It sounds like a cliché, being of an older age and out of the blue buying a motorcycle, including the leather jacket and perhaps a new, one syllable, nickname. But can it really be a cliché if every one of us has dreamt about being able to get on your bike and drive down route 66 with just you and the road to keep you company? Let’s face it, for most owning a motorcycle is a pipe dream under the label as unnecessary, impractical and expensive. For good measure, we usually throw in dangerous as well citing the vulnerability of a motorcyclist. A motorcycle is not one of those things that would survive a pro and con checklist. You drive a bike because you want to. Start with getting used motorcycle, for example from CleanHarleys.com. Here are some pointers to help you make an informed decision.
Obviously, start with getting your license. It follows pretty much the same structure as getting a license for an auto vehicle. Get a motorcycle handbook to learn the rules and guidelines of motorcycles in general traffic. Once you are ready, go get your learners permit. It usually involves an eye test, a written exam and a fee. With your learners permit you can start taking lessons to increase your skill. When you feel confident enough, sign up for the road test. You will need a street-legal motorbike to complete the test but consider borrowing or renting one. Pass the road test and obtain your license! With your new license in your possession, it’s time to find your ride.
Decide what you want to buy and what kind of drives you want to go on. Adventure touring bikes are meant to be ready for anything, suitable for tarmac, gravel and trail riding. This is a bike for those who want a comfortable long drive but the speed at the same time. Or go for a chopper, made famous by Easy Rider (1969), an absolute classic and you can get some mean custom looks on them. Another option is getting a cruiser, designed for laid back riding. If you are planning for an urban commute, consider getting a sports bike. Sure, they are basically a massive engine on a lightweight frame, but they are excellent for quick acceleration and agility in the big city.
Once you have chosen your type of bike, do your research and visit all the motorhead forums. It might not even be a bad idea to see if there are any motorbike clubs you can join. And that might sound like you are joining a criminal organization, but nothing is further from the truth. In most cases a motorcycle club is like any other social club, but with bikes. Most motorcycle clubs try to be involved in the local community, organizing charity raffles and other charitable events. Motorcycle clubs that have a clubhouse also require a long list of mundane tasks to be performed ranging from roof mending, lawn mowing, and accounting books to be balanced. Get in touch with people from your preferred motorcycle club, they can perhaps help you with your next step. It’s probably more realistic buying a used bike.
Make sure only to buy a used motorcycle with the right documentation. Make sure the vehicle you are about to purchase has a log book and full-service history. Look for any red flags such as major repairs that could indicate any structural damage or botched repairs. And when viewing the bike, make sure to give it a thorough visual inspection. Look for any signs of a crash, scratches, and dents that could indicate more costs down the line. Damage to the exhaust, handlebar ends, and foot pedals should be queried. If you can’t get a test drive yourself, ask the current owner or seller to start up the bike and drive it around a bit. Don’t be distracted by the attractive rumble of the engine but look for possible stutters that give away engine issues. And if you are not confident yourself to make an assessment, see if you can take a friend that knows a thing or two about motorcycles.
If the motorcycle passed all the initial checks, be sure to check for any assurances that can be given on purchase. Most dealerships will provide a cooldown period, warranty and finance deals, giving you more flexibility and peace of mind when buying a motorcycle. It sometimes seems that private sellers will provide you with a better deal, but if you consider the benefits of a dealership, it might work out more attractive to pay the perceived premium. But if you not risk-averse, you can even buy from eBay or online auction sites. You can get some rock-bottom deals here, but without inspection, you genuinely don’t know what you are buying.
Once you have acquired a motorcycle, be sure to sort out your insurance straight away. The insurance is always necessary to check continuously when buying a bike. Smaller, older and less expensive bikes will be easier and cheaper to insure. Go for stock models rather than heavy modified ones. When requested an annual mileage, consider putting through a sensible minimum rather than a maximum. Try paying annually instead of monthly if you can. Once you sorted out your insurance, consider what appropriate riding wear will be. Especially on high-performance sports bikes, you might want to get a good helmet and protective gear. Even on choppers, you might want to consider wearing long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves that provide protection in case of an unfortunate fall. Wearing something bright helps being spotted in traffic.
With your license, bike and protective gear, you are ready to hit the road! Now all that’s left is signing up for the next long ride organized by your motorcycle club. Alternatively, you can arrange one yourself with your best buddies. A full tank, an empty head and a powerful engine between your legs are all you need in this world to escape, even if it’s just for a little while.