black and gray motorcycle on road during daytime

It’s no secret why motorcycles are appealing. They’re fast, agile, and powerful. But if you’re interested in buying a motorcycle for yourself, or simply riding one to feel some exhilaration, there are some important things you’ll need to know about motorcycle safety and operation.

Let’s cover the basics.

What to Consider Before Buying or Riding a Motorcycle

These are the most important things you’ll need to consider before buying or even riding a motorcycle:

  1. Motorcycle accidents are both common and deadly. Safety needs to be your top priority, so your most important consideration is that motorcycle accidents are both common and deadly. Accidents tend to be common because motorcycles are notoriously hard to see and hear, making them hard for other motorists to notice. Accidents are also common because motorcycles are fast and nimble, encouraging many motorcyclists to attempt dangerous maneuvers or drive recklessly. Motorcycle accidents are also deadly because motorcycles offer little to no protection from external collisions. If you’re in a motorcycle accident and you survive, a motorcycle accident attorney can help you win compensation. However, not all motorcycle accident victims are fortunate enough to survive. There are measures you can take to improve your motorcycle safety, such as wearing protective gear and increasing your visibility, but there’s no way to reduce your risk of an accident to zero.
  2. The cost of ownership may be more than you think. Next, the cost of ownership may be more than you think. There are many different types of motorcycles that are affordable, but the initial purchase price is only one variable in a bigger equation. You’ll also need to think about the cost of insurance, fuel, gear, and more.
  3. Individual needs vary significantly. There isn’t one type of motorcycle because there isn’t one type of motorcyclist. Some motorcycles are designed to be small and fast, while others are meant to be bigger and more powerful. There are also thousands of different designs to suit people with different aesthetic preferences. The better you understand your own needs, the more likely you are to find a perfect fit.
  4. There are countless options. Thankfully, there are plenty of perfect fits available because of the sheer number of options you can choose from. Even a cursory glance through motorcycle inventory can introduce you to models you may have never seen before.
  5. You’re prone to overestimating your abilities early on. Social psychology introduces us to the phenomenon of illusory superiority; this is our innate tendency to overestimate our own abilities when compared to other people. It’s why most people believe themselves to be better than average drivers. Motorcycles can be challenging to operate, especially for new riders, so remain aware of this. Always assume you’re a worse motorcyclist than you actually are; it will force you to drive safer.
  6. Test drives are ridiculously important. Before purchasing any motorcycle, you should at least commit to a test drive. It’s hard to know exactly how a motorcycle is going to handle or feel when you’re riding it, so practical experience is the only reasonable way forward. Ideally, you’ll test drive many different models so you can easily compare and contrast them. It’s also an easy way to get some preliminary experience if you’re new to motorcycles in general.
  7. Lessons are valuable. Even if you have some experience, it could be valuable to take some lessons with a licensed trainer. Experienced motorcyclists can help you pinpoint your weaknesses and guide you in developing your skills. Being a superior motorcyclist means you can drive more confidently and more safely.
  8. Secondhand bikes are often worth it. If you’re on a tight budget, or if you just aren’t sure what you want, consider buying a secondhand bike. Used motorcycles generally aren’t much worse than new ones, provided they’ve been reasonably cared for, but they can be much less expensive.
  9. Secondhand gear isn’t worth it. The same cannot be said of motorcycle gear. Secondhand gear may have flaws, defects, or points of damage that compromise their protective capacity. Even though it’s a bit more expensive to buy all-new gear, this is the route you should take.
  10. Wear ATGATT. In motorcycle communities, it’s commonly recommended to wear ATGATT – or wear “all the gear, all the time.” There may not be any strict laws forcing you to do this, but it’s the right move if you want to minimize your chances of serious injury or death.

Getting Started

Regardless of how much experience you’ve had with motorcycles in the past, it’s important to treat your motorcycle purchasing decision with cautious consideration. If you remain humble, safety-conscious, and diligent, you’ll have a far safer, more enjoyable experience as a motorcyclist.