Buying Your First Motorcycle
The weather is warming, the carpool lanes are open, and the weekends are looking good for purchasing your first motorcycle. You’ve talked to people who have one and heard how much they love riding, the gas savings, and the freedom that goes along with having a motorcycle. So, now all you need to do is decide which one to buy.
If you are new to motorcycles and riding, you should take a motorcycle safety course sponsored by your state. Even if you have ridden in the past but never taken the course, you should consider taking it; it’s a good opportunity to get some practice and instruction from seasoned professionals. Also, if you don’t have your endorsement, in most states taking this course will count so you won’t need to take a separate test at the DMV.
Now that you have taken your safety course, which type of motorcycle do you want?
The Cruiser is most typically exemplified by the Harley. These bikes usually sit low to the ground, allow the rider and passenger to lean back easily, and are almost always heavily customized. Ever seen a picture of the Sturgis Rally? If you have, you’ve seen mostly cruisers and choppers. New riders might want to consider the Harley Sportster, the Honda Shadow, or Suzuki’s Boulevard S40 or S50. The more experienced rider or larger guys should lean towards the Harley Fat Boy, Triumph Thunderbird, Yamaha Roadliner, and Moto Guzzi California Classic.
Sportbikes are for those who love to race. The motors are tuned for racing with performance exhaust and brakes that will stop on a dime. Sportbikes do suffer from a few drawbacks, though. The design of the bike requires the rider to lean forward when riding, which means it doesn’t take long before the rider’s back begins to hurt. The mirrors are relatively useless and you would be miserable if you ever considered taking it on a long ride. Yet, sportbikes are very popular among the younger crowd who like to take a bike down a winding road and speed into the corners. Sportbike riders are also the causes of many motorcycle related fatalities. This is due to new riders not being able to handle the high powered bike they purchased, taking corners too fast, and general speeding and weaving in and out of traffic. The new rider who wants a sportbike should consider a lower powered bike to start off with. Then, after a year or two of becoming more comfortable with the bike, consider upgrading to that Ducati.
Touring and Sport Touring
Touring bikes are made for the rider who likes to take trips. Honda Gold Wing is the quintessential touring bike. The bike provides options like cruise control, a radio, luggage space, and a large windscreen to protect the rider. It is the SUV of motorcycles. The bike is perfect for that long interstate ride. The average touring bike rider has been on the road for a large portion of his or her life and has the experience to handle the larger bike. However, the newer rider might want to consider something that’s in the sport touring class. The sport touring bike combines the performance and maneuverability of a Sportbike with some of the ergonomics and storage of a touring bike. They are typically lighter and easier to handle, with performance and handling of a sportbike. This is most visible in the BMW R 1200 RT and LT series bikes, or Honda ST1300 and NT700 bikes.
Dual Sport or Adventure
Dual Sports, or adventure style, are the crossovers of the motorcycle world. They are made to handle both on-road and off-road riding. The dual sports usually has a mid range engine anywhere from 650 to 900 cc’s. These bikes aren’t perfect road bikes and they aren’t perfect off road bikes. But if you don’t have the money or space to own two bikes, yet you want the option of riding from the paved streets to a logging road, a dual sport is the way to go. Keep in mind that if you do take it off-road, the bike will require more maintenance when it comes to keeping dirt out of places it shouldn’t be. The BMW GS series of bikes, Triumph Tiger, Suzuki V-Strom, or Honda XR 650L are all good bikes in this class.
Now that you’ve decided the type of bike you want, it’s time to start looking for one. Should you buy new or used? When looking to purchase your first motorcycle, don’t let your eyes do the leading. Research engine size, seat height, and comfort before even looking at a motorcycle in person. Also keep in mind the type of riding you are planning on doing. Is it going to be a commuter or weekend rider? Will you be taking it on the interstate or back roads? And finally talk to dealers, friends, and internet forums. Once you’ve answered all these questions and found the right bike for you, the smile and glow on your face every time you ride the bike will be reminiscent of a happy mother with her first child.