Motorcycles: modes of transportation, personal statements, or ways of life? Most likely, they are a little bit of each. The motorcyclist is long entrenched in American mythology, but just what are motorcycles—and motorcyclists—all about? There are resources on the Web to shed light on all of this and help out any rider or aspiring rider looking for motorcycle advice, places to buy, or other riders to commune with.
Everyone knows how being cool works: you get on a motorcycle, and it just happens. But how does that motorcycle work? Largely immune to the computerization of modern cars, motorcycles are still extremely mechanically accessible. Use these sites to learn about the nuts and bolts of these beautiful machines and everything else you need to know before you ride.
- The motorcycle world is inundated with the do-it-yourself philosophy. As such, many of the sites and resources you’ll find are provided not by a big organization or company but by ordinary riders with lots of experience and goodwill. These sites are the heart of the motorcycle world, so don’t be put off by the simple design of some sites. Basic—even unattractive—design can belie great insight.
- Tutorials and Web guides can get you started with an understanding of motorcycles, but nothing replaces some hands-on experience. If you have a friend who has a bike, ask if you can help the next time he (or she) is servicing it. Experience is always the fastest way to learn.
For information on how a motorcycle works …
How Stuff Works
has a motorcycle entry with a comprehensive overview on the basics of a motorcycle, including its parts, history, riding dynamics, and even its future. Excellent animations and pictures complement the well-organized and well-written explanations. Explore the related articles and sites for more information on motorcycles and automotive mechanics.
For rider resources …
provides this “Biker’s Dictionary,” an extensive alphabetical listing of motorcycle-related terms here. You’ll even find diagrams for some terms, including several under the “hand signals” entry. But don’t stop at the dictionary; TotalMotorcycle.com, though not especially pretty, contains a bevy of other useful information for beginner and veteran alike.
The American Motorcyclist Association
has resources for every aspect of riding, including a section and advocacy page about motorcyclist rights, which includes a clickable map database of state laws. For articles on riding, maintenance, racing, buying, touring, storing, and just plain enjoying your bike, dig around on this site.
Ride My Own
is billed as a site for women riders, but most of its content is useful to any motorcyclist. You’ll find articles on riding, safety, gear, repair, and more, as well as long lists of links for motorcycle resources and gear. The design of the site is simple and straightforward, though the organization can seem a little haphazard at times.
For road safety and routes …
Best Biking Roads
is a user-generated database of well-traveled motorcycle routes in Europe, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region. Route entries can include descriptions and reviews, maps, GPS data files, photos, and videos. Browse the routes using the clickable map, or add your own route.
Most states require bikers to get a special motorcycle license (often referred to as an “endorsement”). And unless you grew up riding them, you’ll also most likely need some training before you can get a bike going without falling down or stalling. Don’t embarrass yourself trying to make it happen all alone—there’s a vast array of courses that can get you and your bike up and running gracefully. Find these and many other resources for advice and information in this section.
- We know, you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: motorcycle riding is very, very dangerous. Safety is something that demands a rider’s constant attention. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider course, discussed in the first site below, is universally necessary for any rider.
- Even if you have been riding for years, it’s always smart to take a refresher course—laws change, and so do the rules of the road. Don’t get left behind.
- Motorcycle laws, including lane-sharing laws, helmet laws, insurance and licensing laws, and even upkeep laws differ from state to state. Make sure you know what your state requires. This chart of equipment laws for each state comes courtesy of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation
is the premier rider training and certification organization in the United States. Through local chapters, it runs rider courses for new riders, or for those wanting to improve their riding and safety skills. In most states successful completion of the beginner course qualifies you for a motorcycle endorsement on your license, saving you the trouble of a DMV road test, as well as a discount on your insurance. Click on “Rider Course Info” at the top, and then “Rider Course Locations” on the left to find a course near you, or explore the site further for downloadable riding and safety guides, as well as descriptions and interactive tours of the courses.
The Master Strategy Group’s Motorcycle Tips and Techniques
site is probably the most valuable online resource for motorcycle riders. Articles are posted by veteran riders who offer a vast amount of impressive and wise advice. These tips and discussions are a collection of years on the road.
Road Star Clinic
provides a top-notch article about how to pick up a fallen bike. Yes, this will happen to you.
has this amusing guide called “How to Look Like a Dirty Biker.” FYI, if you listen to glam rock bands like Poison, you are not a dirty biker.
You’ve taken the MSF rider course. You’ve perfected your leaning, your clutch skills, and your braking. You can lift the heaviest bike that’s dropped, and your thumb knows exactly where the kill switch is. Let’s get you a bike already! But, wait … which bike is best? And where should you get it? Don’t panic: there are numerous sites to help you go from a wannabe-biker to a wannabe-biking-more.
- Most of the major Web sites for buying a car are also useful for buying a motorcycle. If you want more information on buying a motorcycle, the findingDulcinea Car Shopping guide has loads of tips and Web sites for buying a vehicle, whether it has four wheels or two.
- If you know what brand of motorcycle you want, then you may want to explore that company’s Web site. Honda’s Web site, for example, allows you to customize your own bike with colors and accessories. These sites also let you browse through their selection of models easily, and point you to any dealers nearby.
- Remember, you’ll be spending a lot of time on this machine, and you’re putting your life in its hands (or handlebars, as it were). Shop around and get pricing online, but make sure to get a feel for the machine in person before you buy.
- You’ve bought your bike and are raring to go. All set? Not quite. A motorcycle purchase isn’t complete without a DOT-approved helmet. Most states have laws requiring that motorcyclists wear them, and study after study shows they are the most effective piece of safety gear available to a rider. At Motorcycle Cruiser magazine’s site, you’ll find a good guide on how to choose and buy a safe helmet, as well as useful links for further information on helmets below the article.
- Although you can shop online for a motorcycle through classifieds sites like Craigslist, major motorcycle or helmet purchases are not ones you should make quickly or haphazardly.
For buyer’s guides …
hosts a buyer’s guide to buying a motorcycle in four parts: I
, and IV
. The magazine also offers reviews of all major manufacturers’ models if you click the reviews link on the top navigation bar. You’ll find other helpful background information here, as well, in the form of articles and riding how-to’s.
has a buyer’s guide that was written in 2004, but it’s still a good resource if you’re in the market for a used bike, as it covers bikes all the way back to 1970. There’s an introduction to buying motorcycles, and then there are separate categories examining the best bikes for each brand.
Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide
exhibits a design as bland and generic as its name, but don’t let the no-frills fool you. This site offers a detailed run-through on how to inspect and buy a used bike, with accompanying photos. Check out the links at the end of the guide for sites to browse bike classified ads as well.
For bike reviews and specs …
is a database of bike specifications and user ratings for various aspects of the machine. Search for a particular bike or by category, then read its “encyclopedia” entry. A bike’s entry includes detailed specifications, as well as the average of the received user ratings. Just watch out for aggressive pop-up ads.
also lists specifications for bikes, though with a much smaller database than bikez.com. For example, the site offers less by way of specification data, and it has no ratings. It does, however, let you compare multiple bikes side by side, a feature bikez.com lacks.
The Auto Channel
has well-written, article-style reviews for a number of new motorcycles produced since 2000.
will give you an owner’s perspective of a particular bike. Featuring user-generated reviews, some of them quite short, covering a significant number of bikes, this site helps you understand some of the issues that can arise long after the professionals have done their test rides and written their reviews.
For buying or selling a motorcycle …
from the same people behind AutoTrader.com, is a medium for buying and selling used bikes. Search through motorcycle ads in your area or throughout the country in the model that you are looking for. Or, if you want to sell, you can post an ad on this site or in the corresponding print magazine. The site also provides a listing of motorcycle dealers searchable by location.
has invented the car of motorcycles. Or is it the motorcycle of cars? Whatever it is, it’s smart, beautiful, and completely bizarre.
offers a time machine that will make you think twice about what a motorcycle must look like.
reveals the only activity better than riding a motorcycle: making paper motorcycles! Come join the party.
Bikes need a lot of TLC: they break down, need new parts, new fluids, and lots of general, ongoing care. But you don’t necessarily need to go running to a mechanic. By and large, motorcycles have remained basic in their design. With a little commitment, a little education, and a lot of elbow grease, you can build up the experience and knowledge you need to maintain your own bike. The peace of mind you get from servicing your own motorcycle—your lifeline on the road—is worth all of the effort.
- Nothing beats experience when it comes to motorcycle repair. But you don’t want to destroy your brand-new, $20,000 sports bike while learning the basics. Think about starting with an older, used bike for learning repairs. Or help out a friend who’s doing some repairs. A mentor can be invaluable for such hands-on work.
- Quality repair requires the right tools and materials. Using the wrong tool can destroy bolts, strip threading, and wreak havoc on your bike’s parts. Invest some money in decent tools to do the job right.
- There are countless repair manuals out there for the do-it-yourself motorcyclist. Check them out at your local shop or at most online motorcycle stores. As an introductory manual to fixing motorcycles, The Motorcycle Basics Manual received great reviews.
For repair …
is always a quality name in do-it-yourself repair manuals, both for cars and motorcycles, offering straightforward instructions and high-quality pictures. The site is easy to navigate; simply choose the type of motorcycle that needs fixing.
Dan’s Online Motorcycle Repair
is a popular site created by a motorcycle mechanic. It may not be the nicest-looking site, and it does occasionally impart Dan’s political and religious ideology. But if you don’t mind that, the site has a lot of free information about bike repair in an easy-to-follow format.
has this listing of motorcycle repair manuals, divided first by make, then by model. This site merely leads you to links to buy the books from Amazon.com, but it’s a worthwhile site if you need help figuring out which manual to buy.
For maintenance …
offers good introductory explanations for a number of different maintenance tasks. This site won’t help you do everything, but it will get you started. Be advised, however, that navigating the site can be a bit complicated.
featured in the previous section of this guide, has reprinted this article from Canadian Biker Magazine on the art of bike restoration. Read some of the other articles in the how-to section of this site for more information on motorcycle care.
Motor Cycle Cruiser’s Tech and Customs
articles are lengthy treatments for some of the more common maintenance tasks, such as winter storage or Battery Maintenance, as well as some more esoteric ones such as “Installing Race Tech Cartridge Emulators in Your Fork.” All articles are well written and illustrated when appropriate.
For parts …
is the place to go online if you need a part for your motorcycle. You can easily search by brand, and then view a schematic of the desired part. Just click to add the part you need to your shopping cart, and you’re set.
You can’t ride without your gear. The links below will lead you to some gear and apparel sites. And if you live and breathe motorcycles, you’re going to need some memorabilia too, so we’ve rounded up the best online sources for collectibles as well.
- The Web site for your bike’s manufacturer is a great place to check for gear, apparel, and memorabilia. Most makers’ sites have a section where you can search by branded products and accessories. If you have a BMW bike, for example, visit the “Gear” section of BMW’s site for a selection of clothing, accessories, gifts, and equipment.
- You are going to find a lot of Harley stuff when searching for motorcycle memorabilia. If you are looking for something other than Harley, the memorabilia Web sites below should help; but if not, try any store that sells collectibles. And when all else fails, eBay is always a great option for finding that unique item.
For gear and apparel …
The Motorcycle Superstore
should be more than enough to satisfy any biker. You can search by department or brand to find a wide selection of helmets, jackets, boots, gloves, luggage, and more. The collection of men’s street-bike helmets
alone has well over 300 items to choose from.
knows that you can’t be a biker without leather. Leather jackets, leather boots, leather pants, and helmets to match can be found on this site. Check out the “Motorcycle” section of this site for apparel devoted specifically to you.
is, well, Harley-Davidson. By now the company is almost as well known for its apparel and logo as it is for its hogs. So if Harley-Davidson unleashes that biker passion in you, like it has for so many others, head to this site to gear up.
For memorabilia …
is a neatly organized site filled with the motorcycle memorabilia that you crave. Looking for a 1951 Triumph Twin Advertising Poster? Or perhaps you’d simply prefer a T-shirt showing Marlon Brando on a motorcycle. The site has both, along with a size guide to help you and Brando pick the right fit.
Gifts for Bikers
has a unique selection of motorcycle items. You will find some of the more common gifts here, like T-shirts, but you will also see clocks, coins and bookmarks.
L'art et l'automobile
specializes in photographs, drawings, posters, and any art related to automobiles. Here is a section of the site dedicated to motorcycle art, replete with posters, signs, badges and sculptures.
Maybe you want to trade tips and advice with other bikers. Or maybe you want to find some biker companionship; who wants to go on that long journey alone? Below are some sites that highlight the necessities of any cyclist, and connect you with a vast biker community.
- As with any situation where you post a profile on a Web site, don’t provide too much personal information. All information you post could potentially be viewed by anyone with a subscription to the site (and in some cases anyone at all). Even sites that “screen” users can’t guarantee that unsavory types won’t slip by and use your personal data unscrupulously.
- Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook can be a useful venue to meet other bikers. If you’re a member, look for motorcycle-related groups you can join.
To connect with other motorcyclists for dating or friendship …
The Master Strategy Group
already mentioned in the “How can I get a motorcycle license and learn to ride?” section of this guide, also hosts an expansive discussion forum. Browse the forum for information on a wealth of motorcycle topics, or sign up to write your own post or question.
lets you create a profile, including a picture and personal information, free. Free basic membership also allows you to search and browse other profiles and receive and respond to emails and instant messages. Gold membership plans, which range from $15.99 to $29.99 a month, lets you contact other members directly and give you access to other advanced features. Whether you’re looking for a man, woman, or “couple,” this site helps.
wants to get out the message that “motorcyclists are people too.” Check out this site to see how you can help.
Most motorcyclists would rather be riding than doing anything else. Unfortunately, logistics require that we all spend at least a few hours a day off our bikes. But that does leave time for the one thing bikers like to do almost as much as riding: talking about riding. There are many blogs to satisfy this need. Have a look at these sites to learn about riding info, get advice, or to share your own insight.
- There are many types of motorcyclists, including the diehard biker bohemian, the sporty racer, the take-it-easy tourer, the weekend cruiser, and even the commuter. Don’t think you have to fit a mold: many blogs espouse a certain philosophy of riding, but it doesn’t have to be your own. Ride safely, and ride your own way, but be open to learning something new in unexpected places.
- Many motorcycle blogs can be pretty specialized in terms of location and type of bike.
doesn’t update its blog too frequently, but when it does, the content is interesting and entertaining. There’s a wealth of information in the “advice” section of this site, which you’ll find by clicking on its link on the top left of the page.
Biker Chick News
is the lively blog of a female rider. Updated regularly, it features engaging posts such as “The No B.S. Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycling,” and another devoted to the history and stylings of leather chaps.
has created a bike blog rife with photos of all of her travels. Light-hearted and fun, this blog is an entertaining way to bike tour when you can’t bike tour.
is the blog for Orlando, FL. bike fabricators Guilty Customs. Though ostensibly focused on the retro-mod style of motorcycles, the blog dispenses some insightful, very often funny and entertaining tidbits from the world of motorcycling. It also has a great blogroll for further exploration.
is a well-designed, good-looking blog focused on the custom motorcycle world. Posts cover bike designers, newly released models, after-market parts, and other industry news.
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