How to Choose a Killer Motorcycle and Rip Up the Road
How To Choose a Motorcycle
When researching your first motorcycle purchase, if you encounter other people who ride or own motorcycles, they can be quick to offer their version of advice on what you should purchase. As with most things, selecting your first bike is a highly personal decision.
It will be dependent on several factors, including your height, what type of riding you plan to do, and your budget. Only you can know what is most comfortable for your physique, what you plan to do most often with your motorcycle, and how much you can reasonably afford.
Doing Your Research
Doing the proper research is imperative not only for your comfort and proper fit with a motorcycle but also for your safety. Used motorcycle values can fluctuate a lot, and it can be easy to keep your eye solely on the cheapest options available.
However, be sure to look into reviews and do some research on how reliable any given bike is. You don’t want to be out for your first long ride and breakdown on the side of the road. You also don’t want to be swayed into buying a specific type of bike that does not fit your needs.
Even if you do ample research, ultimately the best way to find your ideal motorcycle is to try out various models at a dealership. You can use an online ergonomic simulator (inputting your inseam and your height) before you go to any dealerships, and this can be a fantastic launching point to give you an idea of a few bikes to try.
However, there is just nothing that beats the in-person experience of testing out seats, foot-to-ground distances, the height of handlebars, and how the overall bike feels to you. You can purchase a used motorcycle from a dealership lot or try some out to get an idea of what suits you, and then purchase through a private seller if you prefer.
This is not just for comfort, but also for safety. It’s extremely dangerous to ride a motorcycle that forces you to touch the ground with only the tips of your toes. You should always be able to plant both feet firmly on the ground when sitting on your motorcycle.
All of the controls should be an easy reach for you, as well. Anything that forces you to stretch too hard can cause you to lose balance or swerve while driving, and biking is all about balance.
A vehicle history report for your motorcycle is vital if you’re purchasing a pre-owned bike.
Cost should be taken into consideration, not only for your budget but also because sometimes spending just a little less on a first time bike is a wise decision. Don’t sacrifice quality and reliability to save some money—we don’t recommend a sketchy bike for any first-time rider.
However, realistically you might make a few mistakes with your first bike, and it’s better to do so on one that costs $5,000 as opposed to a brand new Ducati than will run tens of thousands of dollars. You want to pick the sweet spot of a reliable model, a price you can afford, a bike that can take a little damage as your first ride, with the correct type of motorcycle for your needs.
Don’t forget to factor in overall cost for insurance, registering your bike, a helmet, and other gear. Even if your state does not have universal helmet laws, it is obviously smarter to ride with a helmet, especially when you have less experience.
Types of Motorcycles
There are several sub-categories in the world of bikes, such as motocross or trials bike, and even a 3 wheel motorcycle, but these are generally for riders with more experience who are focusing on a specified activity. Down the road, if these interest you, research them to your heart’s content. With a first bike, the following are typically the standard choices.
Sport bikes are what many people think of as “crotch rockets” and are designed for acceleration, cornering well, and sometimes rapid breaking. These are often lighter weight than a hog like a Harley-Davidson but not always as comfortable for long trips.
A standard is also known as a “naked bike“ and is somewhat of a blend between a sport bike and a more comfortable cruising design. This is a favorite up-and-coming segment of motorcycles and is ideal for someone who wants speed mixed with the ability to take longer trips.
Dual sports bikes are a fantastic combination for those who want some capability for off-road and for riding on trails, but also would like a bike that can commute to work. They are not as specially designed as a trials bike, meant only for a precise sport, but they are a little more rugged than a standard.
Your cruiser will be the typical motorcycle such as a Harley-Davidson, with their lower longer construction. These can be far more comfortable for long journeys as the handlebars are higher and the seats more comfortable.
Stepping up the comfort for long trips is a touring bike. These are similar in design to a cruiser but offer more weather protection, waterproof compartments for luggage, and features such as heated handlebars. The seats can also be notably more comfortable. These are ideal for people who plan to take cross country journeys or frequent long road trips on their motorcycle.
An adventure touring bike, also called an ADV, are a combination between the bigger street motorcycles similar to touring bikes, but these, too, can do some off-roading on trails. If you plan to take road trips but also ride some trails off the streets, this could be a bike for you.
Scooters and mopeds might not typically be lumped in with traditional motorcycles for some people, but if you want something more economical and plan to use it solely for zipping around the city, these can be ideal. Many have luggage compartments, and they are notorious for their fantastic fuel economy.
Getting a Used Bike as Your First
If you do listen to two pieces of advice from other riders, listen to the wisdom that a used motorcycle is often best for a first time bike, and a ride with a little less power is a good idea.
You don’t want something that has so much horsepower you cannot control it or hang on comfortable. With a lot of experience, you can always sell your first bike later and move your way up to a more powerful ride.
Buying a used motorcycle is also smart for a couple of reasons. It is prevalent for people to drop their bike in the early days of riding. Just as we stumble when learning to walk, this is a typical experience when learning to ride a motorcycle.
The money you will save with a used motorcycle is also a smart decision. If you decide within the first few months that you won’t get as much time riding as you expected, or don’t love it as much as you thought, you won’t be out several thousands of dollars that are tied into a loan. The same way it is smart for first-time drivers to get a car that is safe but also affordable and used, the same can be said for motorcycles.
Your First Bike
So, check into forums for suggestions that are appropriate for first-time motorcyclists looking for the type of bike you want. The time you spend research can save you from a lot of headaches down the road, and hopefully, that road will take you on many smooth, enjoyable journeys.
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