If you've been following along, you probably remember that I recently got my motorcycle license after taking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course.
Now that I had my license, I was only missing one other critical item before I could start hitting the road like a bad-a__ mama-jama - a motorcycle! So, clearly, my next step was to set out to find the perfect bike for me.
Let me tell you, looking for the right motorcycle definitely takes a bit of time. With all the different types of motorcycles out there, I needed to see which style fit me best and which one I would really love to ride. And the easiest way to do that was to try them all out! (My husband was equally excited about this aspect of looking for motorcycles - since he would also have to try them out so we could "talk about them.")
The first thing that we did was look for used bikes. After all, this was my first bike, and I didn't want to worry too much about scratching it, dropping it, or spending too much money on something I was still learning. So we started with used motorcycle sites on the Internet, Craig's List, and the good old Classifieds.
Finding a "beginner" used bike in great shape was a bit harder than I originally thought. It's amazing to me how stupid people must think others are - for example, we went to look at a Suzuki GS500E that the owner said had never been dropped or abused. My husband talked to the owner over the phone and really pressured her on the topic because it was a 45 min drive to see the motorcycle. Needless, to say, when we got there and were looking over the bike you could see deep gashes all along the engine casing - clearly showing that it had been dropped and probably wrecked. After some angry words from my husband, we left. Unfortunately, this wasn't an isolated incident.
I thought that going to the Dealers was an interesting experience, to say the least. The best part of it was the stares. Picture this: My husband and I would be browsing through the bikes, sitting on them to try them out, and inevitably, a salesman would ask what in particular he was looking for (automatically assuming that my husband was the buyer). With a slight smile on his face, he would confidently say "Actually, this is for HER." And then we would watch what happened. The ranges in response were anywhere from "interesting, but let me continue to show you this bike because I am not sure how to talk about this to a girl," to "wow, that's really cool." Sometimes it was frustrating, but it never failed to be entertaining! At the last shop I went to, they actually dealt with me directly and that was where I bought my Suzuki SV650.
Let me share some things that I learned along the way in buying a bike:
First, try as many bikes out as you can. (Really, that means sitting on them and starting them up, as many people selling used bikes, and some dealers, won't let you try them out.) New, used, big, small - they all feel and look different. What you may think you want one day, may turn out to be your least favorite of them all! Also, knowing what you want in a bike is really important. (I personally wanted something more upright so my feet could be safely flat on the ground when on the motorcycle. I also wanted something that was relatively light so that I didn't feel like I was fighting a heavy load.) Looking at used motorcycles is a great way to see a lot of different styles.
Second, bring an experienced rider with you! At the places that would let us, I had the pleasure of watching my husband get to test all the motorcycles (which was a complete bummer). But I also had the pleasure of watching him tell the person selling her "gently used" Suzuki gs500E that it HAD been dropped, wasn't in "pristine" condition, needed new brakes, had no oil, and that the tires had about as much tread as a baby's butt. As a non-experienced rider, you don't necessarily know what to look for. And especially with used bikes, you need to be careful to not get taken advantage of!
Third, and I know the following point is counter to what most people think, but I'm going to say that for brand new riders buying smaller bikes, it's actually better to buy new than used. Here's why: First, most smaller motorcycles were owned by other new riders so a majority of them are pretty beaten up. Second, since there aren't many small engine size bikes on the market today, you usually can buy new for only slightly more than used. Of course, your mileage may vary on this advice.
Now that I had my motorcycle, I was ready to go, right?!?! Nope, I had to get all the riding gear to go with it and this was an experience in of itself! With me now riding on my own, I was looking for a full facemask motorcycle helmet for better protection. What people neglected to tell me was that it would feel like you are in a padded underwater cave with limited access to air. (Have I mentioned that I am claustrophobic? Needless to say, trying them on was somewhat painful.)
Luckily, I found a salesman that was really helpful. He told me that as you wear a motorcycle helmet, it will customize to your head, and pointed out the ones that were rated both DOT and Snell. I discovered helmet padding that made me feel like a chipmunk was good, and that a nose protector that sat up too high was bad (at least for me!). He also advised some things to consider around wearing earrings and a ponytail, which I would not have thought of.
He didn't even laugh when I asked for a red one to match my bike (I even took it out to the parking lot to make sure the color looked right in the daylight!). That scored big points in my book!
After the helmet came the protective armored 3 season motorcycle jacket, as well as the motorcycle gloves. I had boots already, so I was finally set to go!
Gear in hand, motorcycle prepped and ready to go, I brought home my new red Suzuki SV 650 motorcycle! Actually, I had to follow my husband in the car as he rode it home (since we had to get on some Interstates to get home).
Now I finally understand why my husband spends so much time in the garage. I keep finding myself going out there to look at my new bike! I can't wait to ride it!
See you in part three where I share my experience taking out my brand new motorcycle for the first time - the song was right when they said girls have all the fun!