9 Tips to Consider When Buying Your First Motorcycle

Jake Robison - January 13, 2022

If you’ve decided to go ahead and purchase a motorcycle, there are several things to consider when shopping for that first bike. Since not all riders are looking for the same type of riding experience, their bike shopping lists may focus on items other riders may not consider important. However, there are nine things everyone shopping for their first motorcycle should keep in mind.


Get a License


Before shopping, take steps to obtain your license. In most states, riders can obtain a permit that allows them to learn basic riding skills prior to taking their on-road test. However, it’s always important to explore your state laws to determine what steps are required to obtain a motorcycle license or endorsement. Safety classes may be required in some areas, so it’s important to understand what riders need in a specific state.


Decide Which Type of Bike Meets Your Needs


Some riders have a pretty good idea of the type of bike they’d like to purchase, but expert riders may recommend starting out with a smaller bike than you’d ultimately like to own. For example, it might make more sense to start with a bike like the Iron 883 rather than jumping immediately to a large bike like a Road Glide. Again, all riders have different skill sets and levels of experience, so there is no hard and fast rule here. Just make sure you’re comfortable with the power and handling characteristics of the bike you select.


It’s also important to remember that there are several types of bikes to choose from. Cruisers are popular with many riders as they are useful in a variety of riding scenarios. However, sport bikes are the favorite of some riders who look for performance rather than all-day riding comfort. If you’re interested in off-road riding, dirt bikes may be your best option. When shopping for the right bike for you, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Dealer personnel and other riders will point you in the right direction.


Shop for Insurance Before Buying


Another checklist item that’s often put off is shopping for insurance. The cost of insurance will vary by the model selected and your driving record, so it’s always a good idea to get quotes from a motorcycle insurance agent before buying a bike. No one is happy when they’re quoted far higher rates than they anticipated because they bought a specific bike model.


It’s also important to obtain adequate coverage. The minimum insurance requirements in most states do little to protect riders from significant losses. Rather than risking your investment or not having sufficient medical coverage in the event you’re involved in an accident, take the time to discuss coverage options with your agent.


Find a Reputable Dealer


When you’re shopping for a bike, where you buy is important. If you’re in the market for a used bike, it may seem like it’s possible to get a great deal from a private seller, but that’s not always the case. Private sellers are less likely to admit they know about any issues with a bike. If you’re considering purchasing a bike from a private seller, take the time to have a qualified motorcycle mechanic examine the bike before closing the deal.


On the other hand, motorcycle dealers have to protect their reputation. That means they’re unlikely to represent a bike as being a good deal when they know it has a history of problems or has been involved in an accident. In many cases, they’ll have service records available to demonstrate how well the bike was cared for. A dealer can also help a novice rider decide whether buying new or used makes the most sense for the new rider’s situation.


All the Gear All the Time—Put Safety First


Riding a motorcycle includes accepting inherent dangers. If you’re in an accident of any type, the odds of suffering injuries are high as there is little between the rider and the road. That’s why motorcycle safety experts recommend wearing appropriate safety gear all the time while riding. Leather or ballistic materials are commonly used for jackets, pants, chaps, and gloves. A helmet is required in some states, and safety experts recommend using a helmet even when it’s not a requirement.


Add Accessories


Making your new bike your own is always fun. A wide variety of accessories is generally available, so it’s not hard to update features in ways that make riding more fun and individualize the look of your bike.


Explore Training Options


Beginning riders are always encouraged to attend motorcycle training sessions before riding on the highway or city streets. While not required in many areas, safety classes help new bikers learn more about what to expect when riding in various conditions.


Plan Now to Improve Your Skills


Once you’ve taken basic classes and obtained a license or endorsement, consider ways to improve your riding skills in the future. Explore the different types of classes that match your riding preferences and plan on taking them. You can never learn too much about riding.


Learn the Basics of Motorcycle Maintenance


Although it’s not necessary to become a motorcycle mechanic, it’s important to learn some basic maintenance skills. Adjusting cables, replacing lights, and monitoring the bike’s tires will always be important. Some riders also prefer to handle light maintenance, like changing the bike’s oil, themselves. Of course, your local dealer is always there to take care of maintenance and repairs, but it’s often easier and less expensive to handle minor issues at home.


Moving Forward With a Purchase


Once you’ve decided on the type of bike to buy and found a dealer who has just what you want in stock, it’s time to move forward with the purchase. When you choose to buy from a private seller, it’s up to you to find a lender that’s willing to finance the purchase. If you’re buying from a dealer, they’ll have a variety of financing options available, which generally makes the entire experience easier. Once you’ve taken all the steps needed to purchase your new bike, you can look forward to years of riding excitement.




Jake Robison


Jake Robison has operated powersports dealerships since 2003.  With an extensive background in the motorcycle industry including sales, service, parts, finance, management and powersports training, he covers all things motorcycles and enjoys sharing valuable information to newcomers on two-wheels

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