Saturday, August 30, 2008

Motorcycle types: The Standard

If you're looking to get into motorcycling, the first thing I'd recommend doing is taking a riding class. Once that's done and you have your license (or in some states, before you have your license), you'll need to pick out your gear and your bike. Many newcomers think of bikes in two kinds, cruisers and sport bikes. However, there's a lot of other styles to pick from, even if some of them are much less common.

I'm going to start this series on bike types with one of the less frequently seen types today, the standard motorcycle. The reason is that once you've got a good idea of what a standard is, it's easier to understand the differences between most of the other styles. Another reason I'm starting out with this type is that standard bikes are a pretty good choice for your first bike. As you might expect, they're called standards because for a long time this was what you got if you wanted a motorcycle. In the 1980s, bikes became a bit more specialized and the standard became something of a niche product by the mid '90s.

Here's a good example of a beginner friendly standard, the Buell Blast. The Honda Nighthawk 250 is another example of a good standard for a first time rider - in fact, both of these bikes put in a lot of workhorse duty in riding classes. Standard bikes can range in style from traditional to modern, but there's a few things they all have in common.

The biggest one is their riding position. On a standard bike, you sit upright on the seat and your feet are either beneath your hips or slightly in front of them. There's usually not much bodywork, although some of them have a small windshield or a bit of a fairing. A good standard can do a bit of everything - they're a bit sporty, reasonably comfortable, and can even do all right on a gravel road. This makes them a great choice if you're not sure exactly what sort of riding you'll be doing when you get started out.

If you're looking for a standard, it's hard to pin down an exact engine size for a beginner to avoid as manufacturers have put all sorts of different engine types in here from detuned racing engines to motors intended strictly for low maintenance street riding. A good rule of thumb is no more than 50 hp and no more than three times your body weight.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Another shot from Killboy.

This is why you should always check the mechanicals of your bike before a ride.

Looks like her speedometer cable came loose. I don't think I need to go into why that's a bad thing. Always check your bike before any major ride. Always check you bike at least twice a month if you ride often, like your friendly M4AM bloggers.

Remember the MSF's pre-ride check list:
T-Tires & wheels

Godspeed and happy riding.