Summer is right around the corner and this is the year that you’re going to get the ride of your dreams. Most all of my summers start out with that same thought. It’s hard not to.
Over my career as a motorcycle enthusiast, I have owned maybe a dozen different rides. They were all road bikes and sport bikes. I never loved enduro or off-road bikes all that much. Not my flavor. I have owned the other kind of bikes, meaning; new, used, restored, unrestored, beaters and just plain junk. I love all of them and spent my hard earned cash on them as well. Oh, the joy.
When I think back on all of the different bikes I owned, I start to think, “Why did I choose those bikes?” So I wanted to take all of you through my thought process on why I made the choices I did. I hope that this information can help put you on the right bike when you are ready to make your purchase.
1. Are you really ready to buy a bike?
Of course you are, right? Well not always. The first thing you must do is evaluate how you are going to use the bike. Is it your primary transportation? Is it just for your weekend warrior, I’ve-got-big-balls moment? Are you just lusting for that shiny Italian dick extender? Take the time to think HOW you are going to use the bike and weigh that against your budget.
2. Are you looking at the right bike for you?
How many douche-bag dudes have you noticed that have the biggest Harley with all of the garb and logo gear the shop sold them just so they can be a rebel but none of them can take off from a stoplight without tipping over or stalling? I have always believed that it is the motorcycle dealers responsibility to make sure that the customer is sold the correct bike for that person’s skill level. Note to dealers: A dead guy doesn’t buy another bike.
Look for a bike that you can handle and fit. Your feet must touch the ground. It must be the proper CC’s, bigger displacement does not get you laid anymore than a 600 would. I always like the idea of having to work you way up the CC scale, Newbies start with a 300 or so and as you get more time on two wheels you can increase the displacement of your ride.
3. What is your preferred riding position?
I have always liked a sport bike or sport touring position. Leaning forward on the bars with my feet behind my hips. It is very comfortable for me. I have never been comfortable on a cruiser. I feel awkward and out of touch with the bike and the road.
Some bikes make you sit completely upright, for example a BMW GS bike or most KTM’s. Some people love that… not me. The wind kicks the shit out of me and there is more surface area for road debris to hit me. That gets old fast. But that is me.
Be sure to test ride the bike, and test ride a bunch of them to see which one suits you best. Treat it like you’re trying on running shoes or condoms, both fit differently, but it’s important to get the right ones. I know you think you’re a Magnum guy but statistic speaking, you’re probably not.
4. What manufacturer should I buy?
This is when it gets fun. I have friends that only drink fancy micro-brew beers and friends that only drink Guinness (that’s me) and friends that don’t drink at all. I’m good with that.
Same with motorcycles. I have always been a BMW guy. I like them for their look, simplicity (at least the pre 1985 models) and the image that they convey. I will leave that topic for another blog. But now is the time to think about what you want to be seen on and the culture that surrounds that company. Every bike company has a sub-culture, think Harley, if you must, the Ed Hardy of the bike companies. I prefer Norton or Vincent people. A bit cult like but cool as.
If you find yourself attracted to a Ducati, don’t deny it. Do you go for the sluttiest girl in the club? Do you go for the slightly nerdy girl at the coffee shop? or a little more “cushion”? That’s up for you. But it is important to see which one is the best fit, or the best fit for the summer.
All bikes are cool and fun to ride. But choose by your heart. The more you get into it, your choices become more important.
5. New or Used?
Just like anything, you should buy what you can afford.
New bikes come with warranties and with that, comes the “new bike” price, but that’s ok. It is well worth it sometimes.
Used bikes can be, more likely than not, trouble. You never know the real history – if grandma just road it to the store, changed the oil every 30 miles and kept it in a heated garage. You will never know. But, what you do know is the mileage and wear.
Be sure to assess the person selling it. Check out the guys helmet – if it’s all dinged up, that should tell you something. Can he complete a sentence? Does his Honda CB500 have crash bars? Was it his first bike? Is he or she just married? (that speaks volumes). Most telling- Miles, miles, miles?
Then there is the bike that you just want. You loved it the first time you laid eyes on it and there it is, on Craigslist, taunting you. Description says “I’m selling this for a friend, not sure if it runs. Cool looking.” Check it out. If you are good with it and all of its past baggage or not knowing it’s history….buy it.
6. Are you ready to take all the shit you will get from your friends and family?
If I hear the term “DONORCYCLE” spill from anyone lips, I usually just dismiss them, end my friendship with them, right then and there- family or not. Fact is, I don’t drink soda – I don’t drink and drive – I don’t do drugs – I own a gun or two – and I stay away from loose women. So, if anyone gives you shit about your choice to own a motorcycle, just make sure to tell then “when you stop texting when you drive, I will get off my bike. At least pay attention when I’m on the road-you mother f**ker.”
7. Are you prepared?
Prepared meaning, Ring, Ring…”Hi baby, I’m stranded, It’s raining and I’m about 200 miles away. Can you come get me?” You better know the answer solve this dilemma. You should;
A) Know how to fix your bike.
B) Have rain gear and
C) Have dinner reservations somewhere nice after you arrive 2 hours late for your date.
8. Keeping up with the Joneses?
I have been riding for over 20 years. I have good skills and I am fast. But I will let you know one thing, I have friends that are really fast and that can be dangerous. It is very important to understand your ability and skill level. If you ride with better, more experienced riders, STAY BACK or in the middle. Your ego may take a hit by not being able to dive into a corner at 70, drag a knee or something like that, but get over it. Your friends understand. I will assure you that none of them came out of their mother’s womb in full race position. Watch, learn and be the silent observer. It will make you a better rider.
9. Are you prepared NOT to like motorcycling?
Motorcycling is not for everyone. I wanted to be a rock climber. No matter how hard I tried to like it, I never got good enough and really didn’t enjoy the results vs the risk I was taking. I also wanted to be David Byrne of The Talking Heads fame but that also didn’t happen.
To buy a motorcycle is not like buying a membership to a Cross-fit gym. It is an expensive hobby. So if you can, buy a cheap bike at first to see if you even like it? Is it worth the risk?
10. What are you waiting for?
Now is the time to start thinking about buying. Dealers will work with you because they haven’t sold anything all winter. They want to get rid of last year’s models. Duh.
Ebay is also a good place to start looking. Guys want to trade up and sell their old bikes. Some people need the cash for taxes. Some people just don’t want to ride anymore.
Whatever the reason, do some soul searching and find your inner daredevil and learn to ride. Buy the right bike and enjoy your summer to come. I am sure I will see you out there but beware, you might not be able to catch me.