There are generally two types of first-time motorcycle buyers: those who want to get from point A to point B and those who are enthusiastic about finding the “perfect ride” and inevitably get overwhelmed by the sheer variety of options out there.
Of course, you could also be a bit of both — someone needing a convenient mode of transport while wanting something that looks and feels good on the open road. Figuring out how to choose your first motorcycle can be tricky, but if you have a plan and know what factors to consider, it should be a relatively quick process.
Here’s how to get started.
- Determine Your Budget
Let’s be real. As much as you’d love to get a cool cafe racer as your first ride, you should first check if you can afford it.
Your budget is arguably the biggest factor to consider when buying your first motorcycle. Aside from the cost of the bike itself, you also need to plan for things like fuel consumption and protective gear such as a helmet, gloves, and jacket. Keep these things in mind when calculating your budget.
- Look for a Ride That Matches Your Abilities
One of the biggest mistakes novice riders make is choosing a bike that doesn’t match their abilities. If you know next to nothing about motorcycles, it makes no sense to dump your money on a souped-up Kawasaki Ninja that’s too fast for you.
A good rule of thumb for beginners is to start with bikes under 600cc. That should be enough horsepower to safely ride around town and go at highway speeds with confidence.
- Be Mindful of Fit and Weight
Another thing to consider when buying a motorcycle is fit and weight. Getting the ergonomics right will go a long way towards having a comfortable ride and better control of your bike.
For starters, you should be able to reach the grips on the handlebars without having to lock your elbows out or having to shift backward in the saddle. Next, check if your feet are comfortably positioned on the pegs. You should be able to place your feet flat on the ground when the bike is stationary.
Some bikes, like cruisers and sportbikes, are designed to be beefy, heavy machines for stability. But if you can’t push it around with your legs, consider something more lightweight.
- Decide on a Type of Motorcycle
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Choosing a ride that matches your style and needs is about finding a balance between practicality and personal expression. It’s perfectly natural to want a good-looking bike. But your choice of ride should also be functional.
For instance, if your primary concerns are getting through traffic and saving as much gas as possible, a scooter like a Vespa should have you covered. For a machine that will never go out of style, go for a standard motorcycle, which will do fine as a commuter and long-distance cruiser.
- New or Used?
Knowing how much bike you can realistically afford will also help you decide if you should go for a new motorcycle or a used one. A quality used bike is a good option if you want a simple commuting machine. However, bikes with more miles under them may require more maintenance and replacement motorcycle parts down the line.
If you’re concerned about resale value, you can consider buying brands that hold their resale value better than others. For instance, bikes from bigger brands like Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha will usually remain valuable for many years if they’re kept in good shape.
Time to Make Some Decisions
While this guide is by no means exhaustive, it covers the basic things you should know when shopping for a motorcycle for the first time. Use the tips in this guide as a starting point for more research to make an informed decision.