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Buying a motorcycle

“What is the best motorcycle?”

If I had a dollar for every time that someone asked me this question, I would be…. Well I'd have a couple of dollars anyway. Is there such a thing as the “Best Motorcycle”? A much better question to ask would be, “What motorcycle would be the best for me?”

When shopping for a motorcycle there are a few things that should be taken into consideration. One of the most important is what type of riding you intend to do. That is, will you be riding mostly in the city, short trips to the country, or longer rides?

For the most part the majority of motorcycles available today are pretty good at doing more than one duty. However, some bikes are definitely more capable doing certain things than other bikes are. For example, I would consider getting a sportbike if I would be using it for a daily commuter, riding twisty roads, or short trips to the country. I wouldn't necessarily pick a sportbike as my first choice, if I was planning to ride across Canada however. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that someone couldn't ride a sportbike across the country. It is just that there are other types of motorcycles (full touring or sport touring) that might better be suited for such a trip.

  • Sport touring and full touring bikes are much more comfortable for longer rides than sport bikes because:
  • The riding position puts less strain on the wrists, back, and knees etc.
  • The seats are plusher than the vinyl covered brick that you normally find on a sport-bike.
  • These bikes can generally travel further between fill-ups, because their gas tanks are usually larger.
  • Luggage can be attached much easier than on sportbikes.

Now that you have chosen the type or style of motorcycle that suites your needs, you now should decide if you want to purchase new or used. I know that there are some of you out there who would never consider buying a used motorcycle and visa versa. Either way buying a new or used motorcycle has its advantages and disadvantages.

Buying a new motorcycle
Advantages Disadvantages
Warrantee   Higher price
1st owner   Regular maintenance fees
Choice of features & colours   Full coverage insurance required (if financing)
Longer vehicle life    
Good mechanical condition    
Buying a used motorcycle
Cheaper price   Warrantee?
Only liability insurance required   Number of prior owners
After market parts included?   Maintenance history of prior owners
Accessories included with sale (jacket, lock, bike cover)?   Limited choice of features & colours
    Mechanical condition in question

Government Auctioned Motorcycles

Buying a new motorcycle has a lot of advantages; the only real drawback is price. With the price of a new bike being anywhere from $10,000 Canadian and up, a lot of people do not have the cash, nor are willing to finance a new motorcycle for 36 to 60 months. Their only alternative is to buy used, buying used is definitely cheaper. There are lot of used motorcycles out there that are in great shape. There are also however a lot of bikes out there that are lemons, so be very careful.

There are a few things to consider before you decide to buy a motorcycle from someone. The most important thing is to have the bike checked out by a mechanic that you know and trust. You may buy a motorcycle that seems to be a great deal, only to find out that it needs major work in the near future. I would also recommend against buying a bike that is “uncertified” or “as is”, generally they require a long list of parts and a fair amount of money in order to be certified.

I would also recommend that you go and look at the motorcycle in the in the day time. That way you will notice any dents, scratches or problems that the bike may have. By looking at a motorcycle you can tell a lot about how the previous owner(s) took care of it. Little things suchas a excessively dirty/ rusty chain, bald tires and frayed cables indicate that he/she did not take very good care if their bike. Scratches on the engine cases, levers, and bodywork might imply that the bike has been dropped. Also you might not want to buy a bike that has been in a nasty crash and was rebuilt, so it can be sold.

Most buyers make the mistake of looking to buy a motorcycle (new or used) in the spring or early summer. This is actually when bike prices are at their highest. Why? One word, “Demand”, this is typically the time of year when the majority people start thinking about getting their motorcycle licence and are looking to buy. Therefore the sellers know that they will more than likely get a higher price for their bike.


A better time to buy a motorcycle is in the fall, (if you have a place to store it). This is the time of year when bike prices are at their lowest, because demand is generally at its lowest. Dealers are looking to get rid of the pervious year’s models, to make room for the next year bikes. Likewise, private sellers are also anxious to sell their bikes so that they can get that new model. Also a lot of people will want to sell their bikes in the fall so that they do not have to worry about finding a place to store their bikes over the winter. Either way they will be more likely to come down from their asking price.

Finally when looking for a used motorcycle, take your time and don't rush into a decision that you may end up regretting. If you are going to look at a motorcycle I would suggest that you bring a friend along who can give you an objective opinion. Also I recommend that you do not bring money with you the first time you go and see a bike. This will stop you from impulse buying, and give you some time to think about it for a day or two. Before any money changes hands. Also make sure that the motorcycle has the proper papers, that is the VIN number is legit, and there are no liens on the bike.

Remember if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. As the saying goes “A fool and his/ her money are soon parted”. Don't get taken advantage of by someone, because it seemed like you are getting a great deal. Buying a bike for $3000 is not a good deal if you have to fork over another $3000 to fix all the problems that the bike may have. So remember it’s “Buyer Beware,” once the sale has been made you are on your own.

Good luck in your search!!!