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Selecting your first bike

First think about 'Type':

Cruiser, standard, touring, sport, dual, dirt


  • What type of riding do you expect to be doing?
  • If you have friends that ride, what type of riding do they do?
  • What sort of riding do you have access to? Do you live somewhere with great trails, or winding roads, or near paved tracks?
  • Do you plan to travel or tour on your bike?
  • What kind of gear do need to pack? (120lb. of camping equipment or a knapsack?)
  • Will you commute every day with your bike?
  • Do you want to take it to the track? Dirt or paved?

If you have access to somewhere to go dirtbike riding, consider a dirt bike or a dual purpose bike for your first motorcycle. They offer quite a few advantages for new riders; frame sizes to suit riders from the very small to the very tall are available, dirt/dual bikes are often cheaper to buy and insure (some places you don't need insurance to ride off-road) and they are inexpensive to maintain and fun to modify. Off road riding will teach you great skills if and when you want to start street riding. If you don't have easy access to somewhere to go off road riding, consider a day at a dirt-bike school.

If you want to start on the street, and you don't have easy access to trails, you will probably be considering a cruiser, standard, touring bike or sport bike.

If you want to ride off for a week with your camping gear, a touring bike might be a good choice, but if you're daunted by their size, weight or price you might want to consider a cruiser with good fuel range, or a standard if you pack a bit less, or a more moderate sport bike.

If you crave to do trackdays at paved tracks, a sportbike would seem be your obvious choice, but a standard with good clearance and widely adjustable suspension might work well too, and some cruisers are popular at the drag strip.

If you're going to be commuting on your bike every day, you may want a lighter bike for ease of maneuvering in city traffic, or a bike with good fuel economy, or with hard luggage for your everyday convenience.

If you want to learn to do mechanical work on your own bike, and older air cooled model may be easier to learn on than a newer model with fuel injection, computers etc. If you want to take your bike to a shop for maintenance and service, you might want to investigate how labour intensive the bike you want is to service.

If you've never ridden before, you might not know which of the many joys of motorcycling you will enjoy the most; try to keep an open mind, and try everything whenever you have the chance.

You might think you want a zippy sportbike, but find the comfort and torque of a cruiser appeals to you more, on the other hand, you might think a laidback cruiser sounds fun, and discover the handling and higher revving engine of a sportbike really turns your crank.

Try to find a rider training program or safety course that will offer you the opportunity to try several different styles of bike so you can have a chance to find out what you prefer.


Displacement of the engine will affect the size of the bike as well as the cost of the bike (and insurance costs too).

The weight of the bike and the seat height of the bike are other size issues that may matter more for smaller riders.

A light bike with a high seat may be modified for smaller riders by lowering the suspension, cutting down the seat, lower profile tires and other similar modifications.

A heavy bike is a bit harder to modify, but sometimes aftermarket parts that reduce weight are available.

Centre of gravity is important in your 'from the seat' impression of the weight of the bike, and that is nearly impossible to modify.

Generally, smaller displacement bikes (500cc and under) are recommended for new riders, for several reasons; they are usually lighter and easier to learn on, cost less to buy and to purchase insurance for (particularly for new riders, whose insurance costs can be very high).

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