5 Steps to Buying a New or Used Motorcycle
1. Getting your motorcycle License aka “Endorsement”
Various states have various licensing requirements for riding a motorcycle on the road. For the state of Louisiana it is not required to have a separate license to operate a motorcycle BUT, a person must receive an endorsement to go along with his/her driver’s license to operate a motorcycle on any public roadway.
There are a couple of methods in obtaining an endorsement.
- The first is to pass two tests, an operations skills test, which is done on a motorcycle in front of an instructor, and a knowledge test.
- The second is if an applicant successfully completes the DMV approved Motorcycle SAO program. This is short of “Safety, Awareness, and Operation Training”.
The first option can be done anywhere a state certified riding academy is present and is the recommended method to receiving a comprehensive education in regards to safely riding and navigating a motorcycle on a public roadway. You are with other riders, whom you can learn from directly, as well as coaches who are typically motorcycle riders themselves.
Obtaining your license is the natural first step and will help you in step 2. Once you have a license you begin to get some riding experience, which will help you to figure out what kind of motorcycle you will eventually buy.
For more information about a riding academy near you contact Steven at Cajun Harley-Davidson at (337)289-3030.
For more general information about obtaining a motorcycle license in Louisiana visit https://www.permit.bike/louisiana-motorcycle-license/.
2. Deciding What Bike is Best for You.
Perhaps you know what and how to buy a motorcycle already and just need to get your endorsement and you’re on your way. If so, you can skip this section.
The flip side of this scenario is you aren’t sure what type and how to buy a motorcycle or even what style of riding you will enjoy the most. There are different bikes for different purposes. For riders just starting out, this decision can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Remember, this is supposed to be fun! Enjoy the process.
Some key factors to think about are engine displacement or size usually expressed in Cubic Centimeters (cc’s) or Cubic Inches, motorcycle weight, motorcycle height, riding position or “style” of bike, and of course your motorcycle budget.
Like most things, starting small is the best advice to give a beginner here. Small bikes are forgiving and easy to manage and manipulate. The riding academy classes mentioned above use 500cc Harley Davidson Street models because they are short, lightweight, have low displacement, and have an upright posture that is relatively unaggressive and easy to ride.
The “style” of bike will usually indicate the ride height and weight and even the engine size and price to an extent. The styles include cruisers, sport bikes, enduro bikes, dual sport, and a few others. What style you want is really up to your preference, your size, and your comfort level/ability. Ask yourself what type of riding appeals to you and research the types of bikes people are using for those purposes. Nothing beats getting out on the road on a motorcycle to really feel it. With an endorsement, most dealers will allow you to test ride various motorcycles so you can dial in your preferences to make the best decision.
Ride height depends on the length of your legs of course and is discretionary to an extent. You don’t want to be on your tippy toes if you can help it, but some people don’t mind this set up as a taller bike usually allows for more aggressive maneuvering. Bikes deemed “sport bikes” tend to have a higher center of gravity and the rider is positioned more aggressively to accommodate harder lean angles. Cruiser bikes tend to be shorter, where the rider sits “in” the motorcycle instead of “on” the motorcycle, allowing for a more comfortable and less aggressive posture. There is no science to this step. It’s all about you. Have fun with it.
One of the least exciting topics in regards to buying a new or used motorcycle is your budget. This will often times indicate the age, brand, and model of the motorcycle.
When you think “motorcycle” you likely think Harley Davidson and if you think Harley Davidson you likely think that the price is high. While that isn’t wrong necessarily, it is relative.
A used Harley Davidson for sale often costs much less than a brand new one. The same dialogue can be had of most make and models. To find a new or used Harley Davidson for sale near you contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer.
After digging in and figuring out what style of riding and therefore bike you decide to pursue it’s time to start shopping. Since we mentioned Harley Davidson already we’ll use that brand as an example. To find a new or used Harley Davidson for sale near you contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer. Visit the dealership that sells that particular motorcycle. Cajun Harley-Davidson services the Lafayette and surrounding areas. You can even get your cajun seasoning next door at Don’s.
With online sources it’s relatively easy today to locate what you are looking for given you aren’t looking for a rarity. Just look up Harley-Davidson for sale and browse around. Facebook, craigslist, bike forums etc all have places where people can post their used Harley Davidson’s for sale. The information age we live in today makes this more convenient than ever. As stated, with an endorsement most dealerships will allow you on a short ride on a bike of your choice to get a feel for it.
Stay fluid in your decision. Often times someone goes to a Harley Davidson dealership to buy a specific bike and for whatever reason they end up riding a few different ones. The result is they end up buying another bike that they end up enjoying way more. Seeing the bike and riding it can impact your decision more than doing an infinite amount of online searches.
Use the knowledge of the sales team at the Harley Davidson dealership to hone in on the right motorcycle for you. Explain the process you are taking to locate your dream bike and allow them to be a part of that process. They’re there to sell bikes, but they have experience with people like you and are there to guide you through this stage of the process. They can help you get approved for a new or used Harley Davidson motorcycle or switch you from a model to another model that you end up enjoying a lot more.
On that note, don’t be pushed into buying a bike you don’t really want. Establish guidelines and remain firm in them. You don’t have to buy the bike the first time to the Harley Davidson dealership. You’re there searching first, then buying once you’ve found what you are looking for.
4. The Purchase
As mentioned earlier, a huge part in such a large purchase is price. It will determine what you can buy realistically, so it is important to be realistic about what you are wanting vs. what you can purchase. If your dream bike is out of reach due to financial constraints your salesman can assist in a lower cost option.
A huge aid in the purchasing process is the advancement of motorcycle financing. Often times dealerships have in house financing that make this part of the transaction seamless and straightforward. Harley Davidson dealerships utilize HDFS to finance a large portion of their motorcycle sales. HDFS stands for Harley Davidson Financial Services and is an in-house source of financing for new or used Harley Davidson motorcycles.
Next, when purchasing a motorcycle it is important to shop insurance carriers for the best rate and coverage you can find. If you want to ride the motorcycle home you must have proof of insurance before the dealership will allow you to leave on it. For more details on motorcycle insurance start with your vehicles insurance carrier and ask if they offer insurance for motorcycles and get a quote.
5. Gear, Storage, and Accessories
For gear it is important to stay safe. Use DOT approved helmets and jackets and always wear long pants or jeans to protect your legs not only from a potential crash but from a hot engine or exhaust pipe. It is legally required in Louisiana to have a helmet AND eyewear.
For securing your motorcycle A little more diligence is required. Bikes are relatively easy to steal compared to vehicles. It is important to keep it out of sight. You can store it preferably in a garage or in the back yard or under a bike cover. They also make wheel or rotor locks and chains and some bikes have fork locks and security.
Remember, have fun, enjoy the process, and stay safe!
This has been a lot of information in a short write up so it is important to always remember that this is supposed to be fun. You may feel overwhelmed at times but just bring yourself back to the fact that this is FUN!!
First, you obtain you MOTORCYCLE ENDORSEMENT from taking a Riding Academy course at a Harley Davidson dealership or taking the state SAO program. We recommend the Riding Academy because it is a peer group setting with trained instructors who are experienced motorcycle riders themselves.
Second, you begin to make DECISIONS as to the riding style that you are drawn to and the style of bike you want to ride. After making a style decision you need to analyze your budget and decide if a new or used motorcycle will be right for you, as well as make and model.
Third, you start SHOPPING! Call on your local Harley Davidson dealership and see what they have in store and schedule a time to go and visit with a sales guy to go over your goals with your motorcycle journey.
Fourth, is when you decide on a bike you make the PURCHASE based on your budget. Harley Davidson dealerships use HDFS to help finance these types of purchases.
Lastly, get the right dot approved GEAR, stay safe, and have fun!