getting your first motorcycle: 5 questions to ask

When you're on the cusp of getting your first motorcycle, we know your first thought: Holy cow this is awesome! Once the excitement settles, though, there are 5 slightly more pressing things to ponder if you want your career on 2 wheels to get off to a roaring start.

1. what motorcycle insurance do i need?

Misjudging corners, running out of gas, and forgetting regular bike maintenance are all common mistakes of new motorcycle riders. That means your first bike could spend plenty of time pulled over or, well, flat on its side. Luckily, having the right motorcycle coverage lets you comfortably get the hang of it.

In addition to liability insurance, novice riders should consider adding comprehensive and collision coverage for any accidents and all those random dents and dings, plus emergency road assistance to help out if stranded.

You could also lower your deductible. This might mean paying slightly more on your premium, but after an incident (and newbies tend to have their share), you'll pay less out of pocket on damage or injury bills. Make sure to talk with your insurer for help addressing the areas you'll need the most coverage.

2. should my first motorcycle be used or new?

Ultimately, only you can decide. A new bike could last long, but in the spirit of being a rookie rider, you may want to think about buying a used motorcycle.

Since you'll likely spend a few weeks dropping your motorcycle and finding every way imaginable to dent and nick it, it helps to have a bike that isn't in mint condition to begin with. Think about it: if you were just learning how to bake, wouldn't you rather do it in an old sweatshirt than a tuxedo? Learning to ride atop something scrappy lets you forget about damage and focus on technique.

Follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's pre-ride inspection checklist to help make sure your used bike isn't a lemon.

3. what type of bike is right for me?

There are a ton of choices for new riders — and you'll have plenty of time to try those models your heart desires. The best beginner motorcycles, however, are usually light, maneuverable, and (dare we say) relatively unexciting. This helps ensure you're comfortable while learning, not overwhelmed by the power of an exotic or heavy model.

When buying your first motorcycle, you also have to consider its intended use. For instance, a touring bike will give a comfy ride if you have a long commute or plan on lots of road-tripping. Or a dual-sport model might be right for those who split time between the streets and the trails.

Check out our full breakdown of motorcycle types.

4. how do i learn to ride?

Learning how to ride a motorcycle involves absorbing motorcycle rules and road-sign laws plus mastering the necessary skills to use your bike safely.

The first step will be getting your motorcycle license. If you're under 18, you often need to obtain a motorcycle permit first. It's also wise to take a riding safety course. These are required in some states — but even if that's not the case in your area, motorcycle classes are still invaluable tools for becoming a skilled rider.

You can find a beginner course that allows you to practice key maneuvers, introduces you to the features of your bike, explains motorcycling gear, and demonstrates even the most fundamental tasks — like how to start your motorcycle (in case, ahem, you didn't quite have that down yet).

Find out more about getting your motorcycle license and finding a safety school.

5. how do i join the riding community?

The easiest way to immerse yourself in the riding culture is probably to join a motorcycle club. The best part about these groups (besides the opportunity to ride, obviously) is that they're loaded with seasoned bikers who can keep your education going. That way, by the time you get your next motorcycle, you'll already have all the answers.

RiderClubs can help you find a riding club that matches your bike and style.

And while you're at it, you can get a free motorcycle insurance quote with us so you can resume dreaming about the open road.

Esurance presents: Why I Ride
Let awesome videos, pics, and testimonials from veteran riders give you the final jolt of inspiration you need to hop on.

Motorcycle insurance basics
Find out what bikes are covered and what coverages you need.

Motorcycle group riding
If you're joining up with your riding club, be safe out there.

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