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Motorcycle Types
Engine Types
Horsepower and Torque
Why wear a helmet?
Decreasing-Radius Turns
Headlight Modulator Law
Riding in Europe
25kW (34HP) Motorcycles
Chicken Strips
Timberwoof's Motorcycle FAQ
Choosing your Motorcycle
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I’m a new rider. What kind of motorcycle should I get?
The common wisdom is that you should buy a used bike for $1 to $4k depending on what you can afford. A “naked” standard bike—one without expensive fairings—won’t suffer much damage when you drop it. When you have a year or two of experience, then you’ll know more about what kinds of motorcycles there are, how you ride, and what you really want.
Check out www.beginnerandbeyond.com.
Check out this list of 25kW Motorcycles in the Netherlands, Belgium, and most of Germany.
What are the different kinds of motorcycle?
Touring, Sport-Touring, Sport, Standard, Cruiser, Enduro, Dual-Purpose, and Dirt:

Click on a bike for more info about that type. Touring Sport-Touring Sport Standard Cruiser Enduro Dual-Sport Off-Road
I want a Cruiser. Why should I get some cheap standard?
City driving is the most dangerous sort, and generally speaking the bikes we (the MSF) recommend for beginners tend to be relatively light weight. We usually prefer standards to cruisers for new riders, because the bike design and rider position give better control and better visibility, but the Rebel isn’t actually a bad choice. The other thing to recall, however, is that your first months of riding are when you are most likely to be involved in some sort of accident, serious or otherwise, and for that reason, we usually recommend that you start with an inexpensive used bike, because in a year, you’re going to have an inexpensive used bike anyway. By following this recommendation, you avoid some loss.—Al Moore
A typical Harley Davidson weighs hundreds of pounds more than a good standard bike, even a stodgy BMW. If you don’t have the balance, strength, or experience for a big Harley, then you’ll get in over your head much more quickly than something more manageable.
I want a Sportbike. Why should I get some cheap standard?
The Air Force never lets some guy fresh out of ground school fly an F-16. He has to fly gliders, Cessnas and T-38s for a while first. What makes you think you’ll be able to handle a sportbike—let alone get safely near its limits—without prior experience on a machine more suitable for a beginner?
If you’re young, meaning under about 28, your insurance for a sportbike will be very expensive. Spend your money on track schools; that will teach you to wring every ounce of performance out of a bike. Then, with a few years of experience under your belt, get that Yamasukida CZX600fx4ii. You’ll appreciate it all the more.
So what's so great about standards?
I really feel that they are a superior motorcycle for non-track use. Given that they are hugely more comfortable than an equivalent sportbike, usually have better midrange, and only give up a little bit of handling and top end, they make a lot more sense. Especially the handling... if you're beyond the handling limits of one of these bikes, you need to be on a track. Cycle World apparently agrees... they named the BMW 1200GS and Yamaha FZ-1 the world's best streetbikes. —rhanz
I want a Short Bike.
Try the Home of the Short Biker.
I just purchased my first bike, 2002 Honda CBR600 f4i.
Be careful with this bike. It's very smart and follows your every move, knows your every mood. Stay smooth and calm around it, and don't get overly excited. If it thinks you're scared of it, it will try to kill you.
How do I tell whether a used motorcycle is in good shape?
Check out the Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide.
What's a good mileage range for a used bike?
Check out KBB or the NADA guides for the average mileage on the bike you're looking at. Hint: Don't go for the really low mileage bikes either. They'll probably need work too, from sitting and rotting.—Mark Olson
What’s a Rat Bike?
One that has been spray-painted flat black and patched together with bondo, bailing wire, and a prayer.
See the Rat Bike Zone.
What are the different engine configurations?
Check out my page on motorcycle engine configurtations.
What are these configurations all for?
Each is a different solution for the task of putting a small, large, powerful, efficient, loud, quiet, smooth and jiggly engine into a motorcycle. An engine with more pistons has smaller components that can move more quickly, but is more complicated.
What's the difference between torque and horsepower?
Let's go back do a quickie review of physics.
So what's the best motorcycle?
There are many good bikes out there, each built with some purpose in mind. There is no one best motorcycle for everyone.
Why are BMW air-cooled engines called “boxers”?
Funny Answer: Read the story about the Spagthorpe Boxer.
Real Answer: The pistons move in and out at the same time, like boxers’ fists.
How big does a twin have to be to be big?
“Big Twin” has a special meaning in the Harley world. It means one of the Harley engines that has a separate transmission, whereas the Sportster has unit engine/transmission construction. A Sportster engine modded to the same displacement as a Harley full dresser would be a big twin, but it wouldn’t be a Big Twin. — Mark, DoD #959635
Does the crotch rocket style generally come with better handling (compared to a standard street style) or is it all looks?
Oh yeah, It’s night and day. Handling, brakes, power, the works. That’s why people buy sport bikes.
How comfortable is that leaning forward posture, especially if you are on there an hour or more? Is much of the weight of your torso braced on your arms?
Different models have different amounts of forward lean and different foot peg position (also important for comfort). Your comfort on a particular bike depends on the length of your arms/legs, the position of the various controls, your physical condition, and how you sit. At speeds of 45+ mph the wind supports you quite a bit. I can ride all day at freeway speeds on my VFR but the VFR has a relatively mild lean and low foot pegs compared with say a Ducati 996 or a GSXR-750.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of shaft drive and chain drive?
  • Chain Drive is light, highly efficient, inexpensive, and allows you to relatively easily change your motorcycle’s final drive ratio. However, it requires regular lubrication, cleaning, and tension adjustment.
  • Shaft drive is heavier, almost but not quite as efficient, somewhat expensive, and makes it impractical to change the final drive ratio. However, the maintenance intervals are much farther apart.
Should I get a motorcycle with ABS? Can’t a skilled rider stop faster than ABS?
A skilled rider on dry pavement, yes. But in the wet, things are different. Read the IBMWR article “No Fault Braking: A Real-World Comparison of ABS Systems.”
So what kind of motorcycle should I get as a first bike?
Here are some suggestions. This is not an all-encompassing list. I would recommend against a big Harley-Davidson or BMW, or any sportbike 600cc or larger. If you’re small, get a small bike; if you’re big, you can get away with starting out on a bigger bike.
  • BMW F650, airhead R-bike, or K75
  • Honda Nighthawk, Hawk, or CB-1
  • Kawasaki EX250 or EX500
  • Suzuki Bandit 400, GS500, or SV650
  • Yamaha Seca II 400
Where can I buy a used motorcycle?
Here’s a whole list of places.
Can you ‘dicker’ the price on a new bike?
So what all do I have to do to get a new bike?
  • Take the basic MSF course.
  • Get the license endorsement.
  • Get gear (helmet, pants, jacket, gloves, boots).
  • Get the bike inspected.
  • Get the bike insured.
  • Get medical insurance.
  • Get the bike.
  • Get license plates for the bike.
So how do I make sure that this used bike I’m buying is legit?
  1. 1: Go down, inspect bike (full anal inspection), inspect title. Record VIN, plate, engine #.
  2. Record/photocopy buyer’s driver’s liscence.
  3. Call police autotheft dept on cellphone. Phone in Vin, plate, engine serial #. They will be able to tell if its stolen, and should be able to say if it is salvage. Likewise, ask if they can verify driver’s liscence #/name/address association. they might not, but they might.
  4. Pay for bike with cashier’s check. Take posession of the bike.
Not a perfect model, but a thief would have to both have sold the bike before owner reported it stolen AND would have to have a decently good fake ID, but the desparate seller would be willing to comply. Would also only take about an hour or two, only a little longer than a normal trasaction. — Nicholas C. Weaver nweaverATcs.berkeley.edu
Is it Beamer of Bimmer?
That depends on whether you're talking about cars or motorcycles. According to the Boston BMW car club, it is important to make the distinction. BMW car is a bimmer and a BMW motorcycle is a Beemer or Beamer.
Home http://www.timberwoof.com/motorcycle/faq/choosing.html, updated 20040906