May 29, 2011

11 What exactly is a "Sports" Bike?

Some food for thought on: What makes a "Sports" Bike?

In India, just as any dimensionally big bike with a fat rear tyre is generically (and erroneously) called as “Superbike”. In the same vein any bike which has a slightly tall suspension/saddle height and minimal body work is called as a "Dirt Bike". Another most misused term here is “Sports Bike”.

Just show any kid in kindergarten or any retired gentleman photo of any motorcycle adorning with a “full fairing” and ask him to recognize what kind of bike it is. I can guarantee that the answer would invariably be “Sports Bike”..!!

No, I am not trying to prove here that the Pulsar is a Sports Bike (read the earlier post on the “2011 Pulsar Hunto TVC"). But here is some food for thought..

Food for thought No. 1: Desi obsession with Full Fairing

In our full fairing starved nation, and one can instantaneously command a premium of at least Rs. 15-20K just by adding one, never mind how ugly or disproportionate the end result is.. and yes also get the bike certified/recognized as a “Sports Bike”.

In that case, one should have no problem accepting the modified Pulsar shown below as a “Sports Bike”. Right?

Food for thought No. 2: What kind of “Sport” are you?

The “Sports” part in the terminology should mean that the vehicle is used for activities which involve "Competitive Fun". For example: Racing (track racing, Drag racing, Dirt racing, Rally) and Stunting (underground, organized).

In that case, having a full fairing does suggest that the bike is engineered for racing (like our desi R15). But then even the TVS Apache RTR series of bikes are marketed as which have the “Racing DNA unleashed” in them. So isn’t the Apache RTR worthy to be called a sports bike just because it does not have a full fairing?

But then the more important question is “Are you really into racing/stunting?” I bet that most (me included) just buy the “Sports” imagery part and like to visualize ourselves as Sportsmen.

Food for thought No. 3: Are Motocross bikes not “Sports Bikes”:

Motocross bikes can’t even be registered for street use as they are street illegal. The only purpose of a motocross bike is to be ridden in a closed circuit and participate in a sport called Motocross.

So isn’t a bike which has been specifically developed and used for a Sport (it even gets its name from the sport itself) worthy to be called a sports bike? To me a Motocross bike deserves the title of a true blue Sports Bike.

My take on Sports Bikes:

To me any bike which provides an element of “Fun” (lets even neglect the “Competitive” element here) while riding can be termed as a “Sports bike”.

It can be a Super Sports bike (R15), a Street Naked Sports Bike (Apache RTR/Pulsar) or a Sports Tourer (not “Tourister” as I read somewhere on another blog).

Honestly, I still consider bikes like the R15, Pulsar 220 and Karizma ZMR as commuter bikes. But then hey, who said that one can’t have fun while commuting?

[Update: 30'th May 2011: One might own a Ninja 250R but if used primarily for commuting, then even the Ninja 250R becomes a "Sports/Sporty" Commuter]

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This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.


Anonymous said...

You had me in splits.. The R15 is a commuter bike just because it has a small heart..? :D
Seems like cc is the most important criteria in your definition, which for some reason you have forgot to mention in the above post..

S.P - Biker Next Door said...


Read the Original Post ( first and then make your conclusions.

Sajal said...

Going by strict definition of terms, a motorcycle which has capabilities of making to track days (Sports in terms of Racing) is termed as Sports motorcycle. Then again, we need to consider that a true blue sports bike has a very different Engine construction, chassis geometry and technologies which make these motorcycle, though street legal, primarily track tools. For example, the R6, CBR 600, which are categorized as Super Sports and the likes of R1, Fireblades, which are track bikes, but come with RVM, indicators and number plate mounts to make them street legal.

The bikes that we get in India which are so frivolously termed as Sports bike have none of the above characters, except for the R15, which to some extent has tried (and mind you - tried) to represent the sports class. Adopting features like one down rest up gearing, fancy and bikini fairing, fatter tyres, cut-ons (I hate calling them clip-ons) do not make Indian bikes, Sport bikes. Then, again, the engine capacity cannot be considered as a criteria because it's never the numbers, it's how that numbers are put to use, which marks the demarcation between a so call sports motorcycle and an actual sports motorcycle. Simply put, the kind of steering geometry R15 has, and the type of clip-on the bike has, puts the bike out of the league of Sports bike and any other Indian motorcycle for that matter, be it the P220 F, the ZMR, the RTR and even the Ninja 250R for that matter.

As Payeng said, at max they can be categorized as Sports Tourers, but not as true blue Sports motorcycle. Well, that's what the demarcating definition says about a motorcycle being a Sports motorcycle, but at the same no one in the world can stop somebody from thinking that his motorcycle is a sports motorcycle and feel good about it :)

So, as long as the rider feels good, everything's good.

Deepak said...

Nice post. But you could have left mentioning "Tourister" :P

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Sajal, good inputs there bro.

@Deepak, sorry bro but coudn't hold myself.. but hey we are always in the learning phase.

Anonymous said...

Dear S.P.
I have been reading your blogs and test reports from quite a LONG time. Its been inspiration reading your blogs, test reports and news of upcoming models too ..... :)
I admire ur reports as dey are well backed Up with facts n figures.

Surely its UR online BIKERS diary but as u have made is Public so we too have right 2 comments....Aren't we ??? ..... :D

Bajaj is really a True Fighter.It has give sparks again and again to our Desi Biker Community with continues upgrades and new products.
And have given very hard time its competitors.

1st .... Definitely male P150 against CBZ
2nd .... DTSi engine
3rd..... P180 V2 against Karizma
4th..... Back to Back P200 n P220 Fi ( 1st proven fi engine for our Desi Community )
5th..... Fastest India P220 F against R15
6th..... P220 (Without fairing ) against FZ
7th..... Gift of Ninja via CKD
8th..... Upcoming KTM 200 against CBR ...... :)
Dis list will never end.

Really Babjaj hats off to u ppl.Dey even hired Ex Yamaha person responsible for upbringing of R15 n FZ.

Anonymous said...

Disagreed. I know a certain someone who "toured" the whole of India with his wife on a M80. Would that make the M80 a tourer because someone used it for that?
I know a handfull who tour on RTR, does that make it a touring bike? NO! It ATBEST makes it a 'touring' bike for them!

Sports - Bike : A bike used for the 'sports riding', typically on tarmac. Defined due to a variety of features. Some of them is the stance, the parts that provide it its agility and the performance at the engine AND on the braking.

MotoCross Bike DOES belong to a sports category. The category is better labelled as "Moto" or SuperMoto (Where Super uses almost the same logic as in a "Super" Bike

Then there are machines which are DESIGNED with the intention to be used in a dual form. Thus comes Sports+Touring, Sports+Street, Street+Moto

This Article written by you categorises is PERFECTLY:

Cycling is ALSO a sport, but its not a Sports-Bike?

Anonymous said...

But Payeng..."bike which provides an element of “Fun”" - Isn't this subjective? What's fun for me could be boring for someone isn't it?

S.P - Biker Next Door said...

@Satyen agreed...

1. I do not doubt the INTENT for which motorcycles are designed and hence categorized.

2. But then "desi" bikers usually narrow down the term "Sports" Bike with ones that have a full fairing (Clip ons or Split Seats etc) which is a very short sighted approach

But I do not think that there is an accepted category called "Moto".

According to what I know the term "Moto" in "Motocross" comes from "Motorcycle + Cross Country".. in which motorcycles were originally raced on off road tracks in (European) country sides.

Supermoto bikes have originally evolved out of a Sport called "SuperMoto" in which Off Road motorcycles are fitted with Slick Road Tyres and raced on a race track comprising of 80% tarmac and 20% slight off road portion.

Anonymous said...

i have relied many a times on wiki ..went back again and found this which might clarify things:

S.P - Biker Next Door said...


Entries in "Wiki" are made by normal people like you and me and also can be edited/modified by anyone (even you)..

Although Wikipedia has a rich database of information, it can never be relied as the authentic source. Moreover there is not fixed category definitions of motorcycles which everyone agrees to till date.

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