Motorcycle Buying Guide

A showroom with motorcycles for sale.

If you’re ready to purchase your first motorcycle, you’re likely thrilled and maybe a little overwhelmed. There are many factors to consider before buying a motorcycle. We’re here to help you make a purchase you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Secure financing

Motorcycle prices depend on the style of bike you want. Research the bike and associated costs before entering the market. You can save up for your bike, charge it to a low-interest credit card or take out a motorcycle loan.

Motorcycle safety

Before you shop for a bike, it’s recommended to complete a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course. The course is like driver’s training and will help ensure you can ride your bike safely. Depending on your state, you may need to obtain a special motorcycle license or endorsement as well. 


Motorcycle insurance is required by law in most states. If your state does not mandate it, consider purchasing coverage anyway. Insurance can protect you from liability for property damage or personal injuries caused through your vehicle. It can also help cover medical bills in case of an accident, and cover theft and damage to your bike. As is the case with auto insurance, you’ll have the freedom to choose how much coverage you’d like to purchase, with robust coverage increasing the cost of your policy. 

New vs used bike

Decide if you’re going to purchase a new or used motorcycle before trying out bikes.

A used motorcycle can cost thousands less than a new bike and won’t depreciate nearly as much. However, finding a used motorcycle in decent condition can be challenging. If you decide to go this route, stay away from bikes that show signs of excessive wear, have mileage exceeding 20,000 miles, and/or have difficulty starting up, running or stopping. It’s also a good idea to get a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to check on your potential new bike, have it professionally inspected, and take it for a spin before finalizing the deal. 

A new bike is more expensive so run the numbers before setting your heart on a particular motorcycle. However, they will be free of mechanical breakdowns in the near future and will look spotless and new. Insurance will also cost more than coverage for a used one.

Motorcycle categories

You’re ready to choose your type of ride. Here are the most popular choices:

  • Sportbikes - equipped with a leaning design that makes them ideal for riding at high speeds, these bikes also have higher foot pegs and handlebars that are more out of reach than most other bikes. A sport bike can be a good choice for thrill-seekers, but uncomfortable for riders planning long road trips. Insurance can also be expensive. 
  • Standard bikes - an upright riding posture and lack of accessories make these a great all-purpose motorcycle. Perfect for beginners and the budget-conscious, but not the best choice for off-road and long-distance riders. 
  • Cruisers - cruisers offer a relaxed riding position, comfortable suspension and a V-twin engine. They also tend to be heavy, making them difficult for new or small riders to handle, but an excellent choice for tall riders and those seeking a stylish ride. 
  • Touring bikes - built for long rides, these motorcycles are fully loaded with extra features, including fairings that block the wind, saddlebags to accommodate luggage and large fuel tanks for long trips. A touring bike can be ideal for riders who enjoy long road trips, but they can be an expensive choice for city riders. 
  • Dual sport bikes -lightweight and built with high-travel suspension and aggressive tires, these bikes are a great choice for off-road riding. Their tall seat height makes them difficult for short riders to handle.

Once you’ve chosen your ride, research models from popular brands. Be sure to check out ratings and reviews from current owners. Once you’ve narrowed down your choice, you’re ready to visit dealerships and private sellers.

Features to consider

A motorcycle’s seat, handlebars and foot pegs are not adjustable, so it’s important to choose one that fits comfortably. Take a seat on a bike and see how it feels, and make sure you can easily reach the handlebars and pedals. If possible, go for a ride around town to get a feel for it. You’ll also want to consider the weight of your bike since a heavier bike can be difficult to maneuver. Finally, if you’re a new rider, don’t go overboard on power. It’s best to start with a bike that has a 500cc engine and then trade in for more powerful bike later.

Buying your bike

You’re ready to buy your bike! Be sure to research and choose carefully so you’ll enjoy your motorcycle for many years. If you are in the market for a new ride, learn more about TwinStar's one-stop shop for affordable motorcycle loans and insurance to fit your budget