It can be a bit daunting when you buy your first bike. There are however a couple of golden rules…
Take your time. Put the leg work in by sitting on a few different bikes. Most people have a pre conceived idea of what they want, but this often changes if they try out all the options.
Be careful whose advice you take. Everyone’s talked to some bloke down the pub who bought a Ford or a Holden in 1986, was nothing but trouble and reckons he’ll never buy one again. Similarly, some motorcyclists have blind brand loyalty to one bike at the expense of all others. That said, the established Japanese brands like Honda and Suzuki have consistently offered the best quality bikes in the market, and are usually a safe bet for a great first time rider. The best advice will always come from experienced, qualified mechanics. Online forums in our experience do have some value, but as with everything on the internet, it’s often a case of “have a good experience, tell your mate, have a bad one and tell the world”. If in doubt, buy from a reputable dealer providing some form of warranty. If buying privately, we can provide a pre-purchase inspection.
Q. New or used?
A. The single most common thing we hear when talking to a prospective new rider is ” I’m looking for a learner bike, I don’t want to spend too much as I only want it to get me through my Ps…..”. As with most things in life, you can’t have it all. Less money means compromises are made, either in the area of mechanical condition, km travelled or simply cosmetic presentation of the bike. We are happy to sell used bikes with cosmetic damage, but will not sell bikes we consider to be unsafe or likely to deteriorate rapidly soon after you hand over your hard earned cash. Being realistic about your budget is therefore essential. Bear in mind that the NSW laws mean an extended period is usually spent on L’s and P’s, so it may pay to finance a new bike as you’ll get the value out of it.
So, New versus used;
A major advantage of buying new is a long, comprehensive warranty. Also, everything’s new (tyres, battery etc.), meaning that you’re not buying half worn parts that will need replacing soon. Parts will be more easily available on the better brands. The disadvantages include a steeper depreciation curve, and higher initial cost. With the NSW learner laws in force at present, you may be on a restricted licence for a while, so it can make sense to buy new.
Advantages in buying used can include lower initial cost, and a slower rate of depreciation. Disadvantages are the potential for increased costs for replacement parts, and limited warranty. In short, if you have the money, buy new. If on a limited budget, the decision has probably been made for you already – but don’t discount financing part of the purchase to upgrade to new as it can save you money in the long run. For example, a used two year old, 10000km bike can often be up for tyres, rego and a major service, and this could be $1000 plus. Throw in the fact that the factory warranty has probably expired plus stamp duty to pay on the transfer, and the value for money equation points back to new.
I used to own an old ute. Every week there was something needing replacing or fixing. I financed a new ute instead, and all it’s cost me so far is regular servicing and a new set of tyres. Certainly something to think about when the gap between new and used may only cost you $30 a week. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for, and you should expect cheaper options to cost more in the long run.
Q. I’ve seen a great deal on a new scooter or motorcycle, but I haven’t heard of the brand. How do I know if it’s reliable?
A. Well known brands like Honda and Suzuki are famous for reliability and build quality, but of course there are plenty of lesser-known brands, some of which are terrible, some are OK. If you haven’t heard of a particular brand, we strongly recommend you do lots of research, as at the cheaper end of the market there are many poor quality Chinese makes (some with European sounding names) that may result in disappointment. If in doubt, we believe sticking to the better established brands is the wisest choice.
If you see an offer of a long warranty on a cheaper brand, look closely at the small print. Check what the warranty covers and what your responsibilities are. Some have so many conditions and exemptions the warranty may not be worth very much.
It’s worth talking about resale value here too. Better known brands will have a higher resale value than the lesser known brands. If you are buying a bike or scooter to keep forever, this isn’t too much of a concern. However, if you know you’ll be selling the bike in the near future – say when you’ve finished your P’s – then resale becomes very important. Established brands have residual value and can be more easily sold when you’re ready.
As a general rule, look for a brand that has an established dealer network across Australia. It’s a good sign if a plenty of reputable dealers are stocking the product.
Q. How much should I spend on gear?
A. We can kit you out with a helmet, jacket and gloves from around $400. Of Course, the sky’s the limit, but you don’t need to spend thousands for good protection. We are always doing deals with the suppliers, and know what our customers need. Daryl (one of the owners) has had extensive experience as a rep for a variety of motorcycle clothing manufacturers, so will make sure you are fitted properly. This is absolutely vital if the gear is to perform correctly.
Q. Bike or scooter?
A. Decide what you want it to do, and perhaps more importantly, what it will actually do. If you live in Bondi, and want to get to work in the city and to the beach on the weekend, buy a scooter. If it’s a weekend thing, and you see yourself getting out of town now and again, it’s probably going to be a bike. If it’s simply transport, a scooter has some clear advantages such as low purchase and running costs. Provided you’re not doing prolonged freeway work, a Kymco or equivalent quality 125cc or above will get you over the harbour Bridge no problem (The most commonly asked question we hear!). If you won’t be carrying shopping regularly, and intend to do a bit of distance, a 250cc or bigger bike will fit the bill.
Q. How do I get started?
A. The RMS is the licencing authority in NSW, so that’s your first port of call. Click here for the RMS website. There’s often a waiting list to get onto the course, so this is time you can use visiting the bike and scooter shops to narrow down your choice of purchase.
Q. Can I test ride the bike/scooter
A. yes If you have a licence, provided we have a demo available. If you’re not yet confident, we can arrange for one of our fully licenced staff to take you out as a pillion so you can get an idea of the performance and feel of the bike.
Finally, don’t be afraid to come in and ask us questions. For the inexperienced, choosing a bike or scooter can be a challenge, and you need all the help you can get. We’ll answer your questions, and point you in the right direction.