So, you’re fed up of going to work on public transport or sick of sitting in traffic jams and reckon a motorcycle is the key to your commuting blues and weekend fun. You’ve breezed your CBT, got your big bike license, now certain a motorcycle is for you and you have cash burning a hole in your pocket. You’ve probably seen countless articles recommending you this posh new Honda, that fancy showroom Ducati, some super fast Kawasaki just released or a huge BMW that’s more eco than last years.
All very well, but I say stuff all that, for a newbie’s city commuter their suggestions are rubbish for a number of reasons:-
- You will drop your first bike. Probably a few times. Everyone does. If it’s a brand spanking new bike or has loads of fairing, your wallet is really going to hurt.
- Insurance. As a new rider you will obviously pay more for insurance. Even more, if commuting into the city where bike theft is rife. Fully comp premiums for a brand new bike in the city are just insane.
As such you first big bike should ideally be naked (or with minimal fairing) and a few years old. A naked bike will keep down repair costs when you have a mishap. Fitting crash bobbins or bars will help protect it when dropped too. However, if your commute involves many miles on fast A-roads or motorways a faired bike would be more favourable for wind/weather protection. Swings and roundabouts.
The sweet spot for second hand first big bikes is around £1500-2500
The sweet spot for second hand first big bikes is around £1500-2500, maybe bit more if you live somewhere rural. In the city, above £3K and insurance premiums start getting high. Above £4K and you’re looking at bikes more desirable to thieves that warrant more expensive Fully Comprehensive cover often with high excesses. £2K will usually equate to a 500-750cc bike about 10 years old that’s still in reasonable condition with a decent amount of life left. Drop your budget to below £1000 and more often than not you’ll only find money pits and rust buckets that don’t make financial sense longer term.
Although not essential, if you do spot a model with ABS brakes, I would recommend it. They may well save you a nasty spill in those first few months when you panic and grab a fist full of brake.
Stop press: London commuters should be aware the Ultra Low Emission Zone will come into enforce in April 2019. If you plan to ride a bike not meeting Euro 3 emissions (almost all older than 2007) within the current congestion charge zone, you will pay £12.50 per day. Further plans are set to extend this zone to the North/South circulars around 2012. Even if you plan on upgrading before then, it will still impact second hand prices around the capital.
So there you have it, tone down that budget for your first bike. Get some experience under your belt. In a year or two you’ll be in a much better position to upgrade to a posher bike. I’m now going to present you with some of universally recommended first big bikes that fit the above criteria. For those of you under 24 with an A2 license, many of these recommendations can be restricted to suit you.
(list in progress, watch this space!)
For slightly newer bikes to beat the London ULEZ charge, check out my article here.