Your first motorcycle is a huge commitment, and you’re going to have a million questions about what kind of bike you should pull the trigger on. Perhaps the first — and biggest — question is, “Used or new?”
To get some answers, I spoke with Tamale Sepp, longtime motorcycle-rider and founder of Bikes and Mics, a Chicago-area bike club “supporting a welcoming environment for riders of all genders, ethnicities, and experience levels.”
When you buy a used bike, there’s no way to be fully sure how the previous owner (or owners) treated it. With a new bike, however, you can be sure that no one other than you has been in charge of its maintenance, repairs, and general care. That’s peace of mind. Advantage: New
The number-one reason to select a used anything, of course, is price. Tamale paid $4,500, cash, for her used Honda VTX 1300: “Being able to save up and purchase it outright was something I really valued,” she says. But with models like the Honda Rebel starting at $4,399 new, you can do the same with a fresh-off-the-lot bike. But when you consider used, you do have more options. Advantage: Used
“Honda constantly innovates,” Tamale says. For instance, old motorcycles used a carburetor, while new ones have fuel injection, which offers better fuel economy and starting performance. With a new bike, you have the opportunity to benefit from all the latest technological advances. Advantage: New
After you spend some time on a stock bike right out of the factory, you may realize you want a luggage rack, different handlebars, or a sissy bar. Customizing a motorcycle is expensive. If you buy a used bike, you can shop around and find something with the extras you’ll want already added on, at a fraction of what it cost to add them. Advantage: Used
Tamale calls this “the notoriety of having a brand-new motorcycle.” Simply put, there’s a “wow” factor in having the newest bike on the block. That’s one reason why Tamale’s girlfriend recently bought a brand-new bike right off the lot, with a scant 12 test-drive miles on it. Advantage: New
Final Score: New 3, Used 2
One thing’s for sure, if you go new, there are plenty of great options out there for a first bike like the Honda CBR300, CRF250L or Rebel 300 and 500. The Rebel in particular is a great platform for new riders looking to customize their ride. But what do you think? Should you go new or used? Let us know in the comments.
Tony Carnevale is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.