Type of bike
There are loads of different types of bikes to choose from, so be realistic about the riding you’ll do. A 1000cc sportsbike is a wicked track tool but can make things like long tours, commuting and two-up riding literally a pain.
Nowadays, whether you buy a naked, a motard, an adventure bike or a tourer, you can expect good handling, strong brakes, reliability and performance. If you have your eye on a cruiser, however, you should be aware that the yardsticks are set differently for this class of machine. Braking and cornering performance will not be up to the standards of other machinery, so you need to ride accordingly.
The best bet is to befriend your dealer and ask for a few test rides before you commit to a choice of bike.
It’s amazing how much attention is paid to engine capacity when, especially today, there are far more defining features for a motorbike. Performance, in a straight line at least, owes everything to power-to-weight ratio. So a light, multi-cylinder bike will be much faster than a big, heavy twin. Even so, for some reason large capacity bikes feature more in bad accident and injury statistics, making the rego more expensive.
Of course, sometimes you will need a bike with the grunt to haul a pillion and luggage, while making light work of distance and hill-climbing. But you might be surprised how well a 650-700cc bike can do that if it’s not overly heavy to begin with.
The wise advice is, don’t let a big cc rating suck you in. Find a bike with the right performance and let capacity be a secondary consideration.
New or used?
It mostly comes down to how much you can afford. New bikes cost (and depreciate) more. Main dealer servicing is a bit pricier too, though it’s essential to keep your warranty valid. At least you shouldn’t have to shell out for any failed components.
Modern used machines benefit from all the advances in reliability and durability we’ve come to expect. With regular servicing, some of which is perfectly within the capabilities of many owners, you can expect no more troubles than with a new machine. Eventually of course age and kilometres will take their toll. Classic machines are another story, but the frequent fettling they require is all part of ownership.