Establishing a budget is probably the most important thing to outline when it comes to your new ride…

AS Dirt Bikes

You’ve got your license, you’ve got your proper gear, now all you need is your motorcycle.

Here are a few things to consider before signing on the dotted line.


Establishing a budget is probably the most important thing to outline when it comes to your new ride. If you’re buying used, this is particularly important. You might be tempted to spend an extra couple of thousand on the bike of your dreams. But if the dream bike just happens to be a nightmare and costs you an unanticipated fortune on repairs, you might find yourself in a pickle.

New or Used?

There are differing benefits to buying new or used. New bikes have warranties, but a used bike that might not be too old could still have one. Is buying either way better than the other? Not necessarily. Buying used you could get a more upscale model for your budget.

Private Sale or from a Dealership?

Speaking from experience, buying through a private sale can be a good way to go, especially on a budget. I found my bike on Craigslist. But if you can’t pay cash up front, dealers generally have financing or payment plan options. Private sales don’t. Dealers also have most likely done a tune-up or some service in preparing the bike for the sale.

Check the VIN through ICBC or a Trusted Database

It might cost you a few extra dollars to run a bike’s VIN through a trusted database but can save you multiple headaches in the end.

It will show if the bike has been in any reported accidents and detail the damage. It’ll also show if there is money owing on the bike or if it was reported stolen. Keep in mind, if the bike is from out of the country, the record likely won’t show.

When I went to buy my first bike, I had my heart set on a beautiful Yamaha R6. It looked brand new and perfect. The seller said it had never been in any accidents and had all original parts. I left thinking that the next day I’d be riding this beauty home. However, I paid my $20 (at the time) and found out the bike had been in two accidents with damage costs of more than $3,000. If you’re buying through a dealership, they might even have the bike’s history on hand for you. It never hurts to double check.

The Myth of Displacements

Many new riders like to set a cap on the cc displacement they’re willing to get for their first bike. I had a reader write me asking what he should get. He’s 6’2”, 220 pounds and had long limbs. He didn’t want anything higher than a 250cc though.  I asked him why. He said he wanted something manageable for his first bike. With long arms and legs, a 250cc bike wasn’t going to fit him! Or vice versa. I told him to look at cruisers, like the Harley-Davidson Sportster, Honda Shadow, Suzuki Boulevard S40, Yamaha Bolt. They might have a higher displacement but they’re going to be easy to manage and work much better with his body. What did he buy? A used 2006 Honda Shadow 750cc. And he loves it.

I recommend buying a bike that you are comfortable on, both physically and mentally.

Test Rides

Private sellers won’t generally let you test ride, but ask. Dealers are more open to this, especially with newer models because they have demo fleets.

Mechanical Inspection

If you’re buying used, and you are this close to making the decision, before you go to the bank and give up your savings, spend an extra $100-$200 to get a motorcycle mechanic to look at your potential purchase. Private sellers will generally ride the bike down to a location of your choice and let the mechanic work their magic. The mechanic will then let you know what things might need to be worked on in the near or distant future. If the seller thinks it’s too much work, then it’s your call if you want to continue to work with them. I wouldn’t buy a bike without knowing what I’m getting into.

Contact: alexandra [dot] straub [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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