Section Two: Choosing Your Ride and not someone else’s.
It is too easy to get caught up in what is wrong for you and it takes time to find out what is right for you. Your ride is about you and what you like to do, it is about individuality and your ride should say that. Just because your friends ride one type/style of bike doesn’t mean that is who you are. Pick a bike that you want to ride, not what you think someone else wants to you ride and your motorcycling adventures will be custom tailored to you.
Choosing Your Ride and not someone else’s.
Choosing a motorcycle is a personal experience, it has to be like that so you can enjoy your new life style as you want to experience it. Every type of bike will give you a little different feeling and view of motorcycling, with no view being more right, better, worse or wrong. They are all different flavours offered to you to be enjoyed at your own time of choosing.
So, what do you choose? Where do you go? What to buy? Where do I get insurance?
First of all, the best way to find out these questions would be to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Course in your area. Not only is it a good way to learn a ride a motorcycle properly and more enjoyably, but a great way to avoid learning things the hard way on the road with your new bike. A good MSF course will even provide you with an assortment of motorcycles (standards, cruisers, sport bikes) to learn on, a helmet and even gloves! Of course, choosing to take an MSF Course is totally up to you.
The second step is to imagine what type of riding you would like to try and fit a motorcycle type to it. Don’t worry about engine sizes yet, just fitting the style of the bike with what you want to do. You can do anything of course with any style of bike, and it may be interesting to try that but for your first bike, best to stick with the most compatible choice. Say you want to ride fast in the twisties, well, a touring bike could work, but it won’t be nearly as fun, handle as well, or be able to do what you want it to do as well as a sport bike will.
NEW OR USED?
Big decision, but a that new model or go for the cheaper used one? Almost every rider goes though this decision, sometimes it is based on finances, other times it is based on looks and feeling. If you get that new one, do you have the cash to fix it up in case you drop it ($$$)? If you get that old one, do you have the cash to fix it up if it needs it ($)? Have you considered insurance for that new ($$$) or used ($) bike? How about maintenance, oil, gas, tires…
This section will help you out, just relax and read on…
A New Bike: The vast majority of new motorcycles will be found at a motorcycle dealership. Most dealerships specialize in one (Harley Davidson, Buell) or two brands of bikes (like a Yamaha/Suzuki). Also some will have the major Japanese brands (Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha) and fewer yet will have Japanese (Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha) and European (BMW, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, Ducati, Bimota, MZ) bikes on display. If you are looking around for the first time, why not travel to all your local dealerships and see what they have any ways. It is a great way to learn what style, size, manufacturer and peg layout suits you best. Another great way of getting your information is also to read websites on the Internet (like this one for example), looking through brochures, magazines and reading books (see my recommendations). If you have the money to buy a new bike, you might as well use all your resources to make an educated rather than passionate purchase.
Word of advice on buying a new bike: Not to overly worry you or discourage the purchase of a new motorcycle, but almost everyone drops their bike in their first year. It is “normal” to hear and know people who have done this so if it happens to you, don’t freak out about it. So my advice is, if you really want that new first bike try to buy a model that isn’t expensive to replace scratched/damaged components. Sport bike plastic farings can run hundreds of dollars each (or more), chrome isn’t as expensive to replace unless there is gobs of it damaged, and naked bikes with no farings or gobs of chrome as the cheapest to fix up like the Suzuki GS500 for example.
The manufacturers are again starting to get the word about smaller cc bikes. They are again making them so that you have the opportunity to learn on a bike that will fit your learning curve. In Canada they make beginner cruisers from 125cc (Kawasaki Eliminator), 250cc (Suzuki Marauder, Honda Rebel), 500cc (Kawasaki Vulcan). Sport bikes in 250cc (Kawasaki Ninja 250), 500cc (Kawasaki Ninja 500, Suzuki GS500) and standards in light easily to handle sizes like the Suzuki GS500.
A Used Bike: Used is the way the majority of new motorcyclist take. If for no other reason then cost of the bike and any repairs, then you are already going to save a lot of money. Depending on where you live, generally the bigger the city, the more used bikes will be for sale. Some a great deals, others you don’t want to touch with a 10′ pole! As with buying new, check out websites on the Internet (like this one for example), looking through brochures, magazines and reading books (see my recommendations).
I’ve found all of my bikes (all used so far) from the local Buy & Sell/Bargain Finder (local a newspaper/magazine that lists everything from toasters and furniture to autos and motorcycles). For me, the bikes have been in better shape and price than what I could find used at the dealerships. Also, you get to know the owner, ask important maintenance questions and see how the bike has been treated. Usually dealerships won’t know this information.
My BEST piece of advice (so far) I can offer you about buying a used motorcycle: Would be to bring a certified motorcycle mechanic with you to inspect the bike you want to buy. Read that line over again. It will cost you something (from a case of beer and up), but it is really really worth it, even if you yourself do mechanics already he/she will point out things to you that because of your excited condition would not have noticed. Also, they have a good chance of knowing the repair history of this type of bike/model and can even give you a good idea of what it is REALLY worth. By using a certified motorcycle mechanic to check out my 1982 XJ650R Seca I saved $560 and he even negotiated with the seller with me as well on the price! (asking $1400, I bought it for $840).
Buying a used motorcycle from a dealership: While dealerships generally sell their used bikes for more money than what you would pay going though the paper, there is a reason to this. They say (I have no way to verify if the place you check out does this) that they drain and replace the fluids (oil, brake, gas, coolant) and give the bike a check over, if they find anything that needs replacing, they do that as well (tires, etc). Maybe they do it, maybe they don’t, but if you are interested ask them nicely.
Used Motorcycle buyers guides:
Used Motorcycle Evaluation Guide Raw Text (in case link is broken)
Buying a Used Motorcycle 1 – Raw Text (in case link is broken)
Buying a Used Motorcycle 2 – Raw Text (in case link is broken)
Used Motorcycle Price guides:
Classified Ad Sites: