Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Investing in (You and) Your First Motorcycle

3.30.2010

Investing in (You and) Your First Motorcycle

At my new position as a helmet sales associate at a comprehensive motorcycle accessory store, I have often heard the first request of new riders when they're choosing their first helmet, "I only want to spend this much money" or "What's the cheapest helmet I can be fitted in?" With the many choices of helmets we do carry at the store, I can pretty much fit you in any helmet you'd like; whether or not it would be able to sufficiently reduce the chances of injury is another story. That same issue continues on from everything below the neck, such as a proper jacket, pants, and boots.

More often than not, newbies try to cut corners in the safety and apparel department when they make their first bike purchases. In reality, purchasing proper motorcycle wear is an essential part in achieving maximum comfort and confidence on your first ride. Unlike a car purchase, a motorcycle buyer must also consider what they must wear to keep themselves safe while they are riding.

Getting into the sport of motorcycling is a major investment in time and money. The amount of money largely depends on the bike being purchased (type, new/used, condition, etc.) and the safety equipment selected for that ride. Just to put this in perspective, I'll throw this scenario out for you.

"Bob" wants to purchase his first bike. He finds a used (but not abused) motorcycle on Craigslist for $1500. It's in fair condition but it needs some maintenance and new tires. He also needs to purchase riding gear so he can take the motorcycle safety course. He doesn't want to cut corners on the gear and wants the best stuff out there. Here are some of the expenditures he may expect with this choice.

Bike: $1500
Bike repairs (at a shop): $200-500 - may depend on extent of work
New tires (front and rear) - $150-250
Mounting and Installation of tires: up to $60 per tire
New DOT/Snell, full-face helmet: $100-600
New jacket: $150-300
Riding pants (Bob felt that jeans weren't enough): $100-$200
Gloves: $50-100
Boots: $50-100

In the end, Bob is looking somewhere between $2700-3700 to have him and his "new" bike road ready. That's a far departure from the original $1500 just to get the motorcycle.

If you're financing a brand new motorcycle, one must also consider the same type of equipment and the first break-in maintenance service (after 500-600 miles depending on the bike). That's still at least $1200-2200 worth of equipment if you decide to cover yourself from head to toe in quality gear.

Not to worry, there are some ways to stay suited up while saving some money.

Closeouts. Closeouts. Closeouts. Several top helmet companies are transitioning to new models and are putting previous year models on closeout. Finding those gems can mean savings anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars. I strongly recommend new riders (or any riders for that matter) to NEVER purchase a used helmet. You don't know it's history or where it's been, and it's already been broken in and molded to someone else's head shape.

Vanity needs to take a back seat. That one helmet may not perfectly match your bike, but it's DOT/Snell and fits you properly and comfortably. The jacket may have one zipper too many, but it's $100 less than the one that really catches your eye. Sometimes a little compromise can mean a smaller hole in the wallet.

Motorcycling is a sport of growth. You will buy eventually move on to another helmet. You will get into another type of jacket. And if you stick around the sport long enough, you will probably upgrade your bike as well. Let your initial set of equipment be your beginning standard and move up from there. If you've got the money to dish out on the best gear, wonderful! But, if you're like the typical rider who's still trying to figure everything out, a little research and planning can go a long way when you're looking for safety gear.