Most bikers will agree that no matter what kind of bike you ride, it’s the love of two wheels and the open road that makes you a biker. Still, there’s a rich history of motorcyclists making fun of each other’s bikes, or swearing allegiance to one brand over another. There are more than a million motorcyclists on Australian roads, and most of them fit into one of these nine categories. Maybe you’ve seen them – or maybe you’re one of them.
I remember watching a guy pull out of a parking garage on a brand new, shiny Harley, with all the bells and whistles, and immediately dump it on the sidewalk. I ran over to make sure he was ok, and he said, humiliated, “I just started riding.” His ego was definitely more injured than his body- I couldn’t help but laugh. I won’t ever knock a newbie (everyone has to start somewhere) but it might be wise to start small. We quickly learn how much bike we can handle. I can bet he’ll never drop his bike on that corner again!
These riders are highly visible, usually identified by head-to-toe neon and bulky saddle bags (carrying their work clothes). They ride all kinds of bikes in all kinds of weather, and are truly the “die-hards.” They know that traffic is one of those most dangerous places a mtorcyclist can be, and they combat that with the conspicuity of brightly colored gear. They may look ridiculous at times, but they’re the safest blokes on the road.
When I think of café racers, I think of plaid shirts and an alarming lack of safety gear. Café racer bikes are mainly attributed to hipsters right now, but there is a plethora of people who truly love the vintage motorcycle, and for good reason – they are downright sexy. You usually see them cruising around town (they aren’t the best bikes for long distances), looking stylish and carefree.
Sport bike riders tend to get a bad rap. It’s true they have the need for speed and an aggressive engagement with the road, which definitely comes with increased risks, but not everyone with a crotch rocket is out to cause trouble. Yes, some riders do engage in dangerous behaviors such as stunt riding and wheelies, but the majority of sport bike riders simply love the feeling of being one with the road, and think unsafe riders, “make the rest of us look bad.”
These riders are ready for the long haul, and look like they’re about to ride straight to Cambodia (which some do). They ride bikes that are made for long distances, with tires that will let them ride on all kinds of terrain. They have roomy, metal boxes to hold their camping gear, and full goggles to protect them from the elements. The adventure riders are going places – places that always seem cooler than anywhere you’re going.
Not every cruiser you see on the road belong to an MC (motorcycle club), but it’s hard to differentiate them. These are the leather-vest clad, buckles-and-chains-wearing badass bikers of your imagination, and you usually hear their low rumble before you see them. Cruisers often get a bad rap because of MCs like the Hells Angels, who have a long history of crime and violence, but again, the judgment of the many is caused by t he transgressions of the few. These bikers come from all walks of life and are usually the warmest, most welcoming people you’ll meet (just don’t tell them I said so).
If there’s one thing that can be said about Harley riders, they are loyal to their brand, come hell or high water. It’s common knowledge that Harley’s are much more expensive than most brands on the market, but they don’t always come with the reliability one would expect from a higher-priced vehicle (though the newer models are certainly improving). Still, there’s something traditional about these American made machines, and HD enthusiasts will swear by their brand - even as the tow truck is pulling away.
If you hear someone describing the CD player on their bike, they’re likely a Gold Wing rider. These are usually badass older folk who have finally accepted the reality that motorcycles just aren’t that comfortable. They’ve raised their standards and opted for the motor home of motorcycles, and never get mad when their friends make fun of them because they know it’s justa matter of time.
“I can’t believe she included scooters in this list of motorcycles, they don’t even compare.” There is a long history of bad blood between scooters and motorcycles (usually aimed at the scooters), and I admit, I don’t always give them “the wave” when passing them on the road. The truth is, scooter riders encounter many of the same safety risks as motorcyclists. Many scooters these days have 800cc engines, which are larger than a lot motorcycles, and when they’re flying down the freeway at 120km with nothing to protect them but their gear, they deserve just as much respect as motorcyclists.
There’s a saying in the motorcycle world that, “there are only two types of motorcyclists - those who have crashed, and those who haven’t yet.”
Regardless of what type of bike someone rides, they are risking life and limb for the joy of freedom and the sense of independence, and anything on two wheels can get them there.
Did we miss any types of motorcyclists you've seen on the road? Tell us in the comments below!