When you see the movie classic “Born to Be Wild,” it might spark an interest in motorcycles you never had before. Perhaps you find yourself perusing the newspaper classifieds or the Internet for a used motorcycle for sale. Before you go on a wild hair and buy a used or new bike, you need to educate yourself. There are more than a few things to know about riding a motorcycle, owning a motorcycle, and maximizing the enjoyment of your motorcycle.
Purchasing New Motorcycles
Topping the list of vital things to know about riding a motorcycle is that you can shop the Internet for a new motorbike. Shopping online frees you from a tiny selection if you live in a rural area. Most cities only have lots catering to the major manufacturers, so if you were not looking to make a major outlay for a Norton or a Harley-Davidson, you can go shop the Internet for something a little more creative and a little less expensive. Japan and Korea churn out fun two- and three-wheel vehicles that you can purchase for the extremely reasonable price range of $750 to $2,000. Consider brands such as Ice Bear for a hearty ride that provides superior gas mileage and a street-legal build and engine. Granted, the three-wheeled versions, trikes, cost a little more, but you can still find affordable, well-made options costing less than $2,500.
You can use a search engine, such as Bing or Google, to find these bikes. You can also shop on eBay for great deals. Most of these manufacturers ship throughout the 48 contiguous states. Your bike comes to your home on an 18-wheeler carrier. You’ll get it boxed and need to partially assemble it yourself. Typically, that will only refer to attaching the steering column or the handlebars to the steering column.
You will also need to attach any kickstand or carrier rack you want to add. Some motorcycles come with an unattached trunk which you can add for additional storage space. If this will be your first motorcycle, know that most modern bikes provide a small trunk space underneath the seat. You lift the seat cushion to reveal the trunk. It usually holds a helmet, a bag about the size of a shaving kit, and a spare set of keys. Attaching the extra trunk to the rear of the bike provides you with enough space for about two full plastic bags of groceries. Larger trunks hold about four bags.
Among the considerations of purchasing new, you will find these machines earn superb gas mileage. It is not unusual to get 75 miles to the gallon on a new motorcycle. This makes these popular with high schoolers who just need to zip between home and school, and commuters who need to drive from home to office and back with a bit of room for groceries or dry cleaning.
Purchasing a Used Motorcycle
You have a few options when you buy used. Here’s one of the most important things to know about riding a motorcycle: you can get a great, used bike for next to nothing. Choose from a used, certified used, or repairable salvage motorcycle for sale to buy a quality motorcycle for much less money. This option lets you afford to purchase the dream bike like the Norton or Kawasaki. You can find that class crotch rocket, or you could choose an old-school hog. The main advantage of use is the price and the brand. You can afford nearly any brand by buying used, but you have to take care to check out the bike first for the sturdiness of frame and mechanics. Most importantly, you must thoroughly examine the engine to know it remains in good condition.
The other two options offer far greater and far less reliability in that order. Certified used refers to a program from the bike’s manufacturer run through its dealerships. The manufacturer has rehabbed or refurbished these motorcycles to a near-like-new state. They come with a warranty as if you bought a new bike. These bikes go through a 100-plus point check and any parts that perform at less than diagnostically acceptable levels, the manufacturer replaces.
The last option, repairable salvage motorcycles, refers to a bike that was involved in an accident. It incurred enough damage that an insurance company declared it totaled. This means it would have a salvage title but many vehicles that have a salvage title actually can be pretty easily rehabbed. Not all. Just some.
Here’s what happens when an insurance company determines what to pay for regarding a vehicle after an accident. The company considers the age of the vehicle, the amount of damage, type of damage, potential cost of repairs. If it would cost more to repair the vehicle than the maximum Kelley Blue Book value, the insurance company totals the vehicle. Many times, they will award the maximum Blue Book value for the totaled vehicle. This means that you could find a bike that simply would have cost a bit to fix and due to its age, the insurance company deemed it cheaper to declare it salvage than to pay for the repairs. If you have the time to devote to repairing it, you can land a great deal.
Riding a Motorcycle Requires Insurance
Among the things to know about riding a motorcycle is that you need motorcycle insurance. Every state requires you to carry motorcycle insurance, but every state sets its own requirements. You could buy insurance in Texas, but if you move to Oklahoma, you will need to update your policy since the two states require different amounts of liability and property damage coverage. Some states require personal injury protection coverage while others do not.
Equipment You Must Wear While Riding
The only must-have in the legal sense is a motorcycle helmet. In many states, you cannot legally ride without a helmet. Other items you should wear while riding, but the law does not require them. These include sturdy, hard-soled shoes; thick, long pants; a long-sleeved shirt, gloves. These items protect you while riding and keep you warmer. Even in summer when the temperatures reach into the 90s F, on a bike, you experience more than a slight breeze. You zip down the highway at 65 miles per hour with no walls around you. Cars and trucks provide warmth from their enclosure. You will not have that on a motorcycle. You will only have the wind. For this reason, you need to always ride in full gear plus it is a great idea to purchase a helmet that includes a face screen or shield. The gear also provides your body protection when you ride. If you get into an accident, it provides a little protection from the road.
These essential gear items remain a must for kids on light bikes, too. Even a ten-year-old on a 150cc dirt bike should wear hard-soled boots or shoes when riding, so they will not develop problems with their feet from hard stops, pedal vibrations, and the inevitable small accident. (Everybody wipes out at least once in life on a bike.) These precautions can keep them from requiring pediatric foot treatment and potentially an orthopedic surgeon when they get older.
Learn Proper Riding Technique
When you first begin riding a motorcycle, you might find that your rear hurts after your ride. What causes pelvic pain, you ask? Your saddle probably causes the problem. The saddle refers to the portion of the seat you can see. Typically, black and consisting of a stuffed cushion, it is not the polyurethane inside that causes the issue. On a road bike, you need to sit back on the seat. Without enough distance between the handlebars and the saddle, your rear will hurt. You also need the right saddle height. This part applies to both dirt and road bikes. To reduce pelvic pain, adjust the seat’s height. Try it higher and lower to see which feels better. There is not a rule for the right height. There is only what does not cause you pain. Before you invest gobs of money in pain management treatments, try moving the seat back, up, down, forward, etc. You would be surprised by the massive difference this can make.
Overnight Trips and Your Motorcycle
You can effectively road trip on a motorcycle, even if you want to go camping. You would not even need to add a trunk to your bike, so long as it provides a trunk under its seat. You can easily fit an uninflated twin air mattress into most seat trunks with a folded pup tent. With the rest of your gear in a small backpack, you can easily road trip to your heart’s content. It won’t cost you much either considering how great the gas mileage bikes earn.
Invest a few dollars in one of the bracelet key holders available online. This makes it easy to store your key no matter what you wear to ride. You never need an accessible pocket because you can grab your key from the bracelet.
When you park your bike at home after your amazing jaunts, always park your motorcycle inside your garage. If anything happens to jam the door or damage it, immediately call for garage door repair. You should avoid parking your motorcycle outside, uncovered as much as possible. Wind, rain, dirt, and other elemental items can damage your beautiful bike. Don’t let that happen. Your motorcycle can become one of your best friends, and you can have a ton of fun together, but you need to treat it right.
Your Bike and You
You are the most important part of your bike. It can go nowhere without you. It is not going to ride itself. You must take care of yourself and only ride when you are in the best mindset and health for it. This sensible advice keeps you safer.
You should remain hydrated when riding. Eat a healthy meal before you jump on your bike because hunger just becomes a distraction while you ride. You cannot allow yourself to become distracted while you bike. This is true while you drive a car or truck, too, but it becomes more important when you ride a motorcycle. That’s because you remain exposed on a bike. You do not have four walls of steel or aluminum around you as you do in a car or truck. Your body hits the pavement if you crash. You should always wear a helmet when you ride a motorcycle.
If an accident does occur, go straight to the doctor. Obtain the proper medical treatment. Have them document your injuries with photos. Hire an accident injury lawyer to represent you in your legal proceedings. You will need to obtain the insurance information of the other driver. If you were not the one at fault in the accident, the insurance of the individual who did cause the accident should pay your medical bills and the cost for repairing your bike.
Some states, you’ll recall, require personal injury protection (PIP). This insurance pays your medical bills if you caused the accident or if you were involved in a single-vehicle accident. Let’s say a deer runs out in front of you on your bike. The deer has no insurance, and you cannot sue it, so your PIP insurance pays your medical bills. Unless you own a comprehensive policy and a collision policy though, you will need to pay to repair your motorcycle.
Finally, before you invest in a motorcycle, you need to learn to ride it. Most states offer a training class through the DMV. You can also go to a riding school, similar to a driving school. Complete at least one safety course before you hit the roads. Riding a motorcycle may seem like it would be just like riding a bicycle only faster, but you do need training before you ride.