2) With a gazillion bikes to choose from, how would you advise a friend, new to the world of motorcycling, on which bike to purchase?
3) Should it be a used bike or a new one?
You and I will likely agree on this advice: “Do not buy the biggest and/or fastest bike available.”
OK. That’s obvious. Yet, according to an employee at my local motorcycle dealership, new buyers routinely purchase motorcycles they are not ready to handle. (And this is a LARGE dealership).
I’ve been at that same dealer when a guy bought a big, expensive bike, having never ridden before, and dropped it before he got 20 yards, breaking a lever and turn signal and causing other minor damage. (The rider was unscathed – just embarrassed). I asked one of the mechanics about it and he said, “It happens all the time” and repeated several recent examples of the same.
It’s not unthinkable that at least some of these new riders asked some rider friends about what they would recommend. What did those friends suggest?
Stated simply: If you are not an experienced rider, don’t buy a hyper-powered Suzuki Hayabusa, or Kawasaki ZX14. Don’t get a full-tourer, such as Honda Goldwing or BMW LT. Don’t buy any Harley Davidson bigger than a Sportster as your first bike. Do not purchase a sport-touring bike, such as a BMW RT or BMW GT, Kawasaki Concours14, Honda ST1300, or Yamaha FJR1300 as your first ride.
Would you advise a new rider to purchase a middle-weight bike?
Opinions diverge here.
“Middle-weight” still includes a significant variety of high-performance sport bikes, especially in the neighborhood of 600cc to 750cc.
A mid-weight could include an 883cc Sportster, which is “small” in the Harley Davidson family.The supporting side of the argument for starting a new rider on a mid-sized bike is that once you get through your initial learning curve, you’ll be able to “grow into” the bike instead of buying another one. The idea is that there is an economical advantage to getting a bigger bike (midsize) than a new rider may be able to readily handle while he is learning to ride.
My view is more conservative: I recommend that men and women purchase a “small” bike as their first machine (250cc or smaller).
• Smaller bikes are easier to lift back up if you drop it when you fail to set down your side stand correctly, or if you lose your footing in some loose gravel at a stop sign.
• Smaller bikes are easier to handle and are more forgiving: Larger and more powerful bikes demand greater precision, skill, and smoothness to keep them controlled.
• Insurance costs are less for smaller bikes.
• There’s a fuel economy advantage with a small bike, too, although that will not be relevant to all riders. (Many riders would continue their bike passion even if fuel was more costly for a motorbike than a car).
EXAMPLES OF PRACTICAL FIRST BIKES FOR NEW RIDERS
This is not an exhaustive list of practical first bikes for new riders, but they do represent the concepts in this article:
- Honda Rebel 250 (Cruiser)
- Honda Nighthawk 250 (Standard)
- Honda CRF230L (Dual Purpose)
- Kawasaki KLX250S (Dual Purpose)
- Kawasaki Ninja 250R (Sport)
- Kawasaki Eliminator 125 (Cruiser)
- Suzuki GZ250 (Standard)
- Suzuki DR200SE (Dual Purpose)
- Yamaha WR250X (Dual Purpose)
- Yamaha WR250R (Dual Purpose)
- Yamaha XT250 (Dual Purpose)
- Yamaha V Star 250 (Cruiser)
Although not everyone I recommend such bikes to will follow through and buy a small bike (they’ll get a bigger one), I’m of the thinking that a gradient approach to learning and gaining experience will pay off in greater longer-term enjoyment and safety.
What about buying a used or new bike as a first motorcycle purchase? Click here.