For most new riders, buying any used bike would be more practical than buying a brand-new motorcycle: Consider it as a training bike.
Be willing to drop it – because you probably will while becoming acquainted with it.
Be willing to damage a few levers or turn signals, scratch up some parts, and not care about it, except to replace them if needed.
The point is that a new rider has enough to learn without being concerned about keeping a brand-new motorcycle perfectly scratch-free.
You “do” want to ensure that your used motorcycle is mechanically and operationally in good condition. An advantage to buying from a reputable dealership, as opposed to a private sale from someone you do not know, is that often a good motorcycle dealer will offer a short-term warranty for a used bike.
However, you can often get a better price when buying from a private party. I have enjoyed positive experiences buying from individuals and dealerships.
If you do buy from an individual seller, consider bringing a knowledgable friend or hiring a motorcycle mechanic to check it out with you.
- Also, keep in mind the availability of replacement parts when purchasing a used bike. In other words, buy a used bike that is modern enough that replacement parts are readily available.
- Bear in mind how far the nearest motorcycle dealership is. If you are not married to a particular manufacturer, you can save time and hassles by owning a bike represented by a dealership that is located nearby to where you live or work.
Ideally, as a first motorcycle purchase, buy a small, used, “dual-purpose” bike: one that can be ridden off road and is legal on the street. With this kind of bike you can develop your riding skills on soft ground or dirt.
Another advantage to a dual-purpose motorcycle is that while learning to ride more confidently on a dirt trail you can gain some experience accelerating and braking while purposely (or not) losing traction: such as locked/skidding tires, or spinning tires with little or no traction. Since that “can” happen on the street, it’s best to gain such experience in a safer off-pavement environment (even though losing traction on pavement is not identical to losing traction on dirt).
Finally, dual-purpose bikes are designed to be dropped and may sustain less damage than a small street-only bike. Simply stated, the new rider is gaining invaluable experience that is not as easy for a newbie to safely replicate on the pavement.
You will also save money on insurance by choosing a used first bike as compared to a brand-new motorbike.
In brief, when guys and gals ask me what I recommend as a first bike, I suggest a “used” motorcycle around 250cc or smaller (not larger than a 400cc) and ideally a dual-purpose bike.
Click here for more info and a list of small bikes.
Consider your first motorcycle as a training bike and realize that you will be getting another one after you have developed experience and confidence. In the process, you will have developed some real-world preferences.
NOTE: This article does not address an important point: MOTORCYCLE RIDER TRAINING. You can exponentially speed up your learning curve by investing in motorcycle rider training to help you develop safe riding habits from the start.
“FIRST” MOTORCYCLE SUMMARY:
For your first motorcycle, buy a small, used, lightweight “training bike” that is easy to handle and one that you won’t be upset about should you drop it. A small bike would have an engine size of 250cc or less. Do not buy your dream bike as a first motorcycle purchase (get that only after you have obtained considerable riding experience and confidence). Be sure your “used” bike is in good mechanical condition. Ideally, buy a lightweight, dual-purpose bike that will allow you to ride on the street and dirt while gaining more experience.
Have fun and ride safely!