The wonderful open road, the wind through your hair, the sun on your back – is there anything better? Motorcycles are popular for a reason, they have this mystique, this freedom that follows them, and the people who ride them. In other words – they are a lot of fun.
Furthermore, they are quite useful. You get much more mobility riding a bike through a town then just getting a car. They can also be much cheaper. However, many people make the mistake of just buying the first bike they come across, the one that looks the coolest, without thinking about what they need. Buying your motorcycle depends, above all, on what you want, and where you will be riding it the most. And since this is not the lightest of purchase you can get, going in blind is a bad idea. Below is a short checklist on what you need to keep in mind if you want to get the most bang for your buck.
Old or new
The first thing you should think about is how much money you are willing to invest. Many green riders get a cheap and used bike, and essentially practice on it. Scrapes, falls, and damage will definitely happen. Think about whether you would rather learn everything you can on an old bike, use it up, and sell it for scrap metal once it’s completely destroyed, or go with a new one. With a newer bike you would probably be more willing to do regular repairs and maintenance work (not that you shouldn’t do the same for an old one), and actually keep it for some time.
Of course, if you already have riding experience, then this becomes an issue of pure initial cost. And if you know how to do some repairs and maintenance work on your own, then you will be spending less money on that too. And remember, you also need to invest in some equipment. Getting a good helmet, and some padded clothes, is a must. Check out the MX Store, or any other respectable bike gear shop, and get what you need. Order online if you have to, just be sure that the helmet fits, and that it passes all of your country’s regulations and certificates.
How much weight do you need?
There is a rule of thumb that essentially goes – the heavier your bike is, the harder it is to control. This of course does not mean it’s impossible to ride a heavy bike, even for a beginner. And know that heavier bikes are most often more durable, and have a lot more power behind them. If you know what you’re doing, a heavier bike can even be safer than a regular one.
A heavier bike might not be the best choice for an urban setting. First of all, you won’t need all the power and strength behind it, since you won’t get an opportunity to actually use it. It also isn’t the easiest thing to control in a constant move and stop traffic jam. On the open road, however, you can use its power to full effect.
What type of bike do you prefer?
There are a couple of types of motorbikes that you may be interested in. They can be roughly categorized into cruisers, “naked” bikes, scooters, sports bikes, and dual sports.
First, we have cruisers. This is the old-fashioned, old school type of motorcycle. These are great for some relaxed rides for a couple of reasons. First of all, you get a low seat height, getting your feet closer to the ground. Their engines are set up so as to be perfect for low-speed torque, which makes them much easier to control. However, while they are easy to control in one respect (i.e. the engine setup), they have somewhat awkward ergonomics. Think of how, for example, a Harley Davidson has high bars. Essentially, handling can get weird if you’re not used to it. These are often quite affordable as well.
Naked (or standard) bikes are the modern standard. These are quite comfortable to ride, and give you a neutral riding position that is quite natural for the human spine. A good option is that larger models are more powerful than even a sports bike. This, however, also means that you need to be careful, since too much power is not a good option for beginners. On the other hand, experienced riders will definitely appreciate it. You also won’t get much weather protection, unless you get it built in.
Good old scooters are the easiest to ride and to control. They are also very cheap, both regarding their initial cost, and the cost of maintaining and repairing them. However, scooters simply don’t have the raw power to be useful on the open road. They are great for an urban setting, but on the highway they fall short.
Sports bikes are all about speed and power. They are essentially racing replicas that are very light, and very powerful, making them difficult to control if you don’t know what you’re doing. Furthermore, as we’ve mentioned these are race replicas, meaning all their ergonomic setups are for just that – racing. This may not make them as comfortable as they could be. And, of course, you need to figure out how much speed you want, and understand whether you can use said speed anywhere near you.
Finally, adventure bikes (or dual sports). These can go off-road, and are perfect for longer trips. These are the perfect bikes for long trips, riding around the country, being quite light, but also very tough. Any damage this bad boys suffer will be next to non-existent (within reason), and are furthermore cheap to repair. However, the seats can be somewhat tall, and their initial cost is expensive.
Getting a bike is a big commitment, something that should not be taken lightly. But if you do your homework, and keep this checklist in mind, you will definitely find everything you need. Above all remember what you need, and where you want to ride, and you will be as right as rain.