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4 Things To Consider When Choosing Your FIRST Bike

4 Things To Consider When Choosing Your FIRST Bike

Let’s say that by this point, you’ve decided you want to start riding motorcycles. You’ve already completed the Basic Rider’s Course, ordered your gear, and now you’re window shopping for the right bike while you wait for the mail. This is the fun part. There are so many good options to choose from, how do you decide? When you’re just getting started, this can seem like a big decision. What style should you choose? What manufacturer? Where should you buy it from? What should you avoid? These are all excellent questions, so it’s common not to know where to start.

Fortunately, for your first motorcycle, it’s easy to cut through the noise. Remember, the goal is to learn how to ride, not pick up your dream bike immediately. There’s no substitute for hands-on training, so right away, you can eliminate most of what’s out there by filtering your options by “what’s forgiving to make mistakes on.” Let’s break this down into some categories and then we’ll talk about each one and how to navigate them.

  • Budget
  • Reputable Dealer vs Private Seller
  • Engine Size
  • Aesthetic


How much can you afford? Do you have the cash to buy a motorcycle outright? Do you have enough for a down payment? If financing is the way to go, can you comfortably add a monthly payment to your budget? 

Motorcycles are cheaper than cars in every aspect, but before you can choose what’s suitable for you, it’s wise to know what’s reasonable before you say, “I want that one!” In the category of budgeting, you should consider things like the asking price, fees, registration, and insurance in the startup costs of riding.

Reputable Dealer vs Private Seller:

There are drawbacks and benefits to each one. I started out with cash-in-hand buying off of a secondary market for my first few motorcycles, then moved into dealerships when convenience and trust became worth the extra money to me. This is easier to visualize using a pros/cons list. 

Reputable Dealership

Private Seller





Window Shopping

Higher Price

Priced to Sell

Iffy Reliability

Wide Inventory


Maintains Value

Scheduling Meetup

Financing Options


Normally Cash Only

Reliable Bikes

Hidden Gems

Volatile Inventory

New AND Used

Higher Risk

Service Plans

When buying from a private seller, it helps to either know enough about mechanics or bring someone along who can help you identify if there are any significant problems with the vehicle. I recommend bringing a buddy with you regardless of knowledge to keep the meetup civil. I’ve bought and sold motorcycles through the secondary market, so there are some really good options at great prices if you’re lucky. However, you may have to walk away from a deal if you aren’t completely satisfied. If you decide to go this route, make sure before you meet someone that they have a notarized title, and don’t be shy about asking questions.

A reputable dealer will put their name behind the sale of a motorcycle, meaning they will do everything they can to make sure any bike you purchase is reliable and even offer warranties to give you peace of mind that you didn’t just waste your money on something that’ll fail. Going this route will allow you to sit on various bikes without any obligation to buy them so that you can take your time with your decision. They’re eager to sell you something, but again, you want to be completely satisfied before you start talking about taking one home.

Engine Size:

I won’t spend too long on this topic. Any “What’s The Best Beginner Bike” video out there will tell you that any motorcycle between 250cc-500cc is suitable for beginners, but if you are patient then you can get a 650cc and take it slow. While I agree with that statement, I understand that cost can be a significant factor for most people. Generally, the lower the engine size, the cheaper the motorcycle. Your first bike won’t be your dream bike, but any motorcycle you get will teach you situational awareness and fundamental skills. You can always sell your first bike after becoming a confident rider to help offset the cost of a nicer, bigger bike; or you can keep it to help mentor other inexperienced riders and have a cheaper option to put miles on when commuting.


Finally, we arrive at aesthetics. Once you figure out your budget and where you want to shop around, this is now the most important factor. We’ve eliminated the expensive, unforgiving, high-cc motorcycles from the list to choose from, so now you get to decide what looks the best. There is a slight functional difference here, which is based on your height, so I recommend visiting a dealer to sit on some different styles. If you’re taller than 6 feet, you may find that you look like a monster sitting on some smaller bikes. Alternatively, if you’re vertically challenged, you may struggle sitting on a taller bike and managing the weight.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you.

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