A Guide to Buying Your First Motorbike

When you are buying your first bike, there is a lot of excitement involved. But, you need to make sure that you temper that excitement with some good research. Your bike needs to match your lifestyle, not your fantasies! Here are some things you should know before you start looking.

What Size Engine Can You Have?

Once you have completed your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) you are allowed to ride bikes with engines of up to 125cc. However, if you are under the age of 17, you are limited to a 50cc engine. If you want a larger engine then you will need to pass your practical test.

Tip: Most people change their bike to a larger engine size within a year of getting their first bike, so if you can afford a bigger engine to start with, you should go for it to save money. This should be only as long as you feel safe and confident enough to do so.

What Are The Advantages Of A 50cc Engine Vs A 125cc Engine?

  • Fuel Efficiency – 50cc engines offer fantastic fuel economy you can easily go weeks at a time between fill-ups.This makes them a lot cheaper to run.
  • Lower Insurance Costs – Obviously, when it comes to insurance, the smaller the engine, the lower the insurance costs.
  • Low Cost – A 50cc bike is always going to be significantly cheaper than a larger model. You will have to search hard to find a truly expensive 50cc bike.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A 50cc Engine Vs A 125cc Engine?

  • Less Speed and Power – a 50cc bike is not going to be breaking any speed records; in fact, you won’t be getting over 40mph.
  • Limited to inner-city roads – since you can’t get over 40mph on a 50cc bike you really should limit your driving to inner-city roads. It’s not safe to travel at 40 on high-speed roads. For this, you really need the extra 75cc of a 125cc motor.

What Should You Include In Your Budget?

Your budget for getting yourself up and running with a motorbike should cover a lot more than just the bike. You should factor in a large chunk for safety equipment. You will then also need insurance road tax and maintenance costs.

Tip: As a rule of thumb, your safety gear should cost around 25% of the cost of the bike.

What Safety Gear Should You Get?

There is an acronym the most motorcyclist live by ATGATT – All The Gear, All The Time. Safety gear is something that it is always worth putting money into. You should always wear it, especially on shorter journeys as that’s when you are most likely to have an accident. It can literally save your skin.

A helmet is an absolute must. There are several different styles to choose from, but a full helmet will give you the most protection. Make sure you get one that fits right. It is important to buy a motorcycle helmet as brand new. With second-hand helmets, they may not fit right, and they may have suffered damage. This means it won’t protect you as well in the event of an accident.

A good quality motorcycle jacket is next on the list of necessary items. There are a lot of options out there that will provide you with protection. There are classic leather ones or some great synthetic choices. Just remember to look for function over fashion.

If people are going to skimp on protective gear, it’s most often the trouser. But, jeans are not safety gear. A proper pair of motorcycle trousers will protect you from the elements, be well ventilated and have armour where you need it.

A good set of boots and gloves will round out your safety gear. These should be durable and well-fitting.

In total, a proper set of motorcycle safety gear will easily cost in excess of £1,000. It is worth it. You will not regret spending more on this even if it means getting a smaller or older bike. The statistics say that you are going to drop at some point. It is going to hurt. So make sure you are protected so you can get back on your bike again afterwards.

Tip: If you have to, get a cheaper bike rather than skimp on safety gear.

Which Is Better New Or Used?

New bikes are great. They have all the most modern and exciting features, they look great, and they are a joy to ride. That being said, if you are new to riding, then you are likely to have an accident at some point. Almost everybody does. It will hurt a whole lot less to look at dents in an already well-worn bike rather than the new bike that you just spent a fortune on. It’s generally a good idea to start with a used model until you have more experience on your bike, then work up to something new and exciting.

Another argument for buying used is that you are not likely to keep your first bike for long. After all, once you pass your test, you can get a larger bike. Most people only keep their first bike for around a year. Since you are looking at £4,000 minimum for a new 125cc bike, that is a lot to pay for something you’ll only have for one year.

However, if you can’t resist getting a shiny new bike, there is good news. There is a very healthy market for well maintained used bikes. So, if you look after your bike, it should have a reasonably healthy resale value.

Tip:  Most people don’t keep their first bike for more than a year. So, you don’t have to get you ideal bike right off the bat. Check out what finance options are available so you have an understanding of how much you can spend.

What Should You Consider When Picking A Bike?

When you are picking your bike, keep in mind what your average ride is like. Then buy a bike that suits that journey. If you are going to be commuting in a busy city centre, then you may be better off with a smaller bike. That way you can snake in and out of the traffic, and you can get decent fuel economy, If you are going to be driving on 60mph roads regularly, then a larger bike with a good size engine will actually be safer.

Your height is going to have an impact on which sort of bike is going to work for you. If you are particularly tall or short then you should look into models that are designed for you. There are some bikes that have higher saddle positions for tall riders, and ones that are a little shorter which is more suited to shorter riders. You don’t want to take the joy out of riding by ending up with a bike that gives you a backache.

The final thing to think about is what are you going to be carrying on your bike. Are you likely to be riding with a passenger? Will you need panniers for lots of equipment or your shopping? These answers will significantly narrow your choices for you.

Tip: Be realistic about your needs when you buy your first bike, and always go for safety first.



David Lindsay

David Lindsay is an author and scottish car fanatic writing exclusively for Slainte.co.uk knowledge library guides. He has a passion for riding motorbikes at the weekends and on track days around Scotland. David Lindsay is also a contributor and author to the Slainte motorbike finance pages.

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