Guest Author - Nancy Brotherton
Buying your first motorcycle is an exhilarating experience. I have listed some tips below to help you navigate the many pitfalls of that first purchase. If you have never ridden and haven’t taken a motorcycle safety and riding course, I advise you to take a course. You will immediately get a feel for the size of bike you can handle.
1. Know your limitations. A beginner rider shouldn’t buy too much motorcycle. Too much motorcycle means, a larger motorcycle with high performance. It may be too much too handle starting out and can be too heavy to handle in slow situations. Also, if you have just begun to ride, think of it like just starting out on a bicycle. You probably had training wheels to begin with, so start with a starter motorcycle that you feel comfortable with such as the ones you learned on. A Honda Shadow 250cc is great until you get your road wings.
If you are 5 feet 2 inches tall and weigh 135 pounds, buying a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic touring bike is probably not the best choice for you to start out with. You need a motorcycle that you can easily keep both feet level on the ground when stopping. If you are tiptoeing, it is too tall for you and you need to get it lowered. Conversely, if you are 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds, a Honda Rebel 250cc is probably going to make you look like a circus monkey while riding and be very awkward. Go to several dealerships and ask to sit on several styles of motorcycles with different options so you get a feel for the different styles.
You want to sit on the motorcycle in a comfortable position, back straight, arms extended in front without stretching. The placement of the handlebars is important because if you are stretching to hold them while in a straight position, when you turn the handlebars, you will overextend. Seat styles, handelbars, and foot pegs and rests, can be switched or modified to accomodate your body frame. Motorcycles can also be lowered. I have a series of articles about types of motorcycles and how to identify them in my types of motorcycles link below.
2. Type of Riding. What type of riding will you be doing? Will you be riding in a congested city with many stops and starts or will you be riding 50 miles one way on a highway? If you are riding in a city with lots of stops and starts, consider a commuter or standard motorcycle. If you are riding long distances on a highway, consider a cruiser type motorcycle. If you are really going the distance on highways and want to take a passenger, consider a touring type motorcycle. Sports bikes are more for navigating hairpin turns and full performance rather than in start and stop traffic.
3. Budget constraints. When looking for that first motorcycle, besides the purchase price, research the costs of preventive maintenance, storage costs, and protective gear such as helmets and leathers. Many dealerships will roll the gear costs into your payments and give you some free maintenance service for the first year. New motorcycles can cost from $3,500 to $30,000 plus depending on the type you choose. An inexpensive used motorcycle can be a good choice for a first ride because you aren't so worried about any damage from mishaps.
Until next week, ride safe.