July 24, 2024

What are some features to look for while buying a new bike?

 A lot depends on what you plan to use the bike for, whether touring or quick rides around town. Or longer rides of say 100–200 miles… either way these are a few things that could make a motorcycle easier to live with:

  1. Being flat-footed or at least able to firmly plant the ball of your foot down on the ground when the bike is stopped. You do not want to be on your tippy toes… that’s an accident waiting to happen.
  2. The rake of the bike

    The steeper the rake the quicker the motorcycle with respond. It will also be a lot easier to handle, especially at low speeds. Those choppers with the real long forks that seem to extend into another zip code may look cool, but trust me are not fun to ride. Unless you never intend to make a right or left turn and only plan to ride on straight roads you’ll thank me on this one. A steep rake would be anywhere from 21 to 28 degrees. There are some exceptions which I’ll cover next:

  3. The weight of the motorcycle

    Generally speaking the lighter the bike, the easier it will be to handle. A Sportster Custom (2005) weighs approximately 550 lbs and has a rake of 30 degrees. A Dyna Super Glide (2011) weighs about 640 lbs and has a 28-degree rake. Both bikes handle about the same despite the difference in weight. The steeper rake on the Dyna helps it handle pretty while the lower weight on the Sportster offsets the slightly longer rake.

  4. The handlebar position

    I like being more upright or slightly leaned forward. Wider bars allow you to lean on the bike. Ape hangers and clip-ons suck, sorry. I’d rather have a bar that keeps the hands, wrist, and forearms straight.

  5. Ability to add bags or accessories

    This is open-ended here but depending on the kind of riding you plan to do you may want to add luggage or a bag to carry things. Some people like windshields, heated grips, or a cigarette lighter to power a navigation system.

  6. A list of motorcycles that have the features/fit the criteria I often look for: Honda CB1000r, Kawasaki Z900rs/Z900, Honda CB1100, Yamaha MT10, FZ09, XSR900, any of the Triumph classics, Indian Scout/FTR1200, Suzuki GSX1000s. These motorcycles offer, in my opinion, a nice blend of performance for a “responsible” price. They are all pretty easy to live with and allow the rider to go for extended rides if he or she wants. Although I’d be okay with a cross-country trip on any of these bikes I know there are better motorcycles suited for true touring. Again, this is only my opinion…