For many, few experiences rival riding a motorcycle across an idyllic backdrop – whether it’s a cruise down the coast, a drive through the mountains or a trip through the countryside.
If you’re considering buying your first motorcycle, read on for some things to consider.
The first step, of course, is to develop the skills needed to safely operate a motorcycle. A safety course with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is a great place to start. Visit www.msf-usa.org or call 800-446-9227 for details.
A safety class will prepare you for what to expect. If you go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and have never been on a bike and try to ride, chances are you will not get a permit. Additionally, many insurance providers will give you a discount if you successfully complete the class, so spending the time and money to participate in this class is a wise investment.
Pick Your Style
There many kinds of motorcycles, each designed for different types of needs: speed, commuting, different road surfaces, weather conditions, long-distance touring, etc. Pick the style that is right for you.
When seated, you should be able to rest both feet at on the ground without having to be on tiptoes – so the bike doesn’t tip over. Handlebars and controls should be within easy reach. Choose a model that’s easy for you to engage and disengage the centerstand. A good rule of thumb for bikes: if it feels too heavy, it probably is.
Motorcycles generally range from 125cc to 1400cc (cc = cubic centimeters – the size of the bike’s engine). A smaller model with a 250cc to 300cc engine can make a great starter or commuter bike. If you are planning on doing a lot of highway riding, you may want one with an engine in the 500cc to 750cc range so you can easily keep up with traffic.
Most importantly, buy the bike that’s best for your height and weight. Keeping a 300-pound bike balanced on two wheels is difficult. Find one that’s comfortable for you. A light rider buying too light of a bike can be just as dangerous as buying a heavy bike with too much engine.
How Much Should I Spend?
In addition to handling and power, cost is a primary factor. A new 600cc bike can cost $9,000 or more, with larger engines and styles costing as much as $30,000 or more. A new 250cc bike can be bought for around $3,000, and the price goes even lower, as with all motorized transportation, with a used bike. Get something you can develop your skills with, and trade up when you’re ready.
Time for Research
Dealerships are great places to view a range of bikes. Visit a reputable local dealer to explore your options and have your questions answered. They have experts who can help size you for a bike. If you’re looking to test drive a bike, it probably won’t happen at the dealership due to liability issues. It’s not unusual for someone to purchase a motorcycle and ride it for the first time when they leave the lot.
Once you settle on a size and how you are going to use the bike, turn to Google. With research and reviews, you’ll be able to zero in on what you want.
Buying New vs. Used
When you buy new, you’ll know exactly what you are getting, along with the benefits of a warranty. The price will be higher and it’ll begin to depreciate when you leave the lot. If you’re a beginner, a used bike may be your best option. The major benefit is a lower price, but you won’t know how the bike has been used.
When looking for a used bike, compare the odometer reading with the condition of the bike. Does it look right? Look for rust and scratches – a weathered seat and faded paint means the bike has seen a hard life. Check for new or aftermarket parts that have replaced broken ones. Look for oil leaks. The bike should start easily. If it’s hard to start or billows clouds of smoke – especially blue smoke – be cautious.