With gasoline prices hovering at over $3 a gallon, many people are putting off unnecessary trips. They don't visit family and friends as they once did, and this impacts the quality of life. There is little we can do about the price of gasoline. However, we can seek alternative methods of transportation that help to ease the pain at the pump. One of the fastest growing cultures in America today is that of the motorcycle. With machines that are built to suit every need, motorcycles are highly maneuverable, good on gas, and give the rider a real sense of freedom on the open road. Here we will discuss motorcycles, and consider the types available for every age level and driving need.
What Types Are There?
Motorcycles are defined as two or three-wheeled vehicles powered by an engine. The wheels are in-line, and at high speeds the motorcycle remains upright and stable by virtue of gyroscopic forces. At lower speeds the rider will make continual readjustment of the steering to maintain stability. They include motorcycles with or without a sidecar, motor scooters, trail bikes, mini bikes, and mopeds. The rider sits on a seat or saddle. Motorcycles come in a wide variety of engines sizes, from 50cc to as high as 1,800cc on the big touring bikes. They fulfill every need, from the blazing fast "crotch rockets" to the full sized, fully loaded tourer, which is built for ultimate comfort on the road.
What Type is Best For me?
That depends. Knowing what your purchase is intended for is half the battle. A lot of people own little 50cc mopeds that they use for about town errand running and short commutes. The average scooter easily gets 50 miles per gallon and some of the smaller ones get up to 80 mpg. They are very easy to ride; many have a lot of storage space and are powerful enough to get around easily in traffic. They do have limitations. You cannot ride one on the freeway, and in some locales you can't ride them after dark.
If you want to move up to something that is a little more versatile, consider the 400cc standard street motorcycle. Combining power and economy, this bike is a great machine for first time riders. Add saddlebags and a fairing for comfort and the ability to transport needed items.
Moving up the scale, consider a cruiser. With engine size between 650cc and 1200cc, it has all the power you will ever need. Adding amenities to the bike only enhances the riding pleasure. They are good for distance touring, and feature a comfortable riding position and better rider comfort. When moving up to these larger motorcycles, remember that weight will begin to be a factor. Be sure you can handle the weight of a machine that can weigh on the average of 423 pounds. This bike is a bit too much motorcycle for the new rider.
If travel is your bag, consider a tourer. This motorcycle is a large machine, with engine sizes from 1,000cc to 1,200cc. An average tourer will weigh between 550 and 600 pounds. They are built for a comfortable ride over long distances. Many have full fairing packages, and have a high capacity of storage available.
What About Safety?
As in anything, riding a motorcycle has its own unique risks. Driver visibility is the prime consideration here. Using poor judgment can contribute to a crash. Many new riders do not fully understand the dynamics of a motorcycle, and this can lead to trouble. It is highly advisable for the beginner to take a motorcycle riding program that teaches you what you need to know to be safe on your two wheel expeditions. A lot of motorcycle riding is dependent on your ability to react without thinking. The motorcycle riding programs, often taught by the State Police, are the best way to learn to handle a bike. Cost is minimal, and not taking these courses can mean the difference between feeling the joy of the open road and an unexpected crash. Driving a motorcycle defensively means wearing a helmet, protective clothing, and a good pair of motorcycle boots.
Research shows that more and more baby boomers are switching to motorcycles as a means of transportation. No longer are motorcycles the exclusive domain of "twenty-somethings." People are becoming more aware of motorcycles and the economy they represent. When considering purchasing a motorcycle, always do your own due diligence, and buy the motorcycle that is best for you. Even though you would like to run right out and buy a custom chrome Harley Davidson, you will probably be not only safer but more satisfied with a 400cc street cruiser. Using good judgment is always the best answer when planning to buy a motorcycle.
Tons more motorcycle safety tips on DoItYourself.com!
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.