Motorcycle Buying Guide: Buying a Used Motorcycle vs. Buying a New Motorcycle
Written by Jordan Stokes.
Purchasing a motorcycle can be a fun and exciting experience, and among the hundreds of questions that go through your mind during this time, one is particularly challenging: should you buy used or new? There are pros and cons to each, as well as four main factors to consider before making your final decision. We’ve broken it all down for you. Here’s our ‘used vs. new’ motorcycle buying guide.
Four main factors you should consider when you’re buying a used motorcycle or buying a new motorcycle:
- Bike Condition
- Bike Technology and Safety
- Your Riding Skills
Whether it’s new or used, before you buy any bike, it’s important to know your skills and what you can handle on the road so you don’t go overboard on a bike you can’t ride. New bikes will be (and should be) in perfect condition with the latest technology and best safety features, and they will have higher prices to reflect that. Can you afford that brand new Honda Rebel 300 or should you get a used one for a fraction of the price? Let’s find out.
Similar to the automotive industry, the newer the product, the higher cost of entry. Improvements in motorcycle tech, power-to-weight ratios, and rider aids have led to increased prices in the powersports industry over the past decade.
If you typically buy used, one benefit of this two-wheeled “big bang” is that last year’s models are depreciating more quickly, making late model bikes more affordable. This means buying a used motorcycle saves you money on the front end in the out-the-door (OTD) price. It can also help you sell your bike when the time comes because you’ve already accounted for that depreciation in the price you paid for the bike.
The advantage of buying a brand new vehicle is that you know there won’t be unforeseen maintenance issues due to wear and tear. Plus, new vehicles typically come with a manufacturer warranty that will provide peace of mind, however, you do need to factor in the higher insurance premiums, as well as set up, delivery, and dealer fees.
Pro Tip: Unless you do your research, you can never really predict what deals will be available in your area for both new and used bikes. If you’re looking at used, you’ll never know what kind of state the bike will be in until you see it for yourself.
- Bike Condition
If you’re buying new, the bike should be in pristine condition — no scratches, no nicks, and no problems, just smooth riding. On the other hand, if you’re buying used, you can expect some of wear and tear from previous ownership, especially because bikers tend to ride hard and tinker endlessly with their bikes.
If you’re buying used, the bike will likely have some flaws (because it’s been used), but how many is too many to seal the deal for you? Well, if you’re a huge motorcycle enthusiast and know how to rebuild bikes and perform simple fixes, we’d say go used, as you should be able to manage the upkeep and potential repairs. If you don’t know a lot about the mechanics of a bike, then maybe you should buy new and not take any risks. That being said, dealership network support and independent mechanics could be your saving grace in providing mechanical support, whether you buy new or used.
- Bike Technology and Safety
Newer bikes will have newer updated technology and safety features so you can ride safely on the streets (or on off-road dirt bike riding trails). It’s important to consider things like ABS, adjustability, fueling, suspension, and brake components when assessing what a bike is worth. You’ll likely have to do your research on the bike(s) that interest you in order to find information on these technologies and whether or not they are included.
Pro Tip: Forums for specific models will be your one stop shop for all the information you need, including pros and cons from other owners’ and their experience with the bike you’re interested in buying. Let their mistakes and knowledge be a lesson for what to expect in your future ownership.
Here are a few forums you can visit:
- Your Riding Skills
Before you choose a bike, you should keep your own riding skills in mind. For example, if you’re an entry-level rider still getting the hang of it, it might be best to go for a used bike so you don’t risk beating up a brand new one right off the bat. This will also give you the benefit of putting less money into your first bike, allowing you to more easily offload it in the event that motorcycling isn’t for you.
On the other hand, if you’re more worried about safety when you’re riding, newer bikes will typically have all the bells and whistles for more efficient riding. Either way, you want to be safe when you’re out there, so which would you feel more comfortable on? A brand new bike or a used one?
Pros and Cons of Buying Used vs. Buying New
Now that you know what you should be considering when deciding between a new or used bike, let’s go over the pros and cons.
Pros: Price, Insurance, Resale Value
Cons: Unknown History, Upkeep, Worth
A used bike will have a lower price and insurance rate, but will typically have more upkeep as you continue to ride. The bike will also have less worth and less value than a new bike, as it has been used before, which leaves the big question: what about the bike’s history?
If you’re buying a used bike from a private seller, they will likely know all the history of the bike, making you a more confident buyer. Likewise, dealers who sell used won’t always know all of the history of the bike, but they will take care of any known problems. Do your due diligence when researching the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with any one of the many tools available to check the bikes history, such as CycleVin.
Pros: No History (brand new), Mileage, Warranty, Protection (under lemon laws), Technology
Cons: Price, Insurance, Depreciation
When you’re buying brand new, you’re getting everything you need (and want) in a bike. However, those come at a higher expense with higher insurance premiums, which could be over your budget. Another con is that new bikes start depreciating the second you ride them off the lot, so they won’t hold their value for very long, but the same goes for anything you buy new.
Check out our full video review of the new Kawasaki Ninja 400 here.
Tips on Buying Used
It’s a bit different buying a used bike from a dealer, versus buying from a private seller. While the private seller will know all the history about the bike, the dealer may not. Dealers will, however, fix any known problems with the bike prior to selling, so that’s something you won’t have to worry about.
Tips on buying a used motorcycle:
- Inspect the bike and look for low miles, clean titles, and no damage
- Ask about the bike’s history
- Make sure there are no liens on the bike
- Take it for a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) prior to purchase
Interested in buying a used motorcycle? Browse used motorcycles for sale here.
Tips on Buying New
The fact that no one else has used the motorcycle makes it that much more valuable and desirable. Who doesn’t want a brand new bike? We know we do.
Tips on buying a new motorcycle:
- Check for deals in your area
- Shop for insurance and financing
- Always ask for the out-the-door price
Pro Tip: Buying last year’s model or a less popular color will save you some money.
Interested in buying a new motorcycle? Browse new motorcycles here.
General Buying Tips
If you’re buying a motorcycle, whether it be new or used, you should always follow these tips before you make your final purchase.
Tips on buying any motorcycle:
- Do your research
- Ask questions
- Test ride if you can
- Make sure you are confident in your riding abilities
No matter if you’re buying new or used, there are pros and cons that come with each. Just make sure you do your research so you can choose the right bike for you. Not sure where to get started? Check out our list of 9 of the Best Bikes for Beginners and search our nationwide inventory.
You may also be interested in:
18 Tips on Purchasing Your First Motorcycle: Everything You Need to Know Before Pulling the Clutch
The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership: It’s More Than Just the Bike
Buying a Motorcycle? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About What Fees to Expect at the Dealership