Want to buy a motorcycle? How to choose one that is right for you
You may have noticed that this blog has been overrun by machines with four wheels. It’s important to acknowledge an interest in our 2-wheeled brethren every so often, though. What do you need to ride a motorcycle? Which one is right for you?
The first consideration anyone has to take when getting into bikes is taking lessons. In the time of yesteryear, people had motorcycle licenses attached to their regular drivers licenses despite having no instruction on top of a bike. Luckily, someone got smart and made lessons mandatory in most places, and with good reason. You may think of motorcycling to be nothing more than cycling with a big engine and higher speeds, but it is so much more. There are many regulations and safety procedures to learn, and you must before you go out on the road.
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Once you have received adequate instruction, it’s time to select your poison. All beginners need to start with a less powerful motorcycle. Generally speaking, you will want to stick to something no more than 600cc and not too heavy. Another consideration you have to make is what kind of riding you want to do. If you just like wind in your hair and scenery going by in relative comfort, pick up a cruising bike. If you like ZZ Top impersonations, grab the nearest high-handlebar Harley-Davidson. If you want to feel “grounded to the ground”, a sportbike is in the cards for you. Just like with cars, there is variety to be had and different flavours within each.
Buying a used motorbike for your first is always a good choice given that it will probably hit the ground whether it falls over in the garage or worse. The most important thing to look for is if you can place both of your feet on the ground comfortably. If you can’t, the bike is too tall for you. Also, if you will be using the bike for any kind of commuting, consider a more upright, standard bike versus a sportbike for comfort.
Things to look for when buying used include looking for cosmetic damage and rust. Unlike cars, the locations of the damage can indicate what kind of accidents the bike has sustained very well. If the foot pegs are more worn on the bottoms than the tops, the previous owner may have turned too sharply with it on one or more occasions. The condition of the seat can also indicate how harshly the bike was treated. Aftermarket parts are very common with sportbikes; check to see if stuff like clutch levers and handlebar grips have been modified (it might be because they broke!). Check the transmission and engine seals for oil seepage and leaks. The condition of the drive chain is important; a grimy and loose chain can indicate poor maintenance and a clean and tight chain is a good thing.
After you cover those big areas, you’re ready to spend some money on a good Snell-rated helmet, gloves, boots/shoes, rain suit (flameproof is nice too), and maybe some good eyewear. Once you get suited up and you have your bike of choice, choose a nice day and go for a ride!