The best buyer is an informed one—and there’s this thing called the Internet with a lot of information on it, so you really have no excuse. Generally speaking, motorcycle salesmen are pretty knowledgeable, but they aren’t shamans, so you need to have an idea of what you’re looking for. And in the off chance that you get a clueless salesman, it’s even more important to be informed. If you know what type of riding you plan on doing—track days, commuting, cruising, touring, or just tooling around town—you can usually narrow your options before even hitting the motorcycle shops.The first question is what size bike you should buy. As someone who’s worked in a motorcycle shop, my suggestion is to aim for the middle. You can start with a 250cc bike, which will definitely be the easiest to learn on, but you’ll probably outgrow it within a few months. Which means you’ll just turn around and want to buy another bike, ending up spending far more money than you planned to. Something in the 500-600cc range, on the other hand, will stay fun for a long time, even as your skills improve. Engine size isn’t the only factor, either: A Yamaha YZF-R6 is a 600cc, but it’s essentially a race bike capable of serious acceleration and high top end speeds. This is not a bike for beginners. A 865cc Triumph Bonneville, on the other hand, is a fantastic bike to start on.
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