Ready to buy a motorcycle? Ask yourself these 6 questions


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Ask a Lender
October 13, 2017 | Updated October 19, 2017


Buy-first-motorcycle-six-questions-couple in field

Key Points

Answer these questions before you shop

  • Do I know what bike I want?
  • How much bike can I afford?
  • Have I obtained an insurance quote?
  • What gear do I need?
  • Have I budgeted for additional fees and costs?
  • How will I get the bike home?

Buying a motorcycle may induct you into a lifestyle of independence and style, but there’s no use in having the freedom of two wheels if you’re shackled to a high-interest loan for an overpriced bike. If it’s your first foray into purchasing a motorcycle, be sure to ask yourself these six questions before you shop.

1. Do I know what bike I want?

As with any purchase, it’s wise to have a solid understanding of the bike and features you want. Unlike buying a car, many motorcycle dealerships do not offer test rides. Dealers can’t be sure of the rider’s experience and the risk of accident is too high. Bring your license, proof of insurance and gear in case they offer test rides. You can also look out for any promotional demo days at dealerships or motorcycle shows where you can test ride various bikes. At the very least, sit on the bike to get a feel for it. If you’re buying a used motorcycle, it’s not out of line to ask for a test drive, and time to take it to a mechanic for a look. If you’re not buying from a trusted dealer, know what to look out for to ensure you don’t buy a lemon.

2. How much bike can I afford?

Unless you have the funds to buy your motorcycle in cash, you will need some form of financing. As motorcycles are considered luxury items, loans typically require strong credit and carry higher interest rates. Bikes depreciate just like cars, so make as large a down payment as you can afford to ensure you don’t end up owing more than the bike is worth. You can get financing through an institution like a bank or credit union, certain large insurance companies, with a manufacturer credit card or through a dealership’s preferred lender.

Always compare lenders and get preapproved for a motorcycle loan before going to the dealership. This will not only give you an idea of how much bike you can afford, you can use it to negotiate a lower interest rate from the dealership’s financiers. Be sure to review any potential fees and penalties associated with the loan.

Manufacturer credit cards are issued by a partner lender, typically with little or no interest rates for an introductory period. When this period is over, however, interest rates often jump into the double digits. Only consider the credit card option if you are confident that you can repay the loan before the promotional period ends.

3. Have I obtained an insurance quote?

If you are financing your motorcycle, your lender will require full coverage insurance until your loan is paid off. How much this insurance will cost varies greatly depending on the type of bike, your driving record and where you live. You may get a better rate if you’ve recently taken a motorcycle safety course. Insurance can add up to a significant cost, so compare companies and be sure you can afford it before going into the showroom.

4. What gear do I need?

Your focus may be on the motorcycle itself, but don’t forget about being properly equipped to ride safely. The cost of gear can add up, so assess what you already have and what items you will need. Some dealerships allow you to incorporate new gear purchases into the motorcycle financing.

5. Have I budgeted for additional fees and costs?

Additional costs to factor into your budget include:

  • Sales tax
  • Registration fees
  • Title transfer fees
  • Freight, shipping or destination fees
  • Preparation fees
  • Document fees
  • Other dealer fees

Dealer-specific costs are sometimes inflated, so don’t be afraid to negotiate.

6. How will I get the bike home?

If this is your first motorcycle purchase, closing the deal is not always as simple as signing a piece of paper and riding your new bike into the sunset. If you are confident enough to ride your bike home by yourself, make sure your insurance is in effect. Otherwise, you may need to arrange some sort of towing.

Bonus: Do I need to take the bike home today?

Don’t be swayed by salespeople insisting that it’s the last day of their special offer or enticing you with zero-down financing that allows you to ride away without paying anything on that day. Be clear-headed about the purchase and financing, and your time on the road will be all the more sweet knowing you spent responsibly on your new bike.


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