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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

Gregor Halenda

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

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.


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-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 $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 $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.


Do you refuse to travel without a cup holder for your latte? You're talking bagger, friend. Touring bikes — or baggers — are the biggest trend in motorcycling today, especially among older riders. Popular models feature tall windshields, ample storage in hard saddlebags (hence the nickname bagger), and plush seating. Some even include heated seats and grips, CD players, and GPS units.

Harley-Davidson Road King $16,999

They call it the "king of the road" for a reason: vintage Harley looks straight from the 1950s coupled with a refined new frame and suspension system that smooths out the roughest roads.

BMW K1600GT $20,900

The ultimate two-wheeled driving machine, this is the ideal bike for taking a coast-to-coast Iron Butt ride, thanks to its smooth six-cylinder engine and "fits like a glove" styling.

Honda Gold Wing $23,199

Consummate touring with all the trimmings. This massive bike even has a reverse gear for backing up! The only thing missing is a hot tub.