8 Things No One Tells You Before You Buy a Motorcycle

1. Motorcycles are expensive

MotoADVR_DucatiMonster2If you’re buying a motorcycle as a “toy”, this probably won’t phase you, but if you’ve been convinced by the salesman that riding is cheaper than driving, there’s more you should know. Sure, they’re cheaper than a new car (unless it’s a Red Headed Italian Supermodel or has a bar and shield on the tank…), but you may find that that gently used bike you just brought home on the trailer has some additional expenses. Sure, 46 MPG on a bike is common, but it’s really not that gas, it’s the new tires every 5,000 miles (~$150 a tire, plus mounting and balancing), the oil changes every 6,000 miles (likely $200+ at a shop), and the gear you’re likely to accumulate (which could exceed $1000).MotoADVR_888onStand You could squid it up if you choose, but in many states helmets are mandatory, at least for the first year; that’s easily a hundred bucks right off. Before long, you’ll probably want a good riding jacket, so the sleeves aren’t so damn short, and well, it gets cold when the sun goes down (that’s another $200, easy). Chaps or riding jeans are likely to set you back another hundred, and there’s also that whole “rain suit” thing. Not to mention what insurance is going to cost you, suddenly that driving record with a couple speeding tickets makes that new R6 a little steeper than you originally planned.


2. Motorcycles don’t have to be expensive

Right now you’re saying “but you just told me they were expensive?” Yes, I realize that, but if you’re not one of those people who buys things to improve your image, isn’t looking for an instrument of a mid-life crisis, and is otherwise frugal, riding a motorcycle can actually be cheap. honda-cb550-four-motoadvrThis of course implies that you’re going to buy something of small displacement, used, and preferably pay cash. This also implies that you’re prepared to make steep, and I mean steep, sacrifices in the comfort department and ride virtually year-round and in inclement weather. I have heard many stories about folks, even here in Dayton, Ohio, that have had a motorcycle as their only vehicle (I assume this was in the 80’s…). Most (American) riders aren’t prepared to make sacrifices in lieu of comfort, or be caught dead on a 250cc bike (or God forbid a scooter) after holding their full endorsement for more than 3 months. However, for those willing to fully commit, one can actually experience a savings on gas, and in the city probably even on parking. suzuki-vanvan200-motoadvrA cheap, used, paid for, reliable Honda (or other UJM) can probably handle more than its fair share of abuse and neglect and is therefore probably not the “Garage Queen” Ducati I previously described; just a few quarts of oil and some “reliable” rubber on the rims and you could make out like a bandit. If nothing else, you’ll definitely have cash left over to buy suitable gear for the inclement weather you’re about to experience. Your motorcycle of choice is unlikely to place in any motorcycle shows, and your friends and family are going to call you “Crazy”. However, in the event gas prices reach $4/gallon again, you’ll start noticing how rarely you hear comments about your boring bike or how crazy you are for riding below freezing.


3. Rain is going to terrify you, but it doesn’t have to

Frequenters to the blog have read my comments about this before. On my previous bike, I was borderline terrified of rain. It didn’t handle especially bad in the rain, it was mostly the riding position when the rear wheel broke loose that bothered me. This really isn’t about me though, it’s about you as a first time rider. There you are, a few months under your belt, you’re out riding and the skies open up with nowhere to hide. You start asking yourself “will the front wheel hold?” and “How far should I lean?” Worse still, in the event you actually do spin the rear tire and get that exciting motorcycle fishtail thing going, the pucker-factor cranks up a few more notches. That lack of trust in your tires combined with not having the right gear to combat the elements often makes for a “once bitten, twice shy” situation for some riders, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I personally recommend that you make it a deliberate point to push the bike out into the driveway on a rainy day, and take a short ride around roads that you know just to get acclimated to how the bike handles in the rain. You’ll probably be surprised but just how well most modern tires stick to the pavement. If you’re a selfish guy like me, you might even find that you enjoy the (mostly) empty roadways you find when it’s raining, especially on the weekends. However, if you decide you’re strictly a “Sunny and 70” kind of rider, you may never outgrow this fear.


4. You meet people…

At a gas station, at a stop light, or in the parking lot while you’re putting on your gear, people stop and talk to you. triumph-bonneville-vintage-motoadvrSometimes it’s simply “hey that’s a nice bike!” and they move on. Most of the time it’s “Sure is a nice day to be out riding!” or “Be safe!”; but sometimes it’s an older guy who wants to tell you about his old ’68 Bonneville that he loved so much (I call this the “Triumph Experience” which occurs frequently at gas stations when I’m filling up). If you like attention, you’re likely to find it on a motorcycle, but be warned, while you, young man, are looking to pick up “Chicks” with your hot new ride, know now, per my comments above, motorcycles are actually dude magnets.


5. No, you REALLY meet people

Despite wearing a full face helmet and tinted visor, you see a lot more while riding. Part of that is of course riding in “the zone”; being ultra-focused on everything going on around you, because if you’re not, it may literally kill you. DCIM114GOPROHowever, the fact that you don’t have an A-pillar at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock blocking your view, you also see a lot more of what’s happening in front of you. Between that and the fact you’re watching every car within 200 yards of your bike, you start to notice what other drivers are “doing”, and in many cases, not doing. While many drivers also notice this, I find that the higher perch on my Scrambler has provided me with a superior view of someone’s game of “Angry Birds”, watching them read “War & Peace”, or occasionally having a bowl of cereal. Text messages and (hopefully) GPS functions are easily the most frequent thing I notice from distracted drivers, but without fail, you’ll see how fellow commuters spend their time behind the wheel.



6. This isn’t your dream bike

There I was, standing in the dealership about to take home the bike I had lusted after for two years. Then, after a couple, years you suddenly begin to notice… flaws… in your dream bike; be it, not enough power, not enough storage, or simply because you’re bored with it. MotoADVR_YamahaR1-3There are exceptions, I have a co-worker who’s first motorcycle (ever!) was a ’07 Heritage Softail, and he still has it to this day (and no other bike). However, considering you’re not a seasoned motorcyclist, I suspect that odds are, in a relatively short period of time (2-4 years?), your heart starts to drift from that former love affair. Don’t feel bad, it happens to most of us, just keep this in mind before you pay top dollar for a new bike, make permanent (and irreversible) modifications to said motorcycle (like sweet skulls painted on the tank…), and then get your hopes up about getting anything remotely close to what you paid for it. The problem is, from day one, you honestly have no idea what kind of rider you’ll be, and therefore no idea what kind of bike you’ll need, so plan accordingly.


7. You find solace in solitude

Others have written about that fact that once you buy a motorcycle, you join a club. They mean that figuratively, and literally in some cases. DCIM118GOPROYour circle friends may be the whole reason you’re buying a bike in the first place; however, you may find that you also enjoy riding alone. While riding in a car can be completely mundane, the journey from “here to there” is completely changed on a motorcycle; suddenly find yourself more “in-tune” with what’s going on around you. While I do often ride with various groups, I make a point of “exploring” the rural backroads solo, I stop when I want to, and just enjoy “my ride” at my pace. There’s just something about the smoky smell of wood burning stoves in the valleys and the sun setting behind the corn fields in fall that makes those rides special… you’ll see.


8. It’s Addicting

No really, motorcycles are addicting. While there are unquestionably poor, lonely motorcycles sitting neglected in thousands of garages right now, for many of us, this “hobby” becomes our primary pastime. triumph-scrambler-7-degrees-motoadvrAs I’m writing this, flurries are falling outside the window, so there’s no doubt that others reading this are experiencing the same “winter withdraw” that occurs almost universally among riders this time of year. Come spring time, even riders who typically stick to the “Sunny and 70” rule even start make concessions, just to get back out on two wheels. For some, myself included, you find every excuse to take the bike to any given destination, regardless of what sacrifices must be made. In my case that means an expansive (and expensive) closet of gear to handle each variety of weather challenges; it is “the only way to travel” as far as I’m concerned.triumph-scrambler-snow-motoadvr For someit’s the speed, and for others it’s “the freedom”, and before long, you start rubbing elbows with more of these people, and now you have social engagements to help exacerbate this addiction. You may also find that you like “tinkering” on motorcycles as much as you like riding them, and similar to the previous comment about dream bikes, you may also find that having only one motorcycle simply isn’t enough. Fortunately for your significant other, there are worse things to be addicted to…

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14 Responses to 8 Things No One Tells You Before You Buy a Motorcycle

  1. Paul Uhlman says:

    You are spot on with several items. I would like to have a larger stable of bikes but I also have had one bike for almost 25 years. It will have to go one day, maybe. Oh, get a loud horn.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ry Austin says:

    Motorcycling is an expensive habit (way of life?). Those (we) who think and say that riding will save us tons of money either are oblivious or are seeking a way to justify a new habit that we know will consume our cash and time. I think the closest I’ve gotten to saving money riding was back in 2007 or 2008 when gas prices spiked and I was still getting around by Vespa.

    My two favorite parts of this blog post:
    ~ “…motorcycles are actually dude magnets.” Ha-haa! Ain’t that the truth.
    ~ 7. You find solace in solitude… Yep.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Thanks for reading Ry! The “dude magnet” thing actually came from a buddy of mine. He bought a Thruxton last year and apparently no one warned him about “The Triumph Experience” and he was like “WTH? This bike is a dude magnet” it was hilarious. After my dad and I had just had this conversation about people always talking to you at stop lights and whatnot, I felt like that was the best note to end that little snippet of wisdom.
      You’re absolutely right about “saving money”. I suspect that my better half doesn’t even want to broach the topic as I always have “one more trinket” I want to bolt onto the Scrambler. You’re also dead-on about the scooter (hence my comment, “god forbid a scooter”). Scooters are cheap (well… not Italian scooters…), and get great gas mileage; they come with storage in stock form, but apparently there’s just no “bravado” in a scooter… sigh. Hopefully this new Honda ADV scooter gets some traction.
      Glad you liked “solace in solitude”, that one was probably my favorite. Hard to be witty about that one, because frankly, that’s probably the one you’re least likely to hear about from other riders. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes they are addictive but it’s hard not to love them…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Some interesting points for sure

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Derek Dewitt says:

    I am looking into buying my first motorcycle soon, so thanks for sharing this article. I like that you mention how, after a few years, you’ll start to notice flaws in your first bike. I know my first one won’t be the best, so I’ll be sure to start saving up for an upgrade if I end up liking it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Thanks for reading Derek, I hope this helps you out, as I think it will give you a laugh in a couple years (if it didn’t already). I haven’t written it yet, but I want to do a follow up piece about choosing a first bike, and preparing for the second. Item 9 on this list could be “who you ride with will determine what you ride a lot more than you think.” I recommend buying a “beater” in your budget as a first bike and discovering who you ride with and how you ride. If you’re a bar hopper or perhaps a long distance junky, the bike you want will be different. The crowd you hang with is the same. If you’re rocking a Japanese cruiser and all your bros have Harleys… odds are you’ll want to convert. That’s not everyone, some folks have a taste and stick with it regardless; but I find most mirror their friends.


  6. Josh M says:

    One of the best things about living in Arizona, you can ride 24/7/365


  7. Simon says:

    Some great points made well done!! I had my first field bike at 14 and broke my collar bone at 15, today instead I am lucky enough to own several bikes and I love them all!!! I think that another useful tip is to get to know your local bike dealer so you can see prices of servicing in advance. Have fun xxxx Simon

    Liked by 1 person

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