How To Choose A Motorcycle

Choosing the right motorcycle can feel exciting…and maybe a little overwhelming. Finding a bike that fits well, looks great, and matches your riding style can take time and research.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced motorcycle rider looking for an upgrade, you’ll probably want to get recommendations from friends, visit motorcycle dealerships, and take a bunch of test drives.

Nothing can replace experiencing the motorcycle firsthand – feeling its weight, fit, acceleration, power, and overall ride quality.

But other criteria, listed below, could help if you want to choose the motorcycle that’s perfect for you – on every level!

Type Of Motorcycle That Matches Your Riding Style
What’s your riding style? That, perhaps, is the first question to ask before you begin the buying process. What do you primarily want to do with the bike…what kind of riding do you prefer? Once you know this, you can begin to narrow down your search.

There are a number of different types of motorcycles, including:

  • standard or commuting motorcycles (for everyday riding)
  • touring motorcycles (for long distance rides and road trips)
  • cruising motorcycles (for relaxed, laid back rides)
  • sportbikes (for speedy, aggressive riding)
  • adventure and off-roading motorcycles (for on-road and off-road conditions)

Your Experience Level With Motorcycles
For beginner riders, a motorcycle with a smaller, more manageable engine is usually the best bet. Lightweight bikes (with engine sizes up to 500cc) offer better control and easier maneuverability. As you gain confidence and experience, you can look at mid-range or larger engines.

Engine Size and Power Of The Motorcycle
Typically measured in cubic centimeters (cc), engine size is a significant factor in a motorcycle’s power and performance. How fast do you want to go, how quickly do you want to accelerate and how much power can you handle?

Below are engine sizes and recommendations for riders:

300cc or less: Ideal for beginners, these motorcycles are lightweight and fuel-efficient.

300cc to 700cc: Suitable for regular commuters and intermediate riders, these motorcycles have a mid-range of power.

700cc and above: Best for experienced and advanced riders, these motorcycles offer more power and are suitable for highway riding, touring, and long-distance travel.

Comfort and Fit Of The Motorcycle
Making sure that a motorcycle fits you properly – ergonomically – can make all the difference in how comfortable the motorcycle will be and how much you’ll enjoy riding it.

When evaluating how well the motorcycle fits your body type, consider:

  • seat height (you should be able to firmly plant both of your feet on the ground)
  • handlebar reach (you should be able to comfortably reach and grip the handlebars, without leaning too far forward or back)
  • foot controls (you should be able to easily access the foot controls, without straining)

Safety Features On The Motorcycle
If safety is a top priority, look for motorcycles that have advanced safety features. These include:

  • anti-lock brakes (ABS)
  • traction control system (TCS)
  • electronic stability control (ESC)
  • airbags
  • daytime running lights
  • integrated braking systems
  • ride modes
  • tire pressure monitoring systems
  • cornering ABS
  • hill start assist
  • blind spot detection
  • forward collision warning
  • adaptive cruise control
  • LED lighting
  • frame sliders
  • engine guards / crash bars
  • adjustable windshields
  • gear shift assist

Price Of The Motorcycle
Price is almost always a consideration when buying a bike, and you’ll want to factor in not only the cost of the motorcycle, but also the cost of maintenance and repairs. A used bike might be less expensive upfront, but a pricey undertaking down the line.

In addition to the initial purchase price of the motorcycle, consider these expenses as well:

New vs. Used Motorcycle
Who wouldn’t want a new motorcycle? What’s not to love about a bike in pristine condition, with a warranty to boot. But ouch, there’s that high price tag, which might make you start looking for used motorcycles!

If you’re considering buying a used motorcycle, be sure to check out:

  • ownership history of the motorcycle
  • accident history of the motorcycle
  • mileage
  • maintenance and repair records
  • signs of potential wear and/or damage
  • which safety features the motorcycle does or doesn’t have

See related topics:
Types Of Motorcycles
Top Motorcycle Brands
Safety Features On Motorcycles