So you’ve decided that a motorbike is a good option for you, either because you want the fun of cruising the highways or the convenience of a form of transport for one that uses less fuel than a car does. And you’ve checked out what you need in the way of licences. You’re ready to organise a motorbike loan, you’ve saved the deposit and you’re ready to start shopping.
You probably already know that not all cars are created equal and the same goes for motorbikes. If you run your eyes over what’s on offer at your local car dealers, you’ll see a number of different styles of vehicle with four wheels: hatchbacks, sedans/saloons, stationwagons/estates, sports cars, coup’s, convertibles, four-wheel-drives, utes, SUVs… the list of body styles and specs seems almost endless. While motorbikes don’t come in such a wide range of styles, there are different types out there. If you’re going to all the effort of taking out a loan to purchase a motorbike, it’s wise to do your homework and choose the right bike for you.
So what’s out there?
- Scooters: Scooters are the smaller type of bike and are suitable for people on a provisional licence.They’re great for city running and if you just want a nice cheap way to get about, a scooter may be all the bike you need. Think the classic Nifty 50 (Honda 50) and the little Italian Vespa types. You can also pick up electric-powered scooters that reduce your petrol bill to nil although they do bump up your electricity bill. Scooters aren’t built for speed but for compactness, but even so, a good scooter might make a good addition to a commercial fleet if you want an in-house courier to negotiate heavy traffic (scooters can glide along the side of queues) to get documents, samples and lab results across town quickly.
- Cruisers: This is the bike you need if you’re planning on going on long journeys and road trips. Cruisers are built for comfort and tend to be bigger bikes. They also tend to have a bit more room for a pillion passenger and a variety of saddlebags for carrying the gear needed for overnight trips. Harley-Davidson is the iconic type of cruiser, but BMW also makes some very comfortable and reliable cruisers police forces in various parts of the world have used BMW bikes for their motorbike fleets. Needless to say, you need a full licence to ride one of these, as they tend to have bigger motors.
- Dirt bikes: These are designed for off-road use in rough conditions and usually have juicy suspension and heavy studding on the tyres. They’re not the best choice for on-road use, but if you live in one of the remoter parts of Australia and most of your roads are gravel or you do a lot of off-road running, a dirt bike might be the best option for you. Some dirt bikes are designed purely for off-road use and may not be road legal, so ask the dealer the right questions if you have your eyes on one of these.
- Racing machines: Definitely not for the learner rider or the inexperienced, these tend to be built for speed and power Kawasaki, for example, makes some very powerful machines indeed. These tend to be heavy bikes with streamlined design. Don’t forget to buy all the safety gear you can to be on the safe side you might need to take out a larger loan than you would have otherwise to do this.
- Classic bikes: Triumphs, older Hondas, Harley-Davidsons and other bikes from the 1970s and earlier. These tend to be bought for fun and for sentimental reasons, but they are surprisingly practical and reliable. They tend to have bigger engines (except in the case of very old models that date back to the Second World War) and might not be the best choice for learner riders.
Expect to have complete strangers come up to you and talk to you about your bike if you have a cruiser or a classic, especially if that stranger also owns a bike. This could be another reason for buying a motorbike it’s a great way to meet people with a common interest.