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Top Tips For Planning Your Bucket List Ride

Tips For Riding in the Rain

What to Know Before Shopping for a Motorcycle

You’ve taken the classes and have finally received your motorcycle license. Congratulations! Welcome to the riding lifestyle – we’re a fun group. Now you’re ready to find the motorcycle you’ve always wanted, but you might be wondering how to choose the right motorcycle for you. Luckily, we just hosted a Facebook live Q&A on March 17, 2021 at 2PM ET about the motorcycle buying process. You can access the Facebook Q&A here. We’ve also gathered our list of top buying tips right here on the blog. 

Before you even start the shopping process for a motorcycle, here are three steps you need to take: 

Build Your Wishlist.

This is the fun part of the buying process. Dream big. Throw logic to the wind. Think about all the things you’d want in a motorcycle of your own and what features you couldn’t live without (or even those that you just think would be cool to chat about over a drink with friends). To get started, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will I be using my motorcycle?
  • Do I plan on taking longer trips or daily commutes?
  • What kind of riding style and how much power would I like?


These questions can help you determine which motorcycle is right for you and your lifestyle. Your motorcycle wish list also needs to consider:

  • Size/Ergonomics: Motorcycles come in a variety of sizes so make sure you find one that fits you perfectly while providing comfort.
  • Storage options: While most motorcycles don’t have a ton of storage options, some do have small compartments, under the seat storage, and saddlebags. 
  • Technology integration: Do you want the latest and greatest motorcycle technology like integrated GPS and interface systems and the ability to connect to your smartphone? Or do you like to keep it simple and classic while you ride? 
  • Seat height: You’ll want to make sure your feet can easily touch the ground when stopped, so it’s important to test out different seat heights and find one that’s comfortable. 
  • Brand: Do you have a brand you know and love? Or are you looking to broaden your horizons?  
  • Displacement: Displacement can determine the overall power of the motorcycle. It’s important not to go overboard if you are a beginner. 
  • Weight: You’ll want to make sure you can easily control your motorcycle and that’s it’s not too heavy for your liking. 
  • Where You’ll Be Riding: Are you riding off-road or on city streets? Consider your daily commutes and trips you’ll want to take in the future. 


All of these considerations will help you narrow down the makes and models you’ll want to check out during the buying process.

Determine Your Budget.

It’s easy to forget about your budget during the excitement phase of buying a motorcycle. But staying within budget is crucial when purchasing a bike of your own. There’s more to budget for than just the cost of the bike. Bills and costs will follow you long after you ride off the lot. Three major things to consider are…

  • The down-payment: If you plan on financing your motorcycle, you’ll need to consider the amount you’ll need to pay up-front. Talk to a dealer to get a range of a down payment so you can work to put some money aside monthly.
  • Regular expenses, like monthly payments, insurance, fuel: When you buy a motorcycle there are recurring expenses you’ll also need to consider so make sure to consider these when planning your budget. 
  • Preventative maintenance and unexpected repairs: We hope that these are few and far between, but occasionally you’ll need to conduct preventive maintenance to keep your motorcycle in tip-top shape and you’ll also need to consider any unexpected repairs that come up.

If you’re looking to save some money, consider buying a used motorcycle. There are tons of options out there from both private sellers and dealers. 

Choose Your Motorcycle Type.

Last but not least, you’ll need to pick the type of motorcycle you’d like to purchase. There are a lot of options out there, so we’ll break a few of the most popular types down for you. 

Cruisers: When most people think of cruisers, they think of the Harley Davidson classic. But Harley isn’t the only brand embracing this style. Cruisers are designed for laid-back, relaxed riding. They have low seats often in a reclined position with feet forward riding. Cruisers keep it cool, and so do their fans.

Dual-Sport: Dual sport bikes are ready for anything – just like the riders who love them. They can take on the paved road or backroad with their off-road suspension. Their seat height is slightly higher to take on backroads and have a sporty look. 

Choppers: Some common characteristics of choppers are extended forks, low reclined seats, and longer front ends. Choppers stand out from the crowd and usually look different from typical factory models. These bikes favor personality over comfort and are usually chromed out and customized. 

Sport Bikes: Sport Bikes are made for speed, acceleration, and thrill. They tend to leave comfort in the dust. These high-performance motorcycles have higher foot pegs and seating that pushes the rider forward, over the tank. They are made to take on tight turns with impeccable control. 

Standard: Standard motorcycles or “naked motorcycles” are known for their upright riding position. Their handlebars and footpegs are positioned so riders can be comfortable without having to reach too far forward. These bikes have a retro feel and mid-ranged engine sizes.

Touring: These bikes are made for long-distance rides with their big fuel tanks and comfortable seats and backrests. These bikes are on the heavier side and usually come with built-in windshields and navigation systems. 

Off-road: Off-road bikes are for (you guessed it) off-road riding. They have a taller seat to accommodate their suspension and place the rider in an upright position. They often feature knobby tires to take on the elements. 

Scooters: Scooters can be compared to small motorcycles with a step-through frame. Drivers can sit with their legs together and their feet on a floorboard. Scooters are an economical option for riders and have engines that range from 50 to 250 cc. 

Once you have built your wishlist, determined your budget, and chosen your motorcycle type, you’re ready to begin your hard-target dream bike search. For tips on next steps, check out our companion article about researching and buying motorcycles. And if you’d like to really take a deep dive into any of these topics, don’t forget to check out our Facebook Live Q&A!


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Emily Sullivan
Emily Sullivan
Emily Sullivan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the recreational brands RV Trader and Cycle Trader. Her mission is to provide thoughtful, practical content to those who are always on the hunt for their next adventure.

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