11 Things to Consider When Buying a Motorbike

CC BY 2.0/Transport Pixels/Flickr

Buying a motorbike, whether it’s your first or your 50th, is exciting. However, there are some things you should think about carefully before jumping into a purchase. Here are 11.

Safety Training

Particularly if you’re new to motorbikes, it might be worth taking a motorcycle safety course. Check out the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) website for details of courses near you. Passing one could lower your insurance rate.

CC0 Public Domain/The U.S. Army/Wikimedia Commons


Not everyone gets a motorbike for the same reason. Some people want one for long, cross-country touring and may, therefore, want cruise control and heating. Others might want a sporty model for recreational riding or commutes. Consider your intended use before choosing a model.

CC BY 2.0/danielpgauer/Wikimedia Commons

New or Used

Deciding whether you want to buy a new or used model is a personal choice. Some prefer the security of a warranty and choose to buy new, while others appreciate the better value of a used model. Give some thought to your own budget and priorities.

CC BY-SA 2.0/everycar_listed_photos/Flickr

Dealership or Private Seller

Whether you’re buying a motorbike new or used, there are pros and cons to buying from a dealership or private seller. A dealership can offer trade-ins and warranties, for instance, but may charge more than a private seller.

CC BY 2.0/JeepersMedia/Flickr

Insurance Cost

All kinds of factors can affect your motorcycle insurance quote, and some of them are out of your control. But you can research the most cost-effective classes and models to insure before making a purchase.

CC BY 2.0/frankieleon/Flickr


Unless you know what to look for, you might want to get a mechanic to give a motorbike you’re thinking of buying a thorough inspection. They’ll be able to identify potentially costly problems that make a seemingly good deal and terrible one.

CC BY 2.0/Bengt Nyman/Flickr

Test Drive

This should go without saying, not just so you can see what you’re buying but whether you can even ride it. Some bikes simply cannot be safely operated by novice riders. On the other hand, advanced riders may find low-performance models unrideable.

CC BY-SA 2.0/driver Photographer/Flickr

Body Fit

You should also look for a bike that fits your body type. The best way to do this is to sit on it and take it for a spin. Racing models can put strain on the untrained wrist, for example, and the ergonomics vary widely between bikes.

CC BY-SA 2.0/driver Photographer/Flickr

Service History

A full-service history can tell you whether a motorbike has had mechanical issues in the past, so it’s a good idea to request these records from the seller. If nothing else, the fact that they’ve maintained these documents is a sign that they’ve looked after the bike.

CC BY-SA 2.0/Cory M. Grenier/Flickr

Title History

Another way to check the history of a motorbike is to conduct a title history search at a site like Cyclechex. If it doesn’t have a title, you won’t be able to register, sell or trade the bike after buying it.

CC BY 2.0/Rawpixel Ltd/Flickr

Making an Offer

Before making an offer, it’s a good idea to know exactly how much you’re willing to spend as a maximum. Base this figure on research of the market value, as well as of course an inspection of the actual bike. Then, decide on the amount you want to pay, which is your target price. Your offer should be a little lower than this, allowing the seller to negotiate a higher price that’s still within your budget.

CC BY-SA 2.0/401(K) 2013/Flickr