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Buying a new bike

Buying a new bike is a big expense. You must consider a few things.

The biggest mistake people make when buying a new bike is setting their heart on something. This is often based on reading reviews or what a friend recommends, then buying without a thorough test ride.

It’s not that the description in a magazine or online report isn’t true. It’s just that there are vast differences between riders. A machine that’s nirvana to a 1.8m tall, 85kg professional bike journalist might be hell on earth for someone of smaller stature or a 108kg guy, or someone returning to riding after several years off.

So, the first thing to do when buying a bike is to ride it, for as long as the dealer will let you, so you can be sure it’s right for you.

Make sure the bike has the options you want

Options and accessories can make a huge difference to a bike. Check that the machine you’re buying has what you want. Things such as ABS can still be optional. It’s a huge safety benefit, so make sure the bike you buy has it. It’s worth the small extra cost, much of which you’ll recover when you sell. It’s the same with traction control.

Real-world costs of owning a bike

The sticker price is one thing and can be a stretch. But the actual cost of owning a bike comprises many things. You want to know as much as you can before you decide. Between the dealer’s knowledge and your own research, you should establish: 

  • annual servicing costs for years one, two and three
  • annual rego costs
  • replacement tyres – you can easily get through the rear, or even a pair, in a year
  •  the cost of other consumables, such as brake pads, chain and sprockets, especially if you do a lot of mileage.

Depreciation is a big cost – usually the biggest of all–but difficult to define in advance. Mileage, condition, accessories (some add value, some take it away) all play their part. Ask around about resale and see how much interest there’s on similar bikes.

Remember

Bigger isn’t always better, whether that’s machine size or engine capacity. Generally, a smaller machine will be easier to handle, as well as cheaper to run and insure. Make sure you try a variety of bikes before deciding.

What to discuss with the dealer

Other things to establish and talk through with the dealer:

  • the sort of riding you want it for
  • whether you’ll be taking a pillion
  • if there’s a new model coming, and if a discount is negotiable
  • how long you’ll be keeping the bike for.

The time you’ll be keeping the bike for is especially important if you intend to take out finance or if you’re buying a learner bike.

From a finance perspective, you can work out how much the bike will cost you to buy. The dealer will need their finance department to work this out, and the costs can vary a lot depending on the term and any early repayment charges.

If it’s just a learner bike you’re after, something you’ll only use for a year to get your licence, it’s better to buy something cheap which you won’t lose much money on. If you intend to keep the bike after getting your licence, as we’ve observed in reviews of the latest LAMS bikes, many are very capable, enjoyable machines suited to longer-term ownership.

Reviews of the latest LAMS bikes

Buying a bike is also the opportunity to establish a relationship with your dealer. They can be a great point of contact for advice when it comes to looking after your bike (including servicing), as well as track days, bike launches and demos. Establishing a rapport can often pay you back in the longer term.