So, you’ve decided to buy a street bike! Maybe you’ve thought about this for years, wishing for it, fantasizing about it, imagining how it would feel to ride through the pleasing warmth of a summer’s day and into a life of adventure. And, now it’s finally time for you to get that bike and hit the horizon. But, how do you know if the motorcycle that you’re attracted to is actually the right one for you? How do you know what you can safely handle?
What if you leap too soon, only to realize that another style—or size—of motorcycle would have been better? Well, with a little bit of research, analysis, and the following tips, you’ll be able to choose a bike with confidence.
First, set a budget for your purchase. Decide what the maximum amount of money is that you’re willing to spend. Purchasing a motorcycle is not just about price. There are other costs associated with motorcycle ownership. Consider the cost of insurance, financing, and protective gear, as well as the actual bike payment. Knowing these costs and your entire budget upfront will help determine what make of motorcycle you can afford, whether new or pre-owned.
Analyze the type of riding that you expect to do, whether multi-day touring, short trips around town, or somewhere in between; and think about your height and experience level. If you are a beginning rider or shorter in stature, a smaller, agile, and lighter-weight bike might be a good choice. However, smaller bikes are not always conducive to longer trips, as most don’t have storage options, windshields, or other protective components. In addition, smaller bikes have smaller fuel tanks, so you can’t go as far per tank.
Touring models, on the other hand, have bigger engines, bigger gas tanks, and are heavier because they’re outfitted with saddlebags. They also have windshields that divert wind and reduce rider fatigue, so they’re perfect for multi-day trips or for people who expect to ride often. Touring bikes are also generally ridden by taller people who have ample riding experience. Picking the right size bike, based on your riding and body type as well as your experience level, will help narrow your search.
By far, the best way to determine which motorcycle will work is to sit on lots of them, and if the dealer allows it, take test rides. Test your foot and arm positions. Are you seated comfortably, as in not leaning too far forward or back? While on the side stand, pull your feet off the ground and place them on the pegs. Are your legs comfortably bent at the knees, but not too straight? When sitting on the seat and pulling the bike to an upright position, are both of your feet planted solidly on the ground (as in flat feet and no tip-toes)? If not, the bike is too tall. Ask the dealer if that model can be fitted with a lowering kit. Lastly, test the weight of the bike. Can you easily lift the bike upward to a riding position without straining?
Sitting on bikes is a great way to test how your new machine will feel. Remember that many dealers will be able to customize your bike by moving the controls, handle bars, pegs, or chassis height to better fit your body. And, of course, if the dealer will let you, be sure to ride the model that you are interested in purchasing. You can get a lot of information in a short ride and can better articulate how you want controls moved, if that’s necessary.
So, when shopping for a motorcycle, setting a budget, analyzing your riding preferences and experience, sitting on the bike, and taking test rides will help you make an informed, safety-minded, and intelligent decision. Now, go out there, ride safe and have fun!