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7 tips for buying your first motorcycle: Everything you need to know

Added May 24, 2019
Guy on motorcycle

Deciding to begin riding a motorcycle is an exciting time. It’s the start of a life full of adventure, freedom, and independence.

So, how do you choose your first motorcycle?

Here are seven tips to help with your motorcycle shopping adventure.

1. Budget wisely 

As a new motorcycle rider, you’ll need quality riding gear—including a helmet—to make riding your motorcycle a safe and pleasurable experience. As you develop your motorcycle budget, consider the cost of quality safety gear.

You’ll need the following motorcycle safety gear:

Don’t scrimp on these items. Doing so will make any motorcycle you buy uncomfortable to ride in the long run. Being comfortable is one of the secrets to being a safe rider.

2. Weigh the option of new versus used

Buying new versus used will have the largest impact on your motorcycle budget.

New motorcycles come with a warranty and should be in perfect condition. A quality used bike, however, is a good option to consider.

You’ll likely outgrow your first beginner bike in a season or two. Plus, a starter motorcycle that’s not perfect will be a little easier to live with. After all, scratches and dings happen when you’re on the road.

3. Look for the right fit

One thing about your first motorcycle that should be as close to perfect as possible is how well it fits your body. Never underestimate good ergonomics.

Your arms should reach the handlebars with the ability to turn them from side to side without shifting in the saddle. Your feet should rest on the pegs and allow your legs to partially support your body.

The ability to easily reach and operate the brake and controls will significantly improve your ability to ride a motorcycle smoothly and with confidence.

4. Don’t ignore saddle height

Saddle height is an especially critical measurement on a motorcycle. You should be able to place both feet firmly on the ground when you rest your weight in the saddle. 

Being able to securely put either foot down at a stop is vital. The ability to “flat foot it” will also make maneuvering easier when parking.

5. Can you handle the weight?

You should be able to easily lift the motorcycle off the stand and push it around manually. A bike that’s too heavy to maneuver under your own power is likely to succumb to gravity.

Dropping your motorcycle isn’t a confidence-building experience.

6. Think about horsepower

A mistake many new riders make is buying a motorcycle with an engine that’s too powerful.

You need enough horsepower to comfortably ride at highway speed. But a bike with an excessive engine size and power will make learning to ride smoothly very difficult and can also be dangerous.

7. Choose your style

Motorcycles are expressions of who we are. They show off our passion for the motorcycle lifestyle.

The type of bike you buy should reflect your personal riding style. Just looking at it should excite you and beckon you to get on the road. Riding more often will give you the experience you need.

Protect yourself and your ride

Once you’ve chosen your motorcycle, it’s time to protect it. Choose your motorcycle insurance carrier wisely, and get the coverages that make sense for you. 

If this is your first bike, a rider safety course is a must. If you voluntarily take and pass a motorcycle safety course, not only will you be better prepared to ride, you may also qualify for a motorcycle insurance discount. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers classes throughout the U.S.

Whether you buy a cruiser, touring bike or sport-bike, your first motorcycle can meet these criteria and safely introduce you to freedom and adventure.

Till next time, ride safe!

Related links:

With your bike at the ready, here are some critical motorcycle riding skills you need to practice.

Once you get the feel for your new motorcycle, you might be looking for events and ride suggestions. Check out our Events section.

When you need to fuel up, be educated about what’s on tap. The rise in availability of E15 gas is causing concern among riders.