A lot of first time riders ask, what type of motorcycle is best for them. There’s no single answer, but on the background of my personal experience, here’s a few things I think you should consider.
Which motorcycle type to choose?
Sports bike, cruiser, touring, dual-purpose or street bike, there’s a lot to choose from and you will probably already know what type of motorcycles you are into.
As a first timer I wouldn’t recommend buying a brand new sports bike. Sports motorcycles are build to take you to insane speeds very fast, and little mistakes can have fatal consequences. So start out with something a little more forgiving. Not to mention the cost of replacing the Tupperware, when you drop it in a parking lot. That stuff is blood dripping expensive. If you must have a sports bike (hey! who wouldn’t), choose an older model or at least stay below 500cc. You can always sell it, and buy a smoking hot Rossi replica, in a year or two when you have more experience.
In the cruiser/touring category one of the big sausage wagons like the Electra Glide and the Goldwing might be a bunch to handle if you don’t know how, that doesn’t mean you have to be big to do it though. Other than that, I don’t see a specific type of motorcycle being best for beginners, that all depends on your taste and preferences.
New or used motorcycle?
I recommend buying a used bike the first time. Especially if the motorcycle you are considering has been on the market for years, you will most likely be able to find one a couple of years old that is just like new. If you buy a used motorcycle it won’t hurt as much when you drop it (we’ve all done that once or twice). You won’t loose a lot of money realizing you bought the wrong type of bike and want to sell it to get another one, or when you want something with more power and in a year or two.
Keep an eye on the price for a few used models you are interested in, and buy one that you can sell off without loosing too much money on it. Remember to check insurance rates for the models you’re considering, there can be a huge difference. Mileage is not that important, if I could save a grand on a motorcycle that have run 2000 miles more than the other one, I would. Main thing to look for is that it has received the love and care it needs. If the seller couldn’t be bothered washing it before you come to see it, he probably haven’t bothered keeping service intervals either.
If you fall in love with a new model, that you for obvious reasons won’t find used, so be it. Riding motorcycles is a lot about passion, and taking the sensible approach can be a bit tough when your mind is set on that shiny new motorcycle winking at you in the dealer’s show room. This year it could be motorcycles like the Yamaha MT-03 or the Kawasaki ER6n which I would consider good entry level motorcycles. But consider your self warned; the first scratch in the paint hurts like hell.
Making the final decision.
Try before you buy. Go to various dealers and ask for demo rides. When buying a used bike, don’t buy it if you can’t try it. Also try motorcycles that you normally wouldn’t consider, so that you can compare them to the models you are considering (e.g. if you want a cruiser, try a street bike, and vice versa).
Buying a new motorcycle is a grand experience; you should enjoy it, and take your time. Go to trade shows, visit dealers, and try as many motorcycles as you can get away with.
After you buy your first motorcycle.
Once you get your first motorcycle, take as many riding classes as you can afford. You should also try an instructed track-day, that’ll be the most fun you’ve ever had (read about my first here). It will make you a better rider, you’ll ride safer, and you’ll have more fun riding.
Drive safe, have fun, and wear a freaking helmet you moron.