Fixing Some Common Issues on an Older Motorcycle

Stuck cables, false idles, ignition failure, valve issues, fuel issues, and more – find out how to stay on top of them. Regular issues can be easy to address with a little know-how So, we’re well through riding season at this point, and some of you may have developed some niggling little problems with your bikes that, while minor, suck all the fun out of an afternoon’s ride. That’s why we at AMERiders have decided to give you a bit of information on Fixing Some Common Issues on an Older Motorcycle.

No matter if you have EFI or carbs, a Harley-Davidson or a Honda, here is a list of five common problems and triage steps you can take to diagnose the nature of a mechanical issue for an older motorcycle. Even if you can’t fix it, you don’t have to blindly trust your hard-earned cash to the honesty of the nearest “reputable” mechanic. Get your toolbox out: it’s time to lift the tank!

Stuck Cables

For many of us, the only issues we’ll ever have with an older motorcycle are of our own making. Up until very recently, most motorcycles have had at least two cables that can go bad and cause headaches: the throttle, and clutch cables.

older motorcyleThe throttle cable normally lets you know it’s going bad by refusing to snap back the throttle grip when it is turned and released. Never ride such a bike – they call that a “suicide throttle” for a reason. It’s also a wise idea to get in the habit of checking now and again to see that your throttle isn’t affected when you turn the handlebars completely from side to side.

The clutch cable is far sneakier and creeps into your perception as perceived clutch slippage. What really happens is that it moves less and less inside the sheath and eventually the cable and sheath as a whole start to fuse into one nasty mass that overpowers the return spring. This doesn’t allow the clutch to release all the way and causes it to slip.

The three main causes of cable woes are wrong routing – it’s too short after changing handlebars or crashing and, most often, not properly maintained.  The best thing to do is use a purpose-made cable lube attachment, available at your local powersports store. Still, in a real pinch, a cable that has recently stuck can, most times, be salvaged by:

  • Removing the cable from the bike.
  • Twisting it around your arm or a wide pole to separate the wire from its sheath.
  • Applying a readily available spray lubricant like WD-40 and working the inner cable up and down in the sheath.

I’ve even seen people create makeshift funnels out of Silly Putty and soak the cable overnight in liquid wrench on the way to Sturgis with OK results. Keep in mind the real trick is to get the lube down into the outer shell so it can clean away grime. If all else fails you can try riding without the clutch. (we’ll cover how to do this on Friday of next week.)

Running on Empty

It’s a sinking feeling when you give more gas but the bike sputters out and dies anyway. Naturally, the first thing you want to do is get safely out of the roadway. Then check you didn’t accidentally hit the kill switch. Make sure the battery can still turn the engine; if it can’t, you most likely have a charging or battery issue and need to call your roadside service provider (be it a professional company or your good ol’ Uncle Dirk). If the battery is OK, these are the steps to take:

older motorcycleFirst, make sure there is gas in the tank and the petcock is set to On, Reserve, or Prime. Riders with more modern motorcycles instead of an older motorcycle will have no idea what a petcock is, but it’s worth making sure your bike isn’t equipped with such a thing. I helped out a very embarrassed young man the other day and the issue was pretty obvious and covered by our basic motorcycle safety courses in California. It helps if it’s set to “ON.”

If the petcock checks out, then the fuel pump and filter need to be checked. Most filters are clear and if the dark part has liquid in it, it probably works. Pumps can be tested by putting a finger on them and clicking the ignition from off to on. You should feel the pump “click” as it primes. If there is no click, check the fuses. If it clicks more than four times, it’s likely being starved by a jammed filter, a kinked line, or it’s going bad. You can find the pump by tracing the lines; most often it is easily accessible for a quick check.

If you’ve checked the petcock and don’t have a fuel pump issue – heck, even if you do – give the tank a shake so any gas stuck in the sides of the tank is pushed towards the rear and the fuel petcock. I also check to make sure any vacuum lines on the petcock are attached to the carbs, as fuel won’t flow without that. You have to actually look.

On newer, emissions-controlled motorcycles, I see a lot of cases where the bike runs out of power and stalls. Once pulled over, they restart OK, then stall again 3 miles later. In these cases, try running with the gas cap open! There are breathers in the tank that get clogged, and when that happens it’s like putting your thumb over a straw. The gas can’t flow out.

Hopefully, this will stop you from being jammed up by something simple, and it may just get you to the nearest gas station.

False Idles

If your older motorcycle isn’t idling right, warm it up and take note whether adding choke (making the mix richer) or cracking the throttle ever so slightly (making leaner) makes the bike change behavior. Again, if you ride a modern motorcycle instead of an older motorcycle you’ll have no idea what a choke is, but even Electronically Fuel Injected motorcycles reveal a lot by “blipping” the throttle. Rich bikes are getting too much gas, so they idle high but lose power when given initial throttle because they can’t burn all the gas. For carburetors that suddenly show signs of being in a rich condition, gently whacking the bottom of the carbs to make sure the floats (tiny little pieces that control gas flow like the rubber piece in the back of your toilet) are free. Also, check that the choke cable works. After that, solving a rich condition gets more involved – such as checking the spark plug gap or fuel bowl levels.

older motorcycleLean running engines tend to “hang up” at high rpms when the throttle is let go, and they also rev down slowly after the throttle is closed. A key clue is that the issue gets better as the bike warms up. Extremely lean motors can also stall out completely when given some light throttle. Another sign of lean running is the “hunting idle” where the motorcycle revs up randomly, changes RPMs, or takes forever to come down to idle.

First, start simple and look for a loose or open vacuum hose. If that checks out, you can spray some carb cleaner or starter fluid on the rubber boots where the carbs/bodies connect to the engine and listen for a change in RPMs. Lastly, confirm that the fuel is being supplied like it is supposed to be by checking everything in the “Running on Empty” section above. If it is, lean running is the No. 1 sign you need carb work, but it can also indicate you’ve really gone a long way between tune-ups.

For EFI, much of the old-fashioned carburetor malarky is done away with. Just be sure the pressure sensor on the airbox is connected right and has a vacuum, and that nothing is unplugged.

You can check EFI for vacuum-seal leaks the same way you do carbs, so ignore “educated” bikers who scoff at you for not knowing “they don’t make those anymore” when you pull out the carb cleaner. EFI bikes also all have a handy “self-diagnostic mode” which will flash out a numeric code through the gauges. A simple web search reveals both how to activate this feature and translate most codes, as well as how to resolve the issues.

We are cutting this article in half as we don’t want you reading all day about how to fix your older motorcycle we’ll take this back up on Wed. of next week, and you can go have a nice ride today.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

older motorcycle







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Fixing Some Common Issues on an Older Motorcycle.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

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Motorcycle Manufacturers Shake up Bike Designs to Bring in New Riders

We all love it when a Motorcycle Manufacturer Shakes up their Bike Designs, it gives us something else to look at, and here at AMERiders, we bring you the information on some new designs. A surfer-meets-biker festival in Biarritz, France, was an unlikely backdrop for America’s oldest Motorcycle Manufacturer to showcase its latest Bike Designs.

But that is where, in June, Indian Motorcycle made the announcement that a one-off design concept, inspired by county-fairgrounds racing machines, would become a production model. It was a sign of just how profound a departure in strategy this new model, the FTR 1200, would be.

The bike, the road-going derivation of a machine trouncing all comers on the dirt ovals of the American Flat Track racing circuit — and revealed in a showroom-ready form on Monday at the Intermot industry show in Germany — is an acute change of course for Indian, whose retro-flavored cruisers and Deco-kissed touring machines have revived the company.

Indian, based in Minnesota, is not alone among motorcycle makers in taking a daring, and perhaps unexpected, leap with its Bike Designs. Ducati, based in Italy, has hit pay dirt with its out-of-character Scrambler, introduced in 2015 (and now stretched to a subbrand), which expanded the company’s portfolio beyond muscular sports machines.

Likewise, Husqvarna Motorcycles, a Swedish motocross legend now resettled in Austria, has branched out with a range of lithe, futuristically styled bikes and its Bike Designs. Even Royal Enfield, a British expat built in India, is moving beyond its frozen-in-time single-cylinder models to 650cc twins, updated to the profile of beloved European classics.

The production version of Indian’s FTR 1200, scheduled to go on sale in the first half of 2019 and start at $13,000, tempers the racetrack-raw stance of the show bike with styling that carries a measure of European influence.

Bike Designs
The Ducati Scrambler 1100. The Scrambler line has been a hit, with 75 percent of the buyers being new to Ducati.

Under Polaris, its corporate parent, Indian will keep making easy-chair classics, adding the FTR as a growth opportunity and a vaccine against market headwinds in the United States. There, mounting prices for raw materials, retaliatory tariffs and the uncertain future of trade agreements are only the latest concerns buffeting motorcycle marketers.

A more vexing challenge for the industry is a decade-long sales slump — blame the indifference of millennials or the worn-out knees of boomers, but those are far from the whole story — that has defied repeated attempts to reverse the showroom stagnation.

Manufacturers from around the globe have reaped little but frustration from their efforts to awaken the American market, especially for models with larger engines, where the greatest profits lie.

Busting through the 200-horsepower mark made for great headlines but did not jolt sales. Nor did a turn toward dark and gritty images of “urban” culture, expressed both in stripped-down models called bobbers and a faux-practical species known as baggers. A flood of all-terrain offerings called adventure bikes, the sport utility vehicles of the two-wheel world, propped up interest but seemed mostly to steal sales from other categories.

Pitted against the reality of demographics — specifically, the aging-out of riders — are ambitious safety training programs for young riders. In addition, new models with smaller engines are arriving from almost every brand, even heavyweights like BMW and Harley-Davidson are giving fresh Bike Designs. Which are less intimidating because they are lighter, the lower-price recent entries are intended to expand the market, with a particular aim of attracting women.

Still, the stubborn sales figures suggest, a practical appeal will go only so far. In the United States, where bikes are primarily warm-weather recreational vehicles, the attraction must be more emotional, something Indian hopes its FTR 1200 will fulfill. Though the FTR is unlike any current Indian, the company’s director of product and Bike Designs, Ola Stenegard, said that in his view the brand’s storied racing heritage offered it free rein.

Bike Designs
The Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 motorcycle. The design is meant to appeal to a younger audience, reawakening the tribal motorcycle culture that diminished as bikes became more complex and costly.

“It’s not like Jeep trying to do supercars,” he said. “Indian can go anywhere.”

Mr. Stenegard, who came to Indian from BMW this year and brings a deep understanding of the “builder” customizing movement, foresees the FTR’s style winning acceptance in Europe, despite its American reference point as a flat-track racebike. “It’s a whole change of clientele — riders who want the coolest bike and have moved beyond the passing trends,” he said.

Calling on brand legacy has worked magic for Ducati as well. With a reputation built on its supersport road bikes, the company, now under the wing of Audi, took a long shot on it’s Bike Designs with bringing back the Scrambler nameplate, created in the 1960s for the American market.

In the classic style of off-road motorcycles — high-mounted exhaust pipes, generous ground clearance, an air-cooled engine — the Scrambler is a home run, with 75 percent of the buyers being new to Ducati, and the line, including models with engines of 400, 800 and 1100cc displacement, accounting for a quarter of the company’s sales.

Breakthrough models like the Scrambler are not necessarily the result of market research, Ducati’s chief executive, Claudio Domenicali, said, emphasizing that the Scrambler is a “post-heritage” statement rather than retro. “When we try to follow the competition, we’re not successful, so we look at what’s available and we invent products.”

That formula is evident in the Scrambler’s image-conscious look. The bikes — 11 variations are offered in the United States — use Ducati’s V-twin engine but do not copy the sherpa-like utility trimmings of adventure bikes.

Triumph, among others, offers approximate competitors, but the notion of a throwback gravel-road specialist is clearly expressed by the Scrambler’s elemental appearance and vintage paint scheme.

Bike Designs
The Royal Enfield Himalayan. The simplicity is appealing to new riders, and the pricing undercuts competitors.

If established makers like Indian and Ducati, each managing to grow despite market headwinds, are taking gambles with buck-the-trend Bike Designs, then Husqvarna seems to be betting the farm in the direction it has staked out with the Svartpilen and Vitpilen — for Black Arrow and White Arrow — road bikes.

No longer tied to the nameplate once known best in the United States for its chainsaws and snow blowers, Husqvarna’s nimble, narrow-waisted single-cylinder machines use engines of 373cc or 693cc from KTM, its corporate parent.

The styling was done by Kiska, an Austrian studio whose work is also seen on products from Audi, Adidas, and Zeiss.

The visuals are best described as disruptive: a sculptural postindustrial theme, with mechanical bits so boldly exposed that the popular classification as a “naked” bike does not serve. The use of a steel-tube trellis frame is not radical, but components like the swingarm, handlebars, and rear fender are consciously stylized with an eye on appealing to a younger audience, reawakening the tribal motorcycle culture that diminished as bikes became more complex and costly.

“The look and feel represent a Scandinavian approach, an alternative to the mainstream,” Gerald Kiska, founder, and chief executive of the studio said of his intention to “design desire.” The target buyer, Mr. Kiska explained, is looking for a machine that “touches the heart and brain as an art piece.”

Royal Enfield, whose archaic 500cc singles have traded on little more than nostalgia for the venerable Bullet model — and the considerable appeal of low prices — is overhauling its approach with a modernization of the Bike Designs and production that includes doubling the number of cylinders. The coming Continental GT 650 and Interceptor 650 still mine the profile of British classics, retaining throwback components like a twin-shock rear suspension and wire-spoke wheels, yet updating the internal parts.

Royal Enfield’s ambitious effort to crack the American market has some distinctly promising factors. The simplicity of the bikes is appealing to new riders, and the pricing undercuts competitors. The company also gets a boost from the introduction of the Himalayan, a $4,499 model. Its 411cc single is far smoother than the engine of the Bullet, though that model drew the admiration of style-conscious onlookers over the course of a weeklong vacation tour I did in Italy. Likewise, the crude gearshifting of earlier Royal Enfield has been dispatched, though the brakes leave room for improvement.

Even so, the Himalayan may hit a sweet spot of style and affordability. Not so aggressively desert-focused that it’s awkward to ride around town, and approachable for a new rider, it may be a formula for what could bring growth back to the American motorcycle market.

Don’t Call It a Trike, Yamaha’s Double-Front-Wheel Motorcycle Is a Blast.

Don’t call it a trike, Yamaha’s Double-Front-Wheel Motorcycle. No one in the AMERiders’ community of motorcycle enthusiasts is clamoring for anything with three wheels. And I know what you’re thinking, “I ain’t riding no fargin’ trike.” However, this thing is a blast!

trikeBut Yamaha has a history of taking chances for no obvious reason, only to end up being completely right. “We wanted to make a motorcycle with more grip,” says Leon Oosterhof, Niken’s product planning manager. The company didn’t start out thinking they’d build a three-wheeled bike, but “once the solution was set, we decided we definitely needed an extra front wheel.” Most companies won’t turn a screw before conducting years of consumer-trend studies. Yamaha didn’t think twice.

Hence, the new Niken, the most fun you’ve had on three wheels since you were burning across the driveway on your Big Wheel, as a tike.


How does it work?

The Niken doesn’t ride like a trike. It’s a whole new class of machine—an enhanced motorcycle for the sole purpose of pushing corners hard and having people stare at you in amazement. The front end feels heavy at first, and it should. There’s a lot going on under the handlebars: upside-down front forks, dual-leaning front wheels.

It takes some getting used to at slow speeds, but that lumbering sensation goes away fast. Yamaha was smart enough to stage this road test in the Austrian Alps, where the roads suit it: sweeping turns, crazy-tight hairpins, gravel, wet corners, and discarded roadside schnitzel.

How does it ride?

trikeWhen you get up to speed, the Niken makes you feel confident. No matter the turn or the deep lean angle, there’s always plenty of rubber contacting the pavement. Usually the weakest rider is last, so as not to hold up the better riders, jumping to third as you start to hit the turns. The Niken’s front-end grip is extraordinary. You will forget about the pavement in your immediate vicinity.

You are able to look at the entry and exit lines way ahead of what you’ll normally allow, which makes your lean angle deeper and turns faster. Coming out of the corners, you are able to accelerate fast, then brake hard before the next one. Only occasionally does the back end kick out a little when hitting a patch of gravel or a wet leaf in a hairpin.

Have read about one of the people who road in the road test in the Austrian Alps that was for 200 miles, and they said that it was the best they’d ever ridden. If you want to put an asterisk next to that because they had three wheels under them, go right ahead—Yamaha doesn’t care, and neither do I.

Ignoring the extra front wheel, the Niken is a powerful three-cylinder motorcycle with a healthy 115 horsepower.

One of these days I would like to try one of these myself, as it is I’ll have to stick to my Harley Touring Bike.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Yamaha’s Double-Front-Wheel Motorcycle, and it’s not a trike.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

AMERiders Tips Against Motorcycle Theft You Can Apply Everyday

Everything that also makes a motorcycle unique also makes it both easy to steal and profitable to do so as well.

But what are those things? Well, its lightweight, diminutive size and high performance these things make it both easy to steal and profitable to do so. AMERiders gives you a few Tips Against Motorcycle Theft You Can Apply Everyday,

Unfortunately for us, motorcyclists, we’ve become obsessed with an object that is quite attractive to thieves. Motorcycles’ price per pound is higher than most other objects except the electronics we usually keep much closer, and their parts are of premium value. Unless a crime of opportunity, where this evil-doer sees your bike with the key left in the ignition and decides he wants it or can sell it to his neighbor, most motorcycle thefts are done for their parts or to be shipped to other countries. This equates to two things. One, that they don’t care much about the how well you care for your bike and will laugh at your chain when they toss your bike in the back of a pickup. Two, that more common bikes are more attractive because those forks they’re about to pull off will have more potential buyers.

We’re “bad news before the good news” kind of guys, so there’s one other thing we need to state. If someone is determined to steal your motorcycle, there’s a good chance he’ll succeed. With the proper tools and knowledge, any chain can be cut, and alarm disarmed, and any garage door opened.

This means that, while all those safety measures are great to put in place, the first step towards preventing theft is to attempt to ensure no one ever becomes determined to steal your motorcycle.

Theft Prevention Tip #1: Concealment

stolenThe first, and possibly best effort you can make in preventing theft is to not broadcast the value you’ve left sitting on the street. Motorcycle thieves, driving around in a truck looking for sportbikes, are less likely to target your bike if they don’t know what it is. Sure, it’s easy to tell based on the silhouette what type of bike it is, but a cover just makes window shopping that much harder.

Do you park your bike in the same spot every day, uncovered during the day and covered all night long too? Or is it on the street in front of your garage during the day and then in the garage at night? Chances are, everyone knows what’s under that cover or behind that door. Any effort you can make to change up the location you park or disguise what’s under the cover will help.

An added benefit to using a motorcycle cover is that thieves won’t know what other theft-prevention devices you’ve used and so they will not know what to prepare for.

Theft Prevention Tip #2: Locks

Your motorcycle moves freely, without requiring a key. Steering locks are great, but I still don’t understand why no one has come up with a way to lock your bike in gear. If you really want to keep your bike safe, you’re going to need to add some aftermarket accessories.

theftDisc locks are great, both because they’re effective at keeping the bike from rolling freely and they’re easy to transport with you while riding. Wheels, unfortunately, are easy to remove which negates the effectiveness of disc locks. If you’re going to go with the disc lock option, make sure you get one with an alarm on it that will notify anyone around to what’s happening, which will act as a far better deterrent than the lock itself.

Chains are another great way to lock up your bike, but only if done correctly. Chains do a decent job of preventing someone from carrying your bike off, but really need to be attached to an immovable object if they’re going to be effective. If you can’t park close enough to an immovable object, look for another motorcycle with a chain and loop your chain through theirs. Either person will be able to unchain their bike from the connection, and it will help to keep both bikes more secure.

If you do find something you can attach the chain to, make sure the chain isn’t resting on the ground where it can be attacked with a hammer and chisel (loop the chain around multiple times if you have to in order to take up the slack).

A chain through one wheel, attached to an immovable object, and a disc lock with an alarm on the other wheel, all under a motorcycle cover is about the best you’ll do to make your bike a pain to snatch.

Theft Prevention Tip #3: Booby Traps

Just kidding….well, sort of.

So What Should I Buy?

When looking at chains, look for something designed specifically for security that can’t be attacked with chemicals like liquid nitrogen. Girth, materials, and shape are going to be the biggest factors in a chain’s ability to withstand attacks. Obviously, bigger is stronger, but it’s also important to look for the specific materials used (you want boron, carbon, and manganese in the steel) and to make sure that the shape of the links is designed to turn bolt cutters. This one, the Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit Chain and New York Disc Lock, should do quite nicely.


When looking at locks, make sure the lock body encloses as much of the shackle as possible to prevent bolt cutters from being able to access it. This one, by FJM Security, will make it really tough for thieves to cut.

Using brands that aren’t common can also be helpful as many thieves have learned how to defeat popular brands. Those boutique brands you found online may frustrate or confuse them with their unfamiliarity.


The best chains in the world are by a company called Almax, unfortunately, they don’t have a U.S. distributor. If you’re really smart, you’ll figure out a way to get one online, otherwise just compare anything you’re thinking of buying with their products.

Your choice in disc lock is less important, as it’s more effective in making your bike harder to steal than it is at preventing outright theft. We like XENA disc lock alarms, which are affordable and effective. As an added bonus, the alarm will sound if you forget the lock is there and try to ride off before removing it.

Additional Tips

Park your bike in a garage or yard? Upgrade the locks on those doors or add a motion sensor light. Locks anchored into concrete will be more secure than those bolted to wood or thin metal.

Have windows in the garage? Put bars on them.

Always think about location, the closer your bike is to your person or other people the safer it is. Think about the areas you’re in and what’s acceptable in those areas. Know where you can park on the sidewalk and where you can’t, or where there’s a bar nearby that will have bouncers out front until 2 am.

Remember, thieves are looking for the bikes that will be easy and quick to grab, so the more layers of security or deterrents you can add, the better chance your baby will be where you left her in the morning.

What steps do you take to keep your motorcycle safe?

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Tips Against Motorcyle Theft You Can Apply Everyday.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

As a Short Rider These Motorcycles Will Serve You Well

Height is a major problem for some motorcycle riders. Tall seats and wide saddles are the enemies of the short-legged and many bikes require an above average height simply to swing a leg over. AMERiders decided to put together a list of some great bikes that are great to ride, these are truly the best motorcycles As a Short Rider that Will Serve You Well.


If you’ve ever watched a motorcycle race, regardless of discipline, then you’ll have noticed the broad range in rider sizes. And that’s one of the great things about motorcycling — short or tall, it’s accessible to everyone.

But there are bikes that are better than others for smaller riders, particularly if you happen to be new to biking and aren’t super-confident, especially at low speeds and whilst negotiating traffic where a steadying foot on the tarmac can make all the difference.

The good news is that while commuter bikes or small-capacity entry-level machines are ideal for smaller riders, you’re not limited to them — there’s a vast choice out there and four of the major manufacturers design and build their bikes in Japan where the average male height is 5’ 7” — a good two inches shorter than the average British bloke.

Short Rider

The obvious starting point when checking the tech specs is the seat height but don’t let this be the limiting factor — for example, single- and twin-cylinder bikes are often much narrower than four-cylinder machines so for a given seat height they can feel very different as the legs aren’t splayed so much.

Weight might also be a consideration but again, many bikes that look heavy on paper carry their weight well, with low centers of gravity that make them easy to ride, even at low speeds. The bottom line as with all these guides is that they are just that — guides. The only way you’ll know for sure which bike is for you is to get out there and try a few — you may just find that superbike you’ve been hankering after but had all but ruled out is actually a perfect fit…

Customising your bike to suit

Modifications to make bikes better suited to a Short Rider range from logical to dangerous. We’ve seen some smart alterations such as having the seat pad remade with less foam and we’ve even seen subframes dropped down slightly with lowering plates to make that dream sports bike a reality.

However, you do need to be careful. Some bikes —especially sports bikes — are often lowered by way of sliding the forks through the yokes and having a modification made to either the rear shock or the shock linkages. While this will achieve a lower seat height it will also reduce cornering clearance and will invariably compromise the handling. The extent of this compromise depends on how well the suspension has been adjusted to compensate for the change in chassis geometry. You will need to advise your insurance company of any major changes too, so you are better off finding a bike that fits you with the bike set up as the manufacturer intended. Here are a few that we’d heartily recommend…

Harley-Davidson Sportster

Short Rider
Sportster Iron 883

Harley-Davidson isn’t known for making small and lightweight bikes, however, Harley’s Sportster has been around since the late Fifties and is widely accepted as the entry point to the Harley-Davidson range, both in terms of price and ease of use for new riders. The Iron 883 is one of the more recent Sportsters and we think the Black Denim version is one of the coolest to date with its stealthy matt black looks and detailing.

Short Rider
Harley Davidson Street 500

The engine is soft and tractable with that trademark Harley exhaust note. The riding position is more conventional than many cruisers, with ‘mid controls’ rather than ‘forward controls’ so your feet are more in line with your knees rather than stretched out in front, making it far more manageable for a Short Rider be it a guy or gal.

Also, their Street 500 makes an excellent bike for a Short Rider with a low, low 28-inch seat height. It’s also surprisingly light and has a low center of gravity to make it easier to get off the kickstand.

Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

Short Rider
Moto Guzzi V7 Stone

Moto Guzzi’s V7 Stone is a very light bike with a 22-liter fuel tank and a 780mm seat height, making it an easy bike for a Short Rider to handle.

Other bikes in the classic collection that are in competition with the Guzzi are the Triumph Bonneville and the Kawasaki W800, and neither of these should be overlooked.  A full 100lbs lighter than a Triumph Bonneville, equal quality and reliability, better handling and an optional 30.7-inch seat height make this thing a winner.

The best way to decide if the motorbike you choose is right for you is to try it on for size and ride it. Safety and comfort depend on the rider so the motorbike has to fit you correctly to enable you to gain the best experience in your riding career. This Moto Guzzi has the Italian looks and character you want, too.

Ducati Monster / Ducati Monster 796

Short Rider
Ducati Monster 796

The latest contemporary Monsters that benefit from technology filtered down from the Bologna-based brand’s exotic sports bikes. The range is quite baffling but engine sizes vary from 696 all the way up to 1200cc meaning there’s something to suit most riders even a Short Rider.

A slim, V-twin engine helps make this Monster one of the most accessible Ducatis, making the 31.5-inch high seat very narrow. That new, 803cc motor gives it great performance too, with 87 bhp and 58 lb.-ft. of torque. A stylish, fun, easy-to-ride performance bike.


Suzuki SV650/S and the Suzuki TU250X

Short Rider
Suzuki SV650/S

The smaller sibling of the cult classic TL1000, the SV has long since gained an admiring following of its own — and with good cause. The V-twin motor is flexible enough to be tamed by novice riders or tormented by the more experienced while the handling is so good it spawned a whole genre of racing when it kickstarted the Minitwins class at the start of the century.

Available as a faired (S) or naked machine, there’s an SV for everyone, with good early models as cheap as a few hundred quid up to the later, more angular model. Suzuki stopped making the SV and launched the Gladius in 2009. The Gladius went far better than it looked but didn’t prove as popular as the SV prompting Suzuki to bring back the SV last year. So, if you’re after a new or used street bike or Sportster, with its low and narrow seat, the SV is a top choice for the a Short Rider.

Short Rider
Suzuki TU250X

However, its brother the Suzuki TU250X is simple, light and low Factors which also happen to describe this little Suzuki perfectly. The 30.3-inch seat is made slim by the single-cylinder motor and an all-up curb weight of just 326lbs makes it exceptionally manageable. Classic styling rounds things out, making this a great choice for both short and new riders. You’ll be reading more about this one in the near future.

And our last bit of information for you.

Top Tips for Shorter People Wanting to Ride a Motorbike:

  • Shorter riders need to accept that more often than not, your heels won’t ever touch the ground fully when you are sat on your motorbike. Using the rest of your feet for support (without heels) is usually sufficient enough. Being able to steady your motorbike without being flat-footed will get easier for you as you gain confidence in yourself and in your motorbike.
  • When parking, get off your motorbike and push it into the parking space. Although this doesn’t look as good as the riders that can paddle their motorbike into space, it’s definitely better than trying to reach the floor fully – and accidentally slipping and falling off!
  • In windy conditions and when stopping, turn your motorbike to the left, as this will lean your motorbike enabling you to get your foot closer and more firmly on the ground.
  • When braking, use your brakes gradually to slow down, as well as your down gear, to try and avoid stopping completely. Look ahead and plan your stopping distance in plenty of time.
  • Generally lookout for anything that can cause your foot to slip, for example, white lines, gravel, mud, water, and any debris. Also, remember that it is not against the law to stop next to a curb so you can put your foot on it for support.
  • And last but by no means least; make sure you have adequate motorbike insurance to ensure peace of mind for yourself, as well as your bike.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Motorcycles that as a short rider will serve you well.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

Biggest Risks to Motorcyclists on the Road to Watch out For

Riding a motorcycle can be a lot of fun, but it’s also dangerous. A lot of it has to do with inexperience, but it’s not always inexperienced riders who end up in the hospital. Just last week, a friend of mine who has been riding for ten years without incident found out the hard way that it’s not a matter of if you wreck but how long it will be until you wreck your bike. You can’t avoid every accident, but keeping your eyes up and paying attention to the road will help you spot threats and make better decisions no matter what is happening. AMERiders wants to make sure that you as riders, make sure you’re focusing on these Biggest Risks to your own safety.

1. Oncoming traffic

Biggest Risks Maybe a driver is texting on his cell phone. Maybe a driver is eating a burrito. Maybe a driver is just daydreaming. It doesn’t matter what causes it, but all it takes to cause a serious wreck is for one driver to drift into the other lane and is one of the Biggest Risks to your own safety.

A driver doesn’t even need to hit a rider directly since even being clipped by an oncoming car can knock a rider from his bike. Sadly, keeping a constant eye on traffic and riding like everybody is out to kill you is the only way to minimize your risk of colliding with oncoming traffic.

2. Cars waiting to turn

Biggest RisksIntersections are about and is one of the Biggest Risks to your own safety as it gets, and part of that has to do with drivers making careless left turns. Motorcyclists all have stories about narrowly avoiding a collision with a car pulling out in front of them, and sadly, far too many have stories about actually being hit by those cars.

Drivers need to put down their cell phones and pay better attention to what’s going on around them, but riders need to also pay extra attention while riding through intersections. That added vigilance could save a life.

3. Panic stops

Biggest RisksThere’s always a potential for a wreck when someone has to slam on the brakes, but it’s always more dangerous when you’re on a motorcycle. Since your front brake provides 70% of your stopping power, you have to use it, but if you grab the brake too hard, locking up your front wheel and throwing yourself off the bike are always risks.

Buying a bike with anti-lock brakes will help mitigate this problem, but if you don’t have ABS, it’s even more important to learn how your bike handles under heavy braking. That way you’ll be ready the next time you have to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of you and lower one of the Biggest Risks to your own safety.

4. Gravel on the road

Biggest RisksMotorcycles are very good at going around corners in normal situations on normal roads, but when you start throwing obstacles into their path, that’s when things get tricky. Sticks, dirt, and even roadkill can be difficult to handle, but the worst road obstacle is gravel.

Gravel kills your grip, causing your bike to behave unpredictably and easily causing a wreck as well as being one of the Biggest Risks to your own safety. If you’re going to go down, a low-side fall is about as good as it gets. Unfortunately, riders trying to recover from hitting gravel can easily high-side as well, which is much more dangerous.

5. Too much speed through a corner

Biggest RisksOne of the best things about motorcycles is that they’re fast. For the cost of a new Honda Civic, you can buy a bike that will hold its own against quarter-million-dollar supercars. Experiencing raw, unbridled speed for the first time is intoxicating, but it’s also dangerous.

In a straight line, most riders don’t get themselves in too much trouble, but learning to take a corner is much more difficult. New riders are especially at risk of taking a corner too fast, but even experienced riders occasionally make mistakes and can this is a reason it is one of the Biggest Risks to your own safety.

6. Opening car doors

Biggest RisksThis isn’t usually a problem once you’re out on an open road since drivers rarely open their doors while moving, but in cities, riders have to be on the lookout for people opening their car doors. Cyclists have dealt with this problem for years, but it’s even more dangerous for motorcycle riders who often travel at faster speeds than bicycles.

Riders in California also have to be on the lookout for jealous drivers who don’t like that lane splitting is legal. Despite the fact that they’re putting someone else’s life at risk, those drivers have no problem opening their doors to prevent riders from splitting lanes. So watch out for those car doors they are one of the Biggest Risks to your own safety.

7. Cars changing lanes

You would think drivers would care more about not murdering people, but despite the increasing number of motorcyclists on the roads and cars with blind spot monitoring systems, drivers still routinely attempt to change lanes without looking or paying attention. Unfortunately, two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. When a car hits a motorcycle while changing lanes, it’s the rider, not the driver who loses every time.

Biggest Risks

At highway speeds, that can easily be deadly even if a rider is wearing proper gear. On a crowded highway, it’s even more dangerous. Not all drivers signal their intentions before changing lanes, but most do. Paying attention to which cars are beginning to drift over can help you spot a dangerous lane change before it happens.

8. Other drivers behind you

Riding through an intersection is dangerous, but so is being stopped at one. Drivers who aren’t paying attention have a habit of rear-ending other vehicles, and in most cases, it’s unfortunate, but at least cars have crumple zones and seatbelts. When a distracted driver rear-ends a motorcycle, there isn’t much to protect the rider even in a low-speed crash.

Even when you’re not stopped at an intersection, other drivers can still be a threat. Slow-moving traffic may even be more dangerous than stopped traffic. Vehicles are bunched much more closely in that kind of situation, and all it takes is a driver getting distracted for a second to knock a rider off her bike and into traffic.

9. Inclement weather

Biggest RisksRiding a motorcycle in rain is pretty miserable. You usually get soaked, other drivers splash water on you, and the large puddles that collect at the bottom of hills may as well be rivers that you have to drive through. The roads get slicker, visibility is reduced, and drivers rarely adjust their speed, making the road a dangerous place for motorcycle riders.

There’s also a reason for riding in winter is not advised. Yes, proper equipment can keep you warm, but snow and ice are about as dangerous as it gets. Even if you’re not riding in an area with snow on the ground, you still need to be careful on long rides, because you never know what could be down the road a few hundred miles.

10. Drinking and riding

Biggest RisksUnlike cars, motorcycles offer riders the illusion that they’re safe to ride even while intoxicated. At speed, they’re self-stabilizing, and with so much room in the lane, a little swerving seems like it will probably go unnoticed by law enforcement. Mix that with the drinking culture that surrounds motorcycles, and you have a recipe for trouble.

No matter how safe it feels at the time, alcohol slows your reaction time, impairs your judgment, and is a factor in an unnecessarily-large number of wrecks. Simply not drinking and riding reduces your risk of wrecking drastically. Don’t be your own worst enemy. Only ride sober.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with The Biggest Risks to Motorcyclists on the Road to Watch out For.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

BMW’s Self-Driving Bike Could Give Us Some Advanced Safety Features

We’ve all seen the video of BMW’s Self-Driving Bike on Facebook or the Internet somewhere if not we will show it to you here in this article. Here at AMERiders wanted to give you a bit more facts on the interesting bike that could give us some advanced safety features.

Motorcycle riders die at a rate 28 times higher than that of people behind the wheel of a car. It’s safe to say, then, that motorcycles theoretically stand to benefit from the recent boom in the development of driver assistance technology. There are unique challenges, to be sure, but the application looks more possible than ever, thanks to a new video of a self-driving motorcycle released by BMW Motorrad, the company’s two-wheeler division.

Look what I can do!

Self-Driving BikeBMW Motorrad says it’s been working on the technology for more than two years, and the effort shows. The Self-Driving Bike in the video leans in the bends, takes off, accelerates, and even flips the kickstand out when it’s done.

It’s alive! Say hello to BMW’s latest creation: the robotic R 1200 GS. Pushing its curiosity for motorcycle dynamics, the company created the self-riding R to help further its understanding of the motorcycle’s behavior and how it could eventually receive rider-assist technologies.

The Machines aren’t taking over YET!

The plan here, thankfully, isn’t to take over the role of the rider completely so don’t bank on seeing autonomous BMW motorcycles on the market anytime soon. However, whatever additional knowledge the autonomous R will bring will eventually lead to such systems as adaptive cruise control or automatic braking assist. The bike would become able to analyze whether a rider is at risk and, like in a car, warn or intervene to avoid a crash.

Self-Driving BikeThere is still ways to go before motorcycle safety technologies catch up to the ones already offered in cars—that is if you’re the kind of rider who would welcome these systems with open arms. Who knows? There could eventually be a demand for self-riding bikes—though I don’t see the purpose—but something urban mobility. I guess it’s bound to happen one day, but for now, I’ll still enjoy the purest experience of a non-autonomous bike while watching the mesmerizing video of the autonomous Terminator-Beemer.

Here is the Self-Driving Bike Video we promised.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on BMW’s Self-Driving Bike.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

Eight Skills That Every New Rider Should Learn and Perfect

Regardless if the weather is soggy in your corner of the world or amazing, and I hope it’s been good wherever you are and that you are making the most of every opportunity to get out and ride. If you’re new to riding, that’s awesome. Hopefully, you are loving it. At AMERiders we look back on our own experiences and remember those early days, weeks, and months as pretty stressful. we enjoyed being out on the road, free to wander wherever we wanted even if we didn’t know where we wanted to go, but we often felt overwhelmed by our lack of skill. If you’re feeling something similar, it’s good to give yourself a kind of task list—things to address and to work on—so the job of becoming a proficient rider doesn’t feel so overwhelming. We’ve put together a list of eight skills we feel are important to work on as a new or returning rider. Though, to be honest, they’re skills that riders of all levels should be working to keep sharp.

Even experienced riders need to work on their skills.


Riding a motorcycle requires a different and arguably higher level of concentration than driving a car, and using your brain can actually be pretty tiring. New or out-of-practice riders will find they lose concentration quickly. And that’s when you start doing dumb stuff. If you’re lucky, your lapses in concentration will only result in bad shifting or dropping your bike at a stop. If you’re unlucky, you might end up pulling one of those only-do-it-once mistakes (i.e, mistakes you won’t live through to do again).

But let’s not focus on the negative, let’s focus on focus. Our advice is to structure lots of breaks into your ride. When plotting things out on Google Maps, look at the estimated journey time and double it. No, really—give yourself that time. And then actually use it; don’t shy away from hitting a planned stop even if you’re OK. We mean, the worst case scenario here is that you end up getting to enjoy some tasty tea and cake, and you arrive at your destination alert and capable of doing more than just sitting there rubbing your face.

Don’t do an Iron Butt unless you gotta

Stopping is good especially when frozen custard is involved.

Equally, don’t feel that you have to achieve some sort of magic number in terms of how long you can stay on a bike for any given stretch. If you’re like us and literally half the population, you may suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder (is it really a disorder, though, if half the population has it?), so you’ll never really be able to match some of those hardcore Iron Butt guys. We’ve ridden thousands upon thousands of miles and still prefer to break our riding into stretches of no more than 90 minutes if at all possible.

Road Knowledge and Awareness

pay attention to the road

This is kind of a no-brainer, but make sure you know the rules of the road. Being really familiar with highway laws, codes, statutes, and such will inherently help you navigate the world around you if not simply because you’ll be more confident in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

That said, don’t be surprised or upset if no one else seems to know the rules. And don’t be one of those asshats who tries to will everyone into doing things the “right” way. There’s a difference between what should be and what is. Yes, people should be indicating their turns, but most people don’t. Yelling at them—or worse yet, placing yourself in a situation where you’re all but guaranteed some kind of confrontation—is a waste of time and energy. Again it is a skill set that should be in your back pocket.

and road signs

To that end, learn to read the overall environment of where you’re riding. Start with the actual road, of course, try to observe how one condition leads to another (i.e., if there’s a corner at the bottom of a hill it’s a good bet that corner will have gravel in it), then begin to expand your observations to consider how environmental factors may affect your situation. For example, if it’s 5 pm on sunny Friday afternoon you can be pretty sure people aren’t paying much attention—they just want to get home. So, you need to adjust your riding accordingly.


This one is so obvious we almost didn’t include it. Being able to stop is important, and being able to stop well is an even more important skill. This means occasionally taking the time to practice emergency braking in parking lots, but also paying attention to how you’re braking in real-world situations.

Some of this blends into the above skill of road knowledge and awareness. How alert you are to your surroundings and the potential surprises they might throw at you will have an effect on how aggressively you need to apply the whoa.  It also helps to note that we have this in as on our list of skills as it helps with your passenger able brake well helps to avoid the great crashing of helmets.

Staying Focused on the road ahead will help you avoid making emergency stops


U-Turns are in Our skills list because it really is important to be able to wheel your bike around in a reasonable amount of space. To a broader extent, being able to do U-turns is an extension of your skill and comfort with maneuvering a bike. If you can change direction within a 24-foot (7.5-meter) space (like in the space allotted in the UK’s Mod 1 riding exam) with relative ease, you’ll find it a hell of a lot easier to navigate parking lots and do things like lane split.

Even ginormous bikes can be maneuvered in relatively tight spaces it just takes practice

You don’t want to be that guy who can’t control his bike. It’s not a good look.

From a practical standpoint, it’s incredibly useful to have a good U-turn game when out touring because the odds are pretty high that you’re going to get lost and need to turn around at some point. You’ll get a lot less frustrated if turning around doesn’t require riding in the wrong direction until you find a nice, big parking lot in which to paddle around.

Clutch and Throttle Control

These two skills—quite literally—go hand in hand and play into your ability to master all the other skills here. Learning the art of just enough clutch and just enough throttle is particularly important when it comes to slow-speed maneuvers—the aforementioned, U-turn, of course, but also in the simple act of making your way around in tight spaces. Additionally, you’ll find you use these skills A LOT if you decide to try riding off road.

Steady Right-hand makes for good riding

Getting the clutch/throttle dance right is equally important for smooth shifting. At some point down the road, you may want to expose a passenger to the joys of riding. Being able to do so without the great crashing of helmets that comes from sloppy gear changes will go a long way toward encouraging said passenger to join you on future adventures.

Beyond the trick of balancing it with clutch use, quality throttle control is important when it comes to riding corners smoothly, you want to maintain a gentle amount of power all the way through. This can be pretty tricky, even for folks who have done a fair bit of riding, so don’t get discouraged. Some still find themselves trying to improve every time they head out.


The art of downshifting involves getting your clutch and throttle right, as well as your revs so you can quickly drop down a gear when riding enthusiastically. It’s an important skill to have because keeping a bike in its powerband sweet spot helps you maintain control on curvy roads.

The presence of slipper clutches on even “affordable” bikes like the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 means that many people can forget how to do downshift well and get caught out when riding a bike that lacks the feature. It’s always a part of the learning curve when they first hop on a Harley that they accidentally make the rear tire chirp. It’s embarrassing, but also potentially dangerous. Having your back wheel come out from under you is definitely not something you want when hustling along a mountain road.

Riding in the Wet

Notice how each of the above skills tie in with the others? Getting one right lends itself to success with the other. And they all come into play when water starts falling from the sky.

The fun doesn’t have to stop just because the road is wet

Many riders—looking at you, Southern Californians—simply stay at home when there’s a threat of precipitation. I think this is a bad call. Not only will you miss out on adventures (Many of us at AMERiders love to ride in the rain there is nothing wrong with it, it can be fun), you’ll also be unprepared when the rain gods eventually catch you by surprise. Additionally, getting comfortable with your bike in the wet will make you an even better rider in the dry. Plus it takes “skills” to ride in the wet.

We’ve written before about how to ride in the rain, but the basic advice is to stay calm. Rain seems to initiate a kind of panic in all road users, even those who are nice and dry in their metal boxes. You need to be patient and alert to be able to deal with all the challenges around you, and getting worked up only saps your mental energy.

Riding in a Group

A lot of people also avoid riding in groups, but unlike our attitude toward riding in the rain, we don’t fault them for doing so. It’s easy to get lost in the mindset of blindly following the person in front of you; this is why you’ll often see videos of motorcyclists running into the back of each other.

Riding in a Motorcycle Group

Another negative effect of group riding is that in some cases it can induce an overall negative mindset. A pack of riders may behave and interact with other road users in a dramatically different way than they might on their own—less friendly, less considerate—and that can ultimately have a negative effect on motorcycling as a whole.

But some people enjoy the camaraderie of riding with a group, or may want to take part in good causes like BarbersRide or the annual Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. And I’ll admit that when things are going right—i.e., everyone’s on their best behavior—it can be a lot of fun to roll around in a big mass of two wheelers. You feel like two-wheelers parade. And who doesn’t love a parade? In that case, it’s again a matter of applying all your skills—especially those related to focus and awareness. Remember to assess each situation for yourself. Sure, that truck may have stopped for 30 other guys, but will it stay stopped for you?

We hope that this has helped you let us know.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~








Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on Eight Skills That Every New Rider Should Learn and Perfect.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.

Ending of our Guide and Death of a Legend!

As promised here is AMERiders continuance of our Big Guide Motorcycle Categories, and it is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to the legend that is The “Bandit” Burt Reynolds.

How will that Coors ever get to Atlanta now?

I am going to start off by saying let’s have a moment of silence for one of the greats. Burt Reynolds…… Most known for his role as Bo “Bandit” Darville in Smokey and the Bandit. He was the smiling, extremely charismatic star of such films as Deliverance, Boogie Nights, and The Last Movie Star.

While he won truckloads of well-deserved awards for his dramatic acting chops in those films, gearheads and grease monkeys all over the world love him for his comedic roles as Bo “Bandit” Darville in Smokey and the Bandit and as JJ McClure in The Cannonball Run. 

While he had his ups and downs—Academy Awards and ugly divorces, even a stint on television during a particularly rocky time in the 90s—Reynolds remained a busy actor throughout his career. He was even the highest-grossing actor in Hollywood for a five-year stint in the late-70s/early-80s. His last film—2017’s aptly named The Last Movie Star directed by Adam Rifkin—was another dramatic role in which Reynolds played an aging actor coming to terms with his fading star power. Pretty prescient.

So, what does Burt Reynolds have to do with motorcycles and motorcycling? Not much, really. He starred in a couple films where his character rode, including the execrable Cop and a Half, and he owned some Harleys on and off, but he wasn’t known as a big motorcycle guy like, say, Steve McQueen.Is there a reason to post him as a tie to motorcycles?  Not really. He was a hell of an actor and a cool guy and he made a lot of movies that I—and millions of gearheads like me—love dearly. Motorcycle-related or not, that is enough for me.

So rest in peace, Bandit. We’ll never see the likes of you again.

Now let’s get back to our guide

Off-Road Guide of our Motorcycle Categories

Want to get dirty? Want to explore places that are off the beaten path? If that’s you, you need an off-road bike. Some of these machines—enduros and supermotos especially—can easily be converted to street-legal use. Most, however, are purpose-built bikes designed for specific uses—climbing up walls, say, or jumping over huge dirt berms. So now we explore the dirty side of our Bike Guide Motorcycle Categories.

Enduro Bikes

KTM 690 Enduro

Enduros are beefed up dirt bikes designed for riding cross-country over long distances. Designed to race in timed, off-road endurance races, enduros are built to take a pounding. They tend to have big fuel tanks, stout suspensions, sturdy frames, and bulletproof drivetrains, and all manner of protective gear to keep them running while out in the back of beyond.

Who rides enduros? Masochists, amateur and professional endurance racers, high-speed low-drag operators, and anyone who wants to take a nice, leisurely ride from, say, Paris to Dakar.


Kawasaki KX450F

Motocross bikes are probably the most common kind of dirt bike. Chances are you have one in your garage or barn right now, and if you don’t you probably will soon enough. Designed to run through arduous, off-road obstacle courses as fast as possible while not shaking themselves into a million pieces, motocrossers are simple and lightweight machines with lots of suspension travel and powerful, well-built drivetrains.

Each of the Big Four—Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki—builds motocrossers, and there are still old soldiers from Bultaco, Greeves, and ton of other old-school marques kicking around. There are even electric motocrossers nowadays built by companies like Alta Motors. Who rides Motocross Bikes? Freestylers, stunts, kids, old guys, and anyone who likes to play in the dirt.


Suzuki DR-Z400SM

Along with enduros, supermoto bikes are the off-road bikes most commonly converted to street use. Like most things that are good and beautiful—OG Japanese superbikes, Yamaha’s XS-series triples, Saturday Night Live, New Hollywood, Star Wars, Serpico, our Managing Editor Jason—supermotos were born in the 70s. Well, supermoto racing was at any rate.

At the time, bikes used in supermoto were simply two-stroke open class motocrossers or enduros converted to race on supermoto’s three types of track—tarmac, hard-packed dirt, and motocross tracks. It wasn’t until the 90s—with the release of Gilera’s Nordwest, the first OEM produced supermoto—that actually dedicated supermoto bikes were built. Modern supermotos are primarily four-stroke machines with smallish wheels, stiff suspensions, and are equally at home on the dirt as on the street. Who rides supermotos? Racers, people who want the capability of an enduro but don’t want to tour, and anyone who needs a versatile, go anywhere, do anything kind of bike.

Trail Bikes

Yamaha TT-R230

The difference between motocross bikes and trail bikes is academic at best. The look the same and do many of the same things, but have a number of small differences under the hood, as it were. Trail bikes tend to be heavier than motocrossers, with torquier engines, shorter gearing, and softer suspension.

Some even have amenities like headlights, kickstands, and skid plates, things you’d never see on a motocrosser. Instead of screaming at redline through a bunch of obstacles, trail bikes are designed to tackle difficult, technically-challenging backcountry trails full of twists, turns, hills, dips, and natural obstacles like trees, rocks, and bears. Who rides trail bikes? Backcountry explorers, adventurers, the occasional zombie hunter, and people who want a motocrosser but prefer something a little lower-strung.

Trials Bikes

Beta 300 2t

Trials bikes are super lightweight, stripped-down, no-frills small-displacement bikes with no seats and short suspensions. They were designed to be ridden—which is a strong word to use here since you “ride” a trials bike standing up which is why they have no seats—in motorcycle trials competitions.

Motorcycle trials are competitions in which riders must navigate ridiculously hard obstacle courses without touching the ground with their feet. That kind of thing requires excellent balance, fine throttle control, and a certain amount of oneness with your machine. Who rides trials bikes? Trials competitors mostly, no one else is crazy enough.

Step-Throughs and Minibikes Guide of our Motorcycle Categories

motorcycle categories

Step-throughs and minibikes are an odd bunch, a combination of scooters, tiny little pit bikes, bicycle hybrids, and anything else with two wheels and an engine that doesn’t fall into another category.

These machines are primarily used for commuting, short-range riding, and simple utility work like running errands or moving around campgrounds, racing pits, and bike festivals with ease.

And there you have it our Bike Guide to Motorcycle Categories.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Motorcycle Categories







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on our Bike Guide to Motorcycle Categories

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Use Our Guide to Find out the Difference Between a Bagger & a Touring Bike.

Know the difference between a bagger and a touring bike? Just what is an ADV anyway? We answer these questions and more in this guide to bike types.

For someone just getting into motorcycles—or, hell, even for some of us bitter vets—motorcycle classification can be pretty confusing. What’s the difference between a sports tourer and an ADV bike? Is a bagger a touring bike? Is the bike I want a cruiser or is it a standard? Is this all academic? Well, kinda. While motorcycle categories are helpful in grouping bikes with similar features together, there are countless variations within those categories. For example, while the Ninja 400 and the Suzuki Hayabusa are both sports bikes, the gulf between them in terms of performance, use, and riding style is vast indeed. So we here at AMERiders are going to give you our Big Guide to Motorcycle Categories.

Cruiser? Standard? Scooter? What does it all mean?

For this bike guide, we’re going to break bikes down into three super-broad categories—Street Bikes, Off-Road Bikes, and Step Throughs. Each category will have subcategories—Cruiser, Moped, Super Moto, etc.—where we’ll lay out the different kinds of bikes. So let’s get started, shall we?

Street Bike Guide

Like it says on the tin, street bikes are motorcycles designed for riding on the street. They run the gamut from dirt-flinging Adventure bikes to laid-back cruisers to long-legged touring machines complete with heated seats and six-speaker stereo systems.

ADV Bikes

KTM 1290 Super Adventure R

The motorcycles formerly known as dual sports, adventure bikes—ADV bikes to the properly initiated—are the Swiss Army Knife of motorcycles. Built for both asphalt and dirt, these machines tend to have tall suspensions, aggressive tires, and protective bars like dirt bikes but have bigger engines and street bike ergonomics.

Adventure bikes can typically be fitted out with all sorts of accessories like skid plates, hard luggage, more comfortable seats, handguard—stuff to improve their on and off-road performance and touring ability. BMW, KTM, and Honda make the most famous ADV bikes, but you can find a decent ADV hiding in just about every company’s lineup. Even Harley is promising one soon! Who rides ADV bikes? Street riders who like to play in the dirt and crazy people who do things like sell all their belongings and ride all around the world for fun.


Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Bob

Cruisers are the quintessential American bike and were perfected on America’s open roads. Low, slow—except when they’re not and those are Power Cruisers—and laid back, cruisers are built to get you where you’re going in style rather than in a hurry. They typically have low seats, soft suspension, forward controls, big, powerful V-twin engines, and are mostly at home on short rides through town to bike night rather than on the open road.

That said, like most bikes cruisers can be fitted out for long-distance riding and some—like Harley-Davidson’s Softail Heritage Classic and Indian’s Chief—are remarkably well suited to long stretches in the saddle. Who rides cruisers? Cool dudes, weekend warriors, fans of Easy Rider, and people with a yen for classic, mid-century American iron.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

Kawasaki Ninja 400

Want to go really fast? Get a sportbike. Descended from racing motorcycles, sportbikes are high-strung, high-performance machines with loads of style, speed, and agility. They come in all sorts of wild colors and have engines that displace anywhere from the low hundreds to over 1,000 cubic centimeters.

Usually fantastic at the track, sportbikes also make respectable commuters and city bikes. They’re pretty bad at touring though, so if you plan to see the world you don’t want to buy, say, a Hayabusa or a Ninja. Who rides sportbikes? Speed freaks, gixxer bros, amateur, and pro racers, and anyone who has an appreciation for speed and style.

Touring Bikes and Baggers

Yamaha Star Venture

As this category’s name suggests, there are two flavors of a bike built for eating up the miles—touring bikes and baggers. Touring bikes—the most famous of which is probably Honda’s venerable Gold Wing—are massive beasts with huge engines loaded down with luggage, protective fairings, and car-like amenities such as touchscreen infotainment systems, heated seats, onboard communication systems, even traction control, and ABS.

Some are so massive that they even have a reverse gear to help riders park them. They’re extremely comfortable and, despite their size, often very easy to ride. Baggers are stripped-down touring bikes like the Indian Springfield, Harley’s Road King, or the BMW K 1600 B. They’re typically built on touring bike frames and have touring bike suspensions, but are short on the techno-wizardry, fairings, and luggage. Where a touring bike is essentially a car on two wheels, baggers typically make do with a big windshield and a pair of hard saddlebags. Who rides touring bikes and baggers? Long-distance travelers, bike campers, and people who like to be comfortable in the saddle.

Note: You will find that many sections in this guide will have more riders fall into it than others.

Sport Touring Bike Guide

BMW R 1200 RT

Sports tourers are what you get when a touring bike and a sports bike love each other very much. They combine speed, style, comfort, agility, and long legs into very capable packages for those who want to take a long ride but want to go very fast while doing so. They tend to have stiffer, sportier suspensions and their carrying capacity isn’t as large as a heavy touring bike, but they can still haul gear, haul a passenger, and haul ass with equal aplomb.

Who rides Sports Tourers? Europeans, people who want to tour where the roads are technically challenging, and sportbike riders who want to go on vacation.

Standard and Naked

Ducati Monster 1200

It used to be, up until maybe 40 or 50 years ago, that all bikes were both standard and naked. Well, except for Harleys and Indians. Standard and Naked bikes are the cloth from which all other bikes are cut. They’re usually very simple, often handsome machines with upright riding positions and pleasant ergonomics.

They can be ultra-modern like the Ducati  Monster or a throwback to earlier times like the Kawasaki Z900RS or the Triumph  Bonneville and are built with general-purpose fun in mind rather than a specific job. Who rides standard and naked bikes? Rockers, riders who like simplicity or retro styling, old guys who fondly remember the CB750 and the Z1000, and anyone looking for a good, all-around, easy to live with a motorcycle.

Since this is getting a bit long I thought that I would give you a bit of a break and continue this guide on Friday Starting with the Off Roaders.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~

Memorial Day







Let AMERiders keep you up to date with information on the 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM  and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.

Like what you just read? Share it on social media ( Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram) with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.