World Motorcycle Day: Choosing The Perfect Motorcycle

Which motorcycle should you buy? Seemingly straightforward question, and should have a simple answer, isn’t it? But choosing the right motorcycle may not have a simple and straightforward answer as many of us would like to believe. Many of us look for the “perfect motorcycle” when considering a new bike, but it’s easier said than done when it comes to choosing the right bike for your needs, riding skills and experience. Before you go shopping for your dream bike, you should have some clarity on what you expect to do with your motorcycle, what kind of riding you will be doing, and most importantly, how much you’re willing to spend, while purchasing the bike, as well as maintenance and cost of ownership.

Choosing the perfect bike is not as simple as it sounds

These may seem like fairly simple things to consider. But then you have to keep in mind the various options available in the market at your budget, and that is when things could get quite confusing. But is there such a thing as the perfect motorcycle? Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you consider going shopping for your dream motorbike.

A small commuter motorcycle is easy on the pocket, with good fuel economy, but will not offer exciting performance


The first thing to consider is how much you’re willing to spend on your motorcycle. And cost doesn’t always mean how much you’re willing to shell out upfront and pay the rest in comfortable monthly instalments. Things like fuel consumption, cost of ownership, service and spares expenses are equally important, apart from the on-road price of the bike. Today, you can easily walk into any motorcycle showroom, and get your dream bike financed. But are you ready to live with the expenses after you get your bike? Consider this – many premium bikes of 650 cc and above are available at easy finance options. But are you aware of how much insurance will cost every year, apart from regular service costs?

Buying a premium motorcycle is easy these days with easy finance options, but be prepared for cost of ownership as well

A small-ish commuter bike may not be hard on your pocket, but if you’re looking at the premium spectrum of bikes, it will be a good idea to do some research and figure out how much it will cost to live with a particular model. A premium 650-900 cc motorcycle can easily cost as much as a car to service, and replacement of normal wear and tear parts like tyres, chain and sprocket sets, and even a broken clutch or brake lever could be more than what you bargained for initially. And then, there could be the issue of how much fuel consumption you expect from your motorcycle. A small 125 cc bike may be easy between refills, but different bikes will offer different performance, different features, as well as different riding experiences. And fuel costs will go up many times over if you consider buying a multiple cylinder 800-1000 cc bike.

The size and weight of the motorcycle should be considered depending on how and where you want to use your bike

Size and Weight

The size and weight of a motorcycle will go a long way in making your riding experience enjoyable. Depending on your height and build, you should choose a motorcycle which will be easy to handle. For example, if you’re a six foot plus giant, then a small 110 cc scooter, or a 110 cc motorcycle may not have the performance or the ergonomics to make riding it a pleasurable experience. Similarly handling a big adventure bike off-road may not be very enjoyable if you are uncomfortable at crawling speeds, or if you don’t have the height or build to handle one.

A big heavy cruiser may not be the ideal choice for the day to day commute within the city

A big heavy cruiser may be easier to handle, owing to the low seat height and low centre of gravity, but you should be prepared to handle a motorcycle weighing close to 300 kg, particularly when you have to park at tight spots and need to manoeuvre it in busy traffic. The size of the motorcycle, and its weight should be something you should keep in mind, and compare with your own build and height to make riding the bike enjoyable, every single time you step out.

A top-of-the-line 200 bhp superbike may be overkill if you’re not going to use it to its potential on a racetrack occasionally

Power and Performance

Choosing a bike with the right power and performance matters a lot. Period. That also depends on your riding experience and skills. Unlike Europe, in India, anyone with a two-wheeler driving licence can walk into a showroom and walk out with a 200 bhp superbike. But do you have the requisite skills to handle such performance, when a wrong twist of the wrist can make things go very wrong, very quickly. Again, if you will be looking at covering long distances, even in and around the city, and mostly with a pillion on board, a 150-160 cc motorcycle may be more suited for such duties, rather than a small 100 cc bike, or scooter.

A purpose-built off-road bike may not have many practical advantages for everyday usage in the city


It will also depend on the kind of riding you expect to do on your motorcycle. Sure, if you’re passionate about all kinds of motorcycles, any motorcycle will give you joy and enjoyment. But if you were to choose just one motorcycle for all your needs, you will need to narrow it down to what you expect to do with your motorcycle. Any flashy chrome-lade cruiser, a big litre-class superbike, a muscular naked roadster, or a burly adventure bike will get you appreciative and envious glances on the street. But getting a 200 bhp superbike, just to potter around town, or the occasional Sunday breakfast ride may not be the ideal companion if you’re looking at taking it to roads less travelled, over the course of a multi-day journey to the high mountains.

A big, burly adventure bike may not be ideal to go grocery shopping with, if you’re not going to use it for the purpose its designed for

Similarly, getting a dual-sport adventure bike for your daily commuting needs may be overkill, if you have no intentions of heading out on a two-wheeled adventure, over hundreds of kilometres on the highway and over some gravel trails. Unless of course, your idea of a two-wheeled adventure is going grocery shopping on your big adventure bike. Then again, a chrome-laden heavy cruiser with a rumbling air-cooled v-twin engine may be your choice in terms of aesthetics and styling, and of making a statement of being the badass biker boy. But if you will be primarily riding in bumper to bumper traffic, a big heavy cruiser may not be the ideal chains and black leather persona you would enjoy having. You will be left saying “I’ll be back” sooner than you think, when you have to muscle a big mass of metal on a hot summer day, and also brace for engine heat from a big-displacement, air-cooled engine.

Taking a test ride of a motorcycle before buying is a good idea. Finally, it boils down to how you feel personally about the bike you will be using

Riding Experience

Finally, the choice of a motorcycle will depend on the seat of the pants feel. No amount of reading reviews and comparing specifications and prices can hold a candle to how you, the rider, feel when you ride your motorcycle. The perfect motorcycle will be one which will meet all your riding needs, match the level of your riding skills and experience, and make you a better rider. At the same time, it’s always a good idea to look for safety equipment, like disc brakes, and ABS. There is no tailor-made perfect motorcycle for everyone.

An adventure bike may offer versatility but it’s heavy, bulky and powerful to overwhelm new riders

What you feel when you ride a motorcycle is a very personal experience, and that is what primarily will be the deciding factor to narrow down on the near-perfect motorcycle for your requirements. Unless you’re like my friend who has at least half a dozen motorcycles in his garage, each going through various levels of customisation and modification to be tailor-made to his personal requirements.

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