We congratulate you on your first step into your moto journey!
Buying your first motorcycle 101
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B I K E T Y P E .
There are many different types of motorcycles and most of you will already have a general idea of what type of bike you see yourself on.
When choosing your style, you should consider the riding position of that motorcycle and if it will be appropriate for the type of riding you will be doing (eg. commuting, long distant rides, touring etc.)
Not every bike is the same person's cup of tea, and at the end of day, it all comes down to personal preference.
CRUISER: Sit back and enjoy the ride! Emphasis is on the word “cruise” with a relaxed riding position, these bikes are ideal for long chilled rides.
Pros: Low seat height is great for learners, and the vertically challenged. Comfortable. Plenty of options to customise (change the bars or foot peg location or even convert into a bobber or chopper!)
Cons: Depending on the make they can get quite heavy which is not ideal for tight cornering.
NAKED / STANDARD: These are a great standard motorbike that keeps your back in an upright position which is perfect for new and experienced riders alike.
Pros: Many sub-types and sizes to choose from (cafe racers, scramblers, sportsters). The aesthetic damage from dropping your bike isn't as costly as replacing the plastics found on a sports bike.
Cons: Hard to pinpoint with so many different options to choose from.
SPORTS: Imagine yourself zipping around and winning the MotoGP? These bikes are designed for your riding position to be tilted forward in the “racing position”.
Pros: Designed for speed and cornering
Cons: Cramped riding position, expensive (bike, fairings, parts & insurance). Few options for learner approved motorcycles (Naked sports bikes are a great alternative to learn on)
SCOOTER: Don’t underestimate the scooter! Perfect for city slickers and zipping around traffic.
Pros: No gears to worry about (automatic transmission). Light, easy to control and great for your posture.
Cons: Smaller scooters will struggle on highway conditions.
ADVENTURE: The 4x4 equivalent for motorcycles, ideal for those who plan to ride on and off road.
Pros: Robust & built to last on rough conditions/terrain. Generally lightweight, comfortable & on the cheaper side.
Cons: Tall seat height, not ideal for ''shawties''.
B U D G E T .
It's best to work out your budget before you start looking for your dream ride.
The price of the bike is one thing, but there are other costs that you need to consider into your budget before you say “shut up and take my money”.
These will depend on what state/country you live in but the base factors are:
- Learner test (If you haven't done it already, what are you waiting for!)
- License & Registration fees
- Insurance: Coverage for if (WHEN) you drop the bike, coverage for your gear.
- On Road Costs (buying new)
- Road Worthy Certificate (if applicable)
- Transfer Fee (buying 2nd hand)
- Riding Gear: Helmet, gloves, jacket, pants, shoes (thank you AfterPay!)
- Professional mechanic test/tune up (recommended)
P O W E R .
CC's determine the size of the engine (the engine displacement measured in Cubic Centimeters to be precise). The CCs will give you an indication to the power of the bike.
However factors such as torque, compression ratio and the weight of the motorcycle will make a difference in how fast it will go so please don't let the CCs intimidate you! As often as you may hear people boast about their engine size, at the end of the day, it's not all about how big it is, it's how you use it!
Here in Australia, learners are restricted to riding a motorcycle under a certain power to weight ratio, this limit generally hits a maximum of 650cc's.
The following pros and cons will give you a general indication of what sounds like the right fit for you. If you're unsure, why not look for something in the middle.
Low CCs (around 250cc)
High CCs (600cc and up)
C O M F O R T .
When it comes to motorbikes, one size does NOT necessarily fit all, so saddle up and sit on the bike to measure your reach.
The seat height is an important factor to consider with your first motorcycle. If you can't reach the ground comfortably, you may struggle to balance the bike when you come to a stop. This can hinder your confidence or focus when learning to ride.
UPDATE: Cycle ergo is an awesome online stimulator to view riding positions, seat heights and motorcycle ergonomics. You select a bike model, put in your height and inseam, and it does the rest!!
Depending on the tilt style of the bike you chose, your arms should still feel relaxed when using the handlebar controls. If you are over extending or too bunched up (aka too big) you will soon start to feel those aches and pains in your back, wrists and hands when going for a ride longer than an hour.
Go to a showroom and sit on as many bikes as you can!
This is the ultimate way to find out what bike fits you best. Sit on the bike and get a feel of your riding position, your reach over the controls, releasing the kickstand and straightening up the bike to feel its weight. You want to spend a good 5 - 10 mins to check in which ones you are most comfortable (aka check your vibe, before you ride).
O L D vs. N E W .
Now there are some good wins in buying a bike fresh and new off the market, such as: ABS, warranty, no/little mechanical issues, finance plans available and the best part of all.. they're so SHINY!
However, keep in mind YOU WILL DROP YOUR BIKE, it’s a natural part of learning. So, we suggest new riders to buy second hand because not only is it cheaper, but it’s generally a temporary bike until you find your feet, build your riding skills and eventually upgrade when you can.
Tip: Brand new motorcycles need a few hundred k’s on them before they are “worn in” and running at their prime performance.
B U Y I N G U S E D .
Do your research and compare what is available on the market to evaluate if the motorbike is going for a fair price. Try to be patient, this may be your first, but it WON'T be your last.
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
One great feature we encourage you to look out for is ABS. The ABS prevents wheel locking during hard braking situations and increases stability, which increases your safety!
Fun fact: ABS was introduced to motorcycles in the mid 80's and was not issued on every bike. In December 2017 ABS became a standard (mandatory) feature on all new motorcycles and scooters in Australia.
Year of Model vs Kms
Motorcycle engines are built to last beyond 50,000km but just because a motorcycle has low numbers on the odometer, it doesn’t necessarily mean the engine has “more life” in it.
Finding that perfect motorcycle with extremely low K’s on the dial may seem like you’ve hit the jackpot, BUT, if the K's don't seem right for the age, it most likely it’s been sitting in the naughty corner & forgotten about.
If you've read our Motorcycle Hibernation blog you'll know that you have to maintain the machine whilst it’s not in use. Engine and parts can begin to seize due to lack of movement, and ideally a motorcycle should be ridden weekly to oil its joints (Imagine the tin man from the Wizard of Oz).
A social rider will clock on average around 5,000km per year, however these numbers will change if the motorcycle is used for commuting.
If you’re going vintage, be prepared for shit to go wrong!
Are you prepared to work on the bike yourself and how easy will it be to find parts?
Ideally your first motorcycle is all about learning to ride. Choppers & kick start bikes will give you all the street cred but save your coin towards that custom build later when your brain has homed in on all the new motorcycle skills and knowledge.
I N S P E C T I O N .
Alrighty, so you have swiped right and locked eyes on a bike that tickles your fancy. Now it's time to arrange that first meet up! Just like on tinder, photos can be deceiving and seeing your moto match IRL isn't always what you expected. If you can, take an experienced rider with you. If you don’t know anyone, try reaching out on local Facebook moto groups or ask a mechanic.
There are many people out there who will gladly take advantage of your lack of knowledge. Screw them, we say! We have put together a detailed guide and inspection checklist so you can take charge of the situation, identify the red flags and buy that perfect motorcycle for what it's worth.
R I D E O N .
Are you or did you procrastinate with getting your licence? Don’t do the same thing with buying a bike. The longer you leave it, the lower it drops on your To-Do list and the more moto-bliss you miss out on!
The key point is keep your mind fluid when trying motorbikes; research, try and trial.
Good luck on your search for your first! May the odds be ever in your favour.
We are NOT mechanics, we are just your average moto-junkies.
If you are ever in doubt or unsure please consult a professional!