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New vs Used Motorcycle – Buying Guide

Getting your hands on your first motorbike or scooter is a real buzz and luckily, it’s one of those feelings that you can repeat – every time you purchase a fresh motorcycle there’s an addictive rush about the whole experience.

However, it can be a daunting prospect as there’s a lot of money at stake and you don’t want to make a poor decision.

Bikers tend to fall into two camps: ones who will only ever buy new and those who will only ever buy second hand. Let’s take a look into the pros and cons and get inside the mindset of bikers motorcycle purchasing habits.

Should I buy a new motorcycle for my first bike?

As you’ll see below, there are obvious benefits to buying new but when it comes to a new rider, we’d opt on the side of caution and suggest: buy used. Whether you’re on L-plates on your first 125cc motorbike or if you’re diving in at the deep end and buying a Harley, used is a great way to go.

In many ways, once you’ve got up to speed with riding and the rules of the road, you will enjoy a new motorcycle more with a bit more experience.

Make your mistakes on something used, lower your risks both financial and physical and look forward to your next bike being a new bike.

Buying a new motorcycle

You might think that people who buy new are foolish and if those are your first thoughts then you’re probably firmly in the ‘used’ camp but let’s look at the mindset.

A new motorbike isn’t just about splashing your cash around and having the latest shiney toy.

Reliability

For many people, they’re prepared to pay a premium to have a brand-new, reliable bike that comes with a warranty and often can be purchased with a servicing plan. They just have to make a decision on what to buy and what they can afford and get on with enjoying the bike.

If you buy well, a used bike can be a bargain but one big problem can quickly see the bills add up to thousands.

Finance

Buyers of new motorbikes can also take advantage of any manufacturer finance deals, from HP to PCP. This means you can get your hands on a new motorcycle with low monthly payments – as with PCP, you’re essentially paying off the depreciation.

If you’re happy with finance, you can keep a PCP agreement spinning and change your bike every three years for a new model.

Technology & Safety

Some bikers really value the latest technology that comes from the cutting edge of motorcycling. Motorbike miles per gallon figures have improved dramatically over the years and things like Euro 4 and Euro 6 emissions standards mean bikes are cleaner and more efficient than ever.

Technology such as power modes, traction control, adjustable suspension have all come on leaps and bounds over the last decade and that’s in part due to bikers embracing the technology.

ABS used to be clunky but now it’s available with various modes and systems such as cornering ABS that some bikers have to have in their lives.

So if you are a ‘used only’ kinda biker, you can be thankful there are people out there who are demanding more from their bikes as that technology trickles down.

The pros of buying new

  • Cutting edge technology
  • Reliable bike with no shady history
  • Competitive finance options
  • Manufacturer warranty

The cons of buying new

  • Buyer’s premium – you pay more for the fact it’s brand new
  • Steep depreciation in first few years
  • Waiting time – some bikes need to be ordered from the factory
  • Fewer aftermarket parts available
  • Higher cost of spare parts

Buying a used motorcycle

Buying a used motorcycle isn’t just about being a bit of a tight-arse. For many people, the hunt, the deal and getting a bargain are just as much of a buzz as riding the thing.

Bought well, a used bike is a great proposition as many bikes have incredibly low mileage on the clocks and are almost like new.

The outright cost

It’s not uncommon for a new bike to lose 50% of its value in the first 3 years. The average mileage for a motorbike is 2,500 miles a year, so you could pick up a 3-year old bike with 5,000 miles on the clock for around half the price it was new. After a few years, a motorcycle’s depreciation curve tends to flatten off. To many, this is too good to ignore.

However, most used bikes aren’t available on PCP finance packages although some dealers will offer HP options. If you can’t afford to pay cash for a nearly-new motorcycle, financing a new model may be a more attractive option.

They’re proven

Sometimes new bikes have issues but once a bike is a few years old, it’s proven. Most issues have been ironed out, any manufacturer recalls will have been done. Also the knowledge of that model in the biking community will be greater. So forums will be full of tips and fixes and dealers will be up to speed on the foibles of that model and the modifications that fix them.

The history

Lots of buyers looking at used bikes end up buying new. Why? Because they have a niggling doubt about the history and reliability of a bike. An HPI check will answer a lot of questions, as will carefully reading the ad and asking questions of your own but you can never be sure what troubles the owner is masking or are lurking unknown. Many buyers are happy to take a calculated risk.

The running costs

Bikes that are a few years old are cheaper to run. For a start, they’re worth less and will be cheaper to insure. There will also be a lot more spare and aftermarket parts on the market, meaning replacement parts are cheaper and easier to come by.

The choice

As a buyer of a used motorbike, you’ll have a far greater choice and with that, more buying power. If you want the latest, greatest sportsbike, the chances are others will too. The result? You may have to join a dealer’s waiting list or pay a premium for that bike. Not so with the used market, where you’ll be spoilt for choice, especially if a model has run for years.

The pros of buying used

  • Cheaper to buy than new
  • A good way to avoid steep depreciation
  • More choice, more buying power
  • Global knowledge of the model’s traits
  • Cheaper to insure and run
  • Larger availability and range of spares and accessories

The cons of buying used

  • Fewer finance options
  • Doesn’t boast the latest technology
  • Limited manufacturer or dealer warranty
  • Possible hidden repair bills
  • Little comeback if you buy privately

A final word

There is no right or wrong answer to the question: ‘Should I buy a new or used motorcycle’. It all depends on your situation. One of the most important things to do when looking at a new purchase is to set yourself a budget – it’s very easy to get swept off your feet by a dealer’s welcome, plush sofa and fancy coffee. Equally, it’s easy to think you’re getting a bargain only to find out that ‘total bargain’ you bought privately ended up being a lemon.