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Ask BEFORE You Buy

Motorcycles are and should be the purchase of an item that excites you.  But there are a few questions should be asked ahead of time.

WHERE IS THE CLOSEST DEALER FOR THIS BRAND/MODEL?  We just got off the phone with a customer who purchased a KTM.  While they are a nice bike (kept in context), we don’t service them and the closest dealer is over 100 miles away.  Keep this in mind, as while the basic dependability of most motorcycles is way better than in the past, you will need pivotal services that many manufacturers won’t provide an independent shop the information to do.  As badly as I want to download and troubleshoot your ECU codes and flashing lights, if it is a BMW, Ducati or some other brands I can’t do it.  This is the short-sighted view that you then have to return to the dealer for this and reduces the grass-roots ability for routine service being done locally.  This inconvenience plays into a reconsideration of purchasing this brand again in the future, and I can’t in good conscience recommend that brand if I am keeping your service needs first and foremost.

What is the cost of basic services this unit will need in the next 10 to 15k miles?  Some bikes have major service intervals at 4,500 miles, some 26,000 miles.  Do your homework on cost and frequency.

What tires will this bike need?  Some are commonly available sizes, some are more difficult and expensive.  This has really come to the fore with the newer cruisers using the cool-looking monster rear tires that will cost you nearly $300 in some cases.  If you are a casual rider, that may not be as big an issue as it will be if you put on the miles and plan to actually use the bike.

What are the ratings for this bike as relating to your planned type of riding?  Good around town, but a torture rack on the highway.  Nimble and fun or closely related to the M-1 Abrams?  You will be the one moving it around in your garage and close quarters.  I can say there are a vast majority of bikes closely resembling their American owners, overweight and difficult to maneuver.  Can you pick it up if it goes over? 

What will it cost to insure?  While there are a lot of our customers in the “respectable” age bracket, different insurance companies use different parameters to determine the rates you are charged for insurance.  Be aware that with the fancy paint and extra visual treats, a parking lot tip-over can run $2,000 or more very easily.  We provide the actual model letters on our used bike sheets so a customer can call and get an accurate quote.  Few things are as frustrating as scoring the bike you have wanted for years and then when the bank asks for proof of insurance for your loan, the cost per month is more than the loan payment.  It has happened more than once.

OK, now that I have sucked the last drop of fun out of the buying experience, you need to talk to experienced riders and do your homework.  Often you will be able to find owner’s forums, local clubs and meet some very interesting people along the way.  I always prefer an educated consumer.  It indicates they have put in as much effort as they expect from me, and the results are always better on both ends.   

Yes, a motorcycle should excite you, but a frantic impulse choice is rarely the best route.  Some bikes I have been waiting nearly ten years to find and acquire.  A recent example is a 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star I recently located after I told the finder I was looking nine years ago.   It isn’t a done deal yet, but close.  This bike also has a magneto, originally came with a nearly unusable carburetor and can do you a mischief if the kickstarting regimen is not properly followed.  But I still want this bike very badly, showing even 46 years of experience doesn’t necessarily dim the excitement.

 

© Bill Whisenant 2016

 

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5205 University Ave. Madison, WI 53705 (map)
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