Do you feel the urge to finally break down and purchase that motorbike you’ve dreamed about for so long? You have a bit of cash for a down payment, and figure, if not now, when?
Before you set out for the dealers’ showrooms, there are a few items you need to take care of (including funding) to ensure the experience synchs with your dream.
First bike? Get legal. – If you haven’t owned and ridden a motorbike before, you will need to take Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) first thing. It only takes a day in most cases, and will give you at least a rudimentary skillset required to operate your new bike. The CBT will allow you to operate a small motorbike with an engine displacement up to 125cc without further licence, but if you want something bigger, you will have to take the full motorcycle test. The last thing you want to do is to rush out and find the motorbike you want, only to discover that you cannot legally ride it.
What size bike – If you are new to motorcycling, it is probably best to begin with a bike of modest power, since a motorcycle can get away from its rider much more easily than a car. Find something that won’t be overwhelmed taking you on the roads you explore, but not something that turns into a screaming banshee with the slightest twist of the throttle.
What kind of bike – Your decision will be based upon the type of riding you want to do. A heavier, more powerful bike will usually feel more stable on smooth roads, but if you want to go exploring forest trails and hills, that extra weight is anything but an asset. For off the beaten path riding, you will want a bike that is lighter, has greater suspension travel to absorb the bumps of irregular surfaces without jarring all your fillings loose, and has sufficient power to carry you up relatively steep grades.
New or Used – To a motorcyclist, few things are as exciting as standing in a dealer’s showroom, choosing a motorbike to buy. All those colorful posters and displays brimming with accessories only serve to add to your excitement. But keep in mind, your purchase will include a share of the dealer’s operating expenses. Granted, purchasing a new bike from a dealer does have its advantages, including professional service and follow-up.
On the other hand, few things are as disheartening as dropping or laying down your bike (and you will do this… motorbikes are subject to the laws of physics, just like everything else). For this reason, a new rider is probably better off buying a used bike. In addition, other than a fully restored early Norton, Triumph, BSA, or Matchless, a used bike will almost always be less expensive than a new one. And the money you save can go a long way toward the purchase of other needed items.
Accessories – While you might be eyeing bits of flashy chrome, stylish panniers and the like, the important accessories don’t go on the bike at all. They go on you. At a bare minimum, you should really invest in these right off, preferably before you ride off into the distant sunset. The panniers can wait.
- Helmet – This is the most crucial single item of safety gear you can buy, and for that reason, it is not the item which you should purchase based solely upon a bargain price. The government’s Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) website is a wonderful resource for helmet buying tips and ratings.
- Jackets, pants, boots, and gloves – Remember when you were little and fell down and scraped your knee? When it happened, you were not going nearly as fast as you will on your new bike. If you are smart, you will always dress as if you are going to have a spill, because at some point, you will most certainly have one. Better that you have a durable shell around you when it does happen, preferably one that is designed specifically for motorbike riders, with an abrasion-resistant shell, and armour in all the appropriate places.
When you’re ready to buy – If you have enough cash to purchase your bike outright, financing will not be needed. But if the bike you want costs more than you have on hand, or paying cash leaves you short of funds needed for necessities like insurance, a helmet and protective gear; financing the purchase may well be your best option. Some dealers offer their own financing plans, but unless those plans are supplemented as part of a sales promotion, you might find their interest rates and terms to be a bit expensive. Fortunately, many banks are more open to making motorcycle loans than they have been in the past. Just be certain to shop for financing as you do for the motorbike itself, using sites like this to compare your loan options.
Shop wisely, and you will buy the best bike for your needs and secure financing you can afford.