Buying a Motorcycle: Should You Buy New or Used?

by Sean Bryant on May 23, 2012

Buying a motorcycle is an exciting decision. Whether you’re looking for a brand new dual-sport bike to brave off-road territory or a used cruiser to zip through your neighborhood, you’re certain to find exactly the bike you want. But have you considered the question of whether to buy a new or used bike when motorcycle shopping? If you’re still debating your options, this guide will help you clarify the advantages and disadvantages of each before you make your final choice.

Advantages of buying a new motorcycle:

  • Vehicle history – There are no accidents or damage to worry about when you purchase a new motorcycle. This gives you the confidence in knowing that there are no unknowns about the bike you choose.
  • Mileage – A new bike should have no miles or a minimal amount of miles on it due to past test drives, letting you be the first one to “break it in.”
  • Warranty – When purchasing a brand new motorcycle, you should enjoy all the benefits of a warranty, giving you peace of mind knowing you’re covered if anything were to break or malfunction soon after purchase.
  • Protection – Find protection with governmental lemon laws if you were ever to be sold a bike that’s not up to standard or agreement.
  • Technology – If you’re looking for the newest motorcycle technology, a new bike is certain to offer you more than a used bike, even if it’s only a couple years old.
  • Predictability – Like most new vehicles, you shouldn’t expect it to break down or need any major repairs for a while. Because of this, you’ll know what to expect in terms of monthly expenses.

Disadvantages of buying a new motorcycle:

  • Expense – A new bike is usually more expensive than its used counterpart so take that into consideration when choosing the bike you want.
  • Insurance – Premiums are typically higher with a new motorcycle when compared to a used bike of the same style.
  • Depreciation – Like most vehicles, depreciation occurs with motorcycles right off the lot, so your new purchase won’t hold its full value very long.

Advantages of buying a used motorcycle:

  • Price – Even if you’re looking for a relatively “new” bike, consider buying one that’s only a few months old and you should save quite a bit off the sticker price.
  • Insurance – While not all used bikes are cheaper to insure than new bikes, when comparing a new and used bike of the same style, the used bike will usually be less expensive.
  • Sellers – Private sellers will probably know the history of a used bike better than a dealer, giving you insight into past maintenance and damages that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • Dealers – A dealer however, will typically fix any known problems before reselling the bike in order to provide you with the most reliable bike possible.

Disadvantages of buying a used motorcycle:

  • Vehicle history – If possible, bring a certified motorcycle mechanic with you to inspect a used bike to ensure that you’re getting exactly what it appears.
  • Upkeep – When you purchase a used motorcycle, you must expect to spend more on upkeep, maintenance and repairs. So be sure to budget and plan for those often unexpected but essential expenses.
  • Worth– Find out what a bike is really worth by checking out available online resources like Kelly Blue Book before making an offer on a used bike.

Like car shopping, it’s good to always get pre-approved for motorcycle loan before shopping for a bike. It will help set your budget and give you a sense of your price range. And remember, just because you’re pre-approved for a certain amount doesn’t mean you have to spend up to that amount. If you have an old bike that you’re thinking about trading in to help pay for your new bike, that may also help to lower your loan amount. Either way, you’re certain to find information on getting a motorcycle loan so you can ride off into the distance in no time.

If you’re looking for those aluminum folding ramps to load motorcycles on the back of your truck – check out the video below.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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  • This is all very true. I think the same goes with roughly buying anything new or used.
    The new item is usually more dependable and should come with a warranty.
    When buying used you never really know what you are getting into. It will most likely come down to what you can afford, in some cases the used bike might be your better option.

  • Not going to lie, owning a bike is on my bucket list, but giving my mum a heart attack is not. Thus I settle for riding on the back of my friends. I’ve gone shopping with him for his and was really surprised to see the prices.

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