Choosing a motorcycle

If you’ve recently taken your CBT or passed your test you’ll be chomping at the bit to get on the road. Choosing your first motorcycle is a wonderful experience, but you need to think carefully about you need/want and what you can afford.

Motorcycle forums are awash with “recommend me a bike” type threads and often the advice given is similar. Take your time and don’t rush into a purchase that you’ll regret later.

When choosing a motorcycle you need to consider a number of points

  • Licence restrictions – what type of licence do you hold? What engine size and power output are you allowed?
  • Purpose – how do you plan on using the bike? Short city hops, or long-distance riding?
  • Ergonomics – is the bike comfortable? Can you reach the floor?
  • Weight – the heavier the bike the more difficult it will be to manoeuvre and harder to park. No-one ever wished their bike was heavier.
  • Price – how much does it cost? Should you buy used or new?
  • Running costs – how much is the insurance, is it economical, what are the service costs?
  • Your ability – would you feel confident jumping on a 150bhp sports bike, or should you start with something a little less powerful.

Bikes are usually classified into categories depending on their intended use.

Learner legal – 125cc
Typically 125cc bikes that can be ridden on a CBT or A1 licence. These are forgiving and often offer great fuel economy.

Mid-range motorcycles
Anything over 125cc that doesn’t fit into the other categories. Typically these bikes will range from 250-800cc and will comfortably reach all UK speed limits.

Sport bikes and super sports
Bikes derived from racing series or designed to have a sporty appearance. These are usually high power high performance machines with top speeds far in excess of UK speed limits. While they wouldn’t be out of place on a race track, many perform exceptionally well on the road too.

Tourers and sports tourers
Bikes designed with comfort in mind, and aimed at the long distance rider. They often have luggage hooks or panniers, and a fairing to help protect you from the weather.

Custom/cruisers
The typical Harley Davidson type motorcycle with relaxed laid-back styling a load seat heat.

Adventure and dual propose bikes
Bikes designed to travel both on and off road. While their dual nature makes them a compromise in both situations, this is the fastest growing sector of the motorcycle industry.

These bikes typically have a much higher seat height and extra ground clearance to cope with off road excursions. Their long travel suspension is usually quite soft and is able to soak up bumps in the road with ease.

Their ability to go anywhere combined poor conditioned pot-holed UK roads is a key driver behind their popularity.

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