Whether you are an advanced rider, just beginning, or in the early stages of purchasing, it is good to know the equipment available to you as a motorcyclist. Some things, like motorcycle styles, and helmet specs can mean life or death, while others like sunglass brands are a preference. Either way, you should find this overview helpful.
The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) lists the popular types of motorcycles available.
Standard motorcycles are the all-around, do everything kind of motorcycle. These bikes are not specialized or focused for any particular activity. They are great for the beginner rider because they are comfortable and offer the rider a lot of control.
Be cautious when selecting a standard motorcycle if you are a beginner rider. Many of the larger models can be intimidating with their high horsepower.
These bikes are built for easy going rides. They have a low seat which makes reaching the ground easy. Enthusiasts can go for smaller and lighter, or bigger and heavier when it comes to Cruisers.
Some models may be awkward for riders, because of the position to the ground and length of the bike.
The Sportbike is built for speed and is relatively lightweight. This bike is for the experienced rider as the brakes are strong and the engine is designed for higher rpm’s, making the clutch and throttle coordination harder. Also, since it is a sportsbike, insurance is going to be higher, and repairs more costly.
This bike is good for both on and off road rides. The seats on these bikes are higher, and can take some getting used to. Dual Sport bikes are usually cheap to insure.
Just like the name suggests, Tourers are made for long rides on the open road. They feature convenient storage for longer trips, and are comfortable to ride on. They also have good weather protection. Beginner riders be cautious: Tourers are heavy and have powerful engines.
Scooters are very practical and easy to handle as there are no gears and no clutch to worry about. These bikes get excellent gas mileage, ranging anywhere from 50-90 mpg and have storage and weather protection.
Some scooters are built only for easy rides, while some are strong enough for the highway. Riding a scooter is not the same as riding a motorcycle, so if you plan on switching up, be aware of this. If faster is what you are going for, pick a scooter that has larger wheels, as the smaller the wheels, the shakier the scooter will be.
|Some popular brands|
You may think that a helmet is a helmet, but actually several types of helmets exist, some safer than others. Beyond the safety factor, you should also consider comfort and intended use. Here is a guide, with help from Helmet City, to help you decide.
These helmets are full face helmets with the added feature of being able to flip the face cover up with a push of a button. This makes for easy communication with other riders without having to unlatch and remove the helmet, while also allowing protection from weather when down.
Full Face helmets are often used by street bike riders and riders who take long trips. They offer the most protection of any other helmet and come in many different designs.
These are not as safe as Full Face helmets, and are often referred to as a 3/4 helmet. They are recommended for easy rides if riders want to feel the wind on their face. These helmets also have the option of a shield, to keep the bugs from flying into your face.
While these helmets may be great for joy rides, full face helmets are still recommended as they give the most protection.
Made specifically for dirt and off road riders, these helmets usually have washable liners, can be used with goggles, and are designed for ventilation. Several types and designs of Off Road helmets exist on the market, check out helmetcity for more information.
Shorty helmets are often worn by scooter riders who ride around town at lower speeds. These helmets are not safe for freeway use.
The Snell Foundation has issued guidelines for helmet safety. All Snell Rated helmets are going to meet these safety standards, and are considered the most protective on the market, as they have gone through rigorous tests, and passed. For more information, visit Snell’s website.
The Dual Sport helmet is an innovative design that allows riders comfort no matter the road conditions. With great aerodynamics, these helmets can be used for off road or freeway use.
The purpose of Hi Viz helmets is to be seen. These helmets come in bright colors with reflective properties, which help other motorists to see you. A large percentage of motorcycle accidents happen as a result of drivers just not seeing motorcycles; this helmet helps with this problem.
|Some popular brands|
While the helmet is by far the most important accessory to wear on a motorcycle, some other accessories take a close second. Things like the proper boots, pants, and jackets are important to wear just in case you put your bike down. Other accessories that you may find useful are sunglasses, gloves, or suits. Check out Popular Mechanics to get ratings on accessories.
Many people like to ride in flip flops but this is much too risky. Feet can get burned by the motorcycle, crushed underneath the bike, or dragged on the asphalt.
While the weather may be rather hot out, boots of some sort are essential. Several boots exist on the market, and you don’t have to get the weighted construction type boots. Some companies, like Triumph make lightweight, rain style boots that are designed to keep your feet from sweating during the summer.
Whether warm or cold outside, motorcyclists need to wear jackets. Cotton shirts aren’t going to protect you when you hit the asphalt. Fortunately there are some jackets that are designed to not overheat in the summer. You don’t have to wear the signature leather motorcycle jacket that is bound to leave you sweating. Other options include textile jackets that have removable lining, like the Fieldsheer jacket.
Gloves protect your hands from flying debris and hand scuffing in accidents, and they also make gripping easier. Gloves come in either short or long, so you will want to select the jacket with the gloves to see which type you prefer. Some gloves, like some of the Icon ones, have a piece of titanium across the knuckles for extra protection.
Suits can be an added convenience in that they are easy to put on. They can also be incredibly hot though, so are mostly recommended for winter months, if at all. Suits like the Aerostich are highly visible and easy to put on with one zip.
This is an important accessory to keep the sun from blinding your vision while riding. If you have an open face helmet, you will want to select glasses that stay snug, and if you are going to be dirt biking, you may want to find some goggles that will keep the debris out of your eyes. Some brands specific to motorcycle riding do exist, like EyeRide and Harley Davidson. However, any brand will do.
Photo courtesy of US Army Africa.