by Liz Jansen
It may be the dead of winter, but it’s the time of year that people are thinking about a new motorcycle. The motorcycle shows only feed that hunger.
Most of us can only have one motorcycle, but like picking a life partner, narrowing it down to the right one can be a tough decision. Fortunately they’re easier to trade if you make the wrong decision. And bike shopping is fun!
Taking a rider training course before you make a purchase is a wise move for new riders. When you’re starting out, all bikes feel big and awkward. Riding the course bikes will give you a better feeling for what you can manage and an idea of what you enjoy.
It’s also wise for new riders to purchase a used bike first. It’s going to tip over, and it doesn’t hurt so much if you’re not the first to put a ding or scratch in it. Once you’ve gained confidence, you may change your mind on what riding style you enjoy. Build up your skills, and then buy your dream first bike.
10 Tips for Selecting a Motorcycle
- Consider the kind of riding you’ll be doing. Not only do you need to think about whether you’d enjoy a cruiser, sport bike, touring, off-road or dual sport bike, take into account the carrying capacity of the bike, whether it’s suitable for a passenger and how it can be outfitted to suit your needs.
- Make sure you’re a match. It needs to be compatible with your skill level and riding experience. Don’t buy something that you can “grow into” and don’t get talked into something that doesn’t feel right for you. This is risky behavior and will jeopardize your safety and enjoyment.
- Look for comfort. Sit on the bike in the riding position. How comfortable is it for you? Is it a stretch to reach the controls or the ground? Can you picture yourself in this position for extended periods? Make a rational, not an emotional decision.
- Think about convenience. How often you are going to have to take it in for service? How convenient is the location and their hours of operation? Ask for and talk to references to determine the shop’s credibility and service level.
- Plan for maintenance. Ask about the frequency of maintenance and expected costs. If you like to perform routine maintenance yourself, how simple is it to do? Do you need to purchase other equipment such as a lift or specialized tools? How readily available are replacement parts?
- Speak with a credible sales rep. Purchase from a salesperson who is also a rider. Enough said.
- Consider what changes you’ll want. (if any). All bikes can be customized – at least to a certain extent. If you see one that’s just right for you except for a few adjustments or accessories, ask what’s available (and where) to make that bike yours.
- Consult with a trusted advisor. Bring an experienced rider with you, whose opinion you value. They may pick up things that you miss. Just remember, ultimately, it’s YOUR decision.
- Shop around. Resist the temptation to purchase the first bike you see. There are lots to choose from. It’s an important purchase and your safety and enjoyment depend on you making an objective decision.
- Research. Talk to other trustworthy riders, retailers, insurance companies. Beware of forums. While you can find valuable advice, you usually don’t know whom you’re talking to so can’t reliably assess their level of expertise – even though they sound like an expert. Additionally, they’ll be talking from their area of interest and experience – which may be very different than yours.
Do your homework, take your time, ask lots of questions, and then listen to your heart. Make an informed, logical decision. Then embrace the adventure – wherever your road leads.
Additional resource: New Rider Multi-Media Guide