Buying your First Bike? What do I need to consider?

Buying your First Bike?

What do I need to consider?

So you have just got your Learner Licence and now it’s time to decide on what is going to be your first bike. It’s so easy to fall in love with a bike because of the way it looks. But after a few weeks riding you find it maybe wasn’t the most practical purchase. Step back and consider what you need and try to match that with what you really want.

To help you along the way we’ve listed some things to consider before purchasing your first motorcycle.

Which bike is the right bike for you?

Get to know what types of bikes are in the market

There are many manufacturers and each has a bunch of bikes that fit a short list of categories.
Check out the attributes that make a motorcycle suitable for you. Is the weight too much? Are you really ready for the horsepower? Is it comfortable and easy for you to control? What type of riding will you generally do?

Below are main types of motorcycle categories:

  • Naked: A standard bike without sport fairings. They come in a variety of engine sizes. A good example would be the Honda CB125 that you most likely did your learner course on.
  • Sport: these performance machines of the motorcycle world and are designed specifically with cornering in mind. Handlebars are usually a bit lower so you tend to lean further forward. A popular learner Sport bike is the Kawasaki Ninja 300.
  • Cruiser: Low seat height. Feet further forward. More like an armchair. (Think Harley Davidson) You sit in, rather than on, a cruiser. They can be on the heavy side and are definitely not the best for fast cornering. Check out the Yamaha Virago 250.
  • Touring: If you want to spend a lot of time touring the back roads, a touring bike comes with all of the comfort necessary for long distances. Often they have facilities such as pannier bags to carry gear. Generally, they have larger capacity engines to keep up with highway speeds. A less common but often commended example is the CFMoto 650 GT
  • Dirt-bike: If you are into off-road riding, they are light weight and suitable for difficult terrain. Knobby tyres on dirt bikes are great in the dirt but a bit of a compromise on the road. Not as much grip as road tyres so you need to be aware of stopping distances and cornering. Seat height is usually a bit high for all but the height blessed. A good example is the Suzuki DRZ400.
  • Dual-purpose: Half dirt bike half road bike They can cruise across the country, on the highway or handle dirt back roads and lighter trails. Adventure touring is becoming a popular way that rider groups get together for a weekend away. This type of bike allows you to do a bit of both. Think BMW G310GS.
  • Café Racer. Old School Cool. Becoming very popular with the inner city types that want a bike that is very much their own. Generally purchased off the floor and then customised in the rider’s own individual style. Sometimes it is a transformation of another bike There are Classic café racers and Modern (Nouveau) Café Racers. Our own Minx Café Racer is a good example of a transformation (originally a Yamaha Virago 250). Check out the Sol Invictus range of Mercury 250, Nemesis 400 and Apollo 400.
Sol Invictus Mercury (New Above - Custom Below)

Now that you have got a picture of what is available ……. consider this.

Usability of the bike for you
What kind of riding will you be doing? Is the bike mostly for commuting to work or is it a weekend ride for getting away? Do you want comfort…. or cool? Will a sports bike cut it if 95% of your riding is in the traffic but you want that odd weekend ride on the Old Pacific Highway. Look for the compromise. Most manufacturers have a Sport and Naked version of the same bike.

When choosing a motorcycle, take into consideration the way it fits with your body. As you can see above, motorcycles come in different shapes and sizes. Try sitting on different bike styles. How does it feel? Can you reach the ground with at least one foot? Is the reach to the handlebars a bit of a strain on shoulders and wrists? Take your time and take it for a ride to gauge its comfort level.

New or Second Hand

New bikes in the learner market range from $3000 to upwards of $10000. Settle on the amount that you are prepared to pay and then look for the bikes that are available in your price bracket.

New Bikes come with warranties that give you the peace of mind so that if anything does go wrong, your covered.

But if that NEW bike that you really want is just too expensive, don’t be afraid to check out what is available second hand. You may be able to get what you really want for a whole lot less.

When buying second hand you need to have a good look over the bike to make sure that it is in good working condition. There are plenty of rogue sellers that will pass you a bomb. If you are not sure what to look for, take someone along with you that you are CERTAIN does know. Always take the bike for a test ride before buying.

Here are some important things to consider when buying second hand. (This is, by all means not everything, but is a good start)

Kilometers: Small bikes (125 to 350cc) 30000 klm or less is reasonable. Bigger bikes don’t work so hard so a few more kilometres would be acceptable. 100,000+ Don’t bother.

Appearance: Look over the bike for signs of damage. Scrapes on end of handlebars, mirrors and foot pegs. Are the handle bars straight when you are travelling in a straight line. Is it clean and shiny? If it is not, that tells a lot about how it has been treated day to day.

Is the bike showing fairly obvious rust? Bikes don’t like being left on the street in the rain. If it is an older bike, you can probably accept a little bit that would suit its age.

Service Books: It’s always good to know that the bike has been properly serviced. A tell-tale sign of the history of the bike is that the owner of the bike cannot provide the books.

Check the Engine oil: Unscrew the dipstick and check the colour of the oil. If it is generally clear, the bike has recently been serviced. If it is very black, it has not. This can tell you a bit about the story the seller is telling you. It also can give an indication of whether you need to consider the cost of a service after purchase.

Tyres: Is there a good amount of tread left? Minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm. If they are getting low and may need replacing, expect the cost to be between $300 and $1000 depending upon the bike.

Riding: Is the engine smooth? No pings or flat spots.  Brakes are performing smoothly and efficiently. Make sure you actually do test them. How does the bike feel? You will be surprised what you body can tell you about the bikes condition.

If you’re not sure, get a second opinion or just don’t buy it. Your gut feeling is usually correct. Don’t be pressured by ANYTHING that the seller might say to you to get you to buy. If it doesn’t feel right… probably isn’t.