Compare Motorcycles

A Honda Rune at the Paris motorcycle show, 2007

There are many styles, manufacturers and models from which to choose when looking to buy a motorcycle. Unfortunately, dealers and most private sellers do not allow motorcycle test rides. Bike features, appearance, condition and price are important, but not the only factors to consider. If you define your priorities, research the bikes and see them in person, you will be well equipped to make a fair comparison.


Compare Motorcycles

1. Make a list of motorcycle facts that are meaningful to you. Examples are seat height, bike weight, performance characteristics, condition, purchase price, book value, insurance cost, maintenance intervals, color choices, odometer reading, recall notices, accessory availability and rated miles-per-gallon.

2. Gather data for each item. Good sources are manufacturer specifications, owner clubs, recall-tracking organizations, government safety commissions, insurance companies, magazine reviews and accessory suppliers. The Internet is an excellent research tool for much of this information (see “References”).

3. Go see each motorcycle and take notes. Make sure the cycle is comfortable and in the same condition as described. Start it and listen to the sound. The engine should run smoothly. Dark stains on the floor below the cycle are a sign of fluid leaks. Verify the manufacture date, which is typically stamped on the VIN plate. Check the expiration date on the inspection sticker.

4. Gather additional information from the dealer or owner. Ask him to describe what type of rider would be comfortable on the bike. Some motorcycles are suited for beginners, while others require racer-level skills. Ask when the motorcycle was serviced last, what work was done and what maintenance is due at the manufacturers next recommended service date.

5. Observe someone riding the motorcycle so you can evaluate how it shifts and stops.

6. Evaluate the data, giving more weight to the factors that are the most important to you.