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Special Section: Buying a Motorcycle

Nobody wants buyer’s remorse. And it’s even worse when it’s over something as close to your soul as motorcycling.

With a little homework and a lot of patience, you can dodge that lead-in-your-gut feeling and ride away from any motorcycle deal with a big smile that will last for years.

But it’s not easy to know what you want, and it’s even harder when motorcycles bring their own unique concerns. These tips don’t guarantee the perfect deal, but they’ll get you darn close.

Before You Start

It may seem pretty obvious, but before you head out with cash in hand, have a good idea of what you want.

And don’t just decide on a class of bike, narrow your search down to a few models.

Thankfully, that’s easy to do.

One of the benefits of buying a used motorcycle is it has some history. Previous owners are generally happy to share tales of woe or success, and a simple Web search of key terms will usually bring up dozens if not hundreds of first-person accounts of riding (and living) with your potential bike.

For slightly more in-depth reviews, motorcycling magazines and websites will be able to provide everything from first impressions to long-term tests.

The next step might not be so obvious, but it’s equally important, particularly if you’re looking at performance-oriented machines. When you can count your potential bikes on one hand, dial up your insurance agent and get real-world quotes.

Some bikes—say, a Suzuki GSX-R1000—can be pretty pricey to insure for younger riders or those with more colorful driving records. The point isn’t to steer you away from these models, but to make it clear that there are potentially vastly different costs associated with different bikes that go beyond the purchase price.

Once you’ve found something you like that won’t take too big a chunk out of junior’s college fund. Get ready. Now the real work begins.

Used Motorcycle Buying Tips

Expand all

  • Don’t Pick a Lemon

  • The Next Level

  • AMA Classifieds

  • So You’ve Bought Online…

  • 12 Simple Questions

  • Crossing T’s, Dotting I’s

  • Doing it in the Dirt

  • The Home Stretch

  • Converting Memories to Cash

  • Watching Your Back