Motorbike & Scooter Buying, Riding & Security Advice
Whether you’re a new rider or returning to motorcycling, Get On have put together some tips to help you enjoy your time on a motorbike or scooter. Keep the hassle factor low and the freedom factor high!
The first thing you need to ask yourself is: Do I need a scooter or do I need a motorcycle? This will help you get a bit closer to making the right decision on what two wheels are best for you. Remember – what you need and what you want may be two different things. Secondly you need to ask yourself do I need more than a 125cc machine? The difference being a 125cc machine (if you’re 17 or over) can be ridden after completing your CBT but a bigger bike needs a higher level licence.
A scooter is ideal if you intend to mainly use it as a transport solution. It’s easier to park than a car and you’ll discover that short journeys will be a breeze – no more bus timetables or traffic jams! They also offer great puddle protection both at the front and from below and have built-in storage to accommodate your helmet when parked.
Scooters come in many shapes and sizes from 50cc right up to 650cc. Those with 50cc engines are legally termed Mopeds and are restricted to 30mph. Due to legislation they are the only option open to you to you if you’re just 16 years old.
If you’re 17 or over, then your choices widen considerably. Scooters are easy to ride with ‘twist and go’ fully automatic throttles or in some cases ‘tip-tronic’ gearboxes allowing greater performance flexibility. In either case you don’t have to worry about using a clutch – this makes scooters a very popular choice amongst new riders or those who just want a simple stress free ride.
Scooters are brilliant to zip around town on and offer many advantages over motorbikes but if it’s generally the longer out of town journeys you want to do, then perhaps a motorcycle would suit your needs better. That said some of the bigger modern scooters do make excellent long distance machines and sell in their thousands for just this reason to our European cousins.
If you think you need something that will allow you to go out on longer recreational rides, or even commute longer distances, then getting a motorcycle may be the right thing for you to do. Here, the choices become even wider again – with engine size, physical size, style and price, all varying.
Motorcycles are generally bigger than scooters, both in physical and engine size. The bigger the engine generally the more power it will develop and what you can ride is restricted by what type of licence you have. Many manufacturers offer bikes to suit each licence restriction with power output to suit and some can restrict even larger engine models to satisfy the particular legal requirement for your licence.
Whether you buy a scooter or motorcycle, the important thing is to choose one that fits your dimensions. Make sure your reach to the handlebars is comfortable and that your feet can be placed flat on the ground. It’ll all just add to a more enjoyable riding experience.
Take a look at the types of motorcycles section on this website to get a more detailed description of what’s out there.
So you’ve got an idea of what type of bike you need, now you need to know where to get it from. Well, there are well over 500 dealerships around the UK and they are the best way to get clear advice on what is going to work for you. You can use our dealership finder tool to find an approved dealership near you.
Buying privately is an option but you’ll have no guarantee or warranty to fall back on, and dealerships only sell good bikes as they have a reputation to uphold.
If you know what style of bike you want, but have not made up your mind on what model you’d like to go for, then you’d probably be best going to a ‘multi franchise’ dealership. Why? Well, it simply means that you’ll have the opportunity to hop on a few different models and see which one feels most comfortable for you.
If you’ve made up your mind on the make and model, then you’re better off going to a ‘solus’ dealership, which will concentrate on the brand of your choice.
Whatever you choose be sure to check out the brands who have signed up to the Motorcycle Industry’s ‘Buy With Confidence’ Scheme. Each agrees to adhere to a set of professional guidelines and offer a dealer network, spares backup and good customer service so are a good place to start. Beware of cheap internet only brands, if you can’t visit a dealer should you have a problem it could be the start of a nightmare. As the old saying goes, buy cheap buy twice.
Who wouldn’t want a brand new bike? The thought of a new, shiny bike is obviously very appealing and they do come with added benefits like a full manufacturer’s warranty (and no wear on the brakes, clutches, tyres and chains etc from a previous owner!). New bikes can also come with attractive finance offers.
However second hand bikes should also be a consideration, as these days it’s less likely that any previous riding has had an adverse effect on the engine. Machines are built to last and in most cases would have been ridden well within their performance capabilities. Through a dealer often these bikes can be financed too making them an attractive option.
Whether new or second hand, the secret is buying from a reputable dealer so should the worst happen you’ve someone who yo can go back to the help put things right.
Don’t forget, buying a motorcycle or scooter is only one part of the picture when it comes to setting your budget. There are a few other things that you should take into consideration, like:
It would be a real shame and would break your heart to lose your bike soon after buying it so don’t ignore security. Installing alarms, locks and security marking systems not only deter thieves but also help reduce your insurance premium.
How much should you spend on security though? Well a rule of thumb here, is that you should spend the same amount on security as you would on your insurance policy excess.
Tracker devices can be a good thing to have especially if your bike is expensive or you could opt for an sms text alert service to notify you if your bike is moving – both normally come with an annual fee. One thing you should definately do is mark your bike. The industry has recently launched the MASTER scheme backed by many major brands to help combat theft and the scheme is centred around security marking which the Met Police say is the most effective way to put a potential thief off. Check out their website for all the brands that support the scheme. If your bike is not fitted with MASTER You can buy the technology behind it in the form of a Datatag kit for your scooter or bike from your local dealer who can even fit it for you.
Helmet and safety equipment
Helmet – Obviously this is a legal requirement, but it’s also vital that the helmet you choose fits properly. A helmet that’s loose on your head is no help to you at all. Your local dealer is the right guy to help you with this as it’s very important to get this one right.
Gloves and Boots – Decent leather palmed gloves and over the ankle boots can prevent some injuries, so it’s advised you get both. Designs are available for even the hottest of weather – so there’s no excuse to ride without them.
Jacket and Trousers – Traditionally, leather has been the choice of most riders, but these days the advances in textiles and man made fibres means that you have a very wide choice to choose from, even specialist jeans. Modern suits are not only light weight but many are also breathable and waterproof – making them a great choice for leisure riding or commuting. Look out for labels such as Cordura and Gore-Tex to guarantee quality. Make sure your gear has CE approved armour in the risk areas, like your knees, elbows, shoulders and hips. Finally a very important thing to do when buying riding gear is to try it out when sitting on a bike – remember, what feels and looks good while walking around the showroom might not be as comfortable when seated on a bike.
The full monty
All the above can add up a little and should be considered alongside machine costs when buying a bike. To help many dealers will add it to the finance package when buying a bike through them.