12 Different Types of Motorcycles Explained (With Photos)

Motorcycle riders stop on a road with a backdrop of the green mountains and the sky.

Riding a motorcycle is a thrilling experience.

However, just as there are many different types of vehicles, there are many different types of bikes that people prefer to ride for multiple reasons. Some are strictly utilitarian and serve a very functional purpose; however, some are strictly aesthetically pleasing and are just designed to catch people’s attention.

There are so many different mixes and matches that have been achieved in motorcycle design making it not fair to just chalk everything up to either design or thrill. The different combinations deserve to be looked at in totality. So here is a list of the various bikes that are popular choices around the world.

Some of these bikes are just meant for sport and others are just meant to impress the onlookers. Either way, they’re all popular for a very good reason and here we can explore a few facets of their design and of their popularity.

Motorcycle Chart

Types of motorcycles chart.

Street (Crotch Rocket)

Street (Crotch Rocket)

An adventure bike is one of the most recognizable bikes around the world. It just oozes adventure and it is built to drive on the rockiest terrains and the fastest tracks in the world. The variety of adventure bikes, whether they’re built for speed or whether they’re built for the rough terrain, are built for punishment.

They can endure a lot of resistance as well as a lot of bumps and jumps before they’ll be sent packing. Their look is a cross between the traditional bike that is built for touring around the world and the dirt bike that is built to withstand a lot of punishment. You can get the best of both worlds from these bikes.

Another variety within the adventure bike is the dual sports bike. This has extra features of blinding lights and powerful horns to navigate busy traffic and late nights. It also has an aggressive off road suspension. The seat height is taller so that back roads can be more easily navigated and can be outfitted with extra bags for a camping adventure.


The Chopper with a backdrop of a soiled flag of the USA.

The Chopper is perhaps the most iconic motorcycle in the history of the United States. It emerged in the late 1950s as an icon to get around the country and it has been featured in numerous television shows, films, and advertisements as an icon of rugged masculinity. The extreme style of this motorbike, which uses modified steering angles and lengthened forks, makes it an aesthetically pleasing sight.

The motorcycle is built from an original motorcycle which is chopped, hence the name. The features that are most iconic are the long front ends which extend like forks. They are also coupled with an increased angle for the rake and hardtail frames.

The Chopper is also responsible for the design of perhaps the most iconic motorcycle of all time, the Harley Davidson. From the eponymous company, the motorcycle became an iconic sight in the 1960s and has gone on to become a symbol of the traveling American male.


A rider driving a cruiser on a scenic road.

The cruiser is a style of motorcycle in the US that was popularized during the 1930s. They did make their way in to the subsequent decades after and remained popular ever since. Some were built by Harley Davidson and others by Indian and Excelsior.

The design is very compact and old world. It’s rugged and dense, which makes it look like it can take a lot of punishment. The riding position on the cruiser allows you to place your feet forward and hands up. The spine can be erect or can lean back slightly.

Typically, cruisers emphasize on easy rideability and shifting, with a lot of low end torque. However, Cruisers don’t normally have a lot of horsepower. Those that do sport a lot of power are called Power Cruisers.

Power Cruiser

Power Cruiser

Power cruisers are bikes that are distinct from Cruisers due to their high level of horsepower. Typically their low powered counterparts are mostly known for their ruggedness and toughness, and not their speed. The Power cruisers come with upgraded brakes and suspensions, as well as better ground clearance. They have very premium surface finishes and a more exotic or muscular look than their lesser powered counterparts.

They became more popular in the 1980s when the power aesthetic became very fashionable. The Power cruisers also have neutral riding positions, which is a big difference from the inclined position that the original favored. This is to allow for better cornering in situations when riders “feel the need for speed”.

Dirt Bike

A dirt bike rider making a turn on the grassy road.

Dirt bikes, also known as Off-road bikes, allow for passage in to muddy and rough terrains. They’re built for the exact reason that mountain climbers climb mountains and cave divers dive; adventure. They’re a little different from adventure bikes in the sense that they have taller seats and high suspension. They’re more heavily built and are for loftier goals than sport.

Enduro Bike

A rider in Enduro bike in mid-air.

The Enduro Bike is built for the sport of Enduro. It’s an extended cross country course that is meant to test the endurance of the athlete participating in it. The bike is primarily built for the world Enduro championship and is run on a time card. The number of stages is raced in a time trial against the clock.

The Enduro motorcycle is specifically designed with this is mind. They most closely resemble the motocross bike. In fact they’re based on them. They have special features such as a very big gas tank, engines that are tuned for reliability, longevity and sump protectors.

The bikes have long travel suspension and are known to be durable over long distances. The engine of an Enduro bike is usually fitted with a single cylinder 2-stroke between 125 cubic centimeters or 360 cubic centimeters in volume. It can also be fitted with a 4-stroke 195-650 cubic centimeter cylinder.

The large engine is not always an advantage though, and the riders that usually race in the Enduro championships prefer small bikes that are light and easily maneuverable. However, in dry and dusty climates, heavier bikes are preferred over other types.


A rider in motocross in mid-air with a backdrop of a sunny sky.

Motocross bikes usually look very similar to Enduro motorcycles. The latter are based off the former. The bikes are made to compete in outdoor competitions that feature rough terrains and tight turns and jumps. They have heavily built suspensions and are designed for off road surfaces. The Supercross riders compete in indoor arenas as well, which are especially built for these competitions.

The most famous Motocross bikes are made by Japanese manufacturers Kawasaki and Honda.

Naked Bike

A naked bike parked outdoor near a railing.

The Naked Bike, or the standard roadster, is the simplest bike that you have seen. You get to see thousands of them zooming around the roads in your city everyday and they are built for navigation and standard travel. They are recognizable due to their upright riding position. This is midway between the reclining position of the sports bikes and the forward leaning position of most adventure or sport bikes.

Standard bikes usually don’t come with fairings or windscreens. They are usually small, if they are featured at all. Standard bikes or naked bikes are usually fitted with cylinders ranging from 125 cc to 1000 cc depending on the price. It is a general purpose bike that is fine for any occasion within acceptable limits of speed and torque.


A yellow scooter.

The Scooter can be controversial amongst enthusiasts. Some may even argue that it’s not a real bike. However, they provide essentially the same function as the naked bike or the standard bike. They can allow you to get around the city and are pretty useful in areas with non highway speeds. They have cylinders ranging from 50 cc to 500 cc in size and they offer a smaller fairing with limited storage for a few items.

While they are more popular among females than males in certain countries such as India, they aren’t seen as traditionally masculine or feminine modes of transport.

Some scooters are even called Mopeds, even though they are technically different. Mopeds usually have lighter framers and are based on the design of a bicycle. They have smaller engines, (of 50 cc or less), and mostly run on electric power rather than gasoline. They are also lightweight and limited on power, hence they’re only suitable for short trips.

Power Scooter

Power Scooter

Power Scooters are a burgeoning industry. The aesthetic and the design of the Power scooter are becoming ever more popular with electric vehicle companies. In fact, one of the most popular electric scooters in the world is the Vespa. The model has a range of 100 km in urban areas and it even has an X model that can go up to 200 km. That isn’t bad at all for a standard scooter. It even mirrors the design of the original gasoline scooter.

Power scooters usually pack a little more power and energy than regular scooters and are built for better speed and sharper turns. They have step through bodies and enclosed mechanical parts. This design aesthetic prevents the rider from staining or wrinkling their clothes. And it also allows for the scooter to have a lower center of gravity, allowing for better handling and lesser chances of accidents.


A rider rests on a touring motorcycle near a stone wall beside the trees.

If you like touring long distances, the touring style motorcycle is right for you.  It’s comfortable, smooth, stable and offers far more storage compartments than other bikes.  The above example is the Honda Gold Wing, which is one of, if not the most popular touring motorcycles on the market.

Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

While Harleys fall under the chopper style bike, we list it on its own because it’s such an iconic brand that’s still ridiculously popular with riders of all ages from all over the world.


Motorcycles give out an undeniable charm to anyone who has ever laid their eyes on them. Sure, they’re also associated with speed, thrill and danger, but that’s part of the charm. Whether you’re attracted to the classic Harley Davidson or the dirt bike, or the old world Cruiser, there is something about motorcycles that has let them endure and not be replaced by cars entirely.

These popular bikes have either stood the test of time or have been developed for completely new sports which have gained popularity in the twentieth century. And all of that was born out of a love for motorcycles.

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