How To Buy A New Motorcycle – Advice for Dealership Virgins

How To -



You’ve read our New vs. Used Motorcycle Guide and decided to go with the shinier option. But, the process of buying a bike may seem difficult to navigate. It doesn’t have to be, here’s how to buy a brand new motorcycle.

What To Expect
Expect the salesperson will tell you how cool you’re going to look on Bike X, and how cool other people are going to think you’re going to look too.

Expect the salesperson to give you some reason why the motorcycle will probably not remain available beyond the immediate time period. Ignore that, it’s worth waiting to find the price or financing that fits your needs.

Expect the salesperson to try and convince you of the value of an extended warranty. Ignore that too, most motorcycles already come with a one or two-year, unlimited mile warranty and most repairs are relatively cheap and easy to make. Unless you crash, in which case that extended warranty won’t cover you anyhow.

Expect the purchase process to take a few hours. After negotiating a final price, you’ll be passed off to someone in the finance department who’ll want to know how they’re getting payment. They’ll also begin washing and prepping the bike which, combined with the paperwork and handshaking, takes longer than you’d expect.

What You Need To Know
Know whether you’re walking into a dealership to learn about the bike or to make the actual purchase. Don’t let the salesperson bully you into making a decision you’re not ready for.

Know about the motorcycle. Nothing helps minimize sales tactics like a well-informed buyer. The salespeople themselves are often woefully under informed, don’t assume they are experts. Do your own research on price, specs, performance and try and score some test rides on similar bikes beforehand.

Know about insurance costs. There’s nothing worse that getting your heart set on a bike, only to find you can’t afford the insurance payments. You can get a quote from Progressive in under a minute. Providers can vary greatly, some consider a bike like the Ducati Monster a standard, while others classify it as a sport bike; the difference in prices between the two can be massive. That classification and the engine size are the two main factors with rates.

Know your budget. There are a lot of costs beyond just the bike’s purchase price, especially if this is your first time. Factor in:
- Riding Gear
- Dealer Fees ($300 – $1,000)
- Sales Tax
- Title Transfer

Know how you’re paying. Unlike houses or cars, you can buy a motorcycle with little or no money down. The more cash you’re able to bring to the table, the more leverage you have in negotiating a better rate. Interest rates vary widely, between zero and 15 percent and are dependent on your credit, the amount being financed and the loan period. Motorcycle loans tend to be shorter than car loans, but can be found for up to 60 months.

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  • Rameses the 2nd

    Insurance is a big deal. Make sure to call multiple insurance companies. I have my car insurance with Geico, but they still quoted me twice as what Progressive quoted me for full coverage. Also, always know the final OTD price and then settle on terms of payments and interest rate. Obviously, the best option is to pay in full, if you can afford it.

    Finally, if you are not comfortable (gut feeling) with a dealership, go to a different dealership. Bad customer service can totally ruin the experience and suck the joy out of your brand new purchase.

  • Yuri Grinshteyn

    Expect that most dealerships won’t offer test rides, especially on sport bikes. Others (most notably BMW and Harley Davidson) love to get you to ride their bikes, but even they might hesitate, if you’re a new rider.

    • Eric R. Shelton

      I keep hearing from people that H-D “loves to get you on the bike in a test ride”, but I’ve never been someplace that did. Five different US cities and seven different dealerships, and every one of them told me I had to rent a bike for $100 a day, and they don’t do demos. I think the reason I’ve always bought Euro bikes is because BMW, Ducati, and Triumph dealers always threw me the keys. Am I doing something wrong?

      • runnermatt

        I saw the local Harley dealer doing test rides when I rode past it about month back. Of course the Harley-Davidson tractor trailer was parked out front so I think H-D was actually there to show off their 2014 bikes. I almost stopped in just for curiosity, but I had more important things to do.

      • Devin Byrnes


        The HD dealers in Sudbury and Barrie Ontario almost assaulted me with kindness when I walked in the door and test drives were offered.

        I had them install a new tired on my ex500 and they did it promptly, cheaply and without chirping me RE my “girly” bike. I have never had a bad experience at a Harley dealer.

        • MikeT

          Sorry that this is off topic, but what generation EX do you ride? If 1st gen. what tires did you order and where from (I’m in T.O.)? If second gen. nevermind the question and happy riding.

          BTW, my experience has been similar with the HD folks. They have been genial and enthusiastic without being pushy or judgmental. I don’t have the inclination or the bank roll to buy one anytime soon, but the demo days are a hoot.

          • Devin Byrnes

            I drive a 1992 EX500. Well, I am trying to, she died on me. If that is helpful let me know and I’ll look up my tires. Pretty sure the Kawi has Battlaxes.

            • MikeT

              I have a ’91 and trying to get a set of Battlaxes as well, but I can only find the front, most online shops (even manufacturers) especially in Canada don’t seem to carry the 100/90-16 and 120/90-16 sizes.

        • Eric R. Shelton

          The guys at Red Rock Harley in Las Vegas were great! especially a sales guy named Ben who put up with me month after month before I finally bought. I went there most often because they had the biggest/best used bike selection I could find, and they never once bitched that I wouldn’t look at the H-D offerings (except the XR1200 I didn’t buy due to reports of fuel tank bulging) and only eyed the interesting UJMs or European bikes on consignment. So it’s not bad experiences- I’ve just yet to find an H-D dealer that does demo rides. Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas… Now I’m stuck in Fargo, they don’t do demo rides, and the closest rental place is an hour away. I just don’t get it.

      • Mr.Paynter

        I honestly couldnt believe my ears but down here in Durban, South Africa, I have an aunt who rode when she was younger and went in to get a Sportster Low and relive the glory days.

        She was invited to a HOG cocktail party, where they had a bike set-up with a screen behind it and a fan.blowing in your face and guests were invited to try on any gear in the shop, sit on and start up the bike, and to rev it with the fan blowing and get photos of them on the road (projected on the screen) to take home, complete with lick-and-stick Harley logo tattoos.

        My aunt coming from track racing her little RD350 back in the day and a few CB 750s in her thirties was flabbergasted. Never before or since have I heard of anyone selling so much sizzle with so little steak.

      • Yuri Grinshteyn

        To be fair, I have not actually tried to take a demo ride at an HD dealer myself, so this is based on hearsay.

  • Zachary Laughrey

    The difference in insurance can be crazy. Progressive considers a Ninja 1000 to be a super sport bike just because of the “Ninja” moniker. Their insurance price, on the nearly same Z1000, is much much lower. GEICO doesn’t treat the Ninja 1000 in this way and the insurance is much cheaper. Calling around before hand is a really good idea

    • Tony Thayer

      Naked vs. Faired makes a huge difference in prices (in my experience).

  • gaudette

    The biggest thing is to be informed. I can’t understand how so many salespeople have absolutely no clue about motorcycles in general. The closest Triumph dealer is over two hours away, so I end up getting inspections done at two dealerships that are under an hour. One sells Yamaha bikes, the other Yamaha and Suzuki. When I roll up on my street triple they know literally nothing about it. Of all people I expect to have knowledge of motorcycle brands it’s the guys that sell them.

    I stopped by a new Moto Guzzi/Aprilia dealer one time just to check the bikes out in person. I ended up having a 45 minute conversation about motorcycles in general and the salesman really knew his shit! Now this is type of guy I’d buy a bike from.

    Unless it’s a rare bike with a small used market, it’s not worth going to buy new. Your chances of taking a bike for a test ride is pretty low. A huge dealership with many brands might have a large enough stock they can afford to let a few test rides. Other than that, the only way to test drive is to have done everything but sign on the dotted line.

  • Hubert

    I used to be a mortgage banker. I was fairly good salesman so it always made me happy to best another salesman’s bullshit tactics.

    Come prepared to walk away.

    I walked away because the guy wouldn’t budge on a $300 difference in price from other dealership.
    3 days later I got a call from him saying that he will match it, haha.

    You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.

    Know your credit score and make sure to tell them that you want to finance through manufacturer’s finance division. Otherwise you might find yourself with a tarnished credit score because the asshole salesman ran your credit score 10 times with 10 different banks trying to get you the best financing offers.

    I got a finance offer from Sheffield Financial that just didn’t make sense to me. I walked away that day from the dealership. I called Sheffield the next morning and gotten everything straightened away.

    Check all the financing disclosures. The finance guy tacked on extra $1500 in prep/extended warranty and GAP insurance. Told him to take everything off or else I am walking away.

    At the end of the day you should have a brand new motorcycle with a great financing.

    $0 down and 0%apr for 5 years is pretty sweet. Thanks Suzuki!

    • Legacy23

      “Know your credit score and make sure to tell them that you want to finance through manufacturer’s finance division. Otherwise you might find yourself with a tarnished credit score because the asshole salesman ran your credit score 10 times with 10 different banks trying to get you the best financing offers.”

      He can run your credit 20 time with 20 different banks, as long as it’s within 14 days it won’t affect your credit anymore than if he did it once. The policy on that was changed in 1999, so it allows you to shop around for the best without being penalized.

  • Eric R. Shelton

    I insure my vehicles through USAA (prior military), but they won’t do motorcycles. They offered a “partnership” or something to me with Progressive but the rates were sky-high. I use Dairyland insurance now- it’s about a quarter of the cost. I just keep in mind that they likely won’t be as responsive to my needs as a bigger company.

    • kentaro

      USAA actually insures motorcycles and I insure a couple bikes with them. Strangely and like you said, they also told my friend who lives down the street from me to go through their partnership at Progressive. The whole thing between USAA insuring some bikes and passing some on to Progressive is pretty confusing but give them a call again, my rates through USAA are cheaper than what Prog has quoted me in the past. Plus USAA customer service cannot be beat, as you know.

      • Eric R. Shelton

        Yeah, I probably should have been more specific. They don’t insure bikes in any of the states I’ve lived in recently. I think they told me they only insure motorcycles in something like 5 states. Their financing for bikes was a little unfriendly, too. It was easier to just finance through the manufacturer, and I got a full percentage point lower interest rate, too. I still love USAA, but I don’t bother with them for my bikes anymore.

        • kentaro

          Good deal man. Thanks for your service.

      • runnermatt

        Maybe I will have to give USAA a call as well because they routed me to Progressive too. That said my CBR250R was about $180 total for the first 12 months and $144 for the second (current) year. I thought that was a pretty good rate though, but I’ll admit I didn’t cross shop.

    • Piglet2010

      Progressive has given me the best rates – maybe because I have five bikes and they know I can only ride one at a time?

  • zombarian

    The photo of the Ducati dealership sure makes Portland look grey, at least the grass is well watered.

    • LS650

      It’s the Pacific Northwest: it’s grey six months of the year.

    • Chris McAlevy

      As a Portland native, I will tell you that “grey, but the grass is definitely watered” is a pretty good summary of the weather in city 9 months a year or so.

  • runnermatt

    I found new car salesmen/women don’t always know that much about the brands they sell. I’ll admit that I’m a little disappointed when I found that out.

    My local Honda bike dealer is cool though. They are a small dealer and recognize me when I walk in the door and I’ve only been there 5 or 6 times in two years. They know the people who instructed my MSF course and I think I could get a test ride of one of the bikes if I asked. I already tempt myself too much though and want to wait till next spring/summer.

  • APG7

    I think I’ll be buying a new bike in the next month or two. On a bike listed at 7,000 how much discount do you think is reasonable if I paid entirely in cash. Do they even do that kind of thing?

    • Devin Byrnes

      Two years ago when I was shopping they told me they liked financing because they got a cut from the bank. Cash provided me with less wiggle room.

      In the end I bought a used bike though.

      • Phil Mills

        Dealerships LIKE financing because they get paid to push it. So take the finance package and then take the $7K in cash you’ve got and pay that sucker off on the first statement.

        Secret bonus: this usually looks nice to your credit score as well.

        • Ken Lindsay

          Be careful, some of those loans cannot be paid down. You have to pay all the interest even if you make one massive payment… Cash works on end of year sales.

          • Phil Mills

            Yeah – that’s the first question I ask, though. Anything smelling like a pre-payment penalty and I walk.

        • Ken Lindsay

          Be careful, some of those loans cannot be paid down. You have to pay all the interest even if you make one massive payment… Cash works on end of year sales.

  • Piglet2010

    The downside to selling your bike privately instead of trading it in are having to be on the lookout for things such as forged cashiers checks, or “scouts” for professional theft rings. To me the combination of risks, along with the time and hassle were not worth the extra $500-700 I could have received in a private sale over a trade-in. As always, YMMV.

  • Mason Apostol

    What are people’s experiences negotiating for a price below MSRP? What techniques work?

    I am hoping to get a Street Triple R soon, but I feel like I have very little leverage to negotiate with.

    • Blixa

      I’m curious too. It seems like there’s not much room for negotiation – either dealer markup isn’t that high or there’s enough demand that the dealer couldn’t care less if you walk. Or I hear dealers won’t budge on price, but will throw in free accessories, add-ons, etc. At least these are the impressions I got after reading BMW and Triumph buyer experiences recently.

      • Ken Lindsay

        I’ve had them throw in helmets, covers, locks, etc. If they won’t budge on price, find out things they will sweeten the deal with! I always try to negotiate out setup and destination charges too…

      • Ken Lindsay

        I’ve had them throw in helmets, covers, locks, etc. If they won’t budge on price, find out things they will sweeten the deal with! I always try to negotiate out setup and destination charges too…

    • Damo Von Vinland

      I have found with most the Japanese dealers (and Triumph to a lesser extent) will usually flex a little below MSRP or at least discount it enough to cover the delivery fee, if you are insistent.

      I recently bought my first brand new Ducati and no matter where I went I could not get them to budge on MSRP. I have bought several new bike and am a hard negotiator, but not one of the dealers would budge.

      Not sure what the margins are on the high end Italian bikes, but I have heard similar complaint from other Ducati owners and BMW owners as well.

      • Kevin

        The dealer covered my sales tax when I bought my Multistrada, but I also paid full freight on a few accessories. As always, YMMV. Best bet is probably just to get written OTD offers from 2-3 dealers and make your choice.

        Also, remember the people you are dealing with have a business to run and respect the fact that they are providing you a service and deserve to get paid too. Just be reasonable and expect to be treated reasonably.

        I just say that because some folks think everybody is out to screw them, and some folks are just as anxious to get something over on a dealer (“stealership,” anyone?) as they think dealers are to get something over on them. If you’re the kind of person who loses sleep thinking that someone out there somewhere might have gotten a better deal than they did, here’s your sign.

    • Rameses the 2nd

      A friend of mine just bought a brand new 2013 Triumph T100 for $8000, i.e., $799 below MSRP. It might be a little difficult, but not impossible. In my friend’s case, the dealership was good; they knew it was the end of the season, so they just offered him the discount. He is very happy with his purchase.

    • Von

      MSRP out the door should be standard. At least in a metro area like SoCal where dealerships abound. I’ve had dealerships tell me over the phone that MSRP out the door “is reasonable” without being able to give me a price over the phone. If you have this as your baseline just walk away if it’s not met. They’ll either call you back in a few days honoring your price or you can find another dealer that will. Depends on the dealer. Some are crazy expensive and some do MSRP deals out the door all day and turn a lot of bikes. FBC in San Diego is one of those crazy expensive dealerships, LA Cycles was one of those no BS dealerships that doesn’t flinch at MSRP out the door.

  • Mr.Paynter

    $1000 Dealer fees?!

    Jeepers, I always negotiate those right down, my last new bike, although it was just a TW 200 was about $75 and even my Ninja 650 out the box was $80 with some haggling.

  • Khali

    Dont buy the motorcycle in the first dealership you visit. Take some time and visit, call, e-mail, various dealerships over your city or nearby cities. You may find lower prices, better finance or a pack of equipment (like hard panniers or top box) as a gift.
    Compare prices and the costs of bringing it to your home. And dont be afraid to barter, if you did get a better price on the other dealership, tell them so they can make a counter-offer.

  • CruisingTroll

    When you’re going to make the deal, plan on spending several hours. Don’t go hungry, don’t go when you absolutely have to be someplace else in an hour, and don’t go tired.

    Decide upfront how you’re going to react to obvious bullshit. You can opt to blow it off and ignore it, call them on it in a good humoured fashion, hammer them for it, or walk. Inflated shipping costs are one of the one’s that get my goat.

    If you’re buying out of state, always consider taxes. It may be advantageous to pay the dealer’s state taxes at the dealer, it may be better to pay your state taxes at home. IF you’re paying at home, make sure that you mentally add the amount to your OTD price for comparison purposes.

    Always get a breakdown of the OTD price, especially if you’re buying out of state. You don’t want to THINK that you’re paying the portion that’s going to the gubmint, only to find out that you didn’t pay it before and have to pony it up later.

    On the insurance, know that rates vary wildly between states. The relative cost of insuring two different bikes, with two different companies, can REVERSE simply by changing states. So, just because your old college buddy got a great rate of X on Y bike over in Z state with SomeCompany doesn’t mean you’re going to get anything like he got even with the same bike and company. (We won’t even talk about the craziness that goes on above the 48th parallel.)

    You’ve made the deal, you’re geared up and about to leave. Make sure you have the dealership’s phone number ON YOU. Batteries can go bad, and you may not find out until after you’ve ridden a couple miles, then stopped for lunch. Come out and find out your bike don’t start. Call the dealership. Don’t get bent out of shape about it, stuff like this happens.

    When leaving the dealership on your shiny new bike, remember three things:




    • sean macdonald

      excellent advice

    • MikeT

      “…We won’t even talk about the craziness that goes on above the 48th parallel.” What weird things happen 70 miles south of the Canadian border? Thanks for the good advice though.

      • CruisingTroll

        Lots of strange stuff happens there. It’s where Canadians go to get their freak on, and Americans gird their loins before entering the woolly North. It’s where the gnomes of Redmond hatch their evil plans and Victorians bask in the southern sun.

        Or it could be I meant to say 49th Parallel….. (note: metaphorically/allegorically speaking, not literally, as the actual border being referenced has substantial portions not exactly or even approximately coinciding with the 49th Parallel North)

        • MikeT

          I prefer to believe the 1st version.

        • MikeT

          I prefer to believe the 1st version.

        • Jesse Leiker

          I gotcha.

    • Ken Lindsay

      If you live in CA, always opt to pay CA taxes on anything new or they will make you pay more when you register it! You have to have owned it over a year old and have a certain amount of miles before they will let that go! No saving buying out of state when you plan on registering it in CA.

  • mikki sixx

    Learned Lesson: Salespersons chase the sale, once they’ve got it you’re dead to them. Don’t expect a Christmas card from them, nor should you expect them to remember that 20% off your first service they promised you as you were shaking hands over the completed deal.

    Dead eyes, black heart, sweaty palmed monsters; all of them.

  • Clint Keener

    Buy a demo! Save a ton on a bike with only a thousand or so miles on it.

    • CruisingTroll

      and take your chances with how the bike was ridden during the break-in period….

  • Kyle Dugan

    RIDING GEAR!!! Put that in all caps. Don’t buy unless you have enough to cover the gear.

  • LanlordX

    Try for an insurance quote, I insure my 250r with Progressive but their quote for my 600rr was way high. It was odd that Foremost could not match Progressive on the 250r though, definitely shop around.

  • mid40s

    Are test rides even worth asking for?I haven’t shopped for a new bike in a very long time. I can understand if you’re 21, wearing vans and shorts and want to test ride an R1 (no way of course), but as a 40 something experienced rider with proper gear, is it reasonable to expect a test ride at a Triumph dealership (specifically for a Street Triple R or Daytona) before plunking down for a new bike?

  • Lawrences

    Motorcycles are fun. Most of these horrible dealer stories are internet bullshit. Check your own attitude and you might have a great experience shopping for a new bike.

  • HollywoodRider

    Pay cash and don’t finance. Cash = leverage.

    • Jun Song

      Not true if you are buying new. If you get dealer financing, the company actually makes more money from financing your bike. If you are getting external financing, the dealer gets paid in full anyway, so paying cash won’t provide any incentive for the dealer. The dealer will get their cut regardless. Probably more if you finance. Its called cost of debt, and that is a cost to you, and revenue for the dealer/company. The only way the company would prefer cash is if they want to keep the sales off the books, which is very highly unlikely for an official motorcycle dealer. Only works for shady places selling used bikes.

  • Benjamin Kuo

    I like how the first picture is Bert’s Mega Mall in West Covina. You are going to need that dealership virgin advice if you go there.

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  • Andrew

    Good deal or not…

    New 2013 Daytona 675r
    Out the door price (all in) $10,300
    This includes trade in of my 2000 Yamaha YZF R6 (Valued at $2000 for the trade in)

    Hi guys,

    I recently went to a dealer and followed many of the tips here. I didn’t, however, know about the prep fee and document fees. I was hoping some of you guys could tell me if these fees are required. The cost for prep fee/freight is $495 and the doc fee is $145. If it is a new bike, why can’t i opt out of having them prep or inspect? The salesperson claimed that the fee to freight and then set up and inspect the motorcycle had already been done when they receive the bike and that cost is non negotiable… I heard that in some states laws require dealers to do the prep and inspection and not doing it also voids the warranty… is this true?

    I realized that I wouldn’t get anywhere with negotiating those fees and instead turned to negotiating “out the door” price. I am new to riding and don’t know much about bikes, but I am curious to know if I got a good deal. I didn’t buy it yet, but the sales person called me back after I left and agreed to my price. Before I go back and sign anything I would love folks’ feedback.

    The bike is a 2013 Daytona 675r brand new. MSRP is $13,500. The out the door price we agreed on is $10,300. This includes my trade in. I have a 2000 yamaha YZF R6 with 17k miles on it. I paid $3k for it from a private seller 2 years ago and I think the going value for it now is between $2,000-$2,600. The oil filter hasn’t been changed this season and it will likely need new break pads and a front tire. The sales person said he’d let me trade in for $2,000 on that bike.

    Sorry for the long email, but this is a pretty big purchase for me and I want to know if this is a bargain or if I am getting duped. Typically, would I get a better value with more money down? or opt not to trade in and then sell the bike privately later? For 5 yr. financing the interest rate is roughly 2.4% is what the sales person told me.

    One thing I didn’t ask about is taxes… Now that I think about it they probably didn’t include that.

    Also is there a charge for a new inspection sticker and registration or is that covered within the Doc. fees?

    thanks for your input!