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Choosing the right motorbike

So you’ve passed the various bike tests and got your licence, but how do you choose which motorbike to go for?

Motorbike riding at sunset

Fit for purpose

The first thing to do before buying a bike is to know exactly what it'll be used for.

It's probably not a good idea to go for a car-sized 2000cc Kawasaki Vulcan if all you need is a little 50cc scooter to nip through city traffic on your daily commute.

Likewise, that same 50cc run-around is not the bike to choose if you’re training for next year’s Paris-Dakar rally.

Once you know what the bike will be used for, you can narrow the options down, and choosing becomes much easier.

Know the different types of bike

There are a lot of different bikes available, from small 50cc scooters, to sporty racers and off-road dirt bikes. For more help, take a look at our guide to the different types of bike.

Know your limits

If you fancy yourself as the next Valentino Rossi and you’re dead set on a sports bike, be aware that motorbike insurance premiums will often be far higher for these types of bike.

Insurance companies will often not offer cover to a novice rider for powerful bikes, until you have a track record of proven experience on smaller, less-powerful bikes first.

The reason for this is that in the past, inexperienced riders opted for powerful bikes that were beyond their ability to control, and ended up in serious accidents.

Basically, know your limits and buy a bike that you’re capable of operating safely.

Set a budget

Motorbikes can cost anything, from a few hundred to tens of thousands of pounds.

If you’re on a budget, a smaller, less-powerful bike will usually be cheaper to run, cost less to tax, and will often have lower bike insurance premiums.

Fixing a budget will also help protect your bank balance when looking around a showroom. It’s easy for an experienced salesman to upsell expensive models to amateur bikers.

Second-hand bikes

naked bike

When buying a second-hand motorbike, you should follow these basic tips:

  • Check the bike’s service history to make sure it’s been properly maintained.
  • Check it has a valid MOT certificate.
  • If you don’t know much about bikes yourself, take along a friend who does.
  • If the bike doesn’t look safe to you, walk away.
  • Check the seller’s ID against the name on the registration document, in case it's stolen.
  • Check the bike’s history. Our vehicle history checker can tell you if a vehicle has been previously written off, damaged, stolen, or if there’s any outstanding finance.

Bike insurance

New riders will usually pay higher premiums at the outset, which will gradually reduce with experience, assuming no claims are made.

One tip that may help keep a lid on the cost of motorcycle cover is to keep the bike garaged, or at least locked up off road overnight.

In terms of the type of insurance available, bikes are similar to cars.

Fully comprehensive bike insurance is generally the most expensive option but covers the rider for damage to their bike as well as other vehicles involved in an accident.

Third party, fire and theft covers you against damage or injury to another person or vehicle but not your own bike. And, as the name suggests, it also covers against fire damage or theft of your bike.

Third party bike insurance is the most basic cover, and excludes insurance for fire and theft of your motorcycle.

Lastly, as you can’t mention safety enough when talking about motorbikes, take a look at our motorcycle safety tips for help staying safe on the road.

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