Questions to ask Before you buy a Motorcycle

Questions to ask – Before you buy a motorcycle


Many a first-time biker is faced with which type of bike to buy when entering the world of motorcycles. Some folks sit with the same dilemma when making a lifestyle or budget change….the fact remains that before signing on the dotted line and committing to the purchase of a motorcycle there are some important questions you need to ask yourself.

Biking is not merely a hobby, it becomes a part of who you are, it gets intertwined with your genetics…part of your DNA. Okay maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but if you are as enthusiastic about biking as I am…it is a thing that runs in your veins and buying a bike is almost a matter of the heart, a decision lead by emotions. But regardless of what riding a bike means to you, the following basic questions will help you in choosing the bike best suited for you.

  • Is it your first bike? If yes, it is generally recommended to then look at bikes with an engine displacement/capacity of 650cc or smaller.
  • When do you want to ride?  Do you want to ride every day, commuting to work and back as well as doing the weekend out-rides? Obviously riding everyday means that fuel economy and comfort will play a roll.
  • Is it your only bike? If it is, you need to give serious consideration to all these questions as your motorcycle will then be a type of investment in my opinion. If it is not your only bike or only mode of transport, well then you are basically only limited to the thickness of your wallet.
  • How important is fuel economy? Most motorcycles will give you at least 15km/L or more, depending of course on how heavy your right hand is. But if saving money on travel costs is important to you, you should definitely consider bikes in the 600cc-800cc engine range as these are known for figures of in excess of 20km/L
  • Where do you want to ride with it? Here it is very simple, will you be riding on-road, off-road or do a bit of both? And your answer will basically leave you with either buying a scrambler, dual purpose bike or any of the other types of road bikes.
  • How long do you want to keep it? Is it a bike that you’ll keep for a lifetime, making it part of the family and many good memories or do you want to buy & trade over the years until you settle on that special bike that will be a gift from me to me on your retirement?
  • How often will you lift/pillion someone? This is important as not all bikes are built for 2 and some that are is not that comfortable for the pillion/passenger either. If you gonna ride two-up a lot it is recommended that you consider or at least have a look at motorcycles in the tourer, sport-tourer, grand-tourer, cruisers and dual purpose classes.
  • How much are you willing to spend on maintenance? This is largely influenced by parts availability (quality of after sales service, dealer locations, and where parts are imported from), the drive train (chain, belt or shaft driven) of the bike, the power of the bike and your riding style (eg. Regular hard acceleration, wheelies etc.) and willingness to look after it (keep it clean and service it regularly, use of original or generic parts).
  • How much are you willing to spend on the purchase of a motorcycle? This is basically self explanatory. Either how much do you have to purchase a bike, cash or if you finance the bike, what is the monthly installment you can afford. Opinions will vary but I recommend opting for a fixed interest rate if you’ll be financing your bike. And remember to calculate monthly insurance installments into your budget as well. It is strongly recommend that you don’t fixate on a specific dealership. Shop around and negotiate as you’ll find some dealers are more eager to do business than others.


For 2nd hand motorcycles you need to have a look at the following:

  • Maintenance record
  • Re-spray or custom paint jobs
  • Condition of the brakes, tires and drive train
  • Oil and fluid leaks
  • Dents and scratches (some may be evident of an accident)
  • Proper working of lights, electronics and locks
  • Toolkit (some bikes come standard with a basic toolkit)

I’ve learnt that answering these basic questions will help one to make a choice one won’t regret when going to one’s favorite motorcycle dealership to buy that dream bike and invest in a lifetime of joy and friendship as you become part of the motorcycle fraternity and explore the freedom.

And What did I buy?

Well, in my case I was looking for a bike with a durable and proven engine (larger than 1000cc)& mechanics, average to good fuel consumption (17-20km/L), comfortable for both me & the misses. A brand with a good dealership network and good after sales service as well as parts availability. So keeping maintenance affordability in mind, I (actually me & the wife)decided on a second hand machine, costing less than  R80 000 to purchase and which can comfortably take me & the misses anywhere we want to go, whether it be on tarmac or gravel (off-road)……a 2004 BMW R1150GS.

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By: Hector Jamieson

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2 thoughts on “Questions to ask Before you buy a Motorcycle”

  1. My husband has voiced that he would like to buy a motorcycle. I have no previous knowledge of motorcycles, so I like how you point out that you need to decide if you’re going to ride the bike every day commuting to work before you decide since this has to do with it’s fuel economy. I know he’ll want to ride it a lot, so we’ll probably want to look for one that has a really good fuel economy listed.

  2. I am looking to get a motorcycle. I am going to use it for commuting to work and back. I didn’t know that 600cc-800cc will be better fuel efficiency. I will have to keep that in mind when bike shopping.

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