Buying a motorbike is an investment, so you want to get the best motorcycle for you!
“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…” The Eagles knew what they were talking about.
Motorcycles are a symbol of freedom, of masculinity, and of dreams coming true.
The US Motorcycle Industry Council (or MIC) says that households owning motorcycles rose from 6.94% in 2014 to a record of 8.02% in 2018, which is an increase of more than 1.5 million homes.
Buying a motorbike is an investment, so you want to get the best motorcycle for you! Keep reading to see how!
Your First Step to Being a Motorcycle Owner
Before you can think about which motorcycle you’ll soon be straddling, riding down the highway with the wind in your hair, you need to focus on a few other important things.
You need to learn how to ride. Now assuming you’re not a seasoned rider, this may sound obvious but it’s true. Consider taking a few lessons if you’ve never truly been behind the handlebars of the beast.
Second, do some homework on your safety gear. Consider taking a motorcycle safety course. And then prioritize buying the right gear. You’ll need:
Pants or chaps
Depending on the type of motorcycle you purchase, you might also want to add elbow and knee guards, a chest armor plate and a few other odds and ends. Your motorcycle salesman will be able to help you with additional pieces of safety gear should you need them.
Narrow Down Your List
You’re ready now to tackle the overwhelming task of finding a motorcycle that both fits your needs and that you will treasure for years to come. Choosing a type of motorcycle will mean the difference in speed, power, weight and your ability to ride that model.
There are various types of motorcycles in the market, these can be narrowed down and briefly described as follows:
Cruisers are built for comfort. They’re the motorcycles you most often see where riders look stretched out and relaxed while they ‘cruise’ past you on the highway.
Cruisers are generally lower to the ground, making it easier for new riders to handle.
Sport bikes are built almost purely for one purpose: speed. They’re made to go fast and they’re made to handle the road well.
They tend to be higher off the ground.
These are bikes that are created as replicas of what motorcycles were before they got all fancy and modernized. They’re commonly referred to as ‘naked’.
They offer comfortable positions for the rider.
Adventure motorcycles are made for longer trips and are generally bigger and higher off the ground than other types of motorcycles. They’re built with off-road and on-road capabilities.
You Have to Shop Around
Looking at motorcycle catalogs, directories and images can have you sitting on the internet for days on end. The colors, types, models, engine sizes, capabilities can be sincerely overwhelming.
The best motorcycle shopping tip: you have to sit on it.
You may overestimate the reach of your legs, or how high you would be able to stand while still holding a motorcycle up right when you need to stop at a red light or park your bike.
Sit on them, feel them out, you should have a good idea of what you’re comfortable with by the end of it.
Each type of motorcycle has the best in its categories.
The best beginner motorcycle you can get is one you’re not afraid to drop, as a beginner you’re likely to do so. Consider a used bike as your first beginner motorcycle. Browse the dealerships for the best deal, such as this Ford dealership.
The best touring motorcycle would obviously be for a more seasoned, experienced rider. This type of rider will most likely already have a brand preference and know their limitations. If a touring motorcycle is what you’re after, there are also great used options out there.
The Ultimate Motorcycle Shopping Tips
Set a Budget
No matter whether you’re searching for a vehicle or a motorcycle, having a budget is paramount. A salesman will generally sell to his customer what he thinks his customer wants at whatever price.
Give yourself a maximum budget. Include your safety gear and monthly insurance costs in this, you don’t want to get caught by surprise with unplanned costs.
Dealers Mean Peace of Mind
First-time buyers should definitely consider dealership purchases. Especially since you can possibly include a warranty package with the purchase of your motorcycle, which you won’t have through private purchase.
They will facilitate paperwork, applications and the entire sales process for you.
Find out about all the usual things that add to the running cost of a motorcycle.
Ask what the fuel economy is on the model that you have your eye on. Ask what a tire might cost if it needs replacing. Ask about service costs.
Make sure you’re informed on the upkeep of the motorcycle.
A Confident Purchase
Take your time to make a confident purchase. Don’t be rushed, don’t make a hasty decision to simply get your hands on the motorcycle you think is right for you. Especially without having looked into all your options.
If you take your time, do your homework and shop confidently, you’ll make a decision you’ll more likely be happier with for a long, long time.
As Easy As Riding a Bike … Or Buying One
If you’ve spent time researching, read the tips, made a list and saved some images. You’re halfway there.
Now, you need to go out and sit on a few seats, stretch out your legs and see how it feels. If you’ve found a motorcycle you like, see if you can find more information on it here.
Buying a motorcycle is mostly about being informed, but it can also be “love at first sit down”.
In 2015, there was the e-Scrambler painted in Scrambler Urban Enduro colours. It was made under licence to Ducati by Italwin, an Italian company specialising in pedal-assisted electric bicycles.
In 2017, Ducati Western Europe managing director Edouard Lotthe said they were looking at both scooters and electrics, while VW Group Chairman Matthias Mueller said Ducati would have an electric motorcycle by 2020.
In the same year the Ducati Zero futuristic design concept was produced by the Milano Scuola Politecnica di Design (Design Polytechnic School).
In 2018, Ducati unveiled its first electric mountain bike, the MIG-RR.
And this year Ducati boss Claudio Domenicali admitted he rides a Hypermotard converted to electric power with a Zero FX powertrain and said the company is about to join the electric bike race.
“The future is electric, we’re not far from starting series production,” he said.
So there could be more electrics from Ducati soon, rather than just a licensing agreement for luxury scooters.
Chinese electric scooters deal
The new licence deal signed with Vmoto will result in “CUX special Ducati edition” electric scooters.
Vmoto already make cheap electric scooters and motorcycles under the Super Soco brand which are available in Australia.
The top-of-the-range TS11200R electric motorcycle costs just $4990 ride away but has only 22km of range.
They say the Ducati/Vmoto CUX scooter will be marketed as a “high-end luxury product at a premium price” and sold globally over the next two years.
Vmoto and Ducati say they will promote the CUX special edition to the “existing worldwide distribution network”.
Ducati is imported by Frasers Motorcycles and Super Soco by Urban Moto Imports.
There is no word yet on whether they will be imported here or which importer would bring them in.
However, Vmoto managing director Charles Chen says the deal is partly intentioned to further grow Vmoto’s product awareness in Europe.
Let’s face it, not every apartment is motorcycle friendly, and some seem to forget that motorcycles even exist. Motorcycle awareness is an issue that needs to be addressed over time, but for now, our best bet is finding apartments that have motorcycle friendly amenities. The more successful that these facilities are, the more likely it is that other apartment communities will take notice and include similar amenities. So what should you look for when moving into a new apartment? Let’s find out.
Parking with Motorcycle Space
If you don’t have somewhere to park your bike, you’re going to struggle. Some apartments hand out parking passes for each resident. If you have two passes and you live alone, you can use one for your motorcycle and one for your vehicle. However, if they only allow one parking space, you’ll have to find other options.
If parking is open, make sure that there are designated parking spots for motorcycles. If the parking spots are large enough or if there is a carport, you may be able to park your bike parallel in the back and then pull your car into the spot. Alternatively, if you own a pickup truck, get a ramp and park the bike directly in the back of the truck.
Motorcycle Storage Locations
If you live in a climate where you can’t ride your bike year-round, you’re going to have to find a storage spot for your bike. Ideally, your apartment will have additional on-site storage that is large enough to house a motorcycle. This is usually limited to upscale apartments.
If there is nothing on-site, you may need to make sure there is an affordable nearby storage facility available for use. If you get in a bind, you can probably store your motorcycle in your apartment if it can fit, but you’ll need to check your apartment guidelines before doing so.
Protected or Gated Garages
Unfortunately, even the best areas have the possibility of theft, and we all know how nerve-racking it can be to leave your bike out in the open. As a result, we should limit our apartment search to communities with gated or closed garages. Most luxury apartments have this as a standard option. As an added bonus, a garage will protect your motorcycle and vehicles from potential harsh weather.
Frequent Community Events
It can be great to meet other motorcyclists in your apartment community and find a group to ride with. Many communities host barbecues, move nights, family events, and more.
Electric motorcycles are coming on a wave of hype about range of more than 300km, but are the claims a hoax?
Traditional petrol-powered motorcycles are quoted in terms of miles per gallon or litre per 100km. It provides a reliable and realistic guide to the range from a bike’s tank. Riding hard or conservatively doesn’t make a huge difference to range.
However, the range calculations for an electric motorcycle are not as simple.
We recently bought an expensive cordless vacuum cleaner which was claimed to have a battery that would last for a couple of hours of cleaning.
However, that was based on using the low-powered mode. If you want to really suck and use the boost mode, you are flat out getting about 20 minutes out of it. And six months down the track, that’s more like 15 minutes.
I also once drove an early Tesla sportster on a hot day around the Ipswich Motorway for only five laps before the fully charged battery overheated and I had to pit.
On another occasion, I rode an electric Zero DS with a claimed 290km of range from the Gold Coast to home and nearly ran out of battery because I was riding on the highway.
So is electric motorcycle range a hoax to rope in riders who want to be seen to be keeping pace with the modern world and showing their “green” credentials (that is, if they have access to clean power for recharging!).
Battery range in electric vehicles is subject to so many variables a range figure is almost a pointless hoax.
Factors that affect battery range include:
Extreme ambient temperatures;
Riding modes such as “eco” and “sport”;
Constant throttle at highway speeds that deplete batteries faster;
Brake regeneration extends range in stop-start traffic; and
Downhill sections conserve battery power.
Riders will have to think totally differently about electric motorcycles and almost disregard the salesperson’s claims about range.
For example, highway and city riding yield totally opposite range yields to a traditional petrol engine.
The latest Zero SR/F comes with this complex table of range calculations that vary from 132km on the highway to amiss double in the city! It’s enough to confuse any buyer.
Range (based on EU standard)
But the complex range claims have not stopped the surge of electric motorcycle sales, particularly in Asia and Europe.
At the end of a 10-day motorcycle trip south from New Orleans, my husband Greg and I arrived at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, where we planned to spend a couple of years working remotely, supporting a non-profit and enjoying the wonderful riding. However, a few months in we made a fateful decision that imperiled the latter. We adopted a nine-week-old German Shepherd puppy that we named Moxie.
After those first nerve-racking weeks as new dog owners, the New Year’s holiday presented the opportunity for a riding trip to Mexico. As we packed our panniers and secured the tank bags and duffels, it nearly broke our hearts to read the abandonment in those sad puppy dog eyes!
Eventually, we made it out the gate and down the road and all the way to Mexico for a few days on the coast. However, all along the way we lamented leaving Moxie behind. So, although it seems quite obvious in retrospect, it honestly struck us as inspired when, during the ride, Greg mused over the intercom, “You know, we should figure out how to bring her with us on a motorcycle!”
I was skeptical. It felt like having your cake and eating it too. But for Greg, the metaphorical gauntlet was thrown and so our bold endeavor began as do all those of the modern era: we “Googled” it!
We discovered trailers and sidecars but dismissed them, preferring to maintain as much of the original form and physics of my BMW G 650 GS as possible. Now, when you search “motorcycle travel carrier,” you find a variety of clever do-it-yourself creations and even a few commercial products. Parenthetically, the cutest are those that involve carrying a small pup in a tank bag or backpack. Unfortunately, our Moxie was on course to grow into a large beastie and few commercial carriers contemplate such large dogs. The few that do are bike model-agnostic and tend to look the part.
So, Greg set to work sketching, measuring, cutting and welding. His first try fell flat. Inspired by the motorcycle pizza delivery boxes that are ubiquitous in Guatemala, the carrier was ugly and heavy. It threw the GS’s handling out of whack and strained the chassis.
A little dispirited, he put Frankenstein’s failed dog carrier aside and hit pause on the project. Then, a couple months later Greg’s self-described moment of inspiration struck. He shook me awake and exclaimed, “The carrier doesn’t need to carry her!”
The next day he left for the workshop and a few days later he brought home the K9 Moto Cockpit. It’s a semi-enclosure of metal tubes that look like crash bars suspended along either side behind the rider. The cushioned bars secure to Moxie’s harness at several anchor points to prevent her from leaping out to chase cats or from being launched in a sudden stop or crash.
The exciting part is this, and I’ll repeat the pun because it really is a giggle, the carrier does not “carry her.” It has no bottom. Instead Moxie lays on a cushion, which itself lays directly on the seat and luggage platform. This means her 65-plus pounds rest entirely on the motorcycle like a cross between passenger and luggage.
Now, of course, Moxie is neither exactly passenger nor luggage, but she is certainly a member of the family. That means her safety is most important. All of the best commercial carriers provide for harnessing the dog rather than allowing for an easy get-off. Our initial tests indicated harnessing as the better option and our subsequent riding experience has definitely confirmed it. For more about the build and safety, check out this video and to see how we secure her before a ride watch the beginning of this one.
OK great, you’re thinking, but how does a slender woman lift a 65-pound German Shepherd onto a motorbike? Initially, Greg constructed a small platform that unfolds to be used as a step. However, when we began teaching Moxie to “saddle up,” we found that the promise of Guatemalan blood sausage sent her leaping directly onto the motorcycle seat and into the cockpit. From there, the training process went: sausage, “turn around,” sausage, “sit,” sausage, “lay down,” sausage and strap her in.
Finally, it came time for trial runs. At first Greg ran alongside while I foot-paddled the bike and feathered the clutch. After a couple of laps on the dirt road along the river beside our house, the clutch slipped out, my feet came up and we were riding!
It feels a little like carrying a duffle bag–only different–and also a little like carrying a passenger–only different. About the best I can do to describe riding with your big dog is to say it’s like love, sex and chocolate: it can’t be described, only experienced.
So, I guess on one level this story is another among many that celebrate the proverbial “can-do spirit.” On another level, however, I suppose there is a lesson–dare I say moral–and it is this: sometimes with a bit of cleverness and some hard work, you can actually have your dog and ride with her too!
Jessica Stone is a former international aid worker who, with her husband, Greg, started Ruff on the Road handmade dog apparel to beautifully and ruggedly equip dogs for adventure while creating dignified work-to-empower indigenous Guatemalan artisans. Jess’s German Shepherd co-pilot Moxie shares their motorcycle travels and outdoor adventures around Mexico and Central America in a video series called “On 2 Wheels + 4 Paws”–think Motorcycle Diaries meets A Dog’s Purpose. Come visit ruffontheroad.com to experience motorcycle adventures through Moxie’s eyes and the lessons she learns along the way!
By Victoria Chase: freelance writer and digital marketer*
Sometimes a superbike comes along, and you can’t imagine how anything that comes after could ever possibly be better. These bikes are amazing feats of engineering with a whole bucketload of passion thrown in.
It’s always difficult to narrow down the list of the top 10 superbikes, even harder still to whittle that list down by half. Read on to find out some of the best superbikes you can buy today – if you’re very lucky.
Ducati 1299 Superleggera
A bike truly bursting with new tech, and with the high price tag, you’d expect it to be! But, don’t get on the phone to your local superbike dealer just yet. Only 500 were built and they all sold out before they went into production. If you keep your ear to the road you may be able to snap one up – don’t expect to get it for the original asking price though.
This breath-taking superbike is built with enough carbon fibre that its kerb mass is only 167kg. The 1299 Superleggera is one of the best superbikes on the market – if you can get your hands on one.
Spirit GP Street R
A limited edition, handmade superbike built in Britain. What’s special about this superbike is that it was designed for the racetrack but then built for the road. This uber-modern model features a wonderful selection of handmade bespoke touches, including a swingarm made to MotoGP specs.
If you want your chance to take one of these stunners for a spin, you’ll need some very good connections in the bike world, only 50 were made.
Kawasaki Ninja H2
If speed is what you’re craving, then this hunk of madness is what you need to ride. Even though the electronically-limited speed only reaches the standard 186mph (300km/h), you can feel how fast this bike wants to go. That missile-like power is thanks to the supercharger that’s been added to the 998cc inline-four engine.
This isn’t a bike for a beginner, or even an intermediate rider – if you don’t know what you’re doing the Ninja H2 will leave you behind in a cloud of tyre-smoke and asphalt.
MV Agusta F4CC
This could be the most controversial choice in this list, but the F4CC is very much able to hold its own here, so is definitely deserving of its place. It’s also deserving of the hefty price tag; only 100 were made and almost immediately they were all sold to collectors. This bike can boast to almost all of its components being handmade, and with a top speed limited to 195mph (314km/h), it’s easy to see why they were all bought up so quickly.
Claudio Castiglioni, who was in charge of MV at the time the bike was built, loved it so much he put his name on it.
Aprilia RSV4 RF
On a lot of superbikes, there is always the problem of sacrificing pure, unadulterated power for the latest in tech. This isn’t the case with the RSV4, which delivers both in bucketloads. This machine is built with some of the smartest electronics available, and the sole desire to be the fastest superbike in its segment. And with over 50 championship titles under their belt, Aprilla know what they’re doing.
Riding this bike is something all superbike lovers should aim to do at least once – although, once you speed away, we can’t guarantee you’ll ever want to get off.
Victoria has written for numerous publications in the business, automotive and motorsports spheres. She has a keen interest in anything on two wheels.