Motorcycle buying for beginners
The motorcycle is one of the most romanticized vehicles in world history. Whether in movies, on television, in books or on the internet, motorcycles are associated with fun and freedom… and for many people the “cool factor” is off the charts.
Motorcycles came into being about the time the first car was built. Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach are credited with inventing the first gas-powered motorcycle in 1885. Like their four-wheeled counterparts, motorcycles have evolved into high-tech machines, and they actually hold a sizeable portion of the automotive market. According the U.S. Department of Transportation there are about nine million motorcycles on the road in America today.
First things first
Before you sign on the dotted line to buy your motorcycle — and assuming you have little to no experience — you should invest the time and money in completing formal rider-safety training. There are schools in all 50 states with accredited programs that prepare new riders to operate motorcycles lawfully and with maximum safety in mind.
The few hundred dollars it costs for rider training is minimal compared to the long-term return on investment. Motorcycle riding is more complicated that sitting behind the wheel of a car, and requires a good bit of skill and a rider’s undivided attention on the road.
Ready to buy?
Motorcycles can vary from $5,000 to $10,000 for new, less powerful bikes that are appropriate for beginners. They can also cost up to six figures for rare, luxury models. But our focus here is on models for first-time owners.
New motorcycles are great, but you can save on the initial investment by looking for used motorcycles, which are marketed as often by individuals as dealerships. Great deals are available on bikes that are for sale by riders who have gained experience and want to step up to bigger, more powerful models.
Motorcycles have a great reputation for being easy on gas consumption, and that is a motivation to buy, especially in times when pump prices are volatile. However, there are other expenses to consider, and you might find the price tag for some to be surprising.
GQ magazine’s motorcycle ownership cost breakdown shows that equipment and maintenance, and the associated riding gear can set you back more than you may expect. Many of the moving parts on motorcycles require service or replacement more frequently than is typical for cars and trucks.
For buyers, knowledge is power
As with car buying, you can get better deals on motorcycles if you shop at the right time of year, and predictably, winter is that time. Rezilla.com says February in the U.S. is optimal motorcycle-shopping time for several reasons, most notably because it’s cold in much of the country and people just don’t have as much of a desire to feel the wind in their faces when it might cause frostbite.
Also, because February is only 28 (29 in leap years) days long, sales managers have a truncated timeframe in which to meet monthly sales quotas and many are willing to make deals they wouldn’t consider in longer, warm-weather months.
Compare ads in newspapers and on the internet when buying a motorcycle, just as you would when buying a car. You might find the same model carries different price tags at different dealers, and the prices may be negotiable. Doing your homework before shopping could save you a significant amount of money.
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