Choosing a motorbike

Choosing a motorbike

Choosing a motorbike is where the fun really starts, but make sure you think carefully about what you need as well as what you can afford.

Talk to other riders and get advice from brochures, magazines, newspapers and websites. These are some of the things to think about when choosing a motorbike.

  • Your licence – what size of engine are you allowed to ride?
  • Purpose – what are you going to be using your motorbike for, eg commuting in a town or long-distance riding?
  • Comfort – are you comfortable on the motorbike? Can you reach the controls comfortably? Can your feet reach the ground?
  • Weight – some motorbikes are very heavy, which can make them harder to park or manoeuvre.
  • Price – what does it cost to buy? If there’s a finance deal, can you afford the payments?
  • Running costs – look at the fuel consumption (ie how many miles it’ll do per gallon of fuel) and the cost of tyres and spare parts.
  • Insurance – sporty models and motorbikes with bigger engines can cost a lot more to insure.

Here are some of the different types of bike you might consider.

A moped

  • has an engine capacity of 50 cc or less
  • can’t go faster than 50 km/h (about 32 mph) if it was registered after 1 August 1977, or 45 km/h (28 mph) if it was built after June 2003
  • doesn’t weigh more than 250 kg
  • can be moved by pedals if it was registered before 1 August 1977.

As a learner you can use a light motorbike as long as it has

  • an engine capacity of 125 cc or less
  • an engine power output of 11 kW (14.6 bhp) or less
  • L plates fitted to the front and back of the machine.

An automatic or semi-automatic motorbike has automatic transmission. These machines are usually small and easy to ride so they’re good for short trips or for using in towns.

Mid-range motorbikes are good all-rounder machines: you can use them for commuting or for longer trips. They’re comfortable to ride and can travel up to all the legal speed limits.

Sports motorbikes have road-racing styling and can go very fast; they can be expensive to buy and run.

Touring motorbikes are designed to be comfortable for long-distance riding. They can usually carry some luggage, have some fairing to protect you from the weather and have a large engine.

Custom motorbikes, sometimes called cruisers, usually have distinctive styling, a low seat height and a ‘laid-back’ riding position.

Off-road motorbikes, or trail bikes, are designed to be used on and off the road. They have extra ground clearance so the seat is higher than on other machines; they also have dual-purpose tyres and are built to cope with riding over rough ground.

Insurance can be a big part of the running costs for a motorbike but you can help to keep insurance costs down by taking extra training: find out more about the enhanced rider scheme on the Further training page.

Keeping your motorbike secure will also help to keep insurance costs down: if you can, keep it in a locked garage overnight. Having security devices fitted, such as an alarm or immobiliser, can also bring down the insurance cost.

Remember, the longer you own and ride a motorbike without making an insurance claim, the more ‘no claims’ discount you’ll earn – so riding carefully and skilfully really pays off.