Choosing the Right Motorcycle for You

The front wheels of a line of motorcycles.

Many people buying their first motorcycle are influenced by the slick and colorful brochures they see at motorcycle dealerships. The array of bikes available on the market today is mind boggling, and making the first choice is often frustrating. Everything from simple little about-town mopeds to large and heavy touring motorcycles are on the market. It is often difficult to decide what you want and need because of this selection. However, because they come in so many different configurations, taking the time to decide what you want is important. Common sense should be the rule here. You first need to decide exactly what you want a motorcycle for. Do you want something that is sporty and fun to do some weekend riding, or are you thinking of hitting the open road and spending hours in the saddle? Will you be riding scenic back roads, or spending fast hours on the freeway? This article will discuss a few things you should look for in your first new bike and some motorcycles available.

Size Matters

The two biggest considerations for any bike are seat height and weight. Never buy a motorcycle that you can't sit on with both feet flat on the ground. Weight consideration is a must here also because when learning to ride, you do not want to get yourself in a position where when the bike begins to lean over and you can't keep it safely balanced. Additionally, a lightweight bike will provide an easier learning curve for beginners.

Engine size is also important because you do not want a powerful motorcycle that is way beyond your skill set. While lower powered engines can still do a lot of damage if you can’t properly handle the bike, they’re ordinarily easier to control for the less experienced rider.

Where Are you Going?

Where you’re riding and how often will also help determine which bikes you want to look at. Are you planning on long drives? Short commutes to and from work? Will you be sticking to the roads or hanging mostly in the dirt? All of these factors and more will determine the type of motorcycle you’re looking for.

For example, long distance riders will want a bike with luggage space, room for a potential passenger, and a comfortable position to sit in. These adventure bikes, however, tend to be heavier and bad for off-road driving. If you want something for dirt roads and stunts, you’ll need a lighter bike—specifically a dirt bike. These are engineered with knobbier treads and a better suspension for rugged terrain. There are also dual purpose bikes that are made for both recreational off-roading while still being street legal.

Evaluate what you plan to do with your motorcycle first before you start researching what to buy, and you’ll be sure to find exactly what you need.

Think Used First

Always consider a used bike as your first motorcycle. When you buy a new bike, it loses value very quickly in the first year, just like a new car. It is also a sure bet that you will also have a tumble or two in your first year of riding, and damaging a new motorcycle can lead to very expensive repair bills. If you buy a motorcycle that has already been depreciated, you can save a lot of money.

Buying a new-to-you motorcycle is easy. The main reason you can find a good entry level bike is because most riders sell their own first bike when they upgrade to match their experience. They are generally in good condition, and good bargains can be found. An excellent place to look for competitive bike prices is in Barker's online store. This is a UK based site, but their database is second to none. This will give you a very good idea of what you will expect to pay for a good used bike.

A Good Bike to Consider

Searching online to find the ideal bike for a beginner is an easy task, but is a good idea to listen to online experts when considering a new bike. They have experience and they know their way around motorcycles. One of the most highly recommended bikes is a 250cc model. Its listed characteristics are good handling, sufficient power range, and the ability for a new rider to have both feet planted firmly on the ground. They are good for around town, short road trips and can run on the freeway, although I would be a bit hesitant to do so. Top speed is around 80 miles per hour. They have good line acceleration, get from 0 to 60 quickly, and are heavy enough to be stable at highway speeds. Two specific bikes that fit this bill are the Honda Rebel and the Suzuki GZ250.

Bikes for Women

Women have become a big part of the motorcycle culture. No longer is it a macho grease and leather institution. There are even women motorcycle clubs now—Women on Wheels and Women MC come to mind. When a woman decides on a first bike, the weight and seat height are the two most important things to consider in relation to her stature. You surely don't want a bike you can barely pull up off the side stand. And, as mentioned previously, power is also a consideration. Follow the guidelines above with a little extra attention paid to the height and weight, and you should have no problems.

Today, the choice of bikes available is staggering. With everything out there, it can be hard to make a choice. The best bet for anyone considering purchasing a first bike is to buy a good used standard bike, learn to ride, and learn what they like and dislike about that bike. Only then can you determine if you really do need that super fast GSXR 600. Not many people do. Remember, motorcycles are transportation. What bike you finally decide on will take you from Point A to Point B. Some just do it with a little more class than others.

Planning on buying a bike with wide tires? Read this first!

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.