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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
Buying a Motorcycle
If it's your first bike, check out our article on your first bike, which is in the Biker Ed section.
If it's not your first bike, you probably have a good idea as to what style of bike you want. Calsci.com has a list of types.
The first thing you probably want to do is to read up on the style of bike you like, and make a short list of ones you fancy. We like Motorcycle Consumer News for that.
Every motorcycle is a compromise, and the mechanics of bikes are always near the edge. You should consider reading up on CalSci's motorcycle pages, or Micapeak's Motorcycle Registry, for straight poop on problems that might afflict your shortlist models. If it's not there, you should easily be able to find an owners group forum for your preferred bike, where known mechanical issues will be aired.
Once you decide what bike you want, off to your local dealer for a test ride.
It is our experience that bike prices can vary by thousands of dollars from dealer to dealer. It might well be worth calling around dealers, say within a 200 mile radius, to find the best deal, once you have decided on the model and options you want. Manufacturers web sites list dealers in order of distance from a given point. Generally the largest volume dealers can give the best price.
If you decide to buy a used bike, here's Adam Glass' Used Bike buying guide. Bear in mind that the article is very long, you'll have to read it before going to look at a bike, and maybe print off relevant parts.
When you are sitting on a bike, check out our bike fit page to check that the bike will fit you, and if it doesn't, do some research to see if the bike can be made to fit, and how much that might cost.
Finally, some motorcycles have an option for ABS. There is no proof that ABS works on motorcycles, but please read our ABS article before you decide. Even though there is some discussion about its efficacy, it is our view that the smart money is on ABS, and that the effect of ABS of making wheel lock impossible during emergency braking is worth the extra charge, if there is one.
Once you have your new bike, bear in mind that the first six months on any new bike have an elevated risk of crashes. It might help to sign up for intermediate or advanced training, or at least get out for a few hours and do some skills practice on a parking lot to try and expedite this process. It would do no harm to review our defensive riding strategies too.
Ride safe on your new bike.