Motorcycling 101

Whether it’s the camaraderie of group rides, the exhilarating vistas or the speed of a road trip, motorcycling engages all of your senses and provides an escape from life’s worries. But before you take to the open road, make sure your bike is in good working order and that you have the proper personal protective equipment.

NATICK, Mass. — A century ago, motorcycling was a lot easier to understand. All road bikes looked like something a five-year old could draw, off-road bikes had knobbly tires and sidecar outfits were just cars attached to the front end of motorcycles. But as the first generation of motorcycle companies began rolling out new models, clubs started popping up and people started getting involved. George Hendee, founder of Indian Motorcycle, started the first club and advocated for more recognition for motorcycle riders on the road.

Construction of a modern motorcycle has standardised around steel or aluminium frames, telescopic forks to hold the front wheel and disc brakes. Power comes from a petrol-powered engine that can have one to eight cylinders and is driven by a chain, shaft or belt.

More recently, there’s been a boom in small-cc motorcycles that look vintage but have all-new components and lower seat heights to make them more accessible for beginners or those with limited physical ability. These are often called commuter or “mini” bikes and can be used for nimbly navigating traffic in urban areas and saving on costs and fuel consumption.