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Are you in Good Hands?


Buying a new motorcycle can be tougher than shopping for a car. The reason? Some dealers don’t allow potential buyers to take that machine out for a test-drive.

So how do you find the perfect ride? With a little legwork, you can be a more informed buyer. Follow these tips to help you find your dream on two wheels.

Did You Know?

1 in 36 Number of Americans who own a motorcycle
1 in 18 Number of Iowans who own a motorcycle. (Iowa boasts the most per-capita riders in the U.S.)

Rent It First Try to rent the bike you want, if it's available to rent. You can do it close to home, but a motorcycle tour on a faraway vacation also offers a great chance to try out a new ride. Spending a weekend on the bike you want (or one that’s similar) is way better than a test-drive.

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Sit on It No, it’s not a rude suggestion. At the dealership, they’ll usually let you get on the bike. Put your feet on the ground and make sure it’s comfortable. Check out the width and height of the seat, and imagine how that might suit you on a long ride. Do the handlebar positions fit your frame? How does the balance feel? Is it too much or too little bike for you? You can answer some of these questions without ever clicking the ignition.

Do Your Homework The test-drive you do online is the most critical part of your purchase. Read up on the type of bike you want. The manufacturer can give you details, but message boards and reviews will tell a more personal story. And keep an eye out for cool tools. Input your height and inseam into the site Cycle-Ergo; it can help you see how your body will fit on the bike you want. Also, watch for information about recalls and other news — good or bad — that might affect your decision.

Wait for the “Demo Days” Some motorcycle dealerships set aside special days for test-drives. (Some even ask for small donation for the privilege, which usually goes to charity.) Sometimes these happen at local rallies. You can also ask your dealership when the next one is scheduled and if there are any special requirements — age, proof of liability insurance, etc.

Go Used You can also seek out a used version of the bike you like, and ask if the seller is game to let you test-drive. If you find a willing seller but plan to buy a brand-new version of that same bike (and not the one they’re selling), you can always offer them a small donation for the privilege.