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Buying A Motorcycle? Here Are Some Things You Should Consider

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Many factors come into play when you want to choose a motorcycle suitable for your needs. We’ve compiled a short list of considerations to keep in mind when making your purchase. 

Test Rides

Making the investment in such an expensive machine, one that involves such physical and mental integration with our minds and bodies, somewhat begs for a test ride. 

In most casese, the overwhelming majority of your doubts and questions can be removed with just a little time riding any given machine. (Of course this would be done after you’ve gained your motorcycle endorsement, and therefore have experience on at least one motorcycle.)

Let’s say you have a particular brand and model in mind. What now? Getting the right sized bike is key. Buy a bike that is comfortable and at a good ride height for you, as your overall safety and comfort depend on it. A good way to test your fit on any bike, is to sit forward on the saddle and see if your feet touch the ground.

If they won’t reach… you might be too short and should consider looking at shorter options (at least to start.) 

Insuring and Licensing Your First Motorcycle

Everyone should have an official motorcycle license obtainable from your local DMV in order for you to safely and legally drive a motorcycle. Licensing isn’t only important for legal reasons though. Most municipalities will only provide a license after thorough rider testing, both by written test, and actual riding skills, which all combine for a greater likelihood of safe travel in the future.

Many motorcycle dealerships offer classes, so they are a good place to start for riding leassons.  The cost and length of course may differ depending on where you take your classes but, upon completion, riders should recieve documents to take to the DMV.

Motorcycle Insurance

Just like with regular cars and trucks, you should obtain the proper insurance  to be legally registered for use on public roads. Make sure you protect both yourself and your investment with proper medical insurance, and comprehensive vehicle coverage to protect the investment in the case of theft, damage, or incidents with uninsured or underinsured motorists.

How Much Power Should I Start with for My First Motorcycle?

Engine size isn’t the only factor when it comes to "power" of your bike. The potential for creating power is also influenced by how heavy the bike is. Also factors like the type of transmission, chain, belt, or shaft drive, wheel sizes, tire types, etc. can rob a motorcycle’s power, so these are all factors that greatly influence how fast you’ll go. Tail all those thoughts together with the fact that we are completely exposed (not behind seatbelts or airbags) on a motorcycle, and remember … just about every motorcycle made is plenty fast!  In addtion to test driving, talk to motorcycle experts from dealership, local riding clubs and fellow riders.    Get their input and discuss their experiences as it relates to being a new motorcycle rider. 

Should You Be Buying a New or Used Motorcycle?

As is true with so many purchases we make, buying a used machine can make for quite an initial cost reduction. Furthermore, buying one that may already have imperfections or damage to it can take some of the pressure off a new rider who is otherwise trying to keep their bike in ‘mint’ condition. While we’re always cheering for riders to stay safe and avoid injury, it’s been said many times that “the first scratch is the best,” in that once a bike has a little damage, it’s time to relax, have more fun with it, and stop worrying about aesthetics.

Buying new, of course you’re likely to get the most technologically advanced options available, often with safety features like ABS (Anti-lock Braking Systems) and Traction Control to help avoid the occasional slip-out of the rear while when a surprise patch of gravel appears before you. However, much like with other categories like sporting equipment, vehicles, shoes, etc, the advancements over a 5-year period of time aren’t always great enough to make buying new a ‘no brainer.’

You should also consider that 5 year old model with modest use, and enjoy the cost savings while still having modern features. Remember, things like insurance, registration, parts, luggage, tires, maintenance are all upcoming expenses, and so saving some money up front can make for more fun riding as time goes on.

Should You Buy from a Dealer or a Private Seller?

Whereas it’s often a “buyer beware” situation in the private market, a licensed motorcycle dealer will often be required, both legally and ethically, to fix any known problems on a bike before reselling it. Yes this often comes with a higher price, but such can be worth it in terms of peace of mind.

The flipside is that some of us are extremely meticulous when it comes to our investments and our own riding safety. Add to that the charm and adoration many of us have for our motorcycles, and it’s not uncommon to find used bikes available from private sellers that are as well, if not better-maintained than what you’ll get from some dealers. Private sales can allow more room for negotiations in pricing.

Did You Leave Room in the Budget for Maintenance?

Be mindful of all the maintenance costs. Both standard, scheduled maintenance and those unforeseen costs can be quite significant the further you get into riding. As mentioned earlier, not going “all in” with the initial purchase price is a good idea, as tires, maintenance, the occasional tip over or crash, etc. can be quite handy the more you end up riding.

Regular maintenance should be done according to the manufacturers recommendations, and with the understanding that perhaps the demands you’ll be putting on your bike may expedite needs for such parts replacements. New riders can burn through clutches and brake pads much more quickly than seasoned pro’s, and of course the newer you are, the more likely you may be to drop the bike occasionally, causing damage to parts like mirrors, brake/clutch/shift levers, and other parts that must be replaced for non-aesthetic reasons.

Tires are a considerable expense often overlooked by new riders, as they generally do not last as long as they do on passenger vehicles. Depending on how aggressively you ride, your tire choice, terrain, average temperature of the surface you’re on, overall weight, and other factors, it’s not uncommon to see rear tires need changing after only a few thousand miles. Will you change the tire yourself? If not, paying for that service all adds up, so don’t limit your riding wishes by budgetary constraints.

Don’t Get Hung up on It

Before buying a motorcycle, some folks may have sleepless nights weighing the pros and cons of each motorcycle, doing hours and hours of pensive thinking and comparisons, and weeks of test drives without making a conclusive decision. Yes, do your research, but don’t get hung up on making the perfect decision because of one simple fact: There is no such thing as the perfect bike.

Motorcycle riding, by definition, is a dynamic and ever-changing endeavor as riding surfaces, temperatures, winds, surroundings, and everything in the world is constantly changing around you. What might be the perfect bike for the curve ahead could be replaced by a more perfect bike for the riding you’ll be doing just 20 seconds later. This is true in every situation, be it for commuters, cruisers, or professionals who make their living racing motorcycles or guiding motorcycle tours. So again, do your research, consider your average overall greatest need, and celebrate the learning that comes with perhaps not always having the perfect bike for each situation.

Basic Riding Gear You'll Need After Buying a Motorcycle
The ‘nah, it won’t happen to me’ approach to deciding on whether or not to wear crash protection can lead to very short riding careers. When figuring out how to choose a motorcycle don't forget about the gear you will need before your first ride:

Helmets: Check for a firm, snug, full-contact-with-your-skull-fit and make sure the safety ratings are in accordance with local requirements. You’ll “get what you paid for” often in terms of quality, features, comfort, quietness, etc. although the difference in protection against impact often varies little, once a certain standard like DOT rating has been met

Motorcycle gloves: Your hands are often the first thing to hit the ground in a crash or fall, and they’re probably a pretty major part of your life, so why not protect them?

Jacket and Pants: Either with protective padding built-in, or as purchased via a separate body armor system. It’s expensive? Yep, it can be. But so are hospital bills, knees, elbows, etc.

Boots: Sure, the smaller and lighter they are, the more comfortable they’ll probably be, perhaps providing a greater feel of your brake and shift lever. However, even the biggest of boots break-in after a while, and a small sacrifice in comfort can lead to tremendous gains in terms of protection

If you or a loved one suffers an injury in a motorcycle accident, the lawyers at LDM Law will provide you with a free evaluation of your matter and the personal service you deserve.  We will examine the facts and circumstances of what happened and advise you on your legal rights as well as what steps should be taken to protect those rights.  For over 40 years, LDM Law and staff have been representing those who suffer serious injuries and accidents.  

Call us today at 414 276 1233 and talk directly to one of our attorneys.