The guide to buying a motorcycle

Last updated by on July 7th, 2020

In the market for a new motorbike? The sheer volume of choice out there can be overwhelming. To narrow down your options, consider what is it you want the bike for. Track? Trials? Or simply commuting from A to B?

Do your homework

Once you know which type of motorcycle you want then you can start researching the best bikes for your budget.

For example, if you’re looking for a bike for group riding trips you’ll want to look for something that can reach the same speeds as other riders in your group. No one wants to be the one lagging behind because they’ve bought the wrong bike.

No matter what type of bike your buying, take the time to look at the different brands and models online and read through the reviews. Don’t forget to take a look at our useful bike guides – from learner motorcycles to naked bikes, we have you covered.

Online forums are also a great place to look for real reviews from real people; you can also post your criteria and see what others recommend.

New vs old?

The main differences between buying brand new from a dealer or going for a second-hand bike from a private seller is the price and the condition.

If you decide to buy new from a dealership there are often low rate financing options available and you’ll get the added peace of mind that the bike is in tip top condition with all the latest safety features fitted as standard.

It can also be easier to source a new bike as there are likely to be local dealers who stock the brand and model of bike you want and if it’s not in stock, most dealers can simply order one for you. There’s also the bonus of being able to take your time and ask questions from someone with knowledge of the different specs.

However, a second-hand bike is likely to be more budget-friendly as you’re not the one taking the hit on depreciation and the lower value means, your bike insurance costs are likely to be less.

There are some drawbacks with buying a used bike, you probably won’t get the original warranty with it, there might be some personalisation or modifications, and private sellers often want the money upfront and in cash.

If you do decide to go for used you’ll need to spend a bit more time searching for good deals at auctions or on sites such as Auto Trader or Gumtree, but the upside of this is you’re likely to end up with a gem of a bike at a bargain price that simply can’t be matched by a dealership.

Go for a viewing

If you’ve decided to go second hand, there’s a few more things you’ll need to consider when it comes to actually viewing the bike.

You’ll need to ask to see the log book to prove that the bike is owned by the person selling it, and a complete service history, so you’ll get an idea of how well the bike has been looked after.

You can also do a more comprehensive vehicle check online with the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA)  which will tell you whether the bike is stolen, in financial disrepute or has had its mileage clocked.

If you do decide to buy the bike, make sure you get both sets of keys plus any spares and that it’s the same key that opens the ignition, tank and seat.

Range of motorbikes

Test it out

Some dealers will allow you to test ride your bike of choice; just find a dealership local to you and book a test ride online.

You’ll normally need to bring your ID and riding gear, sign a liability waiver and leave a credit card or small deposit.

The test ride will usually be 15 minutes long which should give you enough time to get a real feel for what the bike can do; how the clutch engages, if the power delivery is decent, and if the breaks feel smooth.

If you’re buying a second-hand bike from a private seller then it’s completely up to them if they’ll allow you to test ride the bike.

If this is a deal-breaker for you, it’s worth checking with the seller that they’re happy for you to take the bike out, to avoid a wasted trip

Common practise is for the potential buyer to give the seller their licence and the cash for the bike upfront on the condition that this is for a test drive only and not an actual sale.

Try to spend more than a few minutes in the saddle so you can determine how comfortable the bike will be over long distances.

Listen out for unusual exhaust sounds, check the bike doesn’t pull more to one side than the other and pay attention to any wobbling or numbness. Small niggles like these could point to issues that may need fixing at a later date.

There’s no right or wrong way when it comes to buying a bike, it’s all about using your own research and judgement to make an informed decision that will hopefully remain the right one for years to come.

Once you’ve found the bike of your dreams it’s important to search and compare as many prices as possible to make sure you get the cheapest quotes and a policy that suits you, your bike and your wallet.

That’s where can help you because we compare bike insurance quotes from over 30 of the leading motorbike insurance providers.

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