Are you a thorough researcher or an impulse buyer? For a big, exciting purchase like a motorcycle, it’s important not to let the roar of the engine or the wind in your helmet drown out the practical voice in your head that should consider all the associated costs.
Before signing on any lines, make sure you haven’t overlooked one of these important items:
Training and License
First things first: You shouldn’t buy a bike without knowing the rules for legally and safely operating it on roads and in public spaces.
The specific rules vary widely by state, so check with your state’s motor vehicles department. (RumbleOn posted this handy state-by-state guide, but we still recommend verifying.) The average minimum age to apply for a learner’s permit is 16, but some states issue to riders as young as 14. Younger riders often have more intense training requirements, stricter provisions about riding with supervision, and limits on passengers.
For riders over the legal age limit, some states issue a separate motorcycle license, while some add a motorcycle endorsement to your regular license. The requirements for these vary by state and by whether you already have a driver’s license or not. In any case, you must have a Class M endorsement. To receive that endorsement, drivers are typically required to complete a motorcycle driving test, pass the screenings required for a regular driver’s license, and often take a motorcycle safety course.
The variables for all scenarios are too wide to assign an exact price, but you can see how the costs of learning permits, safety courses, testing, fees, and ongoing renewals could quickly add up.
To be road ready, your bike must be registered. As you can guess, the registration requirements and fees vary by state. In some cases, you might have to show proof of insurance and a vehicle inspection report, which are costs on their own, in addition to the registration fee, title fee, and taxes.
As mentioned, insurance is often a requirement for registration. Basic insurance — which usually covers fire, theft, property damage, and parties other than yourself in an accident — is the standard minimum. Full comprehensive insurance covers everything, including your motorcycle. Costs vary depending on your driving record, insurance history, experience, and many other insurance industry secrets.
Your coverage selection is up to you. You might lean toward the most basic coverage for an entry-level bike, since the bike value is lower, but newer riders run a greater risk of actually using the coverage. In the case of higher-end bikes, replacement cost in case of theft or an accident is steeper. You might opt for more coverage there, even if your riding experience makes an accident less likely.
Either way, insurance is a necessary monthly or annual expense you’ll want to include in your motorcycle plans.
Storage and Security
Speaking of theft, motorcycles are inherently easy to steal. Before you bring yours home, you’ll want to think about where to safely park it. They don’t need a lot of space, but they do need special considerations.
Ideally, you can park in a locked garage. If you have to park outside, you should invest in a cover and a locking system at minimum. A cover certainly won’t make it invisible, but will make it less immediately tempting, and a strong chain lock will deter common grab-and-go thieves.
Another way to protect your new motorcycle (and potentially decrease insurance costs) is to install a GPS tracking device. Not only will it help recover your bike in case of theft, no matter where you park it, a tracking service can make every ride safer with route planning, speed and impact alerts, and other monitoring features.
Okay, that’s a lot just to get started with the basics. And we didn’t even cover the ongoing cost of required maintenance, the important safety gear, or fun accessories! But it’s important to know the costs of safe and legal operation before bringing your new motorcycle home so you can enjoy it for years to come.