Some motorcycles have paired front wheels, or paired rear wheels, three in all.
Motorized tricycles and
sidecar outfits are deemed "motorcycles". Most jurisdictions do not consider three-wheeled cars to be motorcycles; but some (including the UK) grant low tax and driving licence exemptions to such vehicles subject to, say, weight and power limits.
Motorcycles can be described as all of the following:
Types of motorcycles
The design of a motorcycle reflects the purpose for which it is to be used. The main types of motorcycle include:
Street motorcycle – designed for riding on paved roads; features smooth tyres with a light tread pattern and at least 125
cubic centimetres (7.6
cu in) engine.
Cruiser – mimics the style of American machines from the 1930s to the early 1960s, including those made by Harley-Davidson, Indian, Excelsior and Henderson; models evocative of the early cruisers make up 60% of the U.S. market
Bobber – usually has had the front fender removed, the rear fender 'bobbed' or made smaller, and all superfluous items removed to make it lighter
Chopper – has a longer frame design accompanied by a stretched front end (or rake). To achieve a longer front end, while the frame is being designed, the fabricator tilts the neck of the frame at less of an incline and installs a longer fork.
Sport bike – optimised for speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering on paved roads, typically at the expense of comfort and fuel economy in comparison to less specialised motorcycles.
Café racer – a type of motorcycle that has been modified for speed and good handling rather than comfort. Cafe racers' bodywork and control layout typically mimic the style of Grand Prix roadracers of the 1950s or 1960s with or without fairings. They tend to feature an elongated fuel tank, a small, rearward mounted and humped single seat, and low, race style handlebars mounted on the front forks.
Streetfighter – a sport bike that is customised by removing the fairing, with other changes that result in an overall more aggressive look
Touring motorcycle – designed for long-distance touring and heavy commuting; although any motorcycle can be ridden to tour or commute, manufacturers provide specific models designed to address these particular needs
Sport touring motorcycle – blends performance with long-distance capabilities while providing comfort and relative safety to the rider, and tend to include accessories, such as a trunk or saddlebags for storage, to enhance the touring experience
Universal Japanese Motorcycle – Japanese motorcycle with a transverse air-cooled four-cylinder engine in a conventional tube frame with a dual seat, mostly made in the 1970s and early 1980s
Custom motorcycle – unique or individually produced in a very limited quantity, as opposed to stock bikes which are mass-produced. Is usually highly stylised or has an unusual frame geometry or engine design. Many styles including café racer, streetfighter, and chopper began as customized motorcycles before manufacturers mass-produced bikes styled after popular custom machines.
Rat bike – motorcycle maintained at little to no cost, or often of a deliberately exaggerated state of disrepair
Enduro motorcycle – motorcycle made specifically for the Enduro sport, with the long travel and medium-hard suspension of a motocross bike enhanced with motorcycle features such as a headlight and quiet muffler to make the bike street-legal for parts of the track
Trials motorcycle – an extremely lightweight design, that lacks seating (designed to be ridden standing up) and that has suspension travel that is short, relative to a motocross or enduro motorcycle
Minibike – sometimes called a mini-moto or pocket-bike, it is a considerably smaller motorcycle; most traditional minibikes use a two stroke engine to turn the rear wheel via a chain
Mini chopper – mini choppers are scaled-down versions of choppers, and are usually constructed from 1" steel tubing or 3/4" steel black pipe; the tube or pipe is bent and then welded together to get the desired angles and shapes of the frame, which is usually custom made
Moped – a type of low-powered motorcycle designed to provide economical and relatively safe transport with minimal licensing requirements
Pit bike – a small off-road motorcycle originally used for riding around the pits or staging area of a motocross race; since the early 2000s, pit bike racing, a sport similar to motocross, has become popular in the United States, especially in Southern California
Scooter – a step-through motorcycle with a seat, a floorboard, and small or low wheels. Most modern scooter designs have swingarm-mounted engines
Underbone – a step-through motorcycle with a structural down-tube and conventionally sized wheels, but without a floorboard
First motorcycle ride – it is generally accepted that the first motorcycle ride was by
Gottlieb Daimler's son Paul on a new machine called Einspur ('one track') near
Germany on 10 November 1885. However, several pioneering engineers and inventors preceded Daimler, mostly with steam engines powering their cycles. These include:
Motorcycle sport – broad field that encompasses all sporting aspects of motorcycling. The various disciplines are not all races or timed-speed events, as several disciplines test a competitor's various riding skills. Riders have raced motorcycles for over a hundred years, with the first official competition recorded as the
Paris–Rouen race in July 1894. This was quickly followed by races all over Europe and the US. In 1907, the
Isle of Man TT races took over 66
mi) of the island's roads and has continued since. Motorcycle sport now takes many different forms, including:
Land speed record – a single rider accelerates over a 1- to 3-mile (4.8 km) long straight track (usually on dry lake beds) and is timed for top speed through a trap at the end of the run. The rider must exceed the previous top speed record for that class or type of bike for their name to be placed on the record books.
Although motorcycling can be a solitary form of transport, there are clubs for almost every aspect; including charities, social clubs, criminal or outlaw clubs, lobby groups that guard against restrictive legislation, and specialist clubs for specific makes or types of motorcycle. Examples include:
The Wild One – the influence of motorcycle movies can be traced to this movie starring
Marlon Brando in 1954 which helped to turn motorcycling into a rebellious lifestyle culture which US censor boards allowed 'with caution', but in the United Kingdom, the film was banned by the
British Board of Film Censors for fourteen years. It finally got an 'X' certificate in November, 1967. Other influential motorcycle movies include: