Buying Your First Bike
Buying your first motorcycle can be a daunting proposition. At any given moment, there are somewhere around 80 major players in the motorcycle manufacturing business, and that number fails to include the thousands of smaller and custom builders who make a wide variety of styles and types of bikes.
So where do you start?
Step numero uno is deciding which type, model or style of motorcycle is right for you.
Step two? Will you be buying new or used?
Step three? What kind of budget to you have for your purchase?
Once you have those choices narrowed down, you can begin the process of narrowing your possible choices down to a manageable list of contenders.
For the most part, bikes are grouped into three general categories: Street, Dual-Purpose, and Off-Road. If you’re and aficionado, you know bikes come in a bewildering variety of styles and subgenres depending on their intended use.
One mistake beginning riders often make when selecting their first motorcycle is opting for a low-budget street model. Once you’ve made that mistake, your problems are manifold. You now own a bike lacking power and which features uncomfortable riding characteristics. Once you’ve discovered the error of your ways, you’re faced with trying to peddle an unattractive bike on a market flooded with them.
Save yourself the trouble and don’t make that mistake. If you’re intimidated by the size and power of larger motorcycles, start out taking a rider safety course. You’ll be able to use someone else’s bike while you gain the experience of handling a motorcycle. You’ll also be able to talk to other riders and instructors about what they ride – and why they chose their bikes. That’s invaluable information.
Another mistake? Buying too much machine. You’re a novice rider, don’t think you’ll automatically love your new Hayabusa because it’s top of the line. The power of such machines is almost guaranteed to get you into trouble on the road until you have lots of miles on your resume, and there’s nothing worse than taking a bath when you decide to sell the bike because it’s just too over the top for your riding style.
How to Get It Right
First and foremost, consider buying a used machine to minimize the chances that a poor choice will be expensive. This has to additional benefit of letting you search long and hard to find the right bike, and that search will bring you into contact with a wide variety of bikes and manufacturer’s. You’ll do a lot of test drives, and during the course of those dry runs, you’ll discover what’s comfortable for you and what isn’t.
Narrowing the Field of Choices For Your First Motorcycle
Here’s a list of bike types broken down by practical concerns
Touring Bikes – these are the Cadillacs of the motorcycle world. Technically “street bikes,” touring bikes are made for comfortable highway use and taking long trips. They generally feature large powerplants of 750cc and above, they’re very heavy and can they can prove tough to handle at high speeds and in parking lots. Once you have more experience and want to do some serious highway riding, these kings-of-the-road are right up your alley. If you do a lot of in-town and city riding, stay out of this market. There are better choices available to you and touring models range from $10,000 to $20,000, so the investment is considerable.
Cruisers – These are classically-styled street bikes and are the most common style of bike offered by most dealers. Cruiser designs emphasize style and comfort and large, comfortable lower to the ground seating. The low center of gravity and lower weight of these machines make them slightly easier to handle and maneuver in parking lots. They’re also easier to move on the used market if you find you didn’t make the perfect choice the first time around. These bikes are also 750cc and larger, and the cost can range from $5,000 for entry level models like Honda’s Shadow line or the entry level Harley’s to $20,000 for the higher end models from most major manufacturers.
Sport Bikes – Do yourself a favor and choose a bike from this category very, very carefully. Popular among younger riders, these highly advance machines are built for pure performance and lack most of the comfort and convenience of the previously detailed types. Lightweight and highly aerodynamic, sport bikes can make long trips a truly grim experience. Most sports bikes are meant to be ridden hard and should only be taken to their real limits at track days. Relatively inexpensive and ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, expect to pay higher insurance premiums and do some serious damage to your driving record.
Standard Bikes and “Wing” Style Machines – This type of machine might be the rbest possible choice. Essentially “super scooters,” they have more than enough power to cruise comfortable at highway speeds, feature powerplants in the 600cc range, boast lockable storage and rider-friendly windshields and fairings and are excellent value for beginners since they are well-balanced, powerful enough and relatively light-weight. Those featureshelp with handling and make them ideal for both city and highway riding.
Motocross Bikes – Purely an off-road machine, they feature small but powerful engines and extreme light weight around 150-300 pounds. These are exclusively for recreational, off-road riding, and while generally inexpensive (usually in the $1,500 to $6,000 range) they are for the novice rider and they’re not versatile enough to use as daily riders or commuter machines.
Dual-Purpose and Motard Bikes – If you want some off-road capability with the additional benefit of commuter capability, motard or dual-purpose bikes feature knobby tires and a high center of gravity that works well for off-roading. They have all the necessary equipment – read headlights, turn-signals, and emissions control devices – to make them street-legal and comfortable for longer trips.
Major Motorcycle Manufacturers Worldwide
1. American Eagle Motorcycle Co – AEM has become a leading manufacturer of custom, high-performance cruiser motorcycles and is rapidly gaining national recognition as a premier provider of innovative products as it develops into an industry leader.
2. American Iron Horse Motorcycle Company – We build a custom bike for every kind of lifestyle–whether you crave the performance and handling of a sport bike or just want to cruise the good life on a chopper-style bike.
3. Aprilia – Aprilia has now taken up a stable place as Europe’s second largest producer of motorcycle and scooters and is at the top of World Championship racing.
4. Arlen Ness Enterprises – The ultimate motorcycle customizer
5. ATK – Racing is what put ATK on the map. Racing is what makes motorcycles fun. Racing also develops bikes that we like to ride. Our philosophy is to build “Ready to Race, Hand-Built Works bikes for everyone”. Our bikes are made to win races right out of the crate without any special modifications.
6. Bajaj Auto Ltd. – Indian (Asian) manufacturer of mopeds, scooters, motorcycles and trikes.
7. Benelli –
8. Big Dog Motorcycles – Big Dog Motorcycles is the leading producer of custom, American V-twin motorcycles. Five models, each powered by a 117 cubic inch engine, set a new standard for high style and performance.Awesome Site – Builders of custom Harley style motorcycles.
9. Big Mikes Choppers –
10. Bimota – Italian maker provides pictures and descriptions of its latest models, and also lists enthusiasts’ clubs and distributors.
11. BMW – The official BMW of North America Motorcycles website. Learn about current models and gear, and where to find your nearest Authorized BMW Motorcycle Retailer.
12. Boss Hoss Motorcycles – Builders of custom V-8 powered motorcycles
13. Bourget’s Bike Works – Besides being the coolest, each motorcycle is custom-built and designed. BOURGET’S motorcycles combine style with strength and power. Are you ready to purchase the bike of YOUR DREAMS? BOURGET’S motorcycles have received many AWARDS and WORLDWIDE RECOGNITION for their outstanding performance and sheer style.
14. BSA-Regal Group Ltd – BSA Regal Group Ltd History. History timeline starting centuries ago showing how BSA got to where it is today.
15. Buell Motorcycle Company – Harley-powered American-made high-performance sport bikes
16. Cagiva – Italian Motorcycle Manufacturer recently merged with MV Agusta
17. California Custom Cycles – California Customs is America’s premier, small-volume designer and builder of hand-crafted, exquisitely customized high-end motorcycles. Our customers range from the industry professional to the “blue collar” worker.
18. California Sidecar – California Sidecar is currently under site construction
19. Carefree Custom Cycles – Carefree Custom Cycles in Phoenix, AZ. We are excited to present our quality custom motorcycles at affordable prices!
20. Cerro Motos – CERRO MOTOS – Fabrica Argentina de motocicletas
21. Chang Jiang – Specializing in the replicas of BMW R71 sidecar motorcycle,50’s JAWA 353 motorcycle and SOLEX S 3800 moped;The Wooden or Leather Steering Wheel, Shift Knob and other auto parts and accessories
22. Cheetah Trikes – Cheetah Trikes custom designs and manufactures trikes, V8 trikes, luxury motorcycles and motorcycle conversions.
23. Chongqing Union China – China Motorcycle, Motocicleta, moto/motos, off road bike, scooter and spare parts manufacturer and exporter. Always launching high quality products with competitive price and good service and EEC, EEC motorcycle, DOT/EPA scooter available.
Interesting site but it is written in Chinglish
25. Cobra Motorcycle – Cobra Motorcycles produces premium race-ready mini motocross bikes for youth riders that are serious about competing. Our three models offer the most competitive performance in the mini category and Cobras have claimed more than 45 national titles since the company was founded in 1993. Cobra Motorcycles is the only producer of off-road motorcycles that are truly ‘Made in the U.S.A.
26. Confederate Motor Company – Unique custom motorcycles
27. Cyril Huze Custom Harley-Davidson Motorcycles – Custom Harley-Davidson Motorcycles & Accessories. On Line Catalog Of Custom Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Accessories, Parts, Apparel And Books.
28. Death Row Motorcycles – Death Row was started in 2003 out of a passion to create the newest and most unique choppers and bobbers around. Bridging the gap between custom and production motorcycles is what we did. Over the last few years we have focused that desire through designing, prototyping, and producing our motorcycles and are proud of the results.
29. Desperado Motorcycles – Desperado Motor Racing & Motorcycles, Inc. manufactures custom designed and individually hand built production American V-Twin high performance motorcycles.
30. DFT Trikes – Fully independent suspension trike conversation kits. Engineered and Designed with Your Motorcycle in Mind.
31. DiMora Custom Bikes – DiMora custom bikes is America’s premier, small-volume designer and builder of hand-crafted, exquisitely customized high-end motorcycles. Our customers are people that want the best. DiMora has been designing and building since 1977.
32. Drysdale V8 Home Page – The Drysdale V8 is an Australian designed and made ‘superbike’ class motorcycle. The brief was to build a race bike for the road – a road legal motorcycle that performs and handles like a full factory team race bike but with the smoothness that only a V8 can deliver.
33. Ducati Motor S.p.A. – Italy site. Company history, dealer info, and motorcycle specs
34. Ducati North America – Authorized dealers, product info, and current Ducati promotions
35. Exile Cycles – Not your average custom shop. Worth a look if you’re considering a Harley-style bike.
36. Gas Gas – Great fun motorcycles.
37. Hannigan Motorsports – Manufactures motorcycle trailers, sidecars, tri-cars, and trikes. Available for Gold Wing, BMW, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Harley Davidson motorcycle.
38. Harley Davidson – Recently updated. Excellent improvements. It is now the quality you would expect from Harley Davidson. Models with great Harley Davidson photos, History, Club, Experience, Excellent dealer locator.
39. Honda Motorcycles USA – Use Honda Motorcycle’s official Web site to find information on specs and features, MSRPs, photos and a finance calculator for every Honda motorcycle and ATV. The site also features a dealer locator, special offers, racing, safety and HRCA sections.
40. Husaberg Motor – Sweden – The rise and start of Husaberg was actually based upon the shut down of Husqvarna motorcycles in Sweden. A group of engineers and entrepreneurs; still with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm but without any possibilities to materialize their dreams and visions.
41. Husqvarna USA – View the latest Husky model line-up, locate the nearest dealer, and catch up on the latest Husqvarna news in local and world racing circles.
42. Indian Motorcycle Co. – With almost 100 years of legendary heritage, it takes much more than just factories and equipment. It takes experience, insight, heart and soul to preserve and remain true to the legacy that is Indian Motorcycle.
43. JAWA Divisov – Manufacturer of motorcycles in the Czech Republic
44. Junior Motorcycle – Built from scratch, designed in-house using more than 80% of their own parts, show chrome quality, these DOT , EPA & CARB certified motorcycles are like no other motorcycles out there. True classy, top quality machines
45. Kawasaki – Let the Good Times Roll with Motorcycles, ATVs, Jet Skis and Utility Vehicles Distributed by Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA
46. KTM – As the recognized leader in the design and manufacture of offroad motorcycles, KTM’s philosophy embraces three core principles: Performance, Quality and Innovation
47. KUMOTO Motorcycles – A line of small engine motorcycles for the markets of Latin America and Africa. Assembled in China with engine parts imported from HONDA Japan Ltd., the motorcycles offer the best of Japanese quality and Chinese pricing.
48. Las Vegas Trikes, Home of the Custom v8 Powered Trike – V8 Powered Trikes starting at $39,000, There is no lack of power here at Las Vegas Trikes. Las Vegas Trikes is home of the custom V8 powered Trike. Our Trikes range from the New Thunder ES Trike with 290hp to the Widowmaker SS (Big Block) with 880hp.
49. Lightning Motorcycles – Three wheeled, open-air, two passenger, V-8 powered motorcycles. It can pull a trailer or boat, can cruise at any speed you choose, and can out -accelerate just about anything on the street.
50. Magni –
51. Moto Guzzi – Yep, they’re still going. Photos, prices and specs on ’97, ’98, and ’99 models
52. MV Agusta – Beginning late in 1999, the first MV Agusta models arrived in the United States and were met with overwhelming approval from both the industry press and the public. Since that time, the MV Agusta line has expanded from the original F4 Serie d’ Oro, and the F4-S, to include four new models.
53. Orange County Choppers – Orange County Choppers has garnered worldwide praise and recognition for their custom motorcycles that are considered by many to be “sculptures you can ride.” Notable creations include the “Spider Bike’ which was recently purchased by Wyclef Jean of the Fugee’s and is considered by some to be the most famous custom chopper in the world today.
54. Piaggio – Vespa Motorscooters – Piaggio USA, manufacturer of the world famous Vespas motorscooters. This is the official website where you can view the finest Italian motorscooters, accessories, information and sales.
55. RedneckEngineering – What We’re About – Is to build really cool, functional and affordable motorcycles for everyday folks. Let it be modifications to your existing bike or one of our own custom built Redneck Rockets
56. Ridley Motorcycle Company – The worlds only compact cruiser manufacturer. 3/4 scale motorcycles.
57. Rokon – All-terrain off-road vehicles. Rokons feature a patented two-wheel drive system. Full time front and rear wheel drive means safe, stable control in all types of terrain.
58. Ron Simms Custom Cycles – SIMMS has been building High Horsepower Custom motorcycles for nearly 3 decades. Our longevity is a testament to our Commitment to building show stopping Machines that defy the stereotypical V-twin custom. Every one of our bikes are designed first and foremost to Ride.
59. Royal Enfield – Classic British motorcycles. Available with side-cars.
60. Royal Enfield India – Makers of the Bullet motorcycle. Bullet Club membership and activities, adventure tours, Royal Enfield history, motorcycle expeditions, 500cc motorcycles, 350cc motorcycles, and more!
61. Russell Marlowe :: Carolina Custom Cycles – We are a complete custom Motorcycle Builder offering anything from existing motorcycle customization to entire custom built bikes.
62. We also have many custom products for sale for builders to add a little or our style to their own bikes. Take a look at our online catalog.
63. Surgical-Steeds – Each Steed motorcycle is a unique custom motorcycle, hand built by a select team of Steed Certified Technicians. Steed Motorcycles are not “Volume Produced”, nor will they ever be.
64. Suzuki – The official website of American Suzuki’s Motorcycle & ATV Division.
65. Thunderbolt Enterprises Thunderrod V8 Wide Ride Custom Motorcycles – Thunderbolt the ultimate frameless V8 motorcycle with a 350 Chevrolet engine, 355 HP ZZ4, 8 aluminum castings, weighing in at 986 lbs empty its a big bikers dream.
66. Titan Motorcycles – Titan Motorcycle is back! They are rebuilding their website as of October 4, 2001. They filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
67. Triumph – Offers you detailed information about the company and their full range of quality products. Learn more about how we produce motorcycles, our proud history and what the future holds. Browse through the entire 1998 model ranges, discover the Triple Connection range of Clothing and see the quality bike accessories available. Locate you nearest Triumph Approved Dealer from our extensive world-wide network of dealers and distributors
68. Ural America – The IMZ® – URAL® is the world’s most popular sidecar motorcycle with over 3.2 million sold to date, it surpasses all the other makes combined.
69. V-8 Trikes – Three wheel V-8 powered motorcycle. Not just a trike, it is SuperTrike, the V-8 trike. Custom high performance touring V-8 three wheel motorcycles and kits.
70. Vento Motorcycles, USA – Vento Motorcycles, U.S.A. Official Site, Vento is not a motorcycle… is an attitude
71. Victory Motorcycles – In 1997, the Polaris RANGER was born, creating a whole new class of off-road utility vehicles. In 1998 we introduced Victory motorcycles and Cycle World named them “Best Cruiser”; in 1999 Motorcycle Cruiser named them “Cruiser of the Year.”
72. Warlord Custom Cycles –
73. West Coast Choppers – Custom builders of beautiful choppers. If you like Choppers, this web site is a “must visit”. If you do not like Choppers, visit their website and you will be converted.
74. Wild West Motor Company – Engineers and manufactures exotic, hand built, custom motorcycles. American made motorcycles on the cutting edge – each custom motorcycle is built to order.
75. Yamaha – Motorcycles, ATVs, Snowmobiles, WaveRunners, Sport Boats, Outboard Motors, Kart Engines and Generators distributed by Yamaha Motor Corporation