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Motorcycle buying guide: Tips on how to purchase your first motorcycle

Step-by-step instructions to find and finance your dream bike.

For some, a motorcycle is a dream purchase. Knowingwhat you want out of a bike and how to get the best deal can make your dream ride a good choice. You’ll also want to know what kinds of bad deals and scams to look out for.

How to buy a motorcycle in 7 steps

Compare motorcycle loans

Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
PenFed Auto Loans
Starting at 1.79%
3 to 7 years
Active membership with PenFed
Low APR car loans from a well-known credit union.
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
Get pre-qualified for used car financing and receive competitive, personalized rates. Car Loans
Varies by network lender
Varies by lender
Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
CarsDirect auto loans
No minimum credit score
Varies by network lender
Varies by network lender
Must provide proof of income, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.
Save time and effort with this lending service specializing in beginner-friendly or subprime car loan.
Auto Credit Express Car Loans
Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
Monevo Auto Loans
3.99% to 35.99%
3 months to 12 years
Credit score of 500+, legal US resident and ages 18+.
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
Good to excellent credit
Starting at 1.99%
Varies by lender
18+ years old, good to excellent credit, US citizen
Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out. Car Loans
1.89% to 27%
550+ credit score, no open bankruptcies, $24,000+ annual income, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
Get up to four offers in minutes through one simple application. Multiple financing types available including new cars, used cars and refinancing.

Compare up to 4 providers

Costs to keep in mind

The cost of the actual motorcycle isn’t the only cost you need to consider.

  • Insurance. We mentioned this before but it’s worth repeating: Motorcycle insurance is expensive. Compare different quotes to find the cheapest rates.
  • Maintenance. Depending on how much you ride your bike, you’ll have to pay to keep it in shape. This can be as little as around $10 to $20 a month but can get much higher if you have to replace tires.
  • Gear. Helmets, jackets, pants, boots, mounts, rain gear — this can all add up. Some people actually end up spending more on gear than the motorcycle.
  • Safety or training courses. If this is your first bike, it might be worth learning how to ride — and some states this might even be required if the rider is under 18 or 21. This can cost as much as $250.
  • Tax and registration costs. When your seller cites a price, ask if they’re including sales tax and vehicle registration costs. These vary from state to state and influence how much you need to borrow.

Compare motorcycle loans

5 factors to consider when buying a motorcycle

For most people, buying any sort of vehicle can be a big financial commitment — including a motorcycle. When it comes to buying your own motorcycle, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration.

  1. Buy new or used. You need to look at your finances and work out whether buying new or used is more suitable to your budget. If it’s your first bike, a second-hand motorcycle may make more sense as you can see how much you really like it.
  2. Model and price. Compare the price of the model you want at multiple lenders and work out your finances to see if you can fit it into your budget.
  3. Safety. Bringing the bike to mechanic you trust before you start riding. If you buy a second-hand motorcycle from a private seller, you’ll generally be taking a greater risk than if you bought it brand new and fully checked from a dealer.
  4. Your experience level. Make sure you get a bike that’s going to compliment your skill level — a bike with too much power will undoubtedly be overwhelming for a new rider.
  5. Type of riding. Determine what kind of bike you want: on- or off-road, sport bikes or cruiser. This helps narrow down your search.
  6. Accessories. Make sure you factor in the cost of the accessories you’ll need when riding your bike. Items like a helmet, jacket, gloves, rain and weather gear, boots and eyewear can get expensive, so shop around to find the best deal.
  7. How you’ll pay for it. There are a number of different options that you can look at when it comes to making your bike purchase, such as financing from the dealership or a personal loan.

Above all else, don’t into any decisions. If you don’t do any research, it could end up being a costly or even a dangerous mistake.

Bottom line

Putting time upfront can give you peace of mind when you’re buying your motorcycle. It also cuts the risk and issues that could arise from buying a defective or unsafe bike. Remember to compare your loan options if you’re considering finance to find the best deal on the market.

Image source: Shutterstock

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