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February 26, 2024

Ask Biker Ed 03

By Ed Moyer

Dear Biker Ed;

We have heard you mention Crotch Rockets, Cafe Bikes and Cruisers. What, pray tell, in your infinite wisdom, is the difference between the three.

I am glad that you asked. Those are perhaps the three most known terms used by the layman in their descriptions of a motorcycle. There are subtle differences between the Cafe Racer and the Crotch Rockets that we see today. Below you will find a list of different Biker Terms in regard to the different styles of bikes. I hope that you enjoy!

Cafe Racer Definition:A Cafe Racer is a style of bike popularized in London in the '50s where bikers wanted a fast, personalized and distinctive bike to travel from cafe to cafe. Many Cafe Racer bikes have distinctive small low-cut fairings.

Crotch Rocket Definition:A term some people use to describe a high-performance sportbike motorcycle. We also don't encourage new riders to buy sportbikes as their first bike. It's better to buy a cheap bike to learn on. A new sportbike is fast, touchy, and doesn't have much margin for error. It also costs a lot to repair when you tip it over while you're learning to ride.

Chopper Definition:A cruiser style bike that has a lot of the pieces of the bike "chopped off." The riders of the '60s did everything they could to customize their bikes and make them go faster. Thus, much of the existing bikes they bought were chopped off. The bikes in the movie "Easy Rider" are examples

Cruiser Definition:The modern version of the Chopper with small gas tank, large rear tire, and feet forward seating and stylish appearance accounts for about 33 percent of all sales.

Metric Cruiser Definition: is a general category of bikes including Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki as opposed to American bikes such as Harley-Davidson and Indian. The American bikes tend to use the English system of measurement: pounds, feet, miles, inches, while the Metric Cruisers use the Metric system of measurement: Kilograms, meters, etc. The fact that some American bikes may use the Metric system to quantify their components may still render them as American rather than Metric, at least in the eyes of the Metric Cruiser enthusiasts. By the way, the new Harley-Davidson V-Rod model is also a Metric Cruiser.

Pocket Bike Definition: Pocket bikes (or mini-bikes) are starting to appear everywhere across the USA. These are extremely small bikes that look like miniature sportbikes, have engines under 50cc and sell for prices as low as $200. eBay is loaded with such vehicles. I first saw these at Americade a few years ago ridden down Canada Street by regular motorcyclists. Now, the bikes are getting in the hands of the masses and used on sidewalks and city streets mainly by young people. Pocket bikes are quite low to the ground and can barely be seen by motorists. Although laws are sparse regulating the bikes, local law enforcement officials are clamping down on their use. My advice to you is to watch out for these vehicles. Fortunately, they can usually be heard even if they can't be seen.

Rat Bike Definition: A rat bike is a bike that is usually unkempt and is loaded with all sorts of luggage, tools, tents, bedrolls, flags, pots and pans, clothes, jackets, etc. You can't miss a rat bike. It has everything on board and looks like the rider has all his or her possessions strapped to the bike.

Riceburner Definition:A Riceburner is a Japanese motorcycle. The term tends to be used by riders of American made motorcycles.

Sportbike Definition:Very fast, colorfully decorated, high-performance motorcycle. Sportbikes are flashy, fast, and lightweight. Some are capable of sport-touring.

Now that you know the little nuances of the different bikes you will be able to speak intelligently when it comes to speaking with a biker about their type of bike. For those that are wondering. I would think that it is a safe bet to not refer to a Harley product as a Metric Bike with in earshot of a Harley owner. It should also be noted that Harley does make Cafe Bikes to race in the European theater. So you see just because a manufacturer makes one style of bike doesn't mean that they can't make another style.

Article © Ed Moyer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-07-11
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