The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Choosing A Motorcycle

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Choosing A Motorcycle

Key Takeaways:

  • Appropriate Bike Selection: Understanding the types of motorcycles and selecting one that matches your intended use and skill level is crucial for a safe and enjoyable riding experience.
  • Essential Safety Gear: Investing in high-quality safety gear, including helmets, jackets, and gloves, is non-negotiable for protecting yourself while riding.
  • Maintenance Fundamentals: Regular maintenance not only extends the lifespan of your motorcycle but also ensures safety on the road, making basic upkeep knowledge essential for all riders.


At NBT Clothing, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of motorcycle apparel and safety, equipping riders with the knowledge and gear they need to have confidence at every turn. We also understand the excitement and challenges that come with choosing your first motorcycle. 

This guide is crafted to navigate you through every essential aspect of selecting the perfect motorcycle that suits your needs—from understanding different types of bikes and what features to look for, to budgeting for your new ride. Whether you're looking to cruise city streets or explore rugged terrains, our comprehensive guide ensures you make an informed, safe, and stylish choice.

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What To Consider Before Buying Your First Motorcycle

Before you decide to buy your first motorcycle, there are several key factors to consider that will help ensure you make the best choice for your needs and lifestyle. Here’s what every beginner should evaluate:

Purpose Of Riding

Determining the primary use for your motorcycle is essential. Whether it’s commuting to work, cruising on the weekends, going on long-distance tours, or venturing off-road, each purpose demands different features from a bike. For example, touring bikes offer more comfort for long rides, while dual-sport bikes are versatile enough for both on-road and off-road use. Understanding your main riding intent will guide you toward the motorcycle that best suits your lifestyle.

Riding Experience

Assessing your riding experience helps in selecting a bike that matches your skill level. Beginners should look for motorcycles with lower power outputs to make handling easier and safer as they learn. Bikes with smooth acceleration and more forgiving controls can prevent new riders from feeling overwhelmed and help build their riding skills progressively and safely.

Height And Weight

The physical compatibility between you and your motorcycle affects your ability to handle the bike effectively. You should be able to sit on the motorcycle and comfortably place both feet flat on the ground; this ensures stability and control, particularly at stops or in slow-moving traffic. Additionally, the weight of the bike should be manageable for you to handle, especially when maneuvering or parking.

Insurance Costs

The cost of insuring a motorcycle can significantly affect your overall budget. Insurance premiums are influenced by factors such as the type of motorcycle, engine size, your age, riding experience, and even geographical location. Beginners may face higher rates due to perceived risks. It's important to get insurance quotes before making a purchase to ensure the ongoing costs are manageable.

Resale Value

Considering the resale value of a motorcycle is wise, especially for your first bike, which you might outgrow or want to upgrade from as you gain more experience. Some brands and models are known to hold their value better than others. Choosing a bike with a good resale value can minimize your financial loss when it's time to sell.

Local Dealerships And Repair Shops

The availability of service and parts plays a critical role in your choice of motorcycle. Opting for a brand that has robust support from local dealerships and repair shops ensures you have accessible and reliable maintenance and repair options. This accessibility is crucial for addressing any issues quickly and keeping your bike in optimal condition, which is particularly important for new riders who may not yet be familiar with motorcycle maintenance.

Types Of Motorcycles For Beginners

For beginners, choosing the right type of motorcycle is crucial to ensure both safety and enjoyment. Here are some of the most suitable types for those new to riding:

Standard Motorcycles

Often referred to as "naked bikes," standard motorcycles are noted for their minimalistic design, which avoids extensive bodywork to keep the weight low and maintenance simple. They typically feature moderate engine sizes and an upright riding position, providing a comfortable balance between performance and manageability. This makes them an excellent choice for beginners who need a versatile bike that's easy to handle, and suitable for a variety of riding conditions from city streets to light highway use.


Cruisers are particularly favored for their style and comfort, featuring a low seat height and a relaxed riding stance that places less strain on the rider's back. The lower center of gravity makes these bikes easier to handle at low speeds, which is a significant advantage for new riders. They are perfect for leisurely rides over short to medium distances, making them a popular choice among those who prefer a laid-back approach to motorcycling.

Sport Bikes

Sport bikes are engineered for speed and agility with a focus on performance and handling. While their aggressive stance and high power can be challenging for beginners, many manufacturers offer models with lower power outputs that are more suitable for new riders, providing the sport bike experience without overwhelming power. These bikes usually come with advanced safety features like ABS and traction control, which help in managing the bike's performance safely.

Dual-Sport Bikes

Dual-sport motorcycles are designed to be as comfortable on dirt and gravel as they are on asphalt, making them an excellent choice for beginners with a penchant for adventure. These bikes are generally lightweight, with suspension systems designed to handle a variety of terrains, which is beneficial for learning how to handle different riding conditions. Their versatility makes them suitable for those who wish to explore both city commuting and off-road adventures without needing two separate bikes.


Scooters are an outstanding option for urban riders due to their ease of use, fuel efficiency, and practical features like under-seat storage and automatic transmissions. Their compact size and maneuverability make them ideal for navigating busy city streets, and the lower power output helps new riders gain confidence without managing complex gear changes. Scooters are also typically easier to maintain and cheaper to insure, adding to their appeal for beginners.

Adventure Tourers

Adventure tourers are built to handle long distances and provide a comfortable ride with features like windshields and large fuel tanks, which extend the range of travel. These bikes often come equipped with advanced riding technology such as adjustable suspension, ABS, and sometimes traction control, which enhance safety and comfort on long journeys. They are well-suited for beginners who are interested in longer rides or touring and are looking for a bike that can handle both highway speeds and the occasional unpaved path.

Features To Look For In A Beginner Motorcycle

When selecting your first motorcycle, certain features can make the learning process easier and safer. Here are some key features to consider:

  • Engine Size: For beginners, a smaller engine (250cc to 500cc) is advisable as it offers enough power to keep up with traffic without being overwhelming. These engines are typically easier to handle and maintain.
  • Weight of the Bike: A lighter motorcycle is easier to maneuver and control, which is crucial for building confidence as a new rider. Heavy bikes can be more challenging to handle, especially in stops and slow-speed maneuvers.
  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS): ABS prevents the wheels from locking during braking, which can be especially useful in slippery conditions. This safety feature is highly recommended for new riders as it contributes to reducing stopping distances and maintaining control during an emergency stop.
  • Adjustable Suspension: This allows you to customize the bike’s handling and responsiveness based on your weight and riding style. While not essential, adjustable suspension can greatly enhance riding comfort and safety.
  • Fuel Efficiency: As a beginner, you may use your motorcycle for frequent short trips or practice rides; thus, a bike with good fuel efficiency can help reduce running costs.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Look for motorcycles that are known for reliability and ease of maintenance. This not only helps in keeping the maintenance costs down but also ensures that the bike is in good running condition with less hassle.

These features collectively contribute to a safer and more enjoyable learning experience, helping you become a confident rider more quickly.

Budgeting For Your First Motorcycle

Budgeting for your first motorcycle involves more than just the purchase price; it encompasses a range of ongoing expenses that are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the total cost of ownership. Here’s a breakdown of what to consider:

Initial Purchase Price

The cost of buying a new motorcycle varies significantly depending on the brand, model, and specifications. For entry-level bikes, prices can start from a few thousand dollars, which is manageable for most beginners. However, more specialized or high-end models can easily exceed $10,000. It’s important to research and compare different motorcycles within your budget to find the best combination of features, reliability, and cost.


Motorcycle insurance is mandatory in most places and can be a significant part of your ongoing expenses. Factors that influence the cost include the type of motorcycle, engine size, your age, experience level, and the region you live in. Beginners often pay higher premiums due to their lack of riding history; hence, shopping around for insurance quotes is crucial to find the best rate. Some insurers offer discounts for completing rider training courses, which can also help reduce costs.

Gear And Accessories

Proper riding gear is not just a regulatory requirement in many areas but a critical investment in your safety. The costs for essential gear like helmets, jackets, gloves, and boots can range between $500 and $1,000. This investment protects you from the elements and minimizes injuries in case of accidents. Choosing well-reviewed brands that balance quality with cost can provide both safety and durability without breaking the bank.

Regular Maintenance And Repairs

Keeping your motorcycle in top condition is vital for safety and performance. Regular maintenance includes oil changes, brake checks, tire rotations, and periodic inspections, all of which vary in cost depending on the type of bike and frequency of use. Additionally, setting aside a contingency fund for unexpected repairs will ensure that you are never caught off guard by mechanical failures.

Fuel Costs

Fuel efficiency varies widely between motorcycle models. Estimating the fuel costs involves considering how much you plan to ride, the efficiency of your chosen motorcycle, and the current price of fuel. This will help you budget for monthly expenses, especially if you use your motorcycle frequently for commuting or leisure rides.

Registration And Taxes

The costs associated with registering your motorcycle and paying any applicable taxes can add up. These fees vary by location and the specific type of motorcycle. It’s important to factor these costs into your initial budget to ensure all legal requirements are met without surprise expenses. Often, dealerships can provide a detailed breakdown of these costs at the time of purchase.

Maintaining Your Motorcycle: Basics For Beginners

Proper maintenance is crucial for ensuring the safety, longevity, and performance of your motorcycle. Here are some fundamental maintenance tasks that beginners should be familiar with:

  • Regular Oil Changes: Engine oil lubricates, cools, and cleans the engine. Check the oil level regularly and change it according to the manufacturer's schedule to keep the engine running smoothly.
  • Tire Maintenance: Tires affect the bike’s handling, braking, and safety. Check tire pressure regularly and inspect for signs of wear or damage. Replace tires when the tread depth is below the recommended limit.
  • Brake Inspection: Brakes are essential for safe riding. Check the brake pads for wear and ensure that the brake fluid is at the required level. Replace pads and fluid as needed.
  • Chain Maintenance: If your bike has a chain drive, regularly clean and lubricate the chain, and adjust its tension according to the owner's manual. This helps in smooth operation and extends the life of the chain.
  • Battery Care: Motorcycle batteries require regular checks and maintenance, especially if not used frequently. Keep the battery charged and check for corrosion on terminals.
  • Cleaning: Regular cleaning not only keeps your bike looking good but also prevents the buildup of dirt and grime, which can lead to corrosion.
  • Scheduled Servicing: Follow the manufacturer's servicing schedule. Professional checks can identify issues that might not be obvious to you as a beginner.

Understanding and performing these basic maintenance tasks can significantly enhance your motorcycle's reliability and your safety on the road. Additionally, being involved in the upkeep of your bike can also give you a greater appreciation of its mechanics and performance.

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Final Thoughts 

Starting as a new motorcycle rider is exciting and full of opportunities to learn and explore, and we at NBT Clothing know that better than anyone. This guide has shown you how to pick your first bike, what important features to look for, how to manage your budget, choose the right gear, and keep your motorcycle in good condition. All these steps help you feel confident and enjoy a safe beginning to riding motorcycles. 

Remember, becoming good at riding takes patience, practice, and ongoing learning. Don’t hurry; instead, take your time to feel at ease and know your bike well as you ride in various conditions. Being part of riding groups or communities can also make your journey better by giving you support and advice.

Read also: 

Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing A Motorcycle

Can I start with a used motorcycle as a beginner?

Yes, starting with a used motorcycle can be a great option for beginners. It's often more budget-friendly and less worrisome than buying new. Just ensure it's well-maintained and suits your riding needs.

Is it necessary to take a motorcycle riding course?

Yes, taking a motorcycle riding course is highly recommended for beginners. These courses teach fundamental skills and safety techniques that are crucial for new riders.

How long does it typically take to learn to ride a motorcycle?

The learning time varies by individual, but most people can start feeling comfortable with basic riding skills within a few days to weeks of consistent practice.

What legal requirements must I fulfill to ride a motorcycle?

Legal requirements vary by region but generally include obtaining a motorcycle license, registering the motorcycle, and ensuring it meets local traffic regulations and safety standards.

How do I know if a motorcycle fits me?

You should be able to sit on the motorcycle and comfortably reach the ground with both feet. The handlebars and controls should be within easy reach, and you should feel comfortable with the bike's overall size and weight.

What is the average fuel economy of beginner motorcycles?

Beginner motorcycles, especially those with smaller engines, typically offer good fuel economy, ranging from 50 to 70 miles per gallon, depending on the model and riding conditions.

Are there electric motorcycles suitable for beginners?

Yes, there are electric motorcycles that are suitable for beginners. They offer the benefit of easier maintenance, and smooth power delivery, and are environmentally friendly, though they may have a higher upfront cost.

What should I do if my motorcycle breaks down?

If your motorcycle breaks down, try to move it safely off the road and call for roadside assistance. Keep a basic tool kit and the owner’s manual on hand for minor troubleshooting.

How often should I practice riding as a beginner?

Practice as often as you can, ideally several times a week. Consistent practice is key to building confidence and improving your riding skills.

What are the common mistakes beginners make when buying their first motorcycle?

Common mistakes include choosing a bike that's too powerful, prioritizing style over comfort and functionality, and neglecting the importance of proper fit and ergonomics.

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