Motorcycle vs. Automobile Buying

Similarities and Differences

George_Tranos_Outside_EdgeBy George Tranos

My family has purchased both a new car and a new motorcycle in the last year. I was surprised by how different the two experiences were and wanted to share my observations with you in case you are in the market to purchase a new bike (or car).

One of the first things we needed to decide was the specific make and model that we were looking for. This sounds simple but the proliferation of choices can complicate things. What we found was that we needed to be both honest and realistic about what we needed and wanted in a new vehicle. This applied to both the bike and car buying process.

Doing your research is the key here. Read as much as you can about your choices. If possible, look at the online guides and try to find the type of vehicle that you’re interested in. Once you’ve winnowed it down to a category, see what other models are comparable. Try to get it down to two or three different bikes or cars.

Now you need to make some big decisions, such as do you want or can you afford new or used? This is a personal choice and one that will determine your next steps. If you choose a new vehicle, then it may be time to go shopping. Go to some local dealers and look at the models you’re interested in. Sit on (or in) them, review all the controls, note the special features and ask about options. It seems that automobile buying provides a myriad of special option packages that complicate the process. Most motorcycles have limited (if any) options from the manufacturer. This makes the comparison shopping easier. Try to compare vehicles with others equipped the same way. Leave asking about price until the end. Try to see how helpful the sales person is to get you the vehicle you’re looking for.

IMG_1551The next step is the test drive. Car dealers willingly provide test rides but many motorcycle dealers do not. There are some bike sellers that will provide limited test rides under certain circumstances. Dealers are loath to provide a riding demo for someone who may not know how to ride. Your chances may improve if you ride in on a motorcycle and have proper riding gear. You may also get a test ride if you’ve bought bikes from that dealer before or otherwise have a prior relationship with them. Even if you can’t get a dealer test ride, other demo opportunities exist directly with the manufacturer at events and rallies (see my other column on this topic). If the dealer does not offer test rides but you want to be sure the bike is for you, some dealers will sell contingent upon a ride after they have your money in hand. Like anything else, if your timing is right, your negotiating skill will help you here.

Once you’ve looked at and driven the various vehicles, you must decide on the one for you. Once your choice is made, it’s time to price shop. It’s best to get prices from more than one dealer to be sure you’re not being taken advantage of. Remember that the salesman may not always have your best interest at heart, so make sure you know what you want before you begin the negotiating process. Beware of ‘bait and switch’ tactics that may seem like a good deal but may not be what you want or need. Sales people want to sell vehicles and may push a specific model because they have a large stock. Some may be reluctant to get you the vehicle you want. Be careful! If you’ve been honest and realistic then you can resist the temptation of a different vehicle and the high pressure sales tactics used to sell it to you.

In the end, you may choose to buy from a dealer with a higher price. There are many reasons for this (such as better reputation, convenience, service, trade-in, etc.) but you can use the lower price you obtained at another dealer to negotiate a better price with your chosen dealer.

Once you close the deal, remember that accessories, insurance and financing all affect the final cost to you. Dealers make lots of money on these items too so it’s best for you to shop around for them as well.

You can and will succeed and be happy with your choice if you do your homework in advance, be honest with yourself about your needs and choose wisely among your options. After all, we all need a new vehicle sometime – you might as well get what you want for the best price! Good luck.BMW2-series

I wish you and yours the best for this holiday season and throughout the New Year!