6 Things to Think About Before Buying Your First Motorcycle

Before you get started on two wheels, ask yourself these questions. 

6 Things to Think About Before Buying Your First Motorcycle

Whether for commuting, off-roading, or leisurely rides on perfect weather days, motorcycles open up a whole world of fun. As with most any vehicle though, a motorcycle is a major purchase. Whether it's a sport bike you're looking for or a dirt bike to explore backcountry trails, make sure you do your research before buying. In order to better prepare for bike ownership, here are a few questions to ask yourself first. 

Are You Prepared to Own a Motorcycle?

Before purchasing and operating a motorcycle, there are some basic criteria that you really ought to meet. For example, do you have any experience driving a motorcycle? If not, you should take some time and learn how to safely operate a bike. Many manufacturers and dealers offer basic riding courses, as does the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Why not take advantage of one in your area? Do you have a license to drive a motorcycle in your state? Most states require a separate license to operate a motorcycle, and, generally, one component of getting the license is successful completion of motorcycle safety course. Finally, have you shopped for insurance for your new bike? Before you can pay for a motorcycle and drive it home, make sure you have these three things—a license, insurance, and some riding experience—in order to get yourself and your motorcycle home safely and legally.

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How Do You Plan to Use Your Motorcycle?

The type of motorcycle you buy will largely depend on how you want to or plan to use your bike. Do you want a bike that you can use to commute to work or do you plan on hitting the dirt trails on the weekend? Do you plan to ride with a passenger? Do you need space for saddlebags or gear storage? These are all things you need to think about when deciding on the type or style of bike to buy. Many motorcycles are specifically designed for a particular use—like off-highway motorcycles—and can’t easily (or sometimes legally) cross over to another use.

How Big a Bike Should You Buy?

Answering the question of how big a bike to buy comes down to how much riding experience you have and your comfort level. If you’re a beginner, you can start smaller, say with a 250cc motorcycle. But chances are, as you gain more experience, you’ll want to upgrade. So, have you budgeted for a starter bike initially and a bigger bike in the near future? A liter bike, in most cases, is going to be way too much for a beginner to handle, as is a mid-range racing or performance motorcycle. Beginners should look for a bike around 500 to 600cc, which is plenty of motorcycle to enjoy for years, even after you become more skilled at riding. Experienced riders will want to tailor their bike purchase toward their needs: Are you looking for a big Harley or a high-powered sports bike, and what kind of riding do you plan to do?

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New or Used?

Whether you choose to buy a brand-new motorcycle or a used “classic” comes down to a combination of budget and personal preference. Buying a used motorcycle will probably save you some money off the bat and may be a good idea if you’re looking for a “starter” bike and plan to upgrade once you’ve built up your riding skills. On the other hand, if you buy a new bike, you’re less likely to inherit the previous owner’s problems and will see lower maintenance costs over the first few years of ownership.

Can You Afford to Maintain a Motorcycle?

If you intend your motorcycle to be your only mode of transportation, insurance and maintenance of a standard bike is, on average, cheaper than owning a car. You will also see better fuel economy. On the other hand, if you plan an owning a motorcycle in addition to a car, you need to ask yourself whether you can comfortably afford the extra costs associated with bike ownership. If you have a decent driving record and you’re over 25 years-old, you can expect insurance premiums to be around $500 per year, as long as you keep up the good driving. If you’re a frequent rider, keeping up with basics like oil changes, chain maintenance, belts and tire replacements can cost you at least $1,000 annually. And if you financed your ride, you’ll have to factor that in, as well.

Do You Have the Right Gear to Hit the Road?

Even though it’s not required in all states, safety gear is imperative on a motorcycle, on which you’re riding at speed, unprotected, often surrounded by larger vehicles. A helmet is essential. And all motorcycle owners should strongly consider a riding jacket, motorcycle gloves, and protective pants, as going down on a bike is no joke.

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