Now that you have decided to get yourself a motorcycle, next step is choosing the right one which suits your purpose and way of riding. It’s not as simple as pointing a finger at a motorbike and hopping onto it and riding away. Let me help you with a few things to keep in mind while purchasing a motorcycle.
Be realistic and rational
So, the kid next door got himself a Duke 390 and now when you want to buy a motorcycle, you might want to buy something as good as that. I agree that looks and styling matter, but your safety ranks #1 here. Riding a motorcycle isn’t easy, especially when you aren’t capable of handling the power of one. So, instead of worrying what the other guy has, sit down and think to yourself whether buying that motorcycle makes sense. I would suggest a novice rider to start off small and make his way up. If you are new to riding, pick a small CC bike and learn on it, once you feel you have learnt everything you could, you can think of an upgrade. But, buying a bike which you aren’t ready for is the worst decision one can make.
Purpose of the bike
In India, the main purpose of getting a two wheeler is to commute through traffic and get from Point A to Point B. If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, you might want to tour or take your bike to the track as well. Here is where the research you do comes in. You obviously can’t pick up an RC200 and tour the country (unless you are okay with butt sores) and neither can you pick up a cruiser and head to the track on Sundays to scrape your knees. Finding the balance here is crucial. Right now, the motorcycle market in India is growing rapidly, you have a lot and I mean a LOT of options when it comes to choosing a motorcycle. I am sure there is one which meets all your needs and also looks kick a**.
Few things to remember here are that if you cannot put both feet flat on the ground when the bike is upright, it’s too tall for you, period. Also, if this is your first bike, or you’ve never ridden anything scarily fast, don’t even look at a high-performance bike.
That said, if you see yourself using the bike primarily as daily transportation, consider a standard, or traditional, bike. If you used to ride years ago, these will look familiar, but feel better thanks to electric starters, fuel injection, disc brakes, ABS etc… If your commute is a long one, and you generally have a passenger and you want a bit more style, the next logical choice is a cruiser. If you intend to spend many hours and miles in the saddle with a passenger sitting behind you, you need a touring bike. For a little more performance in a touring bike, there’s this category called sport/touring. If you primarily want to straighten curvy roads, your needs will be best met with a sport bike. If you want a basic commuter that can keep going when the pavement doesn’t, look at a dual-purpose bike: a standard bike with extra ground clearance and button tyres (something like an adventure sport).
Also remember, ATGATT – All The Gear, All The Time.
Now what if I want to buy a used motorbike?
Doesn’t matter if you are picking the bike up from a dealer or an individual, check the kilometer reading and bike condition, does it look right. Also, try and get the service history of the bike from the respective service station.
– Start the bike, she should be able to start up quickly. If the engine is cold, a little smoke may be visible, that is okay. However, if the engine is hot and there is smoke coming out of the exhaust? You might want to rethink that particular vehicle.
– Tires should be in good condition, if they aren’t and if you are okay with replacing the tires, you can get the price down (if you are convincing enough)
– Check the brake pads and the wear of the disk. The discs should be clean and smooth.
– Check the chain and slack. If you see rust or grime on it, the chain has had a rough life and has probably not been changed even once.
– Check the engine casing for oil leaks. Try and drain the oil from the engine and see how much comes out and how much goes in. (If 1 liter has to go in and only 600 ml drains out, this indicates sludge in the engine)
– Check for new or aftermarket parts that have obviously replaced broken ones. Specifically, check the footpegs, mirrors, handlebar grips, and brake and clutch levers.
– Look for rust and scratches on the bodywork, tank and fenders. Inspect the footpegs for wear: Worn on top means lots of miles. Worn on the bottom means a rider leaning over too far in corners.
– A cracked or weather-beaten seat and faded, oxidized paint means the bike has seen a hard life.
– Also, you might want to check the registration of the bike and see if there are any pending violations on it.
This should help you out when you decide to pick up a motorcycle for yourself.