Motorcycling Guides

Buying a Motorcycle

Before parting with your cash, ensure you understand the rules regarding your driving licence and eligability as described in the other sections of our training section. That will help you decide what category of bike to aim for.

If you want to ride a sports bike, be realistic about what you can handle. You might dream about blasting along on something fast and powerful like a Yamaha R1, but are you capable and brave enough to handle such a vehicle?

Choose a bike that suits you, not one that you can pose on. If you will be commuting during heavy traffic, you will want something that handles well, something agile. But if you are going to be riding long distances, you’ll need a comfortable bike that is good with high mileage.

A bike should suit your size, too. You can’t control the machine properly if your feet don’t touch the floor or you can’t reach the handlebars comfortably.

New vs Used

Not only is a brand new bike more expensive than its pre-owned equivalent, your purchase will greatly depreciate in value over its first few years.

However, there are several advantages to buying a new motorcycle. First, there’s the likelihood that the dealer will take your old bike in part-exchange. Franchise and import outlets will be able to offer a full manufacturer’s warranty, low-rate finance deals and a good level of after-sales service. However, sales tactics are often high-pressure and prices don’t offer great value.

A non-franchised dealer will offer more competitive prices and have a wider range of bikes from a variety of makers. But they might not all be the latest models and any warranties could have a large excess, meaning that only faults costing over a certain amount to repair are covered. Plus, the bikes in stock might not be the ‘official’ British versions.

Some dealers advertise online, which can often make for quicker deal hunting, but there is little chance of negotiating a discount unless you visit the retailer direct.

If you are looking to purchase a used bike, you should make extensive checks before handing over your money, and you’ll need a torch to do so – even during the day. Shine the light in every nook and cranny behind the bodywork to check for rust, cracks and evidence of repair work. Give the exterior a good once-over for evidence, such as scuffs and dents, that the bike has been dropped or bumped. If you’re not confident in checking these, bring along a friend who is.

Private sellers may be unwilling to let you take a test drive (they’ll be afraid that you won’t come back). But you can turn on the ignition to check that the engine starts properly and doesn’t smoke or rattle, that the clutch doesn’t slip and that there are no leaks under the bike. Check that the chain isn’t worn or slack and that the rear sprocket isn’t bent or worn.

If you are able to go for a test drive, check that the gearbox is in order and that the bike doesn’t slip out of gear as it accelerates.

Assess whether the mileage is consistent with the bike’s age, condition and past MOT certificates. If they don’t tally, the motorcycle might have been ‘clocked’ – its odometer having been unscrupulously turned back.

Finally, consult the motorcycle’s V5 (its logbook) and verify that the frame and engine numbers therein are the same as those on the bike itself. If they aren’t, the machine has either been rebuilt after an accident or it’s stolen.

If you wish, you can use an organisation such as HPICheck to establish the bike’s history of ownership, repairs etc.

If you have any doubts about the bike, leave it and check out another.

Insuring Your Motorcycle

There are many outlets from which to buy insurance; online, telephone, direct through an insurance company or through a broker. Different companies offer better deals to certain types of rider. Some give preferential rates to older experienced riders, some are more competitive for the novice rider so it is often a case of shopping around for quotes. The internet is an ideal place to start, but if you are unsure about the types of options available, then it may be a good idea to speak to a broker.

In all cases, there is normally 3 main types of cover

Third party only– This covers just your legal liability for injuring other people or damaging their property. This is the bare minimum insurance cover you must have by law.

Third party fire and theft– In addition to the above, this provides cover for loss or damage to your bike by thieves or fire.

Comprehensive– This provides the cover above plus protection against accidental damage to your vehicle and sometimes gives you 3rd party cover when riding other people’s bikes with their permission.

In most cases, the premium you pay for your cover can be reduced by the following factors

  • Introductory offers for new customers
  • No claims discount
  • Increased voluntary excess (you are liable for a set amount of the cost of any claim)
  • Discounts for secured parking overnight
  • Specialist cover for older motorcycles

To provide you with an accurate quotation for your bike, an insurance company will the following information. Having this to hand will save time:

  • Vehicle details – make, model, registration, age, value, engine capacity (e.g. 600cc), security features fitted to the bike, will it be garaged or stored securely?
  • Driver details – date of birth etc and driving history i.e. previous accidents and convictions.
  • No claims bonus – entitlement showing the name of your current motorcycle insurer and policy number.
  • The kind of cover you will want – comprehensive or third party fire and theft.
  • What the vehicle will be used for – domestic and pleasure or business
  • The excess would you be prepared to pay – i.e. the amount you would wish to pay towards a claim
  • Any restrictions – to who can drive the vehicle or for what purpose.

Ensure you are in possession of a valid certificate or cover note before riding your bike on the road, failure to maintain up-to-date or valid insurance may result in a conviction, which may lead to confiscation of your vehicle, penalty points and of course, serious financial implications in the unfortunate event of an accident.

Motorcycles and The Law

If you have a provisional licence or a full car licence, you MUST satisfactorily complete a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course. You can then ride on the public road on motorcycles up to 125cc and 11kW power output, with L plates, for up to two years.

To obtain your full motorcycle licence you MUST complete a CBT, pass a motorcycle theory test and then the practical tests.

Light motorcycle licence (A1): Take a test on a motorcycle of between 120 and 125cc. If you pass you may ride a motorcycle up to 125cc with power output up to 11kW. This is the only option available to riders aged 17-19.

Medium motorcycle licence (A2): Your test is conducted on a motorcycle of at least 395cc with a power output of at least 25kw, but not exceeding 35kw. Once you pass, you may ride any motorcycle not exceeding 35 kW and with a power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2 kW/kg. This option is available for riders aged 19 and up.

Big motorcycle licence (A): Direct Access enables riders over the age of 24, or those who have held an A2 licence for two-years, to ride larger motorcycles after passing their test. Your test must be taken on a motorcycle of at least 595 cc and an engine power of at least 40 kW.

To practice, candidates can ride larger motorcycles with L plates, on public roads, but only when accompanied by an approved instructor on another motorcycle in radio contact.

You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger or pull a trailer until you have passed your test.

For further information about the law and motorcycling, visit the official government site, or just give us a call on 0161 973 3450 to discuss your requirements.