Test Ride a Motorcycle

Buying a new motorcycle, especially if it's your first, is an incredible thrill. It's also a big step: a commitment to a different way of driving and a different type of vehicle. A test drive is going to help you make sure you're making the right decision and finding the right motorcycle for you.

Finding a Perfect Fit

Once you've made your decision about what kind of motorcycle you're going to buy—and that is already a lot of work—you have to find one that feels right. Some basic questions to help you get started include:

  • Are you comfortable in the seat?
  • Is it easy to get on and to dismount?
  • Is the spacing right between the handles and your feet?
  • Is the bike the right size for you (e.g., can you place both feet on the ground)?
  • Does the bike feel too heavy to handle?

You should plan to sit on several bikes before you narrow down your choice on how many to actually take on a test drive.

What to Look For in a Motorcycle Test Ride

While a comfortable fit should be a big factor in your decision to buy a motorcycle, another very important consideration is how the bike runs.

As you start to test drive motorcycles, play close attention to the following elements:

  • Power.
    • Does the motorcycle feel more powerful than you are used to handling?
    • Does it struggle to reach the higher speeds you demand out of your bike?
  • Mechanics.
    • Are there any unusual noises?
    • Do the gears change smoothly?
  • Controls.
    • Make sure all lights and blinkers work correctly.

If you can, take a test drive in wet conditions. This will give you a feeling for how the bike handles in the rain, an important factor if you plan to use the bike all year round.

Getting a Motorcycle Test Drive

Motorcycle Dealerships

One of the big hurdles in test driving a new motorcycle is that many dealerships generally don't provide test rides.

Some dealerships have “demo days" where you can test out select motorcycles. Other motorcycle dealers will only allow test drives on used motorcycles, while still others will only let you drive a motorcycle if you have already begun the purchase paperwork.

Because each dealer is different, you should check specifically with the dealerships that sell the bikes you are interested in trying. Be sure to ask them about any test drive requirements, such as what motorcycle insurance is needed and whether there is an age limit to test the bike on the roads.

Private Sellers

Private sales vary, too. In a private sale, the bike will almost always be a used bike. Still, the seller is going to be very cautious about letting someone drive off on his or her motorcycle.

Be sure to ask the seller directly about what they might require in order to allow you to test drive the bike.

Motorcycle Rentals

Since motorcycle test rides can be hard to get, you might want to look into renting a bike for a day or two in order to test drive it at your leisure.

Once you have narrowed down your choices, call around to see if any rental companies have your desired bike available. This will give you plenty of time to get a feel for the motorcycle and help you decide whether or not you want to buy your own.

Buying a motorcycle is a complicated process, especially since it's such an intimate driving experience. The test ride is a critical factor in choosing a bike, and though it can sometimes be hard to organize, it's still worth it to make sure you are getting exactly what you want. Happy riding!

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