Buying a Motorcycle

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: January 11, 2021

Many of us have shared the dream of hitting the road on the back of a motorcycle. Wind rushing past, feeling the G’s as you lean into a switchback turn on a winding mountain road. The freedom can be exhilarating!

If you’re ready to make the dream a reality, there are several considerations to ensure that you get the right motorcycle for you.

The Right Choice

There are many styles of motorcycles. Each one has its own set of problems and advantages. There are sport bikes, touring bikes, dirt bikes, even dual-purpose bikes that can be ridden on the street as well as off-road. It is important to know your particular wants and needs before deciding on what to buy.

You should strongly consider these differences, as well as engine size, design, and comfort before you ever enter a dealership. The better that you understand these differences, the better chance of you being satisfied with your purchase.


For most riders, a motorcycle is a second vehicle. While many motorcycles can be quite affordable, others are very expensive.

If you’ve made the choice of which style of bike you wish to buy, as with everything, the more research that you do, the better. Determine the average price of your dream bike by studying buyer’s guides and forums. Have a solid idea of what you can afford before you even start shopping.


Always check the price of insurance before making a purchase of a motorcycle. Different insurers will classify motorcycles differently. These different classifications can mean big differences in price.

Used Motorcycles

If you are an experienced rider with a general knowledge of mechanics, you can save lots of money by buying a used bike. Due diligence is the key when shopping for a good used motorcycle. Be sure to check it out thoroughly for such problems as:

  • Cuts or tears in the seat. These can let moisture into the inner foams which will deteriorate them prematurely.
  • Rust and scratches on any of the sheet metal parts (fuel tank, fenders, etc.)
  • Chain condition.
  • Tire condition.
  • Leaks or seepage around the engine and transmission.

When buying from a private seller, it is also important to ask about the service history, accident history, and the number of previous owners before deciding to buy.

New Motorcycles

If you are looking for a particular model of motorcycle, or you’re a new rider with little or no experience in maintaining a bike, buying new may be your best choice.

New motorcycles will often come with a warranty, which will alleviate any maintenance stress for the first couple of years of ownership.

Dealerships can offer a wide variety of options and styles when you’re looking for a new bike or your next bike. They also have service departments, if you are not inclined to do your own maintenance.

You can often take the bike for a test ride from a dealership. This will allow you to try several options to be sure that you get the right bike for you.