an introduction to motorcycle types

Being a sharp, cautious road warrior, you know you need motorcycle insurance. But what coverages make the most sense? Well, a lot depends on the kind of riding you do — and the kind of bike you do it with. Here's a wheelie-popping primer on the major types of motorcycles and how they might affect your policy.

kinds of motorcycles

From the asphalt to the trails and everywhere in between, motorcyclists can find a wealth of bikes to sample. This motorcycle guide takes a look at some of the main styles.


These are the canvas sneakers of the riding world: practical and effective, if a tad boring. You won't find many style flourishes, but you will get maneuverability and ease of use. Standard bikes put the rider in a comfortable yet attentive position and offer very good visibility, which can come in handy for city driving.


If you love the thrill of riding but don't like to totally sacrifice the pleasures of the car, touring motorcycles are for you. These models are typically large and designed to keep you comfortable on long trips. They feature amenities like wind protection, cargo space, heating, and cruise control. They're heavy and relatively powerful, making them best-suited for experienced riders.


Sport bikes emphasize performance. They're built like street racers — light with a forward stance. You'll get quick acceleration, sharp braking, plenty of power, and tight handling. Since they can be difficult to manage, beginners should steer clear.

Super sport

These motorcycles are just like sport models, except more … super. In other words, they pack in more acceleration and speed, often on an even lighter frame. Best to leave these to skilled riders too.


These combine the handling of a sport bike with the comfort of a tourer. The main draw is that they usually feature comfortable seating and cargo space for 2 — so you can bring a companion on your next weekend getaway.


These are the bikes to show off at your local motorcycle show (or Easy Rider revival screening). In other words, they're all charisma — flaunting tons of stripped-back chrome, big rear tires, long, low profiles, and loud V-twin engines. You might not get raw power or razor-sharp handling, but you will get dropped jaws from drivers you pass on the highway.


Mopeds and scooters might be wise choices if you ride strictly in crowded urban areas. Because most aren't capable of high speeds, they're often illegal on major roadways.

Learn more about the key differences between scooters and motorcycles.


If you're trying to bridge the gap between the streets and the trails, a dual-sport motorcycle is the way to go. They have tires that can maneuver on both pavement and dirt, light and narrow frames, and long suspensions. One drawback to these bikes is their height, which can lead to jarring seating angles.


Off-road motorcycles are designed specifically for hitting the trails, racing motocross-style, or maneuvering through obstacles — basically, all the fun stuff your mom (and washing machine) would disapprove of.

motorcycle types and your insurance

How you ride has a big effect on the type of motorcycle insurance you need. For instance, if you have a dual-sport bike that you take off-roading, you might want comprehensive coverage to protect you from falling debris.

Or, say you have a touring motorcycle that you commute with daily. You might want higher liability limits than you would for a custom cruiser that you take out only one weekend a month. A touring or standard bike could also benefit from emergency road assistance, but the moped you only ride a half-mile to class might not need it.

Just like with cars, high-performance motorcycles, bikes that are costly to repair or replace, or those that are simply attractive targets for thieves can all carry higher insurance premiums than those that are safe, reliable, and common.

ride smart and save on your motorcycle coverage

Of course, the biggest factor in what you pay for motorcycle insurance is your own safe riding. Doing things like staying accident-free and taking a motorcycle safety course can help reduce your premium no matter what type of bike suits your fancy.

Ready to start customizing a policy with motorcycle coverage options that are right for you? Get a free quote today.

Find a motorcycle safety course
Let the Motorcycle Safety Foundation find a course near you so you can sharpen your skills.

Motorcycle coverages
Here's the basics on motorcycle insurance and how it works.

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