Choose the right bike
There are more options than ever when it comes to buying a bike. How do you work out what’s right for you?
The choice of bikes has never been wider, but making the right choice doesn’t need to be complicated. You just have to be honest with yourself about the kind of riding you will do most often and your particular needs, then choose accordingly.
If you ride long distances in all weathers you’ll want a bike that’s comfortable with a fairing. If you’re commuting, something slim and manoeuvrable with lots of steering lock would be good.
Shorter in the leg? Then you’ll need something with a low seat height, meaning an adventure bike is probably not a good option. The great thing is, there will be a bike out there that will fit the rider and the role perfectly.
Tips to help guide your choice
Bigger is not always better when it comes to engine size, because it will almost always cost you more. This includes:
- Higher purchase price, more depreciation and servicing will be more costly.
- Consumables like tyres, chain, sprockets and brake pads cost more and you’ll get through them more quickly
- Insurance premiums and fuel consumption will be higher
- Registration is more expensive.
Smaller capacity bikes can still have plenty of performance, and the availability of lower to mid-capacity machines has vastly increased. There are now sportsbikes and adventure bikes extending into the lower cc ratings, giving riders of all sizes and preferences an option to suit them. Unless you’re doing lots of kilometres with luggage and a pillion you might want to consider a lower capacity machine.
Try before you buy
Test ride as many potential bikes as you can, and be guided by what makes you feel confident and in control. Choose a machine that does what you want it to do and you’ll love riding it. Never buy a bike you don’t feel great on, that scares you or you struggle to control.
Does it fit you?
Feeling comfortable when riding is a must. With so many different types and styles of bike available, you’re bound to be able to find one that suits your size and weight, and provides a comfortable riding position.
You can also adjust the controls to improve things, including handlebars, lever span and angle. Make sure the seat is comfy, especially if riding long distances. Does the suspension cope well with your weight and riding style, and can it be adjusted?
The most frequent, serious motorcycle crashes occur from losing control. A huge number of rider aids have come onto the market in recent years, aimed at keeping the bike controllable when something has gone wrong.
The evidence shows these do work in improving safety, and while the most sophisticated, such as cornering ABS, was once the preserve of top-of-the-range machines these new technologies have recently filtered down to much more affordable mid-range bikes. It will only become more widespread in time.
If you can get hold of a machine with the latest rider aids our recommendation would be to do so, even if it means hanging on a short while for delivery. If you’re buying secondhand, always aim to get a bike with ABS as a minimum and value other rider aids like traction control in your decision-making.
Does it meet your needs?
Consider whether the the bike actually has what you need and will do what you want. Things like:
- Bungy mounting points for touring
- Adjustable suspension to take a pillion
- Enough ground clearance for twisty roads
- Smooth power delivery for control in urban traffic.
Don’t be swayed by looks or image. Make sure the bike you choose makes you feel comfortable and in-control.