Top 6 Motorcycle Buyer Mistakes

When buying a motorcycle, the excitement of hitting the road can sometimes lead to hasty purchase decisions. It’s understandable to get that adrenaline pumping and immediately want to ride away on the first mean machine you sit on.

However, being mindful of common pitfalls can ensure a safer, more enjoyable and cost-effective riding experience.

Here are the top mistakes motorcycle buyers often make and how to avoid them.

Skipping the Research Phase

Many motorcycle buyers jump right into the purchase process without adequate research. This will almost always lead to regrettable choices.

Understanding your riding needs—whether they’re commuting, touring, or off-roading—is crucial for determining the type of motorcycle right for you. Consider the motorcycle’s maintenance requirements, insurance costs and overall performance as well.

This groundwork will help you find a bike that aligns with your lifestyle, preferences and budget. Many of our next entries may be considered skipping parts of the research phase. However, going in completely blind with zero preparation is surely a recipe for disaster.

Overlooking the Total Cost of Ownership

The sticker price is just the beginning. Owning a motorcycle introduces many ongoing expenses. Some of these include fuel, maintenance, repairs and replacements. These can add up quickly and significantly impact your budget.

Safety should never be an afterthought. Riding gear like helmets, jackets, gloves and boots are not optional—they’re essential. These items can be costly, especially for new riders. Include them in your initial budget to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

Before you commit to buying a motorcycle, make sure you’re prepared for the full financial responsibility.

Not Planning for Financing and Insurance Rates

Understanding your financing options and what you can realistically afford is essential before stepping into a dealership. It’s helpful to secure a loan with reasonable terms, which requires research and a solid understanding of your financial status.

Your credit score plays a significant role in this process. A higher score can give you access to lower interest rates and better loan terms. Before motorcycle shopping, review your credit report and address any discrepancies. This can improve your chances of securing a more favorable loan.

Compare different financing options. Dealership financing can be convenient, but is not always the best deal. Banks, credit unions and online lenders may offer more competitive rates. Take the time to shop around and get pre-approved for a loan. This not only gives you leverage during price negotiations, but also sets a clear budget to stick to.

Insurance rates for motorcycles can vary significantly based on numerous factors such as your age, riding experience, accident/traffic citation history, credit score, location and the type of motorcycle you’re interested in. For example, sport bikes generally incur higher insurance premiums than standard models. This is due to their higher risk of accidents and theft.

Before finalizing your motorcycle purchase, get quotes from multiple insurance providers. Consider the levels of coverage available and how each fits into your budget. Remember, the cheapest policy is not always the best. Look for a balance between affordable premiums and comprehensive coverage.

Additionally, taking a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a safer rider but also reduce your insurance rates with many providers. Be sure to ask about any discounts for which you may qualify.

Not Considering Used Motorcycles

The pre-owned motorcycle market is often overlooked by novices eager for something brand new. This can be a costly mistake, especially for beginners prone to mishaps while learning. Used motorcycles offer significant savings as they’ve already undergone initial depreciation. This makes them an ideal choice for those learning and refining their riding skills.

When exploring the used market, research and inspection are crucial. Understand common issues of your preferred models. If possible, bring a knowledgeable friend or mechanic to inspect the motorcycle. Check service records to ensure you’re getting a reliable vehicle. Additionally, consider the availability of spare parts and potential extra costs for bringing an older bike up to your standards.

Buying used doesn’t just save money upfront—it can also reduce the financial sting should you drop the motorcycle or decide to upgrade later

By giving the used market the attention it deserves, you can find a valuable motorcycle that meets both your budget and riding needs. This allows for a more financially sensible start to your motorcycle journey.

Choosing the Wrong Type of Motorcycle

The throne of any motorcycle adventure is the seat. Comfort reigns supreme, especially during long rides. A motorcycle that doesn’t fit your body type or cater to your riding style may not only be uncomfortable, but also cause safety concerns. It’s imperative to try different models and sit on each to see which one matches you best. 

Test the reach to the handlebars, assess the seat height and check the foot peg positioning. These should align perfectly with your physical dimensions and riding preferences to ensure a peaceful riding experience.

The motorcycle market is filled with beautiful hot rods. Some carry a certain reputation that can easily mesmerize shoppers. However, aesthetics and prestige should take a backseat when choosing your type of motorcycle. Practicality comes first.

Choosing a motorcycle that aligns with your skill level and usage is important for maximizing both safety and enjoyment. Beginners are advised to steer clear of high-powered sportbikes. Despite their appeal, they can be formidable beasts to tame. A mismatch here can lead to poor riding experiences and dangerous situations.

The temptation to purchase a bike with more power than necessary can be strong, especially for new riders. While the prospect of taming a powerful machine may seem appealing, it’s essential to be aware of your current skill level.

A motorcycle that’s too big can also be difficult to control and could increase the risk of accidents. It’s best to start with a motorcycle that’s manageable and suited to your experience level. As your skills and confidence grow, there will be ample opportunities to upgrade to something more mighty.

Disregarding the Importance of a Test Ride

A test ride allows you to feel the motorcycle beneath you, offering insight into the ergonomics and comfort level. Each rider has a unique physique. A motorcycle that feels perfect for one may be uncomfortable for another. 

In addition to sitting on the motorcycle, a test ride ensures that it fits you properly. You want a natural reach to the handlebars, comfortable seat height and an overall ergonomic posture that suits your body. This is especially important for first-time motorcycle owners.

Different motorcycle models vary widely in handling and performance characteristics. What reads well on paper may feel entirely different on the road. 

During a test ride, you can assess the bike’s responsiveness. This includes its acceleration, braking efficiency and maneuverability. This firsthand experience is invaluable in determining if the motorcycle meets your expectations and skill level.

Not all problems are noticeable upon a visual inspection, either. A test ride can bring to light any underlying issues. You may encounter odd engine noises, vibration at certain speeds or handling quirks. Detecting these early can save you from future headaches and potentially costly repairs.

Arranging a test ride for a motorcycle that needs to be shipped may seem challenging, but it’s not impossible. Here are some strategies to consider to ensure you still get that crucial test ride experience:

If you’re buying from a dealership outside of your local area, inquire if they have a partner dealer closer to you that carries the same model. Many dealerships have networks and may be able to arrange a test ride for you locally.

Some companies offer inspection and testing services for vehicles, including motorcycles. They can conduct a thorough check and even a test ride on your behalf to ensure the bike is in the advertised condition.

If feasible, consider making the trip to the seller’s location for a personal test ride. This is especially important for high-value purchases or if you have specific requirements for your new motorcycle.

While not a replacement for the real thing, some sellers may offer a virtual test ride experience using mounted cameras. This can give you a better sense of the bike’s condition and how it performs on the road.


Navigating the motorcycle buying journey requires more than just the excitement of pursuing a new ride. It’s about making informed decisions that enhance your riding experience, ensure safety and protect your investment. 

Diligently research your options and consider the total cost of ownership. Understanding financing, insurance and the value of used motorcycles is also crucial. Opting for the right type of motorcycle that fits you and taking a test ride can make the difference between a purchase you’ll cherish and one you’ll regret. 

Remember, the goal is to enjoy the freedom and joy of riding with peace of mind. Your motorcycle rides will be that much better knowing you’ve made the best decision for your lifestyle and budget. Ride safely and wisely. Let the journey begin!

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