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How to Choose the Right Motorcycle

Expert advice on bikes that fit your lifestyle

Man and woman riding motorcycles on an open road near Palmdale California

Greg and Melinda Clouse have been married for 23 years and biking together for 18. — Gregor Halenda

The average age of American bikers jumped from 40 in 2001 to 49 in 2010, according to J. D. Power and Associates. In 2009, 31 percent of all motorcycle riders — and 10.6 percent of new riders — were 50-plus, reports the Motorcycle Industry Council. Many have ridden for years, which partially accounts for the rising average age. Some are empty nesters buying their first bike, eager to indulge their motorcycle fantasy. Still others are returning riders who, like all bikers, crave the exhilaration of hanging their knees in the breeze and the promise of adventure in every mile.

See also: Unforgettable rallies and charity rides. >>

Ready to kick-start your own motorcycle fantasy? It all starts with the right bike.

Cruisers

Can you see yourself sporting a black leather jacket and slurring, "Let's split," à la Marlon Brando? If so, you're cruiser material. Cruisers are low and lean street bikes that come in both Asian and American models.

Harley Road King motorcycles

Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide $14,499

With its minimalist structure, flame paint job, and patented "potato-potato-potato" exhaust note, the badass Dyna Wide Glide looks and sounds like a custom chopper, but everything on the bike comes straight from the factory.

Honda Fury motorcycle

Honda Fury $12,999

A Pacific Rim version of a classic American chopper. But unlike the bone-shaking, rigid-framed choppers of old, this cruiser offers comfort and low maintenance.

Yamaha Road Star motorcycle

Yamaha Road Star $12,390

Yamaha's Star Motorcycles Division has created a number of clean street cruisers, all featuring V-twin and V-four configuration motors and comfy ergonomics. The Road Star's catalog of available parts and accessories makes it a favorite with riders who like to customize their bikes.

*Click on the motorcycle to see a larger image of each model.

Next: Are you a bagger? >>

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