My name is Sheldon, and I was a police officer for 15 years, and I was a motor officer for the last six years. I am currently a California Motorcycle Safety Program Instructor for the basic and intermediate riding classes. I own Prorider Antelope, where I teach motor officer skills to everyday riders.
Choosing your first bike or maybe your tenth bike can be a challenge. I hope I can help you figure out what kind of bike to get next.
To help you choose a bike, you must answer a few questions honestly.
What kind of riding are you planning to do?
What kind of riding is probably one of the biggest questions you must ask yourself. If you’re planning to commute in a lot of traffic every day, then a big bike might not be the best option. You may want to consider something smaller with better gas mileage.
A smaller bike will also make it easier to split lanes if needed. Maybe your goal is traveling the country, and you may want a bigger bike for the creature comforts that bigger bikes can offer. Perhaps your goal is to do some off-roading, but you still want to ride comfortably on the road. An adventure bike may be the way to go. Maybe you want to do more off-roading and a little riding on the road. A dual-sport might be a better option for you.
How much do you want to spend on a motorcycle?
As inflation continues to go up, buying an expensive bike may not be an option for you. You may have to look at a smaller, cheaper bike.
If you find a bike that you like, can you adjust it to make you feel more comfortable?
Most motorcycles allow you to adjust the handlebars, foot-pegs, controls, and seat height.
Is it too big of a bike for your physical ability?
One of the most significant issues I see with riders is buying a bike that they can’t handle. Many riders are concerned about dropping their motorcycle and not having the ability to pick it back up. You don’t want to have a bike that you cannot move around on your own. Some riders have difficulty turning the motorcycle while riding because of the weight. You want to find something that you can pick up and turn.
Do you have medical issues that would prevent you from riding certain types of motorcycles.?
If you have some medical issues like back pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, leg pain, etc. You may want to rent the type of bike you would want to get and ride it for a few hundred miles and see how you feel before making a purchase.
What kind of bike should I get if I am a beginner?
People will tell you to stay under 500 CC when you are a new rider. The issue with saying 500 CC is you could have a 500 CC sport bike vs a 500 CC cruiser, and the horsepower of the two bikes is entirely different.
You want to find a bike that, if you make a mistake like popping the clutch out, you won’t be going down the road at 60 MPH in first gear or get thrown off the bike.
Should I buy a new or used motorcycle?
Buying a new or used bike is a decision you must make. Purchasing a new bike means no one else has done anything to it and has not damaged it. You must be careful buying a used bike because you don’t know how the previous owner treated that motorcycle unless you know the person personally. You don’t know if the previous owner kept up on the maintenance. If you decide to buy a used bike, take it to a mechanic shop and let a mechanic look it over. Yes, it will probably cost you some money but well worth it to ensure you’re getting a good bike.
Will I save money by riding a motorcycle vs. a car?
No. Motorcycles are way more expensive to ride than a car. The only thing you may save money on is gas. You will also save time. Instead of sitting in traffic for hours, you could be to work much quicker. For some people, time is more important than money. Motorcycle maintenance, repairs, and tires can get a lot more expensive than driving a car.
What type of technology should I have on my motorcycle?
Motorcycle manufacturers are coming out with great technology that has been on cars for years but is just making it to the motorcycle world. Here is some of the great technology:
ABS (Anti-Lock Braking)
ABS is an excellent tool for new and experienced riders. When you over-apply the front brake or rear brake, ABS kicks in and prevents the motorcycle tires from locking up and causing your tires to slide. You don’t have to think about applying the brakes in an emergency because the computer does it for you.
ABS cornering can be another excellent tool. ABS Cornering prevents you from locking up the front and rear wheel while leaning over in a corner. If we lock up our tires in a corner, there is a good chance we will lose traction and possibly crash.
Traction control is great when you give your motorcycle too much throttle and the tires start to spend. Traction control shuts down your throttle momentarily until your tires stop spinning and gain traction again.
Traction control works excellent if you’re trying to apply throttle when the roads are less than perfect.
Electronic Suspension Adjustment
The electronic suspension adjustment allows the motorcycle to adjust the suspension based on the person’s weight and any gear that you put on the bike. The electronic suspension can also change based on what kind of riding you plan.
An adaptive headlight can be great if you’re riding at night. When your motorcycle turns, the headlight will move toward the direction of the corner, allowing you to see better.
Adaptive Cruise Control
Having cruise control is fantastic when taking a long ride, but now some of the newer motorcycles have adaptive cruise control, which means it will slow down or speed up depending on traffic.
Linked Braking Systems
Having Linked Brakes is a great tool to have on your bike. Applying the front or rear brake will automatically apply the other brake.
This is just some of the great technology out there for motorcycles that will help us stay safer on the road. Don’t depend on the technology, and you should always train like the technology is not there.
At some point, it may fail, and you need to know how to control your bike without it.
When choosing a motorcycle, the choice is entirely up to you. I hope to help people understand the different options and things to think about when buying a bike. Above all things enjoy the ride and stay safe.