You’re an outlaw and you know it. You have a vinyl jacker that kinda’ looks like a leather jacket, tattoos from your box of Count Chocula that will wash off in a couple of days, and you are packing a weapon (aka, your house keys). Plus, you’ve seen 1 1/2 episodes of "Sons of Anarchy" and secretly miss the show "Street Hawk." You’re straight-up biker. So it’s probably time to buy a ride instead of borrowing your friend’s moped when you need some wind in your face. But buying a motorcycle isn’t as simple as just picking out a color. We’ve done the research to get you started, so use this guide when you’re ready to buy a ride to stick between your legs.
What’s It All For?
No, this is not some ‘meaning of life’ discussion. You know us better than that. This is about what your bike will be used for. Maybe it’s just a weekend toy or a bi-yearly guy trip vehicle. Perhaps it’s a practical weekly mode of transportation — especially if you live in a traffic-laden city. You have to approach your purchase knowing what you want to do with it, because if you are rolling to your accountant job on a crotch rocket, you will be earning your douchebag nickname every single day.
Size does matter, despite what your high school girlfriend told you. Most manufacturers of bikes these days put height and weight specifics on their sites. Meaning, if you’re of Shaquille O’Neal stature, you won’t be riding the same bike a 5’2” dude would be mounting. A beginning biker usually likes to flat-foot it, which is the ability to sit on the bike and putting both feet flat on the road (or living room floor, if that’s how you roll). As you get more experienced, this is less of a requirement, but as many things in the biking world, it’s up to preference.
Makes and models vary, of course, and this also is a preference thing. There are some stellar makes out there and oftentimes it comes down to your needs and a little thing we like to call ‘a budget’. If you’re looking for a practical and cheap way to get back and forth to your drive-through window job, Yamaha offers a great selection. If you are looking to flaunt your cash and look semi-badass at the same time, a Ducati or Harley might be more your speed. Shopping around and test driving is the name of the game here.
Well, maybe not just ink, but with some cool tweaks, your bike can come around looking like a straight-up pimp. Spots like Tricked Out Custom Cycles can turn your bike into a honey-magnet in very little time. They’re not too many of these shops around, but if adding some bling to your ride is your cup of tea, it’s worth seeking them out. Not everyone can pull off the look of a bike painted like Spiderman, but anyone would look cool riding a hog with a naked mannequin built in.
Fact: people prostitute themselves for two things…smack and fuel. At least that’s what we’ve heard. While motorcycles are not the gas-drainers that their four-wheeled automobile cousins are, fuel is still pricey these days. Factoring in the size of tank and the economy of the system should come into play — unless you are a regular D-Trump. In our searches, we learned it can be difficult to really nail down the MPG of bikes, but a good site to help you in your fuel economy decision is here. And for a random picture of a chick in a thong on a motorcycle, go here.
We remember the days when wheels were, well, wheels. There are companies that will trick the shit out of your bike’s ponies and then some. While the actual tire — you know, the rubber part of the wheel — serves a purpose depending on your needs (dirt biking, speed, etc.), the guts of the wheel is mostly to say, “Hey, look at me!” And there is certainly nothing wrong with that. A few companies allow you to play around and see what your ride would look like with your specialty wheels before having to throw some cash down. We suggest something that looks like a throwing star. Because ninjas use throwing stars. And that’s bitchin’.
Stash ‘n Stuff
This is the ‘fanny pack’ portion of our discussion. Chances are you will need to carry something with you on your ride. A computer bag, firearm, thermos, whatever, but it just won’t fit in your pockets. Luckily, there are several nifty baggage accessories that can save you from having to ‘one-arm it’ — as they say in the biking game. We suggest saddlebags and tank bags, but some prefer other accessories. Just stay away from the Sissy Bar Bags. Yes, they are actually called that.