Deepak, 22, landed his first job out of college. After throwing a party to his friends for his achievement, he sits the next day planning his joining a week later. He needs to commute daily from Noida to Gurgaon. Metro and cabs are not making a lot of sense to him. After years of borrowing two wheels from friends in college, his long lasting love to buy and ride a motorbike might just be realized. His father has also finally given in to the decision to purchase a motorcycle.
He has set his heart on the most sporty and stylish bike he could find in his budget. The full fairing is a must, after all what is a bike without a fairing? He sets his sights on the Yamaha YZF-R15, loan documents filed and approved, keys handed over and pics at showroom taken with his mother doing the pooja and rituals. Friends and neighbours love it. A certain someone also gets the official first ride of the mean machine. His helmet, gloves and jacket all are matching with the colour scheme of the bike. Deepak is extremely happy and satisfied with his decision.
Three months have passed…
Deepak, gets on his bike, puts his tiffin and laptop in his backpack, and sets off towards his office. The traffic for next one hour is terrible. Every day while leaving for office, commute is a war. The low handlebars (clip-ons), makes his wrists hurt. He slips forward on his seat every time he brakes. The heat pushed up by the radiator in the bumper-to-bumper traffic makes him sweaty and uncomfortable. All of sudden, Olx and Quikr now seem more attractive.
5 years ago, Abhishek, a project manager at an MNC was content with his life. Living with his family in a 3-bedroom apartment in the suburbs of the IT capital of India, drawing a 6-digit salary and driving a sedan. What was missing was a certain zing.
He would often find the young interns in his team walking in with jazzy helmets and riding jackets in office and often talking about bikes & upcoming weekend ride plans in the chai-sutta breaks. He would get engaged in their conversations and found it interesting and adventurous. He discussed the possibility of riding a motorcycle with his family, which was well accepted (in the sense “not objected to”) so he decided to look around.
His previous experience was riding his father’s well maintained Enfield in the mid 90’s. “Abhishek Sir, you should buy the new TBTS”, said one of the interns. He was already thinking about one, but decided to check out the oranges and greens in the market. Didn’t suit his style, they were too loud and on the edge machines. He wanted something which was not so aggressive, neither too sedate. Power with elegance he wanted. Something subtle yet distinctive. Harleys were out of budget. A long test ride sealed the deal with RE Classic 500. The touring began with short ones to eastern coast routes to the coffee plantations down south to rider mania in Goa.
The love for bikes grew and touring became an occupation. With two Ladakh rides under his belt and Sikkim Bhutan trip on the cards this year, Abhishek found the missing component in his life.
Although, the brand, styling, price are important parts in making a decision, what we generally miss out on is ergonomics, usage, practicality and not just buying it once and paying EMI’s but also taking care of the maintenance and service/repair bills.
The typical questions that you should be asking yourself about ”How to Choose the Right Motorcycle for Your Riding Style” should be-
- What should I know before buying a motorcycle?
- What Kind of Motorcycle Should I Get?
What should I know before buying a motorcycle?
If one wishes to go logically to decide on which motorcycle to buy, he/she should consider following:
Now let’s look at each point in detail
The first question that should come to your mind is: WHY?
Why do you want to buy a motorcycle?
Do you wish to ride it or flaunt it? If you wish to ride it, will it be used for commute only, or commute and weekend riding or only weekend riding? How many km do you think you will be covering every month on your bike?
Each motorcycle is manufactured for a specific purpose. Sure, you can take a super-sports on a tour… heck even Red Bull F1 car was driven to Khardung La. But do you really want to commute / tour on your Yamaha R1?
- If you want to commute, a naked motorcycle like Pulsar range / Duke are really what you need to enjoy even in traffic.
- If you intend to do high speed riding for long durations, you might want to look at Sports Tourers like R3, Ninja 300 or CBR250R.
- If corner carving is the need of the day, why look anywhere other than R15 and the RC twins?
(If you want to know pros/cons of each type of a bike, we have provided a detailed section at the end of this article… aren’t we really kind? If you wish to skip all this and go directly to pros/cons section, click here.)
So Think! Ponder over your purpose of buying a motorcycle.
Solicit the honest and bitter advices (yes, bitter; because they are mostly true) from your near and dear ones. And no cheating just to grab that awesome looking Ducati! Once you have defined the purpose we can move to the next aspect.
A very important aspect after all. Yes, we all love the wayDucatis look, but will I be able to afford it? I also like the big BMW tourer, but will I have any money left to fill petrol? God forbid… if I fall down… would my love be in garage waiting for me to round up money?
Ensure that you have sufficient money to buy the bike. At least make sure you have sufficient money for deposit and you can comfortably pay EMI every month.
Expenses don’t stop with buying a motorcycle. They start with it.
Bigger the bike, bigger the bills. Most big bikes require a tyre change every 8-10,000 km. That is 20k cost for every 10k km run. A typical service (without repairs) would be above 5-6k. Would you be ok to pay out that much every few months?
One should also consider the potential repair bills, servicing, insurance and maintenance cost before taking the plunge. Based on the greens in your pocket, choose the bike which fits the bill with your ability to keep the bike maintained and up & running. Check out our detailed article about bank loans, documents required etc. here.
With purpose and budget set, we move on to the next aspects.
3. Ergonomics and Comfort:
With purpose and budget set, we move on to the next aspects.
For the long term happy ownership, the motorcycle ergonomics and rider/pillion comfort plays a very important role.
Based on rider’s purpose and body (height and weight), one needs to find a motorcycle with the right ergonomics and comfort. A 6’5” guy will surely not be comfortable on a RC or Duke. Similarly a 5’ guy won’t be happy (or let’s just say comfortable) with his Aprilia Dorsoduro.
Shorter riders might benefit more from the motorcycles with lower saddle height or thinner seat. Whereas taller guys might prefer the ones which has more bulk or height.
One simple check you should do before deciding - sit on a bike and try to move it backwards using your legs. If you can take the bike out of parking place, go ahead with the purchase. Ask the one who would be riding pillion to sit on the pillion seat while you take test ride. If she (you can always hope..right?) doesn’t find it comfortable, you would be better off looking at another model.(of motorcycle)
Some more key points to check are forward lean angle, knee angle and hip angle. If you get those right, you will be comfortable with your new buy. If not, well best of luck. One of the best sites providing detailed information about nearly every bike on this planet is Cycle ergo
4. Brand and Flaunt Value:
All the above parameters are logical and relate to your head. Now something that would relate to your heart. The Brand and the flaunt value.
Yes, that’s what we will do on social gathering and networks. Choose a motorcycle where you would love to flaunt and/or feel connected with the brand.
For example, Yamaha will make you cheer for your favourite rides: #46 and #99 whereas the Honda wings might give you a reason to buy the Mr. 93 cap. KTM will make you proud every time the riders head to South America for world’s toughest rally and so on.
5. Servicing / Repairing:
Lastly, one should also consider location of Service centre. If you are buying an exotic motorcycle and its service centre is located in a town 300km away, you should -
(a) have sufficient time and money to ride/send bike by tempo for servicing
(b) think of buying another brand / model
Also you should know part availability of routinely required parts.If every part needs to be pre-ordered, think again. Do you want your bike spending more time with service centre rather than being out on the road?
One should also consider the potential repair bills, servicing, insurance and maintenance cost before taking the plunge. Based on the greens in your pocket, choose the bike which fits the bill with your ability to keep the bike maintained and up & running.
With the above aspects properly identified and sorted out, if someone goes in the market for motorcycle hunting, we are sure that he/she won’t be disappointed with the purchase.
Check out our detailed article about bank loans, documents required etc. here.
What Kind of Motorcycle Should I Get?
Now let’s talk about the different categories of the motorcycles available in the market today. These motorcycles can be categorized into many genres ranging from daily commuters to kick ass tourers.
Types of Motorcycles
- Faired/Sports/Supersports Bikes
- Naked Supersports / Street Fighter
- Dual Sport
- Off Roaders &Enduros
- Adventure Motorcycles
Since each motorcycle is built for a purpose and there is no one-size-fits-all, we can define the advantages and disadvantages of each category.
How to Choose the Right Motorcycle for Your Riding Style?
This question you need to answer for yourself. Try to understand where you would be riding majority of the time. See the Pros and Cons of every type and then decide on the most suitable type.
Pros & Cons of every type of motorcycle:
Examples: Yamaha R1, Kawasaki ZX10R, Honda Fireblade, Suzuki GSX1000RR
- Good flaunt value, sporty and stylish
- Better wind protection
- Great for track days and sport riding
- Good for aggressive leans
- Aggressive seating, low on comfort and tough on riders' back
- Heats up more in city traffic
- Low bars may result in wrist pain
- Bad for pillion comfort, for city and touring both
- Peaky power delivery not great for touring
- Extremely poor for dirt and off roading
- No space for luggage on tours
Naked Supersports / Street Fighter:
Examples: Kawasaki Z900, ApriliaTuono V4,Triumph Speed Triple
- Good for city riding / commute
- Comfortable for short tours
- Space/Provision for saddlebags and tank bag
- Windblast at high speeds, requires good windshield to handle that
- Footpegs might grind on track days and sport riding, excessive lean angles not its forte
- Not optimal for long distance touring
Examples: All Harley Davidson, Hyosung ST7, Yamaha VMax
- Great for touring with plenty of luggage options
- Ample pillion comfort
- Oodles of torque
- Low on bhp and top speed
- Heavy to maneuver in traffic
Examples: BMW R1200 GS
- Takes on and off roads considerably well
- Peppy engine
- Performs well in city traffic
- Taller seat height, may not be fit for short riders
- Flat seat; does not provide the best of comfort
- Luggage mounting not so easy
- Less tank range
Off Roaders & Enduros:
Examples: Honda Africa Twin
- Good for touring
- Meant for multipurpose riding
- Good enough options for luggage
- Taller seat height, short riders beware
- Small tank capacity, not great tank range
Examples: Ducati Hypermotard
- Best suited for long rides / multi-day tours
- Both rider and pillion comfort is considered
- Multiple luggage options
- Huge tank; promises good tank range during rides
- Big heavy and bulky
- Traffic maneuverability is compromised
Parting Remarks about how to choose a motorcycle:
So there you are... armed with the knowledge of how should one go about choosing a motorcycle for himself / herself. Please do remember - selecting a perfect motorcycle is not easy. With numerous options available in market, it is easy to get confused. Even we do get confused sometimes. There is no silver bullet, no one-size-fits-all. But if you abide by what we have pointed out above, it is very likely that you will end up with a long term ride.
So choose wisely and ride happily.
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