Home » Bikes » Buying » A Guide to Buying Your First Motorbike

A Guide to Buying Your First Motorbike

new motorcycle buying guide 1024x683 - A Guide to Buying Your First Motorbike

Buying your first motorcycle is one of the last (and most exciting) steps of your path to motorcycling. You’ve either taken or you’re about to take your test and you’re close to getting out on the road on your own bike.

So it’s time to buy a motorcycle (or scooter!).

But you need to remember, it’s not just the cost of buying your ride, there is also ongoing repairs, maintenance and legal requirements to consider. 

Before you commit to a life on two wheels, consider the following:

What kind of licence do you have?

In order to ride your first motorcycle you will need a licence that shows you are legally qualified to ride on the roads. There are various types of licence available for bike riders,  these are:

CBT Licence – you can obtain one of these as when you are 16 years old and you have completed the Compulsory Basic Training course.  You can ride a moped if you’re 16 or over or a motorcycle up to 125cc and with a power output of up to 11kW if you’re 17 or over provided that you are displaying “L” plates.  This license lasts for a period of 2 years.

Category A2 Licence – the A2 motorbike licence is available to anyone over the age of 19. The A2 motorcycle licence allows riders to ride any motorcycle or scooter with a maximum power output of up to 35kw (46.6bhp). You can ride a motorcycle that has been restricted to 46.6bhp, as long as that motorcycle didn’t produce more than double this (93bhp) when it left the factory.

Progressive Licence – If you have held an A1 or A2 motorcycle licence for a minimum of 2 years, you can step up to the next licence category by taking a practical test on a larger motorcycle or scooter. You won’t need to re-sit your theory test. If you don’t pass, your existing licence remains unaffected.

Direct Access Licence – the Direct Access (DAS) is available to anyone aged 24 and over. You will need a CBT and to have passed both the DVSA Module 1 & Module 2 practical motorcycle tests in order to obtain your licence. You will take your DAS test on a motorcycle which has an engine capacity of at least 595cc with a minimum power output of 40kw (53.6bhp). Once yo pass your DAS test you can ride any bike of any power output.

What 125cc motorcycle should you buy?

Your size, where and how often you will ride your bike, your budget and even your living situation are all important considerations to think about when it comes to buying your first 125cc motorcycle.

If you are planning on using your bike for your daily commute you should look for small bikes with an upright driving position that will be nimble in the traffic.  You’ll also need decent mirrors to see what’s coming up behind you and enough power to accelerate away from traffic lights and carry you at 60 on the dual carriageway. For inner-city riders, scooters are incredibly practical while offering more than a hint of retro cool.

We have published a list of almost every 125cc motorbike you can buy and if you’re after a scooter we’ve also put together a list of the best 125cc scooters.

If however, you are looking for a bike that will offer you big bike thrills, a sports bike will be a much better fit for you. While these types of bike are not the most comfortable, they do offer a higher top speed and better handling.  If you simply want to enjoy a bit of off-road action, consider a trail bike that offers hours of outdoor fun. 

The second hand market has thousands of excellent 125cc bikes available, to suit every style of rider and every kind of budget. Until you have a few years riding under your belt and can easily identify your exact riding style and your requirements, opt for a bike that is practical and affordable for the first few years at least.

Where should you look for a motorcycle?

Before you rush out to buy the first bike you see, do your research.  Spend time reading reviews on the internet, check out magazines and specialist publications and you could even ask your friends and any neighbours who ride.

You will no doubt end up with a mixed bag of opinions, but soon enough you be able to begin to narrow down your options, and start to decide which bike works best for you.

When you have settled on a make and model, start talking to bike dealers, looking at online selling sites and even the classified section of your local newspaper. If you are prepared to travel further afield for your perfect bike, you may be able to grab a bargain by extending your search area or even by looking nationwide. Police motorcycle auctions can also throw up excellent bargains, as can Ebay and other auction sites.

If you are buying privately, make sure you perform an HPI check on the motorbike or scooter to check that it isn’t a write off, or stolen or has outstanding finance.

As with any second hand transaction, make sure that you know what you are looking at before buying, and following the usual safety procedures for meeting sellers and handling transactions.

What are the running costs of a 125cc motorcycle?

125cc motorcycles offer an incredibly cost effective way of getting around town.  Whether on the daily commute or for longer runs, these types of bike are usually very affordable to run even for younger riders.

Motorbike tax is based on engine size, and for a 125cc bike you’ll pay just £19 a year to ride it out on the roads. How your bike fares in terms of fuel economy will depend upon the bike you ultimately opt for, but some 125cc engines can return over 90 mpg, and can travel many miles on a single tank of fuel. You can see a list of motorcycles with the best MPG here.

When it comes to insurance, 125cc bikes offer significant savings compared to the annual cost of premiums for cars and more powerful motorbikes.  As always though, individual insurance premiums will be based on the riders own personal circumstances. To get an idea of what it’ll cost to get your first bike insured, use our motorcycle insurance estimator here.

Servicing, MOT and repair prices should also be factored into the costs of owning a motorbike.  Many garages offer flat rate service charges based on mileage. You’ll pay around £100 for a minor service and around £250 for a major service. A minor service happens every 4000 miles and a major service every 8,000 miles. When you get a major service done, you don’t need to do the minor at the same time as the major service encompasses it.

MOTs for motorbikes are under £30.  Any repairs will depend on the make and model of your motorcycle and how much work it needs.

How much is 125cc motorcycle insurance?

When it comes to insurance, 125cc bikes can offer significant savings compared to the annual cost of premiums for cars of even more powerful motorbikes.  As always though, individual insurance premiums will be based on the riders own personal circumstances.

As a very rough guide though, and based on a average quote for a rider with some experience living in mid-sized town or city, motorcycle insurance premiums should be between £300 and £400 per annum.

Do I need to lock my motorcycle up?

Keeping your motorcycle secure is always a good idea, wherever you may store it.  Not only does this help to prevent the disappointment of coming outside to find that your beloved bike has been stolen, it can also help to lower your insurance premiums too.

You should use a sturdy chain and padlock that will deter thieves from taking it.  These super strong chains should be attached to an  “immovable object” such as a lamppost, and the chain and padlock should be looped through the bikes frame. For increased security at home, you could install a ground anchor that the chain can be attached to.

There are also lots of disc locks with loud sirens and motorbike trackers that can be fitted to your bike.  Again, do your research on the benefits of these and the costs before you buy.

What do I do if I drop my motorcycle?

Nearly ever rider has had an unfortunately incident with their bike at one time or another.  Dropping your bike can sometimes lead to severe damage, or you might be lucky and get away with just the odd scratch or no damage at all. 

A common ‘first drop’ is while doing a slow speed manoeuvre like a U-turn and it can be easy to lose the front when pulling into a petrol station if you’re going too quickly and there’s a diesel spill on the forecourt, so exercise caution here.

These incidents can cost you extra money in terms of repairs, but it is vital that your bike is always completely road-worthy for your own safety.

If you do happen to drop your bike, you should:

  • Make sure you are not injured.
  • Stand the bike up straight away and set up the stand and move the motorcycle to a safe location.
  • Once upright, visually scan the bike for damage and try moving the wheels.
  • Check the bike and surrounding area for any evidence of leaking fuel, oil, battery acid or other fluids. If you do see a wet patch, try and trace the leak.
  • Have a look over the gear, clutch and brake levers, as these could be bent and may make them hard to use or prone to breaking.
  • Check that your forks aren’t bent or leaking oil.
  • Check that the body of the bike and frame doesn’t look bent or out of alignment.
  • Once you have ruled out any serious damage, give it a quick once over looking for bumps, dents and scratches. These may be frustrating and sometimes expensive to put right, but they shouldn’t render the bike unsafe to ride.

Finally, take it for a test ride. A short ride should reassure you that the bike is operating as well as it did before the fall.  If you are in anyway unsure or not happy with the performance, come off of the bike and arrange for it to be collected and taken to a garage for a professional inspection.

A final word

While the shiny new bike might catch your eye, you have to think about more than just the purchase price.

You’re more likely to drop your first bike, so it’s a sensible idea to buy a second-hand one, to save money and clock up some miles and experience. After a few months you’ll have a good idea of what you like and don’t like about the type of bike you’ve bought and you can factor that in when buying your next one.

Before stretching your budget to get the bike of your dreams, do your homework and don’t splash all your cash on your first purchase.


Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top