Motorcycle Buying Guide

What Should We Check Before Leaving the Lot?

Motorcycles are a fun, practical method of travel for a lot of people. This new motorcycle buying guide will help you become one of them.


There are fantastic motorcycle models for urban traffic, long distance traveling, sport riding or racing, off roading and cruising.

That means that there are many different aspects you'll want to take into account when you purchase your first bike.

Motorcycle Background

The first commercial bike was produced in 1894, and the motorcycle has been pretty popular ever since. In some countries, such as Vietnam, motorcycles are the most widespread method of personal transportation.

Their smaller size and generally high fuel economy has made them very popular with anyone who doesn't need to carry passengers or a lot of gear.

Currently, the industry is dominated by Japanese motorcycle manufacturers such as Yamaha and Kawasaki, though in the US, Harley-Davidson still has a large market share. These are mostly high capacity motorcycles.

In African and Asian countries, there is also a market for low capacity motorcycles (engines less than 300 cc), most of which are currently made by Indian companies. China currently makes and sells more motorcycles than any other country.

Guide to Buying a New Motorcycle

Motorcycles have a wide price range, depending on the age of the vehicle (if you're buying a used motorcycle), the make and model, features, fuel economy, brand name, and many other factors.

For a low capacity or a lower quality motorbike in the US, you could pay a few hundred dollars. Higher end new motorcycles cost anywhere from six thousand dollars to as much as an inexpensive car, however.

Like most everything else, you get what you pay for, so the very cheapest motorcycles probably aren't worth it.

Special Tips for the Beginner's First Choice

One thing to remember when buying your first motorcycle is that you're probably going to drop it at some point—inadvertently causing it to fall over during low speed maneuvering.

This can cause injuries, and some pretty significant damage to your motorcycle, too. Some people deal with this by buying a secondhand motorcycle that'll be inexpensive to repair. Others try for a manageable, lightweight bike that's less likely to tip.

You're going to need to take a look at what you need from a motorcycle. If you'll mostly be riding in a city environment and dealing with stops and starts, or riding in heavy traffic, you'll want to think about a lightweight bike. Getting the bike moving again can be a real problem, especially in such a small amount of time, such as manuevering through traffic. So the lighter the bike, the easier time you'll have getting about.

Size isn't always an indicator, since small Harleys can weight over five hundred pounds! Negotiating traffic may require you to ride between or around stopped cars. If you choose to do this, remember that it's not always legal, and that you'll want a reasonably narrow motorcycle, rather than a wide one with panniers or saddlebags.

Buying Motorcycles—Additional Considerations

If you want mostly reasonably short trips, think about a sports bike. It handles well and is quite responsive. However, it can be painful to ride if you're going a long distance, due to the low, downward slanted handlebars.

For longer rides, you'll want a position that's more upright, to take the strain off of your wrists. High speeds mean a windshield is a better bet, too.

If you'll be riding on the highway, think about a cruiser for long distances. For those who want storage, you'll need to factor in the cost of panniers or a top box as well.

Think about seat height, too. A high seat is fine, if your bike is light, but on a heavy bike, standing on tiptoe at stoplights can be unpleasant. Try every motorcycle you are interested in before you buy, to ensure it's not too high or low.

Check any used motorcycle's history by entering its VIN number here, before you make your decision.

Buying a new (or used) motorcycle doesn't have to be an ordeal. Use this motorcycle buying guide and take some time to think about your needs and what you want out of your motorcycle. Remember to pay attention to cost, condition and features, and you'll get the perfect motorcycle for you!

Buying Guide for Used Motorcycles

NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.


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