What is a Motorcycle: Types and Purpose

A motorcycle is a type of motor vehicle made primarily for efficient and affordable individual transportation. It comes in various types—all of which are created to cater to specific riding needs and preferences. Understanding the differences between the various types of motorcycle can help riders choose the most suitable one for them, which is important in picking the right type and promoting road safety for everyone.

Knowing the different types and purposes of motorcycles is also necessary when making decisions to buy due to the diverse riding conditions and regulatory requirements in the country. In fact, it is best for riders to be aware of the specific characteristics and uses of each type of motorcycle, as this affects their registration, licensing, and adherence to rules set by the Land Transportation Office (LTO). Proper knowledge ensures that riders can navigate both urban and rural areas safely and legally, contributing to overall road safety and efficiency.

what is a motorcycle

What is a Motorcycle?

A motorcycle refers to a motorized vehicle with two or three wheels, designed for speed, maneuverability, and ease of use. Unlike cars, motorcycles promise an open-air experience, with the rider sitting astride the vehicle and operating it using handlebars. The design and engineering of motorcycles mostly focus on balance, power-to-weight ratio, and aerodynamics, making them a popular choice for both practical transportation and recreational driving.

Motorcycles come in different engine size, design, and functionality, allowing them to cater to a wide range of preferences and uses of Filipino riders. Despite these differences, all motorcycles are typically powered by internal combustion engines, though electric models are becoming more common. They generally come with steel frames (body), handlebars, cushioned seats, brakes, headlight, taillight, turn signals, horn, crash bars (optional), and windshield (optional), much like a car, and are built for specific riding experiences and conditions. 

Types of Motorcycles 

Motorcycles come in various size, forms, and kinds. Each kind is designed foe a specific purpose and riding need. Understanding the characteristics and purposes of these different motorcycle types can help individuals choose the best option for their lifestyle and ensure compliance with local regulations. This list covers all the different motorcycle types, as well as their characteristics, uses, and the pros and cons of using each one.

1. Standard Motorcycle 

Best for: Daily commuting and general-purpose riding

Standard motorcycles, also known as naked bikes, feature an upright riding position and straightforward design. They typically have a modest engine size, making them versatile for various riding conditions. With a balanced frame and comfortable seating, these bikes are user-friendly for both new and experienced riders. Standard motorcycles are often equipped with simple, easy-to-maintain components. They are designed to handle urban commutes, light touring, and casual rides.


  • Versatile and adaptable to different riding conditions.
  • Comfortable and ergonomic riding position.
  • Easy to maintain and repair.


  • Limited wind protection.
  • Moderate engine power compared to specialized types.
  • Not ideal for long-distance touring.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Honda CB150R
  • Yamaha FZ16
  • Suzuki GSX150

2. Cruiser Motorcycle

Best for: Relaxed rides and highway cruising

Cruiser motorcycles are designed with a low seat height, forward-set footpegs, and wide handlebars. These bikes often feature large-displacement engines, emphasizing low-end torque for relaxed, low-speed cruising. The design is inspired by classic American motorcycles, focusing on a laid-back riding experience. Cruisers have an emphasis on style and comfort, often adorned with chrome and custom parts. They are heavier and larger, providing stability and a smooth ride.


  • Comfortable for long rides.
  • Strong low-end torque.
  • Stylish and customizable.


  • Heavier and less agile.
  • Higher fuel consumption.
  • More expensive maintenance.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Harley-Davidson Iron 883
  • Yamaha Bolt R-Spec
  • Kawasaki Vulcan S

3. Sport Motorcycle

Best for: High-speed performance and agile handling, suitable for sport riding and racing.

Sport motorcycles, or sportbikes, are designed for high performance, featuring aggressive styling and advanced engineering. They have a lightweight frame, powerful engines, and are built for speed, agility, and precision handling. The riding position is typically forward-leaning, enhancing aerodynamics. Sportbikes often come with advanced braking systems and suspension setups for optimal control. They are suited for both street and track riding, appealing to those who enjoy a dynamic riding experience.


  • High-performance capabilities.
  • Tall and wider seats, perfect for tall riders
  • Lightweight and agile.


  • Uncomfortable for long rides.
  • High insurance costs.
  • Small pillion seat

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
  • Yamaha YZF-R3
  • Honda CBR500R

4. Touring Motorcycle

Best for: Long-distance travel and touring with maximum comfort.

Touring motorcycles are built for long-distance travel, equipped with large fuel tanks, comfortable seating, and extensive storage options. They have powerful engines to support sustained high-speed travel and carry additional weight. These bikes come with features like windshields, advanced navigation systems, and enhanced suspension for comfort. Touring motorcycles are designed to provide a smooth and enjoyable ride over long distances. They are often larger and heavier, ensuring stability and a plush ride.


  • Superior comfort for long rides.
  • Ample storage capacity.
  • Advanced features and technology.


  • Heavy and bulky.
  • High initial cost.
  • Lower fuel efficiency.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Honda Gold Wing
  • BMW R1250RT
  • Yamaha Star Venture

5. Off-Road Motorcycle

Best for: Off-road adventures, trail riding, and motocross.

Off-road motorcycles, also known as dirt bikes, are designed for riding on unpaved surfaces like trails and rough terrain. They feature a lightweight frame, high ground clearance, knobby tires, and robust suspension systems to handle jumps and rough landings. These bikes have a simple, rugged design to withstand harsh conditions. Off-road motorcycles are often not street-legal and lack some features like mirrors and lights. They prioritize agility, durability, and performance over comfort.


  • Excellent handling on rough terrain.
  • Lightweight and maneuverable.
  • Durable and rugged construction.


  • Not ideal for paved roads.
  • Limited comfort features.
  • Often not street-legal.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Honda CRF250L
  • Yamaha WR450F
  • Kawasaki KLX250

6. Underbone Motorcycle

Best for: Daily commuting in urban areas and short trips.

Underbone motorcycles, though often referred to as “mopeds” or “scooters,” are actually different from scooters. Though they generally have the same features and roughly the same small-displacement engines typically ranging from 100cc to 150cc, underbones are considered the sportier version of a scooter. Underbones also generally have the engine between the rider’s legs instead of under the seats, and the step-over  instead of step through frames. Underbones also offer automatic or semi-automatic transmission, making them just as easy to ride for beginners. These bikes are lightweight, highly maneuverable, and fuel-efficient. Underbones are characterized by their compact size, ease of handling, and practicality for short-distance travel. 


  • Easy to ride and handle.
  • Highly fuel-efficient.
  • Affordable maintenance costs.


  • Limited power and speed.
  • Small storage capacity.
  • Less stable at higher speeds.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Honda Wave 110
  • Yamaha Sniper 150
  • Suzuki Raider R150

7. Adventure Motorcycle

Best for: Long-distance travel on varied terrain, including both highways and off-road trails.

Adventure motorcycles, also known as ADV bikes, are versatile and designed for both on-road and off-road riding. They feature a high ground clearance, robust suspension, and larger fuel tanks for extended range. These bikes often come with additional features like panniers for storage, advanced electronics, and protective elements for off-road use. They combine elements of touring and off-road motorcycles, making them suitable for various terrains. Adventure bikes offer comfort for long rides while maintaining the capability to handle rugged paths.


  • Versatile and adaptable to different terrains.
  • Comfortable for long-distance travel.
  • Large fuel tank for extended range.


  • Heavier and bulkier.
  • More expensive than standard bikes.
  • Complex maintenance.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • BMW R1250GS
  • Honda Africa Twin
  • Yamaha Tenere 700

8. Scooter

Best for: Short-distance urban commuting and errands.

Scooters have a step-through frame and smaller engines, usually between 50cc to 250cc, designed for urban mobility. They are often confused with underbones, but they are actually a lot more different than how it looks like. Scooters often have their engines offer ample under-seat storage and a comfortable riding position with a flat floorboard. Their compact size makes them highly maneuverable in congested city streets. Scooters are known for their practicality, ease of use, and low running costs.


  • Extremely easy to ride.
  • Compact and maneuverable.
  • Low maintenance costs.


  • Limited speed and power.
  • Smaller wheels can be unstable on rough roads.
  • Limited to short trips due to smaller engine capacity.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Honda Click 125i
  • Yamaha Mio Soul i 125
  • Suzuki Burgman Street

9. Dual-Sport Motorcycle

Best for: Urban commuting and off-road adventures.

Dual-sport motorcycles are designed to be equally capable on and off-road. They feature a lightweight frame, high ground clearance, and long-travel suspension for off-road riding, while also being fully street-legal. These bikes have engines ranging from 200cc to 650cc, balancing power and agility. Dual-sports are versatile, making them suitable for daily commuting as well as weekend trail riding. They come with necessary street-legal components such as lights, mirrors, and license plate mounts.


  • Highly versatile for mixed-use riding.
  • Lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Street-legal with off-road capability.


  • Less specialized than dedicated off-road or street bikes.
  • Less comfortable for long highway rides.
  • Smaller fuel tanks.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Honda CRF250L
  • Yamaha XT250
  • Suzuki DR650S

10. Cafe Racer

Best for: Short, fast rides with a focus on style and performance.

Cafe racers are known for their minimalist, retro design inspired by 1960s British motorcycles. They typically feature a lightweight frame, low handlebars, and a sleek, streamlined appearance. These bikes are often customized to improve speed and handling. Cafe racers emphasize a sporty aesthetic with a focus on performance and style. They are built for short, spirited rides rather than long-distance travel.


  • Stylish and unique appearance.
  • Lightweight and agile.
  • Customizable and often personalized.


  • Uncomfortable for long rides.
  • Limited practicality.
  • Can be costly to maintain and modify.

Examples (brand make and model):  

  • Royal Enfield Continental GT 650
  • Triumph Thruxton R
  • Honda CB300R (customized)


Motorcycles are generally used for at least one or more of the following activities: 

  • Daily commuting (Scooters and underbones)
  • Long-distance touring (Adventure bikes and cruisers) 
  • Recreational riding (Sportbikes and cruisers) 
  • Racing and sport riding (Sportbikes and superbikes) 
  • Delivery services (Underbones and scooters) 
  • Public transport and Ride-hailing services  (Standard and underbones)
  • Off-road adventures (Off-road and dirt bikes) 
  • Exploring rural areas (Dual-sport and adventure bikes) 
  • Eco-friendly transportation (Electric motorcycles) 
  • Personal leisure and hobby (Cruisers and classic bikes) 

Importance of Understanding Motorcycle Type and Purpose

Understanding the different types of motorcycles and their purposes means:

  • Ensuring the right motorcycle choice for specific needs.
  • Enhancing safety by matching bike type with rider experience and conditions.
  • Maximizing fuel efficiency and cost savings.
  • Improving comfort and satisfaction with the motorcycle.
  • Aiding in compliance with local regulations and insurance requirements.

Motorcycle Regulation and Regulatory Bodies in the Philippines

When it comes to regulation of motorcycle use in the country, the following agencies are in-charge:

Video: Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycle Types

Motorcycles play a crucial role in the daily lives of Filipinos, providing a reliable and efficient means of transportation. This video from RevZilla will explore the various types of motorcycles, their specific purposes, and the importance of choosing the right type for your needs. 


Motorcycles have long become a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines, serving multiple purposes from daily commuting to long-distance travel. Aside from avoiding getting stuck in traffic, motorcycles offer convenience and ease. With a wide range of types available, riders can choose the motorcycle that best suits their lifestyle and purpose. Understanding that there are different types of motorcycles for specific uses ensures better safety, efficiency, and satisfaction for riders. Regulatory bodies like the LTO and DOTr play a key role in ensuring safe and lawful motorcycle use across the nation.

error: Content is protected !!