How To Pick A Second Bike

There comes a time in every rider’s life when loving one motorcycle just isn’t enough anymore. A second — or even a third or fourth or fifteenth — is needed, just so we can feel whole. But, which one should you get? Here’s how to pick a second bike.

Background Photo by Chris Hunkeler

Kawasaki Ninja 300R

Start With Your First Bike

What do you ride now? Is it practical, everyday transportation or is it something ridiculous and impractical? If it’s the former, you likely want something a little more special to ride on high days and holidays. If it’s the latter, you probably want something that works all day every day and which won’t be stranded for months while you wait for some obscure part to make its way to your extraordinarily expensive mechanic all the way from Austria or Italy.

Or, do you have other needs? Do you want something so capable on long trips that you can’t ride it everyday in the city? Do you want to start getting dirty? What about racing or track days? Identify what it is that your first bike can’t do and think about what a second bike could add.

Honda CBR1000RR

Try And Eliminate Overlap

There’s no point going out and buying an 1199 if you already ride a CBR1000RR. With two bikes, you want to add breadth, not just expand your collection.

So let’s say you currently have that CBR1000RR. A great bike for hitting the canyons or track and even surprisingly capable of commuting or, with some small comfort modifications, maybe even some sport touring. But not so hot at carrying a passenger, sitting on the highway for days at a time or making a larger trip to the grocery store. So maybe a large sport tourer like a BMW R1200RT makes sense. Two bikes with widely divergent applicability equal a greater whole than bikes with overlapping roles.

Suzuki DR-Z400SM

The Economical Option

You’ve finally seen reason (likely after paying for your first valve adjustment) and realized a Ducati 1199 Panigale doesn’t make sense for the daily commute. Can you add a second bike and save money? Absolutely. Figure out your total annual mileage, then calculate the running costs on that Panigale. Higher mileage is going to require more tires, a higher insurance premium, more servicing and more depreciation. So, what if you slashed its mileage to weekends only? In some cases, the money saved will fund the purchase of a small motorcycle. Factor in whatever it is you’re paying your chiropractor for your Ducati-induced backpain and you can probably fund the purchase of a large motorcycle.

In this example, a small commuter will make the most sense. It’ll be faster, easier to ride and safer in city traffic, much more comfortable, achieve much greater fuel economy. And, honestly, something like a DR-Z400SM will just be a lot more fun, too.

Ducati 916 SPS

Buying With Your Heart

If you’re already pretty practical with your daily ride, then a second bike can be a great way to fulfill a lifelong dream. Have you always wanted to park a Ducati in your garage? Well, why not pick up the one that was in that poster on your bedroom wall when you were 13? A second bike is free from the need to start every time you push the button, so is a great opportunity to pick up something classic. Us? We’d much rather have a 916 SPS in our garage than the latest and greatest. Not only is doing so an easier financial pill to swallow, but it’s simply a much more special — and personal — purchase than simply swiping your credit card at ProItalia. It’s also one that will fill your nights and weekends with projects, something to which you can apply tender love and care too and something that will increase your knowledge of motorcycle mechanics and therefor help you more fully experience and enjoy all aspects of motorcycling. Plus, passing your Panigale-mounted friends on a classic just feels good.

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