Buying a Motorcycle
Summary: Tips on buying a motorcycle
Buying a Motorcycle
So, you've made the decision to buy a motorcycle. Now what do you do? How do you know you're getting a safe and reliable bike? What style bike do you want? How much are you willing to spend? All these questions need to be answered and a plan laid out before you go running off to the dealers, or craigslist, or ebay, or wherever.
- Style - One of the first things you should do is figure out what motorcycle style fits you and your needs. Consider this: What purpose will the motorcycle serve? Is the bike going to be used for commuting to work or just leisure? Do you want a bike to just cruise around town and enjoy the backroads? Are you looking for just speed? There are many different looks and styles of motorcycles, but they basically fall into three distinct categories, the Cruiser, the Sportbike, and the Scooter. Take a look at my starter bikes to get an idea of some great beginner motorcycles.
- Budget - The next step is to figure out how much you want to spend. I've seen people buy $15k starter bikes. I think that's just plain crazy. Chances are as a beginning rider, you're going to drop the bike. Would you be more upset with scratching a $5k bike or a $15k bike? If you're a starter, take a look at the link above for Starter Bikes. Now also think long term. Are you going to want to trade up in a year or two after you have a couple riding seasons under your belt? Most often, after 2 years of riding, people trade up to a larger motorcycle. So you have to think about resale/trade in value. Most motorcycles don't depreciate that quickly. Take for instance my first motorcycle. It was a Honda Shadow 750. The bike originally had a selling price of about $7,500. I bought it used for $5,000. It was three years old with 2600 miles on it. So the bottom line is: Come up with an estimate on how much you want to pay, make sure it fits your budget, and make sure it fits your longer term goals.
- Research - So now you figured out what style motorcycle and how much you want to pay for one. Now you have to go out and research the bikes and look for sales. If you're looking to buy brand new, it's easy. Find a local dealer, whether Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, etc. If you're looking to buy used, there's a lot of options out there. Some that have become very popular in the last several years are Ebay and Craigslist. You can do a search on both to find local people looking to sell their motorcycle. Just take caution on buying something this large through these avenues. NEVER pay for anything in full up front before getting the product. On both sites, you have the ability to see the motorcycle before having to pay in full. You can also go to a dealer and check out their used stock. Most dealers take trade-ins and therefore have plenty of stock for you to choose from. My first motorcycle was purchased from my local Harley-Davidson dealer. Yes, even Harley dealers sell foreign bikes. And just a note, the owner of the Harley dealership told me personally that they would take my bike back if I wanted to trade up down the road. Most dealers are more than happy to work with you.
- Inspect - OK, you've found a specific motorcycle you want to look at, and sit on, and listen to it fire up, etc. Do you know anything about motorcycles? If so, go for it. If not, see if have any friends that are familiar with them and take them along with you. It's important that the details of the bike get looked over and evaluated. This will be your life on the line when you get on this motorcycle. In addition to overal condition of the frame, you need to check the tires, the brakes, the electrical, the hoses, the switches, the gears, etc. And if you've never riden before, you want someone to at least take it for a ride down the street and back before you take any money out of your pocket. If everything checks out, don't be afraid to negotiate the price.
- Cash or Finance - The bike you found checks out, it's safe, everything works, the price is right (or you've negotiated),etc. Now you have to decide how you're going to pay for the motorcycle. Are you paying cash/check/credit card or do you need to finance the bike? Chances are, if you are buying from a private seller, they will require cash for payment. Dealers are more open and typically will finance the bike with you over a period of 12 up to 60 months, and sometimes up to 72 months. The interest rates are typically higher on motorcycles than on cars, so be prepared to hear the finance interest rates to be over 10% on used motorcycles. My first bike was financed over 3 years and came with a 13.9% interest rate. It's not horrible when you're talking about a $5k motorcycle. But when you get up into the $20k bikes, it can add up fast. There is some comfort, though, in that interst rates on new motorcyles are less than used rates.
- Insurance - If you buy your motorcycle from a dealer, you will be required to have insurance before that bike leaves the dealer's hands. If you're buying from a private seller, please be responsible and get the motorcycle insured as soon as possible. Contact your insurance carrier to get a quote, or you can get quotes here by clicking Insurance Quotes . Motorcycle insurance is cheaper than car insurance, but the actual cost will depend on what type of bike you get, your driving history, etc. If you use my Honda Shadow for example, my annual insurance cost was $240.
- Getting it home - If you bought from a private seller, see if a friend who is licensed can ride it to your home. If the seller is nice, he/she may also be willing to ride it home for you. If you bought from a dealer, and you don't know how to ride yet, ask them if they offer delivery service. Most dealers will deliver the motorcycle to your home at no extra charge. If none of the above pans out for you, borrow someone's pickup truck or someone who has a trailer, and tow it back to your house.
- Registration & Inspection - just as above under insurance, you are required to have the motorcycle registered and inspected. Take the time to get your bike street legal. There are some other pages on the site that can direct you to the local DMV website or you can click here at DMV info
Now that you own your motorcyle, you need to take care of it. This includes servicing the bike based on the manufacturers scheduled maintenance. And all bikes are pretty much different with regard to the intervals for maintenance. I'd highly recommend referring to your owners and repair manuals that came with the motorcycle. If you're like me and bought the motorcycle second hand or used and the manuals didn't come with the bike, then do a search on the web to find your model and buy the owner manual and repair manual. I found mine at Repairmanual.com . They provided very quick shipping and seem to have most manuals online for you to order.