7 Steps to Buy Your First Motorcycle

You’re new to motorcycles. You’ve only driven a bike a few times, but when you did, it was exhilarating. You can’t wait to own a motorcycle of your own and now, you’re finally ready. But is buying a motorcycle the same as buying a car? Where do you start? We may have “auto” in our name, but we know motorcycles, too. Follow these seven steps to successfully (and safely) buy your first motorcycle.

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How to Buy a Motorcycle

1. Learn how to ride.

It doesn’t make much sense to buy a car if you don’t know how to drive. The same can be said for buying a motorcycle. Plus, some states require official motorcycle training in order for you to get a bike license.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a driver’s license or not, or how long you’ve driven a car. Driving a motorcycle requires different skills than driving a car. Motorcycling is equal parts fun and dangerous. Completing a motorcycle training course will help you gain the skills you need to maximize the fun part and minimize the dangerous part.

A course will also give you the opportunity to try out different bike styles and connect with people in the industry who can give you pointers on how to buy a motorcycle in your area and where to find the best deal.

Start with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. It’s an internationally recognized rider training program and can connect you with courses near you.

2. Decide between a dealer or private seller, new or used.

So, you learned how to ride and you passed a motorcycle training course. Congratulations! Are you comfortable buying a motorcycle from a private seller, or would you rather buy through an official dealer?

Where you’re comfortable buying a bike will also play into whether you’re going to buy a new or used motorcycle. Dealers are likely to have both types of bikes in-stock. Go with a private seller and you’ll be buying used. Consider these pros and cons.

Buying a New Motorcycle vs. a Used Motorcycle
New Motorcycle Used Motorcycle
Price More expensive Less expensive
Condition Perfect, plus has the latest features; probably comes with a warranty May need some service and could be missing latest technology; no warranty
Experience A reliable dealer has reviews, a website, and you can verify their business history and the bike history You can’t be sure who you’re buying the bike from or where the bike has been if you purchase from a private seller, and you may be uncomfortable meeting a stranger

3. Finance the motorcycle.

Once you know whether you plan on buying a new or used motorcycle from a dealer, or a used motorcycle from a private seller, you’ll want to secure financing. This part is pretty similar to buying a car! Getting pre-approved for financing beforehand has many advantages. As NerdWallet notes:

  • You’ll be made aware of credit problems ahead of time (and potentially fix them).
  • You can play with the loan terms and pick the terms that fit your needs.
  • You can show the salesperson that you’re an informed and serious buyer.
  • Pre-approval strengthens your negotiating power.
  • Pre-approval could encourage a dealer to counter with a lower interest rate.

But don’t rev your engine for the first motorcycle loan option that comes your way. Compare all of the financing options available to you using a service like myAutoloan. Fill out one application and we’ll present you with up to four motorcycle financing options so you can select your best rate.

4. Get motorcycle insurance quotes.

Just like you need auto insurance to stay legal when driving a car, you also need motorcycle insurance when you drive a motorcycle. Get insurance quotes beforehand to see how rates vary by insurance company and motorcycle type. Your financing company will probably require that you buy a certain amount of insurance, too.

Motorcycle insurance costs can vary greatly depending on the type of bike and its accessories. You might be looking at two bikes that have the same sticker price, but one costs hundreds of dollars more to insure each year. An insurance quote can help you avoid surprises and help you make a good buying decision. Start with a quote from one of our insurance partners.

5. Browse bikes, but don’t expect a test drive.

Go online or to the dealer of your choice to start browsing bikes. Unlike buying a car, motorcycle test drives are not standard. There are far too many safety and insurance concerns.

If you’re an experienced rider with the driver’s license endorsement and training to back it up, you can probably schedule/request a test drive at a larger dealership like Harley-Davidson or Kawasaki. But you might encounter some roadblocks as a new rider. Your best bet is to research demo days in your area and sign up for ride time. You can also attend motorcycle rallies, shows, and races, as most major manufacturers will send demo fleets to these events.

6. Buy the right safety gear.

There’s tons of steel, glass, and plastic surrounding you when you drive a car. If you collide with something, an airbag will go off to cushion the impact. A motorcycle has none of these safety features. There’s nothing but your skin between the road and your organs. Protect your body with the right safety gear.

Best Beginner Motorcycles recommends that all new riders start with at least a motorcycle helmet, leather motorcycle gloves, a motorcycle jacket, motorcycle boots, and motorcycle pants. The Motorcycle Legal Foundation recommends the same, but also additional safety gear like body armor, knee guards, and hearing protection. Check out both websites for thorough recommendations when buying motorcycle gear.

7. Buy a motorcycle!

You learned how to ride, found the bike you want, and secured motorcycle financing. You’re ready to grab your safety gear and buy your first motorcycle. So, do it! Enjoy the open road and listen to Laurence Fishburne when he says, “On a motorcycle, you can’t really think about more than where you are. There’s a freedom that comes with that – from stress, worry, sweating the small stuff.”