Buying a Motorcycle
What You Need to Know
- There is no one single type of bike. Instead, there are a number of different types. Sportbikes are great for speeding around, while tourers are more comfortable over long distances. You need to choose the right type for you before you start searching for an individual bike
- As well as style, you also need to take into account the power of the engine. After all, if you're new to riding, you should be wary of getting anything too powerful
- What's more, consider the size and weight of a bike. Your feet need to be able to touch the floor when you are sitting down, and you will have to be able to lift up the machine if it falls down
- For beginners, the standard style of bike has become increasingly popular in recent years. This type of bike generally brings together features from other types, so they could be comfortable yet look sporty
- Once you've found the right type of bike for you, get shopping around. Consider buying a used machine. Not only will this save you money, you will also be less worried if (or when) you have an accident and damage it
- Before you take your new bike out onto the road, you will have to be properly qualified. Check out the current rules regarding licensing and make sure you have all the relevant paperwork in place
- You will also want to be insured. Again, shop around for the best deal on your premium if you want to save money
Finding the Right Bike for You
Just as there are different types of bicycle (mountain bikes, BMX etc) so too are there a number of different types and styles of motorcycle, and the first thing you should do is to pick the right type to suit your needs. After all, you wouldn't buy a small BMX bike if you wanted to cycle through the Alps.
The good news is that the main types of motorbike are very distinct and each offer something different. This means you should be able to choose the right style for you, depending on things like your size, what you need a bike for, your budget and, of course, how confident you feel on two wheels.
Here are the main types of motorcycle, along with their main advantages and possible drawbacks:
- Cruisers: For many, this is the classic type of bike: think old-school Harley Davidson and you won't be far wrong. As a rule, they have low seats and a laid-back riding position and are often quite comfortable. While they often have large engines, they are not built for racing, so don't reach high speeds. Almost all the major brands build cruisers and you will be able to find them in a variety of styles and engine sizes, as well as with a variety of price tags.
- Sportbikes: Just as the name suggests, these are powerful machines built almost purely for speed. Big brands include Ducati and Kawasaki and many models are based on (or even exact replicas of) professional racing bikes. Be very wary of buying a sportbike too early. They can achieve very high speeds and are not for the novice or the timid rider. Plus, they tend to cost a lot of money, too!
- Touring: Another popular type of bike, the cruiser is built for distance. So, while this type may not be the fastest, it is the most comfortable to ride, with high, comfortable seats, medium-sized engines and often extra luggage space and even accessories such as windscreens and radios. On the downside, they can be very heavy, making them difficult for the novice rider to handle, plus the top models are often expensive.
- Dual-Sports: Over recent years, this type of bike has become increasingly common. Quite simply, they are modified dirt bikes, equipped with extras such as mirrors and more robust wheels suitable for the road. Generally speaking, dual-sports bikes are lightweight and have smaller engines, again making them great for beginners. One possible downside is that they don't really look as good as cruisers or sportbikes!
- Standards: Another new and increasingly popular type of bike is what's known as the standard. Essentially, this is a bike that incorporates many of the different features of other types. So, they have smaller engines but a sportier look, as well as being good for long distance riding without being too heavy and bulky. For obvious reasons, then, standards are now very popular with beginners, as well as with experienced bikers, and almost all the big manufacturers now produce this type of bike.
Choosing the Right Engine Size
Once you have chosen the type of bike you would like, you should think about the engine size. This is far, far more important than the colour or style of the bike and should be given careful consideration.
The engine size is almost always measured in cubic centimetres (CCs) and, generally speaking, the bigger the number, the more powerful (though not always more faster) the bike. The engine size will be easy to spot, as the number is often included in the model name, and if in doubt, seek expert advice.
You always need to be realistic about what you can handle, especially if you're new to the world of motorbikes. You might dream about sitting astride something sleek and powerful like a Kawasaki ZX-12R, but are you capable and brave enough to take control of one of the fastest rides on the planet?
Choose a bike that suits you, not one that you can pose on. If you’ll be commuting during heavy traffic, you’ll want something that handles well, something 'nippy'. But if you’re going to be travelling long distances, you’ll need a comfy saddle and good mileage, and here, a powerful engine might be a secondary concern. As well as the engine size, a bike should suit your size, too. You can't stay in control of a machine if your feet don't touch the floor.
New or Second-Hand?
So, once you've identified the type of bike you want, and also chosen the right engine size to suit your needs and abilities, it's time to get shopping.
As with all things, you will want to set a budget first. Think carefully about how much you can spend, and consider looking into a personal loan if you need a bike now but would prefer to pay for it over a series of months.
Perhaps the best way to save money is to opt for a used bike rather than buying new. Of course, new bikes come with guarantees and warranties, and in this regard, buying a second-hand bike can be a bit of a risk. However, the upside to a used bike is that it's cheaper, plus if you're a complete beginner, you needn't worry about wrecking your shiny new machine when (not if) you fall off.
A simple online search will help you find hundreds of new and used motorcycles in your area. Some of the most popular sites for advertising bikes for sale include AutoTrader, and the classifieds section of Motorcycle News (MCN).
Choosing the right type of bike, finding the perfect model for you and then buying it is just one thing you need to think about. In fact, there are a number of other things you need to take into account when buying a motorcycle. These include:
- Getting the Right Gear: Before you buy a bike, you need to factor into your budget all the extra gear you will need. For starters, you will need a safety helmet (required by law) as well as protective clothing and tools to carry out basic maintenance. It's a good idea to read up on biking and do your homework so you know what you'll need to get on the road.
- Getting Trained and Qualified: Before you can take a bike out on the road, you need to be qualified. This means you need to have a licence that covers you for the size and power of the bike you want to ride. In the UK, this means passing a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course, after which you can ride a bike of up to 125cc. For anything above this, you will need to pass a theory and a practical test, plus age restrictions are in place, meaning young riders can't simply get on a superbike straight away. To learn more about licencing and the rules covering biking in the UK, visit the official government website here.
- Getting Insured: Just as with a car, you also need to be properly insured if you're taking a bike out onto public roads. The good news is that motorcycle insurance is usually cheaper than car insurance, especially if you are an older driver with a keen record and you just want to ride a bike with a small or medium-sized engine.
- Get all the latest from the world of bikes, and shop for a machine of your own with Motorcycle News (MCN).
- Cycle World is also a trusted source of news and reviews on the latest bikes. Read more at the Cycle World website
- Need insurance or finance to buy a new bike? Check out this guide to the best personal finance deals out there and start saving yourself money!