So, you’ve just been handed a motorbike licence and you’re ready to buy a new set of wheels. But how do you know which motorcycle is the right one for you? Whether you’re a rookie rider or a veteran on hiatus ready to jump back in the seat, choosing a motorcycle can be tricky.
To help you along the way we’ve listed the top 5 things to consider before buying your first motorcycle.
1. Find the right motorbike for you
The kind of riding you’ll be doing will determine what your first motorcycle should be. Although you may have had your eye on a Ducati Panigale V4 R for those weekends in the mountains, it might not suit the everyday commute to and from the office. Take into consideration the kind of riding you’ll be doing. Are you the cruising or cornering type? Do you prefer back roads or bitumen? The best thing about motorbikes is that there is something for everyone, so take your time and find something that makes everyday sense for you.
When choosing a motorcycle, take into consideration the ergonomics of the bike and the way it fits with your body. Motorcycles come in different shapes and sizes, as do human bodies. Try before you buy – literally. Sit on the motorcycle and listen to your senses. How does it feel? If you’re a new or returning rider, feeling comfortable on the bike is important. Can you reach the ground with at least one foot? Does the reach to the handlebars feel natural? Take a good 10 minutes sitting on the bike to see if the seating is snug and take it for a spin to gauge its comfort level.
Recognise a few of the attributes that make a motorcycle suitable for you to ride. Is the machine light weight? Can you handle the horsepower? Is it easy for you to control?
There are generally six main types of motorcycles:
- Standard/Naked: a mix of function and visual appeal. They come in a variety of engine sizes.
- Sport: they’re the agile, aggressive, race-bred performance machines of the motorcycle world and are designed specifically with cornering in mind (which can make them a little intimidating for newer riders).
- Cruiser: typically have a low seat height. It’s often said that you sit in, rather than on, a cruiser. This makes them a very popular option with new riders (but keep in mind they can be on the heavy side).
- Touring: designed to ride an extended period with all the comforts, they tend to be on the heavier end of the spectrum. Styling can vary widely from brand to brand, ranging from dedicated touring machines aimed at pure comfort, to sports-touring bikes designed to give you the ‘best of both worlds’.
- Dual-purpose: a jack of all trades. They can cruise across the country, on the highway or on the dirt, so if you want the one style that you could ride anywhere year-round, dual-purpose may be the right bike for you.
- Dirt-bike: generally used for off-road riding, their light weight body is perfect for difficult terrain – they are the kind of bike that can take a beating and keep on going. Most dirt bikes will provide excellent grip for off-road riding and good shock absorption for hard landings.
2. Get covered with motorcycle insurance
Getting Motorcycle insurance is essential. So, before you ride off into the sunset make sure you’re completely covered. Whether you’re a long-time rider or learning for the first time, motorcycle insurance is a pretty niche product. Be sure to do your research and select the best cover to suit your individual needs. Bear in mind, the costs of your insurance will be impacted by a few things like your age and gender, the value of your bike, and the amount you ride.
You can cut the cost of your cover by being more secure. Storing your motorcycle in a locked garage or in a safe place can help you save on your premium.
3. Put safety first and sort out proper riding gear
Helmet: The most important item of gear you should invest in is a sturdy helmet. It’s illegal to ride without one, and after all, it protects one of the most important parts of your body – your brain. Helmets also guard you from pesky insects and some even come with Bluetooth capability and speakers installed.
If you’re not sure where to start looking, CRASH (the Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets) provides independent and helpful information on the levels of comfort and protection from injury by motorcycle helmets in a crash.
Gloves: The second most important piece of equipment to shield you from harm is a pair of leather gloves. This is because if you have an accident the natural reaction is to extend out your hands to protect yourself. Take your pick from short cuff gloves to gauntlet gloves. The difference is that short cuff gloves cut off at the wrist, whereas gauntlet gloves are extended to protect the wrist area and can be worn in or over your jacket sleeves.
Jacket: Motorcycle jackets can help defend against the elements of the wind and sun. Some riders own two jackets – a breathable one for summer and a thicker one for winter. Motorcycle jackets are packed full of safety gear designed specifically to protect your shoulders, arms, chest and back in an accident, the leather variants often 1-3mm thick to hold up against a slide down the road. Most “fashion leather” is less than 1mm thick, so make sure you get the good stuff.
Pants: Most people think ordinary jeans are enough protection, but that simply isn’t the case. Although the vast majority of riders choose not to wear motorcycle pants, they’re an important staple. Apart from leather or ballistic nylon pants, many manufacturers are designing bespoke jeans with Kevlar panels added to key areas which act as added armour to impact zones.
Boots: The main rules when it comes to motorcycle footwear is to make sure they are sturdy, and they have over the ankle protection. A common misconception is that a good set of work boots are basically the same thing – these boots may be made of leather, but they won’t protect your ankle’s intended range of motion like a well-designed motorcycle boot.
Armour: If your gear doesn’t already include armour it may be wise to invest in armour for your knees, elbows, shoulders and most importantly, your back and spine.
4. Perform regular maintenance on your bike
Small maintenance tasks like chain lubrication are great to tackle yourself, and provide a good opportunity to look over your bike and make sure everything seems in order. When more major maintenance or servicing is required, professional mechanics are the way to go. They work with motorcycles on a daily basis and will have a deeper understanding about the machines than anyone else. And if you choose a reliable mechanic from the get-go, they’ll be able to perform inspections, repairs and regular servicing with the knowledge and history of your motorcycle.
Our mechanic of choice is Five5 Motorcycle Servicing. These boys are experienced in all aspects of motorcycle riding, and know exactly what your machine needs to perform at it’s peak. They are also happy to share their knowledge with you through a short course – see here for more info.
5. Keep your riding skills up to date
Whether you’re new to riding or a seasoned motorcyclist, it’s always a good idea to consider brushing up on your skills by taking a motorcycle training course. There are plenty of ways to build your confidence and abilities as a rider, including one-on-one motorcycle lessons, Grip School, Coach & Setup Days, and Refresher courses.
There’s no point in learning how to ride a motorcycle if you aren’t aware of how to do it properly, or more importantly, safely. We’ve been doing what we do for close to 35 years and have trained and mentored thousands of happy customers. From novice to experienced riders, we have your needs covered.
Call us on 1300 13 13 62 to start your journey on two wheels with us today, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org