have turned to cycles because of gas prices and the economy. "A gallon of gas can go a long way in a bike... as much as 70 miles per gallon." He noted how many older motorcycles came out of the garages to be put back on the road after the most recent gas price hikes.

Some of the reasons bike riders have given for riding include gas prices, the feeling of being "one with the machine," the camaraderie and fellowship of bikers everywhere, and the freedom to tackle the open road.

However, remember to be safe. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides training to help you enjoy the open road and live to talk about it. The basic pointers:

* Get trained and licensed.

* Wear protective gear -- all the gear, all the time -- including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the Department of Transportation.

* Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs.

* Ride within your own skill limits.

* Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses.

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