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Choosing Your First Bike

Deciding on your first motorcycle can be a daunting task, but the most important thing to remember when you’re looking around is to make sure the bike you ultimately choose is comfortable to ride and inspires confidence when you are on the road. The last thing you want to do is get something too big, heavy, or powerful. Doing so can not only be dangerous, but will also take away from the enjoyment of riding. It’s also important that you want to find a bike you can grow into. This will prevent you from finding yourself bored with your new machine a few short months after purchasing it. Here are some other tips to help you pick the best bike for you.

Take a rider safety course before even looking at bikes.

If you are a total novice, do yourself a favor and take a rider safety. Even if you’re more experienced, taking a safety course is a great way to brush up on your skills. These courses give you a chance to learn on someone else’s bike — which will usually be comfortable and easy to ride — in a controlled environment. This lets you focus just on perfecting your riding techniques, rather than having to do so on the road, where things like traffic, weather, and pedestrians could distract you from properly learning. You can usually participate in a rider safety course through your local Department of Motor Vehicles, or Department of Transportation.

There are also several private organizations that offer rider safety courses, including the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. The MSF offers courses at more than 2,700 locations and in all 50 states. You can also check with local dealerships and riders clubs for more information about safety courses. In addition to the confidence you will gain on the road, many manufacturers and dealers offer small incentives on new motorcycles and gear if you bring in proof that you have completed a rider safety course.

Determine your budget and stick to it.

Once you have completed a rider safety course and are ready to begin the search for your first bike, it’s a good idea to set your budget. In a perfect world, we would all have shiny, new dream bikes (and cars or trucks for those bad weather days), but paying for things like housing and bills usually takes precedence. Knowing what you have to work with before you start can help keep you from reaching for something out of your price (or skills) range.

Be honest with yourself when it comes to how much you can afford to spend on your bike, too. While $5,000 won’t go very far with a brand new motorcycle, there are dozens of perfectly capable used options that are great machines, and most may only be a few years old. On the flip side, if you’ve got money to burn, it’s important not to buy too much bike. While spending $20,000-plus on a stunning new sport bike or full-dress cruiser may score you points in the parking lot, the advanced skills needed to tame such a bike may leave you wishing you hadn’t splurged. Remember, no matter how careful you are, if you are a novice rider, your bike will end up hitting the ground at some point.

Find the best fit.

Even if you have only been looking at motorcycles for a brief period of time, you are probably aware that there is a dizzying amount of choices available. While deciding what type of bike you want is important, it’s more important to pick something that’s comfortable to ride. To this end, the first thing you will need to do when testing out bikes in person is to make sure both of your feet can go flat on the ground at a complete stop. It’s also a good rule of thumb to avoid anything ultra-fast or performance-oriented. Even today’s middle-weight sport bikes are heavily based on full-blown race machines, which can prove to be difficult to handle on the street.

With those things in mind, it’s time to consider where, and how, you will ride your new bike. You can learn more about the different types of motorcycles available in our What To Ride article.