With many options, ask a lot of questions: what is the best motorcycle for me?
When trying to figure out what the solution to that burning itch to get out on the open road, ask yourself the most important first question: Are you experienced, licensed and have you taken a motorcycle safety class? Carefully consider your options when you ask a motorcycle salesperson, “what is the right motorcycle for me?”
First things first. You should be able to ride a motorcycle safely, understand how it operates and what makes it comfortable for you, and you should know that you enjoy riding. Many new motorcycle owners spent countless hours determining what is the best motorcycle before buying their dream ride, just to discover that motorcycle riding isn’t really for them.
Here are some other questions to ask yourself:
- How often will you ride your motorcycle?
- Where will you be riding?
- What’s your budget?
- Are you insurable?
- Are you looking at a domestic, European or Japanese bike?
- New or used purchase?
- Where will you service your bike?
- Is this a joint decision?
When making your first motorcycle purchase it is important to have some concept of what types of bikes are out there and what your needs will be. There are a lot of options: an over-the-road cruiser, an around-town cruiser, a scooter, a street bike (aka “crotch-rocket”), a full dresser, a chopper or a convertible.
So, what is the best motorcycle for you?
Ask yourself if you will be riding alone or with a partner. Perhaps it is split decision — where you ride alone most of the time but have a rider sometimes, in which case a convertible bike is best. A convertible motorcycle is best described as a bike which has all the motorcycle parts and accessories of a road cruiser such as a windshield, bags, backrest, luggage rack or tour pack and floor boards. The key is all the amenities can easily removed to reveal a nice stripped down cruiser that looks great as you ride alone.
If your needs are an over-the-road bike, then a fully dressed cruiser is best. This includes all the above accessories and perhaps a fixed faring. Perhaps a radio and intercom system, arm rests for your passenger, floor boards, extra storage, cruise control and GPS.
You may be looking for easy short ride transportation to work. A scooter for in-town short rides is economical and very affordable. Easy parking and great on gas mileage. Be careful though as most highway systems have a ban on small scooters as they only reach 50 mph.
You may be the go-fast street bike buyer who is looking for that “crotch rocket” to zip around. Keep in mind the police are often times on the look out for such bikes and have laws in place which fine you heavily for “pulling the front wheel” and in-and-out weaving — both of which very popular moves with this type of bike. Also the passenger seat is the size of a dessert plate, so beware as some passengers do not feel comfortable or at ease riding on the back of this type of bike. Performance questions should be asked when making this type of purchase as well.
If money is no object and you are an experienced rider, a custom chopper for a single rider can be a good choice. Harder to ride and almost always no room for a passenger (unless they sit on the fender) it will certainly turn heads. Most bike builders tune the exhaust to be loud, so keep this in mind as well. Some parking garages and gated communities have a ban on exhaust noise. A chopper can be a great second bike when coupled with a nice cruiser. Most choppers don’t go over-the-road like they did in the movie Easy Rider. Hardcore bikers can and do push the limits of all bike types with respect to travel, but that is not the norm.
When deciding on a new or used motorcycle, budget is usually an issue. Do your homework with respect to Kelly Blue Book on used bikes. Ask for service history. Take the bike for a ride. Have a service professional check it out. Investigate financing options, including down payment and interest rates. Talk to the dealer and to your bank.
If the answer to your question, “What is the best motorcycle?” is “the hottest new bike on the showroom floor,” you have more considerations. When a new purchase is at hand, ask all the questions possible so that you are a savvy consumer. Ask about warranty schedules, ask about amenity upgrades, ask about in-stock or special order bikes, inquire about additional discounts when purchasing clothing and accessories. Ask for service department hours of operation and national service policies. Ask about road hazard warranty.
More considerations when buying a motorcycle
Overall concerns beyond selecting the best motorcycle will be issues like bike storage. Will your bike be stored inside or out? Will it be covered?
Cleaning is an overall issue. Too much chrome requires constant upkeep and polishing. If this is not for you, minimize chrome details on your new bike. Wire spoke wheels and white wall tires require extra work. Color is not as important as there is usually very little to polish and wax.
Another overall concern is insurance. Call your broker first before buying and get a quote. Be sure to add accessory coverage or gap insurance for financing. Bring your partner along so they can help in the decision making process. After all she has to sit in the queen seat!
The best advice when buying a bike is do not be impulsive. Do your homework, do your research, ask all the hard questions of yourself and the seller. Meet your needs with a manufacturer who has brand name recognition and meets your budgetary concerns, while delivering the best motorcycle for your riding style and enjoyment.