Buying a motorcycle is not a task to be taken lightly. It requires thought, research, emotional introspection, and a solid relationship with a bank teller who knows the combination to the safe at work.
Of course, failing that last item, being very close to a wealthy relative who likes to share is acceptable, too.
Successful motorcycle buyers tend to share an approach to making a purchase that removes the tendency to lunge toward the salesman with your credit card outstretched screaming, “I’ll take it, I’ll take it!”
No, no, better to play it cool. Let the salesman actually show you a bike or two first. Better yet, have a preconceived notion of what it is you want to buy.
That’s even better. Absolutely!
The truth is buying a motorcycle that you’ll truly enjoy six months down the road is more difficult than you might think.
For all the gleaming chrome, the deeply intoxicating paint schemes, and the throaty roar of power, the difference between being a successful motorcycle buyer as opposed to merely being a buyer is an important distinction.
The successful buyer rides away with a bike they’re happy to own. They’ve taken possession of a bike that will fill their needs, enrich their lives, and make them glad to be alive every time they climb aboard.
On the other hand, an unsuccessful motorcycle buyer heads home with a bike that may or may not be right for them and a hefty loan payment that will haunt them for years to come.
To avoid the pain and suffering associated with being a run-of-the-mill motorcycle buyer, it’s best to take a few minutes, find a quiet place that’s out of the way, and reflect seriously on the Five Secrets to Finding Your Perfect Motorcycle!
You may think this is a joke, and it might give you a chuckle or two. But buying a motorcycle is serious business.
You can still have a successful marriage while wearing a less than a stellar engagement ring. You can complete the Boston Marathon even if you don’t show up in $300 running shoes.
You can even rocket into space using little more than shredded tires as your primary fuel source. But you cannot live a happy life atop a motorcycle that you grow to dislike with a passion normally reserved for really horrible things like fruit cake and IRS audits.
So without further ado, the Five Secrets to Finding Your Perfect Motorcycle are…
1) Pick a Bike That Fits
Believe it or not, all motorcycles are not created equal. The ergonomics of the machine you spend your day sitting on are critical to the level of satisfaction you’ll experience in the saddle.
If you’re short, stay away from BMW touring bikes that require long legs and arms. If you’re an NBA draft pick, don’t fall in love with a photo of the Honda Rebel.
And if you are the prototypical ninety-eight-pound weakling that Charles Atlas was so disdainful of, stay out of the Harley-Davidson showroom – those monsters will eat you alive.
Shop until you find a bike that fits you, falls into a weight range you can work with, and feels good with your feet on the pegs and your hands on the controls.
You’ll spend many hours in that position if you become a buyer. Take your time and make sure those hours will be more pleasurable than torturous.
2) Pick Your Power
Horsepower is important. Too little and you may find yourself revving an engine that can’t manage to pull you away from the stop light. Too much and you just might learn first hand what it feels like to fly – non-stop from the road into a tree.
Pick your power with some sense of what you truly need and can honestly handle. There is no shame in starting off on a smaller bike until you gain experience, then work your way up to the higher power bikes as your skill level develops.
If you live in the flats of Florida or Oklahoma and intend to ride solo exclusively, you don’t need nearly the power that a rider in Colorado or Wyoming might wish for.
It takes oomph to climb mountains, especially with a passenger and bags strapped to the back end of your bike.
Assess your needs before you fall in love with a bike that may be packing too little or too much for what you hope to do with a motorcycle.
3) Pick a Style You’re Willing to Live With
Perhaps more than any other motorized form of transportation, motorcycles don’t make compromises well.
They are what they are, and they aren’t going to change gracefully just because their owner decides they’d rather have highway pegs and a backrest than an aerodynamic fairing and a big fat rear tire.
A cruiser makes a lousy sportbike, and a bare-bones commuter is nearly worthless for touring. Know what you want to do with your bike before you start getting all hot and bothered about styling.
If you’re going to spend the majority of your time riding up and down the beach roads ogling babes with perfect bodies (of either gender), you want a cruiser.
If you are a penny pincher who hates spending a dollar at the pump, look for a low powered commuter bike or scooter.
Those of us who tend to hit the highway or the racetrack with an eye towards keeping the tach pegged and the tires whirring at high speed will want to check out the sportbike aisle.
4) Pick Your Dealer Support/Service Provider
Unless you are truly handy with a wrench, an electrical meter, and a feeler gauge, it’s best to pay attention to the service available after the sale.
Motorcycles are machines after all – and machines break down. Modern motorcycles are damn near bullet-proof with their tubeless tires, hydraulic lifters, and shaft drive powertrains.
But oil needs to be changed, valves may require adjustment, and plugs should be evaluated from time to time.
If you’re not ready, willing, and able to plunge in elbow deep in the garage, be sure you’re buying a bike that you can get serviced affordably and conveniently.
Nothing shortens the life of a really good motorcycle like a lack of regular, proper mechanical care. Not all dealerships are equal when it comes to service.
So ask about their maintenance staff and talk to owners who use them to check their satisfaction. Whatever you find out, you’re better off knowing the truth ahead of time than finding out later – to your dismay and potentially your financial ruin.
5) Pick Your Price
Like size, price matters. If you’re working with a moped sized budget, get out of the MotoGuzzi showroom, pronto.
Big bikes with cool, European sounding names are fantastic machines. But they will sink you if you’re not capable of making the payments and keeping up with what can be a sizable maintenance bill.
If cash is tight, think Japanese. Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha all make outstanding bikes that fall into various size and style categories but won’t break the bank.
Be honest when you evaluate your top price. There will always be machines that have the sex appeal to lure you into financial waters that run much deeper than your wallet does.
Just wait, your time will come. In the meantime, find something that fits your frame, your plans, and your price range. You’ll be much happier in the long run.
Have no fear and make no excuses. The bike you’re shopping, for now, will more than likely not be the last bike you own. So play it safe, play it smart, and buy a bike you’re going to absolutely love to own and ride.
At least for the foreseeable future. Next time you’ll be able to shop for something different that appeals to the new you, the more experienced, capable, and financially fit you.
And you won’t be fed up with motorcycles because you rushed into a poorly thought out purchase the last time you wandered into a motorcycle showroom.