Most motorcyclists will wave at other motorcyclists they see while riding. We all like to see someone else on two wheels and assume they’re having as good a time as we are. Still, just like with cars, you know that everyone on two wheels is enjoying things in their own special way. We’re here to sort those special ways out. Here’s a handy field guide to The 10 Types of Motorcycle Riders. Which one are you?
We have no idea if this guy has spent any serious time learning how to actually maneuver his bike and improve technique. His bike is almost certainly an inline-four Japanese sport bike, and he’s almost certainly riding it way too fast on public roads, lane splitting illegally, pulling wheelies and stoppies and doing whatever the hell he wants in the middle of rush hour traffic. All with no gear on, although he probably is wearingsome Oakley wraparounds and has a helmet strapped to the pillion seat in case a cute girl wants a ride later. We love cool stunts, but we hate it when these guys give bikers in general a bad name.
Even if you don’t ride, you know this rider. This is the guy who buys all his shiny new gear and spends all his time stopping at gas stations and bars so he can pose with his bike. Funny/sad thing happens when you check the miles on his bike and see that they’re super low because he never actually rides it for any decent length of time.
Some say you’re not a true motorcycle enthusiast until you’ve owned a Moto Guzzi. (This is just like how you’re not a true car enthusiast until you’ve owned an Alfa Romeo.) These riders are their own special group, but there’s usually a lot of DIY Nutcase and probably some Serious Commuter attributes thrown in for good measure. If these riders aren’t working, they’re probably riding somewhere. Iron Butt? Yes.
Only classic British hardware will do for this rider. Modern Triumphs don’t exist. The rebirth of Norton? Forget it. While we love the way vintage British bikes look, we’ll still never envy these guys trying to replace perished British rubber with more soon-to-be-brittle British rubber. (Seriously, Japan is an island nation that managed to sort out how to make rubber not turn brittle and terrible super quickly. WTF, UK?)
No matter what, this rider stands by his (or her) chosen company. Brand unreliability problems? Those are in the past, man. It’s all about proud American heritage. There are at least three distinct camps (and probably more) here: Big Twin fans, Sportster fans, and V-Rod fans. Harley traditionalists don’t like to consider the V-Rod to be a “real” Harley. There are probably almost as many subdivisions of Harley fans as there are subgenres of dance music.
Changing your own oil is one thing, but this is the type of rider who not only rebuilds their own forks — these riders rebuild their own engines (when necessary), too. This type of rider might or might not overlap with one or more of the other types of riders on this list. Some riders consider their AAA card, credit card, and cell phone to be their emergency roadside repair kit. This type of rider carries the coolest miniature toolkit you’ve ever seen, crammed into the tiniest space possible on the bike. This rider is ready for almost anything — tire blowouts, a gas tank leak, on-the-fly chain tension adjustments — you name it. This is some serious MacGyver shit happening right here.
Don’t be surprised if this rider has a dealer computer for his or her make of bike. You also shouldn’t be surprised if this rider is either already a mechanic, becomes a mechanic, or becomes a custom bike builder. Extreme examples of this rider might ride wonderfully unique two-wheeled Frankenbikes with MV Agusta front ends, Ducati frames, and Honda Hawk GT 650 rims. If this rider doesn’t already know how to weld, don’t worry — s/he’ll learn.
This rider laughs at daily city commutes in stop-and-go traffic. That’s not real riding. Real riding is visiting international points of interest solely via motorcycle. Machu Picchu? The Andes mountains? Getting as close to Pripyat (where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster happened) as possible? Been there, done that — on bikes that can go almost anywhere when ridden by a skilled rider. Unless you’re a fellow adventure tourer, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever see this rider in the wild — your life is simply too mundane.
This guy has every single piece of gear in the Aerostitch catalog. He has heat on his bike. He has every piece of luggage imaginable, and can probably move the contents of his house via his motorcycle. His bike is almost certainly some sort of sport tourer, and is fairly likely to be a BMW. He’ll ride in temperatures and weather conditions you wouldn’t dream of — and laugh. Sideways rain, snow, and hail? He might pull over if he can’t see — or he might keep right on going, like a one-man pack of Alaskan sled dogs in a snow storm.
This rider is enthusiastic, but also slightly terrified and trying not to show it. He or she may just have gotten that shiny M designation on their driver’s license — or may be riding on a permit. Think of this rider like a brand new puppy, just trying to figure out how its legs work for the very first time; only, its legs are wheels, and there are just two rather than four. This rider is simultaneously cute and frustrating at the same time. If you ride, you’ve been there and you understand. It’s also an incredibly satisfying thing to watch these riders get better and better, especially if you’ve been encouraging them along the way.
If you ever look at bikes on Craigslist or eBay, you’ve seen this rider. “Bought my baby new, and I love it, but now my wife’s making me sell it. Can’t put a car seat on a motorcycle, haha. Low miles! Must-see price! MUST SELL THIS WEEK.” You don’t know if any of this is true. You don’t care. If it’s the bike you want, you’re going to get a crazy deal on it because for the handful of miles that the seller put on it, he’s asking a really low price. You might suspect that he just doesn’t want to admit that he doesn’t actually want to be a biker, and that his wife is entirely imaginary. But again, you don’t care. You’re getting a hell of a deal. Just make sure the Quitter didn’t unceremoniously dump his low-mileage bike in his garage or in a parking lot before putting it up for sale.