Types of motorcycle: A beginner’s guide

Whether you’re ready to take your riding up a gear and try something different, or you’ve recently passed your test, you may be wondering what’s ahead. There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a new motorbike. 

The biggest challenge will be choosing between the different types of motorcycle on the market. Deciding what make, model and style is right for you is a lot to get your head around – even for the most seasoned of riders. We’re here to help you choose with our handy guide to some of the most common motorcycle types. From touring and adventure motorbikes, to scooters and 125cc, all you need to navigate the thrilling world of motorbikes is right here. 

Honda motorcycle fuel tank with wings logo


There are seven main types of motorbike you’re likely to encounter when looking for your new bike – supersport, adventure, touring, street, 125ccscooter and off-road. You’ll also sometimes hear sport touring, but it’s usually included as part of the touring category.

Each of these classes of bike is clearly defined and has its own distinct purpose, style and specifications. There’s no universal system, but bikes within the same classification will usually have similar features. Some types of motorbike will also be better for different types of riding, so it’s important you choose one that has the design and specs to match your intended use.

Whether you’re an adrenaline seeker or enjoy a more laidback ride, there’s a motorbike out there for you. You just need to find the right one.

Read this article to help you decide which is the most suitable style of on-road motorcycle for your needs.

Honda supersport range on race track


A supersport motorbike is the perfect choice if you are looking for performance and sporting attitude. They feature ergonomic designs and a sporty riding position, inspired by the bikes engineered for Moto GP. Some models have a special championship colour option, for you to feel like a true racing legend. The engines are tuned for optimal performance and many customers who choose to ride a supersport bike will use them for track days or to do a quick few laps of a racing circuit, for that Moto GP experience. Supersport bikes are light and have a low, aggressive riding position, to help achieve higher speeds. While this makes them a thrilling choice, it’s advised that riders have gained some experience before purchasing a supersport model. It’s also worth noting that supersport bikes usually have taller and wider seats, which can offer a more comfortable experience for taller riders. 


Although these bikes have strong aesthetic appeal, you may find there are more practical choices for a first bike. Comfort and fuel economy are generally not the primary focus with a supersport bike, as the aim is to produce maximum power and torque out of the engine. Due to the limited space available, the pillion seat can be smaller than motorcycles in other categories. If you’re an experienced rider and are ready to take to the track on a high-performance motorcycle, Honda’s supersport bikes fit the bill. 

Honda CB750 Hornet static in three colour options


If you’re in the market for your first bike, the most popular choice for new riders tends to be a street bike – the natural progression from a scooter. The light weight, high-specification design is popular with riders who are moving to their first manual motorcycle. These are arguably the best beginner bikes around and the 35kW conversion can be ridden by A2 licence holders. They’re built for all-round performance and ease of use.  That means our street line-up offers something for everyone, wherever you may be on your riding journey.

Street bikes are often seen as everyday motorcycles because they’re perfect for riding in urban settings and on paved roads. Ideal for your commute or shorter trips, they generally offer a relaxed riding position and a comfortable ride. Some people refer to street bikes as ‘naked’ bikes, thanks to their simple design and no-frills appearance. But they’re so much more than that. If you are an experienced rider, larger capacity street bikes offer great performance while providing manoeuvrability and agility.

Honda GL1800 Goldwing rider


If you’re looking for a comfy ride for longer trips, but don’t plan on going off-road, a touring motorcycle might be right for you. Touring is all about spending time on the open road, utilising the bikes comfort, great specs and storage to support you on your next road trip. Want to share the feeling? Touring motorbikes also offer a great experience for those riding pillion, meaning a passenger can hop on the back to come along for the ride. Expect to see large-displacement engines, wind protection, relaxed, upright seating and large-capacity fuel tanks among the features and specs of these beautiful bikes. There are different types of touring motorbikes to choose from, with some similarities to other bike categories. These include: Adventure tourers – made for long distance, on and-off-road riding. Sport tourers – also ideal for longer distances, but with a bit more power and sportier appearance. Full-dress tourers – also known as ‘baggers’. Designed with paved road riding in mind. They often feature larger windshields and fairing.

Touring bikes are available in a range of sizes, so whether you plan to take on the long, sweeping open roads on one of our larger models, or want to venture along smaller, winding roads where a small to mid-sized bike could be more beneficial – there’s a touring motorcycle to suit everyone.

Honda Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) technology is available on touring motorcycles, one of the most advanced power transmissions on two wheels today. DCT replaces the hand clutch and foot levers with a clean up-down tigger shift on the left handlebar. It's just as much fun but you're in full control of both Automatic and Manual modes, without needing to coordinate hand and foot to change gear.

Discover DCT
cRF300 parked up with sunset


Adventure motorcycles truly live up to their name. They’re all about setting off on the open road – or off it – to make unforgettable experiences and discoveries. Adventure bikes are the all-rounders of the motorbike world, perfect for long road trips, or your daily commute, thanks to their large engines. Adventure bikes can vary as much as the journeys you embark on, but they’re generally tall and feature extra-comfy riding positions – ideal for long excursions. These bikes will usually feature greater ground clearance, giving them the ability to tackle rough off-road terrain more easily. A large windscreen and fairing help protect you from the elements too.

If you're a beginner looking for a motorcycle that you can use for everyday riding or off-road trails, an adventure motorcycle might be the perfect choice. They provide comfort in all riding situations and are good for those riding pillion too. Adventure bike frames are tall, and can be heavier due to having more protective fairing. Heavier bikes have great manoeuvrability when reaching high speeds, so they can be ideal if you plan to use motorways and open roads.

Off-road motorcycles are great for riders looking to have a purely off road adventure, this category includes motocross and enduro bikes. The Honda off-road range caters to all riders, from aspiring young riders with the mini bike CRF50F up to the championship-winning CRF450R. There are many Honda off-road centres throughout Europe which help riders of all levels improve their skills and confidence to master off-road courses. Contact your local Honda off-road dealer to find out what is available in your area.

Discover Off-Road
Honda Dax 125 with coastal backdrop


The 125cc motorbike is another excellent option for beginners. Like street bikes, 125cc motorcycles are designed for urban use, rather than off-road or long-distance adventures. They offer impressive fuel economy, so they can be a great choice for commuters who want a bike that can handle daily use. Many 125ccs are also known as learner bikes, or A1 compatible, which means A1/CBT and B licence holders can ride one. Ages vary around the world when it comes to riding a motorcycle. However, the law states you have to start off on a 125cc bike, or lower, which makes these the the perfect bike for new riders. It’s not only fuel you’ll save money on with a 125cc either. Insurance and servicing can also be lower than other motorbikes, which can make 125cc bikes a great option if you’re looking to get into riding without a huge cost. There’s a wide range of styles and colours available to suit every rider.

Honda Forza family in car park


Much like a 125cc or street motorbike, scooters are a great first step into the world of riding. They are exciting, convenient and great value, and riders can chose between classic looks or a unique design. Scooters offer a level of weather protection that means they are handy for riding in all seasons. Many scooters have plenty of storage space, perfect for a day in the city or commuting to work. If storage is important to you, you can simply lift the saddle on most scooters, throw in your bag, and off you go. The majority of under-seat storage is large enough to fit a full face helmet. Smaller scooters are equipped with automatic gearboxes and no clutch, which makes them ideal for easy, stress-free riding through busy urban environments.


Other plus points for scooters include the fact that they have incredibly comfortable riding positions and great manoeuvrability thanks to their compact style, which makes them perfect for urban settings, and for riders who prefer a more relaxed journey. And let’s not forget the customisation options available thanks to a wide range of accessories. The vast majority of the scooters within the range have some great accessory options for customers – luggage options and heated grips are particularly popular amongst commuters. 

Honda dealer images


Honda’s range of motorbikes touches all bases and more. The latest technology and precision engineering ensures you get bikes built to perform, with top of the range features that make riding a pleasure, wherever you want to go next.

The expansive Honda dealer network can assist with all levels of riders, whether you are new to riding or looking to change your current motorcycle. The team at Honda will advise what is the best type of motorcycle for your riding experience and provide more information on Honda Genuine Accessories, clothing and merchandise. The Honda dealer network also offer an excllent aftersales service to help you keep your new and existing motorcycle in the best condition.

Learning to Ride

If you are thinking about learning to ride, visit the new rider section on our website for more information about the next steps to getting your licence. Honda are working with approved motorcycles trainers to provide a high standard of training and safety, tailored to each individuals requirements.