We’ve all felt it. Excitement blended with apprehension greets us as we walk into a motorcycle showroom and a sea of motorcycles. It can feel overwhelming, especially for new riders, yet, letting your emotions have the upper hand can result in a poor choice. In turn, that can affect your enjoyment and safety. The antidote is to gather knowledge even before you walk through the door.
Your ultimate goal is to get the size and style of motorcycle that matches your skills, riding interests, and budget. You’re the decision maker and you’re on a fact-finding mission for a very important decision. Approaching your foray into the showroom from this perspective puts you in a place of confidence and power.
Jeremy Buschert, Sales Manager at GP Bikes in Whitby offers excellent advice to take the intimidation out of motorcycle shopping. He and his team of salespeople are all riders with combined riding experience of close to 100 years. They’ve also heard feedback from many customers.
While each shop has its own look, feel, and culture, use these tips wherever you go to make the best decision for you.
- Start your research early, before going to the showroom. While most experts recommend making your motorcycle purchase after you’ve taken the basic rider course, there may be reasons to have that bike waiting for you when you’re ready to ride. If you’re looking for a pre-owned bike, especially in the spring, you may have to make a quick decision and you want to be ready.
- Consider taking a three-hour introductory course, like RTI’s Intro to Riding https://ridertraining.ca/project/intro/. It will give you a better feel for how much you like riding and an idea of style preferences before investing your time, energy, and money.
- Come in with an open mind. What’s the worst that can happen in a showroom (other than an impulse buy)?
- Make the first visit or two a fact-finding mission. Explore the entire dealership. There’s more to riding than purchasing the motorcycle and you’ll want to become familiar with the entire team, including apparel and service. “Of course a salesperson is interested in making a sale,” says Jeremy, “but those who are in it for the long-term want to develop a relationship with clients based on expertise and trust. That means they’ll ask lots of questions to help guide you to the motorcycle that’s right for you.”
- Know your budget. Besides the price of the motorcycle, you’ll need to factor in the cost of gear, maintenance, and insurance.
- Investigate insurance coverage and rates. Not all insurance companies cover all models, and some limit the displacement (cc’s) they cover for new riders.
- Look at bikes that match your skill level. “Resist peer pressure or advice to get a bike you can “grow into.” You can buy too big a bike but you can’t buy one that’s too small,” says Jeremy. “People will say they’ve outgrown a bike when in reality, they’ve just lost their fear. They still don’t have the skills to match the bike’s capability, even on bikes under 300ccs. Anyone can ride fast but they may not have the skill or technique to turn, stop, or get out of trouble when something goes wrong.”
- Look at both new and pre-owned bikes. Both have pros and cons. Each will have a warranty. New beginner bikes are unblemished and hold their value because there’s a high demand for small, pre-owned bikes. On the other hand, buying pre-owned may fit your budget, especially if you’re uncertain what style of bike you’ll prefer. If you’re planning to finance, it’s usually easiest to get a loan through the manufacturers on a new model.
- Try them on. When you’re starting out, all motorcycles seem big and, other than colour and overt style differences, look similar. Enlist the help of a sales person and sit on a variety of models. Getting a feel for what’s comfortable, the total weight, the weight distribution, and the seating position helps you narrow down your preferences. You and your motorcycle are a team and you want to make sure you’ve got the right match.
- Ask many questions. This is all about you and making the best motorcycle decision. Listen to the sales person’s advice. “That modern 600cc bike will do 120 kph in first gear, and there are five more gears,” says Jeremy. “Feel the weight of a bigger cruiser and question whether you’d feel comfortable if you had to stop suddenly. As a new rider, are these the bikes you want to start with?”
Do your research, gather all your information, and make the best decision for you when you’re ready. You’re the only one in the seat and at the controls. The start of many years of fun and safe experiences begins with making the right decision on the showroom floor.