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What are the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles Categories

What are the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles Categories

Many of the riders who shop Harley-Davidson® of Baltimore are experienced enthusiasts who have a deep understanding of the various motorcycle categories and which styles are best suited to them. New riders, on the other hand, often find the sheer amount of choice overwhelming and do not always recognize the difference between the categories or what Harley-Davidson® calls families. With those new riders in mind, join as we define the categories and families and compare them.

Motorcycle Categories and Harley-Davidson® Families

Categories are used throughout the motorcycle industry to group motorcycles that share characteristics and which are intended for similar riders. How categories are defined can vary quite a bit either based on the manufacturer or the group of enthusiasts doing the label. Harley-Davidson® categories are referred to as families. These include Cruiser, Grand American Touring, Trike, Sport and Adventure Touring. The categories used more generally throughout the industry include standard, cruiser, touring, sport and adventure. As you can see, some of these categories and families map to each other one to one while it is not so clear cut with others. As for the Harley-Davidson® families, you should know that all members share the same fundamentals. For instance, the Road Glide and Street Glide may be aimed at different touring preferences, but they are both designed on the same touring chassis.

Standard Motorcycles

The standard motorcycle is a far-reaching category often used to group bikes that have broad consumer appeal. These motorcycles are generally affordable, comfortable and easy to ride in the sense that they do not demand an advanced skill set. The term standard is sometimes used to mean traditional, such as bikes with an upright riding position and handlebars spaced a comfortable distance away. Among Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, many of the models in the Cruiser family fit the bill in both cases.


Cruiser is the traditional American motorcycle style. It is the style that brands like Harley-Davidson® and Indian helped to establish in the 1930s. Cruisers became iconic in the 1960s, and most modern cruisers pay homage to the 1960s West Coast style. Cruisers remain among the most popular of the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles categories because these bikes are affordable and straightforward. They are comfortable, easy to ride and perfect when tooling around town and navigating your local twisties.

Touring Motorcycles

During the 1960s, many riders were customizing their motorcycles so that they were better suited to riding long distances and for long periods at a time. The industry recognized this and responded accordingly, and the 1970s saw the rise of the full-dress tourer. These designs maximized rider comfort and control and often have a passenger seat with a backrest. Most tourers have saddlebags and many have additional luggage accommodations, such as a tour park. Harley-Davidson®’s Grand American Touring family is among the popular and influential touring motorcycle lines in the world.

Sport Bikes

Sport is one of the newest Harley-Davidson® motorcycles categories, but it’s a motorcycle category that really rose to prominence in the 1980s. They were bikes similar to those used in professional racing but designed to be street legal. Modern sports bikes emphasis acceleration, max speed and handling above all else. For the 2022 model year, Harley-Davidson® introduced the Sport family. The Sportster S is the first Harley-Davidson® model to be designed specifically as a sport bike. The Nightster S, on the other hand, straddles the line between a sports bike and a more traditional Harley-Davidson® cruiser.

Adventure Bikes

Dirt bikes are not street legal. The industry has long strived to create what is called a dual-sport or dual-purpose bike. These are motorcycles that are street legal and perform as well on road as off. Adventure bikes are not a new concept, but it is only recently that the technology caught up with the ambition. This is when the Harley-Davidson® brand entered the fray and introduced its Adventure Touring family. The Pan America 1250 is now one of the most popular adventure bikes, and it even gives you the option to equip it like a full-dress bagger so that you have tourer that can go anywhere and do anything.


Trikes are three-wheeled motorcycles and one of the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles categories that has been becoming increasingly more popular in recent years. Three-wheeled motorcycles are inherently more convenient and stable, and many riders enjoy that. There are many types of trikes available. The Freewheeler is an excellent example of a three-wheeled cruiser, and the Tri Glide Ultra is an excellent example of a three-wheeled full-dress tourer.

Your Local Harley-Davidson® Team in Baltimore

If you have any additional questions about Harley-Davidson® categories, the team at Harley-Davidson® of Baltimore is here to assist you. We can help you explore the many Harley-Davidson® motorcycles and choose the one that is perfect for you, so visit, call or email us today.

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What are the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles Categories - Baltimore HD

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