Congratulations, it’s time to buy a bike! There are plenty of places that will tell you what engine to go for, and which manufacturers to avoid. There are plenty of owner reviews that will tell you what fuel consumption to expect. This page is about alternative considerations which don’t always get the attention they deserve. So what are these alternative bike buying considerations?
A very important one for me. As a reasonably accident prone person, it was crucial that any bike I buy, I need to be able to lift back onto its wheels. This may sound like a bit of a defeatist attitude, but if we are strong enough to lift the bike, we will likely be strong enough to hang on when riding quickly, and that is fun! From a monetary view point, the stronger we are relative to bike weight, the more able we are to stop it falling initially. This saves on damage and cash. It also saves on embarrassment, which to some may be more valuable than both. Having said that, a heavier bike is arguably more difficult to steal, a point I will come onto a bit later.
This my seem like an unusual one but hear me out. The width of a bike affects its ability to filter in traffic. If we can’t filter in traffic, we spend more time stationary and take longer to complete our journeys. This wastes fuel and time, both of which could have cost implications. A narrower bike, will avoid such drawbacks. Also, when it came to parking the bike up at night, I had to pass through a reasonably narrow gate to get to my secure location. Some bikes I considered would not fit (and I did have to resort to measuring tape for this).
The other dimension to take into account would have to be the seat height and shape. A seat that is too high means when we stop, putting our feet down on the ground becomes more of an issue. It’s a forgotten dimension that can really make a big difference when getting more used to a bike, particularly if we’re not tall.
It’s unfortunate but it cannot be avoided. People steal bikes. Sometimes it’s at night while we sleep, or during the day while we’re at work or out visiting people. I have a slight dilemma here. I would never advise people not to buy the bike (or car) they wanted, because we should enjoy our machines. So if you have your heart set on a Suzuki GXSR 1000 (which I have ridden, and is brilliant), then go right ahead. You’ll enjoy it I’m sure. I even know a couple of great dealers who will sell you a nice one and not charge the proverbial arm and leg!
However, if you’ve seen my reviews section, you’ll know I went to the GSXS 1000F instead. The two bikes are heavily related, and in the real world the 1000F is no slower. And because it’s (rightly or wrongly) classed as a sport tourer, it cost me about a third as much to insure as the R1000. Sportsbikes get stolen more frequently, and I’ve had quite a few friends that have suffered this (on multiple occasions in some cases). Boosting security and keeping the bike out of site when we can’t see it ourselves pays dividends. There is a separate page based just on bike security, because it is that important. The rough guide for me is that we should prepare to spend up to 15% of bike value on security.
NVH stands for Noise, Vibration and Harshness. When vehicles are being built, they are tested for these as they affect how comfortable the bike (or any vehicle) will be for long distance use. Long term exposure to excess noise could cause hearing damage, either temporary or permanent. I was fortunate only to suffer temporarily, and not severely. Too much harshness and the bike will become tiring to ride on long journeys. This will affect our concentration, which makes a crash more likely. Vibration in the handlebars especially will cause hands to go numb, although this can be negated with some gloves. Numb hands mean less control, which could spell obvious trouble.
Buying a bike (or car) clearly requires more than just seeing which engine numbers are the largest in the brochure. Hopefully these alternative bike buying considerations will provide a helpful angle for buying criteria.
Don’t forget to have a look at the Blog: Journeys of Focus, which majors on real life experiences and applying various money saving tips, some of which are just as applicable to two wheels as to four. Feel free to also get in contact. Thanks for reading!