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5 Motorcycle Buying Tips to Make Your First Purchase Easier

5 Motorcycle Buying Tips to Make Your First Purchase Easier

Motorcyclists pick up riding for a variety of reasons: passion, freedom, adrenaline, speed, looks, gas prices - whatever it is, there is no doubt that the popularity of motorcycles is growing as more men and women learn to ride. Just got your motorcycle license? Welcome to the club! It's time to go bike shopping!

What bike should you get? There are so many styles of bikes and so many factors to consider. Bike shopping is very different than car shopping, and the strategies you use inside the car showroom might not work in the bike shop - a fun day at the bike shops can very quickly turn into a rather intimidating and overwhelming experience.

Perhaps we can help! We have put together five crucial motorcycle buying tips for beginners to help you find your perfect first bike.

Tip #1: How will you be using the motorcycle?

First of all, you need to know how you'll be using your bike. Is it going to replace your car on your daily commute around town? Or are you taking it to the open road with your buddies for some weekend excursions and road trips? Or, perhaps you need something more fuel-efficient for your new Uber Eats gig?

City Riding

If you are planning to ride your bike mostly around town, then you probably want a motorcycle that is compact, easy to handle, and has good fuel economy. Generally, bikes that are good for city riding have smaller frames, thinner tires, and agile handling.

Road Trips

If you're thinking of taking it to the highways on the weekend with your buddies, then you may want a bigger bike that offers more comfort, more horsepower, better fuel economy, but most of all, one that's suited for long periods of riding at a time.

Tip #2: Put your ego aside and choose a bike that fits you best

You've been drooling over the Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Honda, BMW or even the Aprilia. Unfortunately, these are not exactly the best bikes for new riders. Expensive top-of-the-line motorcycles can have up to 1500cc engine. But as a beginner, you definitely won't need all that power for torque. Instead, aim for something 600cc or smaller. Anything more gives the bike an extremely sensitive throttle which can be challenging for beginners to get used to.

And just as important as the engine size is the actual size and shape of the bike. If you are a beginner, you probably want to start with a bike that has a relatively low seat height and handlebars. This way, it will be more comfortable as you get used to riding.

Sportbikes

Sportsbikes are made for speed - they are lightweight and aerodynamically built - and they can make you look really cool. But riding a sportbike isn't an easy task thanks to the demanding riding position. For instance, the footpegs are mounted farther back and higher up. While they allow you to lean over as far as possible when going fast through a corner (think MotoGP), it's going to kill your back on a long trip on the highway.

And do keep in mind that sports bikes are often expensive and carry higher insurance because of the potential for speed.

If a sports bike is what you want, look for a lower-powered, middle-weight sportbike or a "sportbike lite." Here are some excellent sports bikes:

Cruisers

A light- or medium-weight cruiser makes a good beginner bike because they are easier to handle at low speeds and have a more relaxed power output. Just don't expect to win races against sportbikes — unless you buy a "power cruiser," a cruiser with a more powerful engine, and other performance upgrades - but that probably would not be a wise first bike for a beginner.

Here are some excellent options for cruiser bikes:

Dual Sport

Also known as Dual Purpose or Adventure Sport, these bikes are meant to go anywhere and do anything: street, highway, off-road, etc. There are two general categories of dual-sports bikes: Enduro and ADV/Adventure bikes.

A dual-sport might be an excellent way to get started in riding, but they tend to be tall and tippy, so if you're short, be sure to your toes can touch the ground. If they don't, ask about a lowering kit or lower seat option.

Here are some excellent options for dual-sport bikes:

Electric Motorcycle

Electric bikes are also a good choice for beginners since most don't require shifting, the power output is easier to control, and they are typically not intimidating to ride.

Like electric cars, electric motorcycles are still in the early stages of maturity and riding range is an issue. In other words, you'll need to plan more stops to include recharging. But for city riding, it works great: quiet, smooth, and very often powerful.

Right now, the up-front cost to buy an electric bike is typically more than the gas-powered bikes - but you will be saving on maintenance and gas.

Here are some excellent options for electric motorcycles:

Tip #3: Buying new or purchasing used?

Do you want to a new bike from a dealer or buy a used one from a third party? You may have the opportunity to purchase a used motorcycle from a dealer, but that is not always a guarantee.

Do you plan on taking out a loan, or have you saved up enough cash to purchase your motorcycle? In many circumstances, motorcycle loans are secured loans. This type of loan requires the motorcycle to be used as collateral for the amount being financed. Not all lenders will finance motorcycles, or they will classify them differently than an auto loan. These loans are often charged higher interest rates.

Some people prefer to pay cash for their motorcycle, and doing so has its benefits. Some dealerships may even offer discounts for those paying cash for their bike.

You will drop your bike

First of all, you will drop your bike at some point. It happens to everyone. Plus, minor scuffs and scrapes are part of the learning process, no matter who you are. That's why you should try to get a bike that isn't going to make you sob uncontrollably when you eventually have that first tip-over or scrape.

Second, it's not going to be your last bike. Don't worry about looking cool and sexy on your first or "learner bike" — you won't. If you're a beginner, get a beginner's bike. The reward? Learning to ride correctly and learning how not to die on a motorcycle.

Third, motorcycle riding may not be for you. Perhaps you find this out too late after financing a hefty purchase. You might be better off purchasing a used one until you know how to ride, have determined the type of motorcycle you ultimately want, or even decide if you like being out on the open road free of four metal walls. You will fall, you will wipe out, so you should stay away from new motorcycles while learning.

Do a background check

Just like purchasing a car, the historical background matters. Here are the questions that you need to have answered before buying the motorcycle that you are looking into:

  • Has this motorcycle been in any accidents?
  • Does the motorcycle have a clean title? Lien release? Rebuilt title?
  • Does the VIN on the motorcycle match the VIN on the title?

The motorcycle history may be a price negotiation point, especially if there are any undisclosed accidents. Checking into it may also be a saving grace should there be a lien on the title.

You also need to check specific areas when you are purchasing a used motorcycle, including the overall appearance, frame, exhaust, clutch, brakes, suspension, chain and sprocket, tires and wheels, fuel tank, coolant, oil, cold start and the electrical system.

Did you know...

If your bike is a 2016/newer model by a European or American brand, it probably is OBD2 compliant. Some motorcycle brands like Harley Davidson have implemented on-board diagnostics across all their models. And the Harley OBD systems also use the CAN protocol, which means a regular OBD2 scanner will work well with them - just make sure you have an adapter on hand to connect the diagnostic port on a Harley to an OBD2 scanner.

If your bike is Japanese or older than 2016, it may not be OBD2 compliant. Manufacturers such as Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda,don’t work with all OBD2 scanners.

Tip #4: Motorcycle safety on the open road

Being safe when on a motorcycle should always be in the front of a rider's mind. Like operating a car, some specific rules and habits should be followed, even on only two wheels.

Licensing and insurance

There are different requirements when it comes to licensing and insurance between Canada and the United States. Whether you are looking to gain licensing in British Columbia or Ontario, you will be required to meet the minimum requirements and take a road skills test before gaining your motorcycle licensure. Licensing in the United States varies by state. Almost every state requires motorcycle riders to have a license and insurance before taking them to the open road.

You should always check with your insurance provider about covering your motorcycle when you get a new one. Even if you only add it to your coverage for the season you are riding, many states and provinces will require you to have it.

Safety tips

  1. Always wear a helmet – head injuries are common in motorcycle accidents, and wearing a helmet can reduce the severity in some cases.
  2. Wear the appropriate gear – leather isn't just for looks. Most riders wear it because it adds a layer of protection for the skin, especially in accidents where road rash is common.
  3. Follow all traffic rules – traffic laws are in place for safety, not to be a buzzkill.
  4. Drive defensively – there is a difference between being a defensive driver and road rage. Defensive drivers anticipate other driver maneuvers to avoid accidents. Road rage often results in accidents.

Tip #5: Get a dash cam

When all else fails, you can help keep yourself safe by using a motorcycle dash cam. When accidents occur, it can be devastating, especially when motorcycles are involved. Let a dash cam tell your story if you aren't able to.

Yes, there are motorcycle dashcams on the market - and we carry two of the industry's best motorcycle dash cam on our website. The Thinkware M1 Motorsport Dash Cam and the VIOFO MT1 Motorcycle Dash Cam.

VIOFO Dash Cams VIOFO MT1 Dual-Channel Motorcycle Dash Cam

Both the Thinkware M1 and VIOFO MT1 are motorcycle camera systems designed specifically for motorcycles and other motorsport/outdoor vehicles - rugged, all-weather and terrain (IP66-rated), dust-resistant and waterproof cameras. The M1 and the MT1 are both dual channel, and come with a 2MP Sony image sensor in front and rear camera for the best 1080p Full HD video quality in low light conditions. Other features include built-in GPS and WiFi, built-in G sensor, continuous loop recording on a microSD memory card (ie. unlike action cams, the dash camera overwrites the oldest footage to ensure there's always storage space for new clips), smartphone app to view video recordings, and much more.

Note that neither of these dash cams comes with an LCD screen, which is perfect because unlike a car dash cam, once you've installed your motorcycle dash cam underneath the seat, it'll stay there until it's time for end-of-season maintenance.

Not sure which of these dash cam systems are right for you? Come talk to us!

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