CHOOSING A BIKE
There are many good bikes out there, each built with some purpose in mind.
There is no one best motorcycle for everyone.
The common wisdom is that you should buy a used bike depending on what you
can afford. A “naked” standard bike won’t suffer much damage when you drop
it. When you have a year or two of experience, then you’ll know more about
what kinds of motorcycles there are, how you ride, and what you really want.
Check out www.beginnerbikes.com.
What to do
Get the license endorsement.
Get gear (helmet, pants, jacket, gloves, boots).
Get the bike inspected.
Get the bike insured.
Get medical insurance.
Get the bike.
Get license plates for the bike.
The different kinds of motorcycles
Standard or “naked” bikes are competent at everything. Having little or no
plastic to break when you drop one, they are an excellent choice for a
Touring bikes are big and heavy, but have enough luggage for a long trip.
Sport-Touring bikes are not so big and have not so much luggage, but have
Sport bikes, also known as crotch rockets, are small, fast, light, and
covered with shiny, cool, and expensive plastic. They are light and easy to
handle, but their go-fast handles are very sensitive. A sport bike will try
to kill you if it senses that you don’t know what you’re doing.
Cruisers (such as Harley-Davidson) are low and long; their primary purpose
is looking cool. They tend to be big and heavy.
Enduro bikes have suspensions that can soak up big bumps and tires that can
deal with mud and gravel. They’re good for long cross-country trips on dirt
roads. Because they’re tall, they are a handful to handle in parking lots,
but they tend to be sturdy.
Dual-Sport bikes have big knobbly tires and can go anywhere a street bike
can go as well as almost everywhere an off-road bike can go.
Off-Road bikes have big knobbly tires and can climb around on goat trails.
Since they don’t have things like headlights or turn signals, they aren’t
allowed on public streets.
Rat bikes are those that have been spray-painted flat black and patched
together with bondo, bailing wire, and a prayer.
Your comfort on a particular bike depends on the length of your arms/legs,
the position of the various controls, your physical condition, and how you
sit. Different models have different amounts of forward lean and different
foot peg position. At speeds of 45+ mph the wind supports you quite a bit.
I want a Cruiser
City driving is the most dangerous sort, and generally speaking the bikes
recommended for beginners tend to be relatively lightweight. The other thing
to recall, is that your first months of riding are when you are most likely
to be involved in some sort of accident, so you should start with an
inexpensive used bike. A typical Harley Davidson weighs hundreds of pounds
more than a good standard bike. If you don’t have the balance, strength, or
experience for a big Harley, then you’ll get in over your head much more
quickly than something more manageable.
There are custom and factory bikes with way more powerful engines than
Harley Davidson, sound better, ride better and just way more reliable and
often at less cost. Get yourself a motorcycle magazine that covers cruisers
and you will see there are better bikes to be had at less cost and lower
cost for insurance, tax, registration, etc.
But if you must have a Harley Davidson, here is some advice:
Buy new, if you can, or at least a used low mileage bike (with a one-year
warrantee if you can).
Consider not buying a bike with one of those skinny 21-inch front wheels.
They look cool, but they bite into every crack and groove in the road.
Don't buy a bike with spokes. If you get a flat tire away from home you have
a big problem. There is no practical way to fix a flat tire on the side of
the road. Get a bike with mag wheels. If you get a flat tire, you can plug
Accessories: Don't assume that all accessories will be available for your
bike. Some bikes can't even carry saddlebags due to the shock absorbers
blocking the mounts.
Get a bike with large front and rear fenders or you will forever be cleaning
the bike more than you want to.