Research Before Buying

By Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School

Recently a good friend decided to get back into motorcycling. They had learned to ride six years ago and never rode afterwards.  After some practice and formal training they wanted to get their own bike. Of course, their first question to me was “what should I buy?” It’s the question most asked by new riders and the most difficult to answer. My standard response is “something that fits you well and isn’t too big or powerful, and that you’ll look forward to riding.” They also had a relatively small budget, which meant purchasing a used bike rather than a new one.  So off they went to local dealers looking for the perfect bike at the perfect price.

It’s not any easier than looking for the perfect used car. Many people suggested trying Craig’s List, eBay, Cycle Trader, etc., but a buyer has to be extremely careful these days and have the time and expertise to check the VIN number, condition, etc. of a bike being offered for sale by a stranger. Eventually she found a bike being sold by a friend-of-a-friend that was a few years old with quite a few miles on it, but had one owner, new tires, was meticulously serviced and had lots of upgrades including high-end shocks and locking hard bags. It was a little tall/big for her, but with some practice in a parking lot she got comfortable with it and now she takes it to work and around town with ease. Another successful ending!

If you are ready to buy the used motorcycle you’ve always dreamed of, do your research before making this major purchase. Consider these tips to help you make an educated decision:

  • Decide what type of bike best fits your lifestyle. If you are planning on long rides you may want a touring model with all the bells & whistles (heated grips, seat and foot warmers, surround sound, cruise control, etc.) to make your journey a little more comfortable.
  • Evaluate your riding needs before deciding on which type of used bike to buy. Visit dealerships and/or the websites of various motorcycle manufacturers to learn about what’s out there. You can find information about models and features to help you narrow down your choices.
  • Attend events like Americade where motorcycle enthusiasts (with a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license and proper riding gear including helmet and boots) may take test drives offered by several manufacturers.
  • Read other riders’ comments and reviews by visiting motorcycle forums and blogs. While you may not share the same opinions, you may find some of the posts are helpful when considering various models.
  • Talk to your fellow motorcyclists to ask their opinions. You may find the word-of-mouth information you gather personally to be invaluable in your decision-making process.
  • Research the value of the used motorcycle you are considering in the Kelley Blue Book and NADA guides, which provide market pricing. Check local classifieds or visit online vehicle sales and pricing sites.
  •  Inspect the motorcycle before buying, or have a qualified mechanic check it out for you.
  • Test drive the bike.
  • Request a service history. Also, ask if the owner’s manual and factory tool kit are available.
  • Research the title history. Get a copy of the title before committing to purchase the bike. Never buy a used motorcycle without a title, as you will be unable to legally register the motorcycle.

You can get a great deal on a used bike, or new bike, by using common sense and spending some time on research. In the end, it may be the shiny chrome or turn of the handlebar that seals the deal for you. Whatever you buy, as long as it’s in good mechanical condition and fits you well, you’ll enjoy many miles of riding. And the good news is that you can always sell it and get another – or like many of us, keep adding to the fleet!

Ride Safe!