Thinking Motorcycle? Take it for a Spin First

by Roger Lewis | Last Updated: October 3, 2023

If you are thinking of buying your first motorcycle, it can be a daunting task. For starters, there are scores of models to choose from and each of these offer dozens of options. More than this, pulling the trigger on that first bike means not only the vehicle you use for travel but the very way that you travel. A motorcycle test ride can ensure that you make a choice that is right for you.

Permissions for a Test Ride

Since a lot of motorcycles are really designed for a single rider, many dealerships don’t allow test rides, especially on a new bike. Sometimes they will have a “demo day” when you can test ride a few models. Others only allow test rides on used models. Some dealerships will offer the possibility of a test ride, but only after you have been approved for the purchase of a bike from their dealership.

Since every dealership is different, be sure to call ahead. Choose a dealership that offers the style of bike that you’re interested in and specifically ask about the insurance and age requirements for a possible test ride before you even leave the house.

Private sellers will also be quite apprehensive about a test ride. You should certainly talk to them before meeting to see if they require anything specific to allow you to take it for a test ride.


Since a test ride is so often not an option, it may be a good idea to see about renting one.

Once you have decided on what type of bike you are looking for, check with rental agencies to see if they offer that model. You can rent one for a day or two and get a really good feel for the bike. Drive it on various road surfaces and at different speeds to help you decide if you want to buy one for yourself.

What to Look For

First and foremost, does it fit? Once you have decided on a basic style, check several out to make sure that it feels right.

Sit on several bikes with different options in seating and handlebars. Before you ever test ride a bike, be sure that:

While comfort is a big factor in choosing the right bike, you also need to pay close attention to how it runs. Check all of the hand and foot controls for proper operation, as well as all of the lights and turn signals.

A test ride will also let you know if the bike is too powerful for your experience or comfort level, or if it lacks the speed and performance that you are looking for.

You should also pay close attention to the general mechanics of the bike. Shift through all of the gears several times to ensure smooth operation and listen closely for any strange noises in the motor, transmission, and suspension.

Choosing the right motorcycle is a difficult decision. Sometimes getting a test ride is even more difficult, but it can be a huge help in finding exactly what you’re looking for in your new motorcycle.