The Essential Shopping Guide to Buying a Motorcycle

Did you know that there are more than 8.5 million motorcycles registered in the United States alone?

With such a vast number of riders hitting the roads, it’s clear that motorcycles hold an undeniable allure. Motorcycles are not just a means of transportation, they represent freedom, adventure, and a unique way to experience the open road.

If you’re considering buying a motorcycle, it’s important to understand the key factors that should influence your decision. In this comprehensive shopping guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make an informed purchase and find the perfect motorcycle that suits your needs and preferences.

Determine Your Riding Style

Before diving into the world of motorcycle shopping, it’s essential to understand your riding style. Different motorcycles are designed for specific purposes. Identifying your preferences will help narrow down your options. Consider the following types of motorcycles:

Sport Bikes

Sport bikes are designed for high-speed performance and maneuverability. They have a low, aerodynamic seating position and are typically lightweight. Sport bikes are a good choice for riders who enjoy taking corners at speed and who want a bike that’s responsive to their inputs.


Cruisers are known for their relaxed riding position and laid-back style. They have a high seating position and a wide handlebar. This makes them comfortable for long rides. Cruisers are a good choice for riders who enjoy cruising down the highway or taking leisurely rides through town.

Touring Bikes

Touring bikes are built for long-distance journeys. They have a comfortable seating position, a large fuel tank, and a fairing to protect the rider from the wind. These are an ideal choice for riders who want to go on long road trips or who commute long distances.

Dual-Sport/Adventure Bikes

Dual-sport/adventure bikes are suitable for both on-road and off-road adventures. They have a high ground clearance and knobby tires. This makes them capable of handling dirt roads and trails. These bikes are perfect for riders who want a bike that they can take on any type of terrain.

Standard Bikes

Standard bikes are versatile motorcycles that can be used for everyday commuting, leisure riding, and even light touring. They have a comfortable seating position and a variety of features. This makes them a good choice for riders who want a bike that can do it all.

Set Your Budget

Setting a budget is one of the most important steps in buying a motorcycle. It’s important to consider the purchase price as well as the ongoing expenses of maintaining one.

Model and Type

The purchase price of a motorcycle can vary depending on the make, model, year, and condition of the bike. New motorcycles can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Used motorcycles are typically more affordable, but it’s important to inspect them before you buy.


Insurance is another important expense to consider. Motorcycle insurance can be expensive, so it’s important to shop around and compare quotes before you buy. The cost of insurance will vary depending on your age, driving history, and the type of motorcycle you buy.

Maintenance and Fuel Costs 

Motorcycles also require regular maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and brake pad replacements. The cost of maintenance will vary depending on the type of motorcycle you buy and how often you ride.

Fuel costs can also add up, but motorcycles typically get better fuel economy than cars. The cost of fuel will vary depending on the type of motorcycle you buy and how often you ride.

You’ll also need to factor in the cost of safety gear, such as a helmet, jacket, pants, boots, and gloves. This is essential for safety, and the cost of gear can vary depending on the type of gear you buy and the quality of the gear.

Research and Test Ride

Proper research is essential when buying a motorcycle. Explore different models, read reviews, and compare specifications to find motorcycles that align with your preferences.

Additionally, visit local dealerships and schedule test rides to experience how each bike feels on the road. Biking tips to consider during test rides include:

  • Comfort: Assess the riding position, seat comfort, and ergonomics
  • Handling: Test the bike’s maneuverability, responsiveness, and stability
  • Performance: Evaluate acceleration, braking, and general power
  • Fit: Ensure the motorcycle’s size and weight are suitable for your physique

Make sure you can comfortably reach the controls and that the motorcycle is not too heavy for you to handle.

New vs. Used Motorcycles

Deciding between a new or used motorcycle is a personal choice based on various factors. These may include budget, preferences, and mechanical knowledge. Learn more below. 

New Motorcycles

The motorcycle industry is constantly evolving, and this year is no exception. Today, there are a range of new models on the market to choose from Consider the following pros and cons:

Greater Reliability and Warranty Protection

New motorcycles are typically more reliable than used motorcycles. They come with a warranty that can give you peace of mind.

Access to the Latest Technology and Features

New motorcycles come with the latest technology and features to improve your riding experience. These may include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, cornering ABS, and more.

Higher Upfront Costs and Depreciation

New motorcycles are more expensive than used motorcycles due to their advanced features. What’s more, these motorcycles can depreciate relatively quickly. 

Used Motorcycles

Used motorcycles offer a compelling option for riders seeking affordability and value. Consider some of their pros and cons below. 

Lower Initial Cost and Potential for Better Value

Used motorcycles are typically less expensive than new motorcycles. You can often find a good deal if you’re willing to do some research. This is a good option if you want to buy your first motorcycle on a budget.

More Variety in the Marketplace

There is more variety in the marketplace for used motorcycles. This means you’re more likely to find a motorcycle that fits your needs and budget.

Potential for Hidden Mechanical Issues

Used motorcycles may have hidden mechanical issues that can be expensive to repair. They may have a history that may include wear and tear, previous accidents, or inadequate maintenance.

The best way to decide whether to buy a new or used motorcycle is to consider your budget, preferences, and mechanical knowledge. 

Consider Maintenance and Repairs

Maintaining and repairing a motorcycle is an ongoing responsibility. Before purchasing, consider the availability and cost of parts. Check the reputation of the manufacturer for reliability and ease of maintenance. Additionally, assess your comfort level with DIY motorcycle maintenance or the availability of trustworthy local mechanics.

Some motorcycles are more difficult to find parts for than others. This can be especially true for older motorcycles or motorcycles from smaller manufacturers. Go for manufacturers with renowned reputation for reliability and ease of maintenance.

If you’re comfortable doing your maintenance, you can save money on repairs. However, if you’re not comfortable with it, you’ll need to find a trustworthy mechanic in your local area. 

Insurance Considerations

Motorcycle insurance is a legal requirement in most regions and an essential aspect of ownership. When shopping for a motorcycle, research insurance rates and coverage options specific to the model you’re considering.

It’s also advisable to obtain insurance quotes from multiple providers to compare rates and coverage options. For example, some insurance companies may categorize no-contact motorcycle accidents under the collision or comprehensive coverage. Click here to know what do if involved in a no-contact motorcycle accident.

Factors that influence insurance premiums include:

Motorcycle Type and Engine Size

The type of motorcycle you choose will have a significant impact on your insurance premiums. Sportbikes and other high-performance motorcycles are typically more expensive to insure than cruisers or touring bikes. This is probably because of the risk factor they hold. 

The engine size of your motorcycle is also a factor, with larger engines being more expensive to insure.

Your Age and Riding Experience

Your age and riding experience will also affect your insurance premiums. Younger riders and those with less experience are typically considered to be higher risks, and will therefore pay higher premiums. However, if you’ve proven to be a safe rider, you may enjoy discounts. 

Location and Crime Rates

The location where you live will also affect your insurance premiums. Motorcycles are more likely to be stolen in some areas than others, and this will be reflected in your premiums.

Safety Gear and Accessories

Safety should be a top priority when riding a motorcycle. Invest in high-quality safety motorcycle gear, including a DOT-approved helmet, armored jackets, gloves, boots, and riding pants.

You may also want to consider a motorcycle with the following gear:

  • Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS): Enhances braking control and helps you maintain control of your motorcycle
  • Traction Control Systems: Helps prevent the wheels from slipping, improving stability 
  • Luggage Options: Offers efficient storage for food, water, and gear
  • GPS/Navigation Systems: Help you plan and find your routes to avoid getting lost

Consider the Resale Value

Although not an immediate concern, it’s worth considering the resale value of the motorcycle you intend to buy. If you anticipate upgrading to a different motorcycle in the future, a higher resale value can make that transition more affordable.

Factors that can affect resale value include the brand reputation, model popularity, mileage, overall condition, and market demand.

Brand Reputation

Some brands are more popular than others, and this can affect the resale value. For example, Honda and Yamaha are two brands that have a good reputation for quality and reliability. This means that their used motorcycles are more in demand and tend to have a higher resale value.

Model Popularity

Some bike models are more popular than others, and this can also affect the resale value. For example, sportbikes and cruisers are loved by motorcycle enthusiasts, so their resale value is typically higher than other types of motorcycles.

Mileage and Overall Condition 

Motorcycles with lower mileage will typically have a higher resale value than motorcycles with higher mileage. This is because motorcycles with lower mileage are considered to be in better condition and are less likely to have mechanical problems.

What’s more, motorcycles in good condition will typically have a higher resale value than motorcycles in poor condition. This is because motorcycles in good condition are considered to be more attractive to buyers and are less likely to need repairs.

Market Demand 

The current market demand for motorcycles can also affect their resale value. For example, if the current market for motorcycles is high, then motorcycles will typically have a higher resale value. Some of the factors that affect demand include supply shortages, new releases, industry reports, and increased media attention. 

Financing Options

When buying a bike, not everyone has the means to pay for it outright. In such cases, exploring financing options can be a viable solution. By researching local banks, credit unions, and dealerships, you can find the most favorable interest rates and loan terms available. Financing allows you to spread out the cost of the motorcycle over a set period, making it more affordable and manageable for your budget.

Remember that financing a motorcycle involves taking on debt. it’s important to assess your financial situation and ensure that the monthly payments fit comfortably within your budget. Avoid overextending yourself and consider the long-term financial commitment before making a final decision.

By exploring financing options and understanding the terms and conditions, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your financial goals. This allows you to enjoy the thrill of riding a motorcycle while maintaining financial stability.

Your Guide To Buying a Motorcycle With Confidence: Final Word

Buying a motorcycle is an exciting adventure, but it requires careful consideration and research to find the perfect fit for your riding style, preferences, and budget.

By following this essential shopping guide, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision, ensuring many enjoyable rides on the open road. Remember, safety should always be a priority, so invest in proper gear, maintain your motorcycle diligently, and ride responsibly.

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About Carson Derrow

My name is Carson Derrow I'm an entrepreneur, professional blogger, and marketer from Arkansas. I've been writing for startups and small businesses since 2012. I share the latest business news, tools, resources, and marketing tips to help startups and small businesses to grow their business.