10 Things to Look For When Buying a Motorcycle



The rider triangle– that is, the relationship between the wrists, hips, and legs– has the most powerful influence on long-term rider comfort.


Making sure a motorcycle is ergonomically agreeable with your body is trickier than it might initially sound. Sure, you can straddle a bike at a dealership or even take it on a test ride for a spin around the block. But sometimes what seems comfortable at first blush might turn out to be tiring, or even painful, on longer rides; the topic is so potentially complex there are even websites dedicated to the art of contrasting body types to bike geometries.

Seriously consider a bike’s ergonomics before you take the plunge, and try to imagine yourself aboard the saddle for prolonged periods of time: does your weight rest excessively on your wrists (which will make them feel sore down the line)? Is your knee bent too far? Are the handlebars a long reach for your arms? Being honest with yourself and accurately estimating the long-term effects of bike comfort can involve guesswork (barring an extended test ride on a bike you’re considering), but finding your optimum physical match goes a long way towards ensuring long-term happiness with your new machine.

Take a Look (and a Swing a Leg Over) for Seat Height

Seat height is a crucial consideration in bike buying, but don’t assume you have to be able to flat-foot at stoplights to be confident and in control of a motorcycle.


Closely related to the ergonomics issue is the question of seat height—especially for those of shorter stature. In fact, women have become such a big issue in this area that some manufacturers are specifically marketing bikes with low saddle heights towards females. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, you’ll want to consider the finer points of saddle altitude.

The Bike’s Wind Protection (Go Naked or Not?)

Windshields aren’t limited to touring bikes; for instance, the Honda Interstate seen here is a cruiser that comes with built-in wind protection.


Also closely related to ergonomics is the issue of wind protection.

While naked bikes are alluring in their mechanical exposure and pure, see-through design aesthetic, their lack of a fairing or wind deflector often means they can be miserable on long rides, and allow the elements to beat down on you, which can ultimately be surprisingly fatiguing.

If you plan on riding for any prolonged period of time or through inclement weather, you’ll want to seriously consider shopping for a bike with a fairing​ or picking one up in the aftermarket arena.


Saddlebags come in all shapes and sizes, and some even expand or collapse so they don’t take up more space than they need to when empty.

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Sure, motorcycles are all about the beautiful simplicity of lightweight, stripped-down design. But they’re also about escape and freedom, and one of the easiest ways to get outta Dodge is to bring along small personal items in a saddlebag and/or a top case. If long distance riding is a priority, consider finding a bike that’s equipped with saddlebags, or is at least capable of getting fitted with a set.

Style of the Motorcycle

If motorcycles aren’t head-turningly sexy, what’s the point?.

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Ah, style. It’s a big reason many of us get into motorcycles in the first place, and a notable differentiator when it comes to your choice in bikes. Since style is subjective, the best advice to offer is to pick a motorcycle that’s so good looking, you can’t help but look over your shoulder at it as you walk away in a parking lot.

Sound and Noise Pollution

Harley-Davidson takes such pride in their so-called Potato-Potato exhaust note that they once sued a Japanese manufacturer for plagiarizing the signature sound.

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Motorcycles often get the wrong sort of attention when they involve excessive noise pollution, but there’s also a big difference between obnoxiously ​loud pipes and a mellow, pleasing exhaust tone. Bring your ears as well as your eyes when shopping for a bike; after all, there can be as much enjoyment in the burble of v-twin or the whine of an inline-4 as there is in the thrill of riding.

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