by Bruce Mike
I’ve recently found myself in discussions with people about what type of bike they should get. Always one to give my opinion, especially when asked, I shared my experience with these folks. Specifically, I shared mistakes I’ve made when picking out a motorcycle and what I learned from those mistakes. Here is some of my limited knowledge and the wisdom of others who have taught me along the way.
Getting that first bike. I call it a first bike because if you’re at all like me you’ll develop a passion, that borders on obsession, for the wonderful world of motorcycles, and after your first one you’ll end up with many more. I’ve met a lot of people that have owned only one motorcycle. Some of them still go out for an occasional ride, and for many that first bike is just a fond memory of simpler times. I bought my first street bike because it was selling for the exact amount of money I had to spend. I don’t recommend buying a bike this way. I found myself saying, “I can make this work”. I had little knowledge of motorcycles and I was too stubborn to ask for help. I ended up with a bike that was “great around town” and required much modification for me to really like it.
Whether you used to ride or you’re just starting out, I recommend you take an MMSC rider course. It’s great training and with the Beginning Rider Course they give you a bike to ride and at the end you take the test for your motorcycle endorsement. Most insurance companies will give you a discount if you’ve completed this course. The easiest way to find their classes is to google Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center.
There are many different styles of motorcycle available. Before I purchase a bike these days, I ask myself what I’m going to use it for. I have no trouble finding a need for any bike. It’s all about justifying the purchase. If you’re getting a bike to commute, I would suggest something small and agile — 250-650cc. This is a great size even for shorter day trips. If you plan on doing some travelling you should look at 700cc and bigger, with bags and wind screens. If you want to ride fast and take chances, you have a multitude of Sport Bike options. My next bike will be a Dual Sport. In the old days we called them Enduros. These bikes have come a long way since then and each year there seem to be more options in this category. I really want a bike that I can ride almost anywhere. I have trips planned in my head that involve gravel roads and trails that my bagger just isn’t built for.
I realize I haven’t covered anywhere near all the information one needs for picking a motorcycle. It would take far more space than I have available here. The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years is to seek the wisdom of others before making a decision. Unfortunately this lesson came about after many mistakes. Research and patience always work best for me when buying a bike. Check our calendar page for dealer and factory demo rides, talk to someone who has a bike you’re interested in, surf the net and keep an open mind. Getting stuck on a brand or a specific category could keep you from finding the bike that will best fit you and how you ride.