Finder may earn compensation from partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure
Buying a motorcycle: A step-by-step guide for new riders
Understand the full cost before you head to the dealership or buy from a private seller.
Buying a motorcycle is just like buying a car. There are new and used options available from dealerships and private sellers. And while financing may be a little more difficult to come by, it’s not impossible to get a loan to buy the bike of your dreams — or at least a competitively priced starter model.
Step 1: Research motorcycles and insurance costs
The model you’re interested in will influence the overall cost. When you’re looking into buying a motorcycle, it’s worth it to do some in-depth research on what will work best for your style and comfort.
Here are a few points to start your search:
|Type of motorcycle||Description||Ideal buyer|
|Standard||Standard motorcycles feature upright seating and foot controls under or forward of the rider.||New riders and general commuters|
|Cruisers||Cruisers feature a relaxed riding position and heavy-duty engines.||Experienced riders or those looking for classic style|
|Touring||Touring motorcycles are intended for extended traveling and keep seating comfort at the forefront of their designs.||Riders who frequently take extended trips|
|Sport||Sport motorcycles are built for speed, not long distance or general commutes.||Experienced riders who want a high-performance bike|
|Dual sport||Dual sport motorcycles can be ridden on or off road.||Riders who off-road frequently|
The motorcycle itself is a big cost, but insurance costs shouldn’t be ignored when calculating your monthly budget. Motorcycle insurance is required in almost every state, and it may be a bigger expense than you think. Insurance companies consider motorcycles more dangerous than other vehicles. Young riders in particular can end up with particularly high premiums.
In addition to the purchase price and insurance, estimate how much gear, regular maintenance, fuel and registration will cost. These should cover most of the factors that impact how much you’ll spend.
Step 2: Research average cost
Get quotes from multiple dealerships to find the one that offers the best deal in your area since not all dealerships offer the same bike at the same price. Also read customer reviews to make sure you’re dealing with a legit outfit.
Shopping online for a used bike is more complicated. You’ll want to vet the seller as much as possible before agreeing to meet in person, and always be prepared with questions about the condition of the motorcycle and its repair history.
Just like with buying a car, be prepared to haggle.
Step 3: Compare motorcycle loans
Once you have an idea of how much the bike you’re eyeing is going to cost with insurance, look into your financing options. It’s worth taking some time to compare outside lenders rather than just going with offers from your dealer.
We cover loans for motorcycles in more detail, but in general, consider prequalifying with multiple lenders to see what kinds of rates and terms you’re eligible for.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Step 4: Visit the seller
Even if you have the exact bike you want picked out, seeing it in person can change everything. Try sitting on a handful of motorcycles to make sure you’re happy with the seat height and handles. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about it.
Since test drives aren’t standard with motorcycles, you might want to look for a dealer that holds demo days where you can actually take a bike for a ride. You’ll have to sign up for this in advance, however, so plan ahead. If you’re buying from a private seller, ask if they’re willing to let you take it for a run.
Step 5: Negotiate
Once you find a good deal, don’t be afraid to negotiate. It helps to arm yourself with the facts by citing the prices offered by other dealerships or the manufacturer’s asking price.
This is especially useful if you’re buying from a dealership and are offered manufacturer financing. Focus on the overall cost of your loan — not just the monthly payment — and come prepared with offers from other lenders. You may be able to score a lower price on your bike or get a better interest rate if you have a backup plan for financing.
Step 6: Sign the paperwork
This step can vary depending on where you’re buying the bike and what type of financing you have — it might also involve applying for or signing loan documents if your financing through a dealer.
Make sure you understand what you’re signing on for and pay attention to any special notes or additional fees. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Step 7: Ride home — but find out how it works first
Before you drive off on your new bike, have the salesperson show you how all the essential features work. Ask how to turn the blinkers off and on and how to use any special features like traction control. It could save you time calling customer service and help you have a smooth ride home.
If you aren’t yet licensed to ride a motorcycle, you may be able to set up delivery through the dealership. If you’re buying through a private seller, see if they have a trailer to haul your bike — even if it means paying a little bit extra.
Putting time into research can give you peace of mind when you’re buying a motorcycle. It also cuts the risk and issues that could arise from buying a defective or unsafe bike.
More guides on Finder
Investing goes mainstream, thanks to apps and stimulus checks
New investors, here’s what you need to know before you hit the trade button.
Compare tuition insurance
If your child gets sick or injured and has to take time away from college, tuition insurance can reimburse you for what you already paid.
5 ways COVID-19 may have helped you buy a car
Navigate car deals and a wavering market if you’re buying a ride during the coronavirus.
What cars are made in America?
Check out the top 50 American car models, and find out what makes them American.
People are still dying after more than 6 years of Takata recalls – are you at risk?
Know your rights if your car has defective Takata air bags, and learn how to find your car’s manufacturer recalls.
Compare electric commuter bikes
Get fit on your way to work while helping the planet in the process.
Life insurance for teachers
Find out if you have enough life insurance before returning to the classroom.
How to transfer your car registration in 5 basic steps
Learn the basic steps for transferring your car registration from another state or previous car.
How to take out a life insurance policy on someone else
You need your loved one’s permission to buy them a life insurance policy.
BMO Harris Bank auto loans review
BMO Harris Bank puts you in the driver’s seat with competitive fixed-rate auto loans.
Ask an Expert