Buying a motorcycle from a dealer

Buying a motorcycle from a dealer requires research, including knowing your budget, the type of bike you want to buy, and where you want to buy the bike. Some dealers will let you test drive bikes and provide a motorcycle history report to help you make a decision. Some dealers will also offer financing options and incentives to close the deal.

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How to buy a motorcycle from a dealer

  1. Determine which bike you want

    Before buying a motorcycle from a dealer, it's a good idea to identify the motorcycles that fit your needs. While you don't have to settle on a specific make and model, it's helpful to determine the type of motorcycle, the features that are most important to you, and a price that matches your budget.

  2. Find a dealer

    Research the motorcycle dealerships in your area. You can start your research by browsing dealership websites. Find a dealership that offers the type of motorcycle you want while also considering the dealership's online reviews. Finding a dealership with a strong reputation for customer service and quality motorcycles gives you the best chance of a rewarding buying experience.

  3. Visit the dealership

    Once you've found a dealership, visit the dealership in person. This gives you the opportunity to browse the dealership's selection, speak with sales associates, and zero in on the motorcycle you want to buy. This part of the buying process might require multiple visits if you need more time to consider your options.

  4. Negotiate terms and conditions

    After finding the motorcycle you want to buy, negotiate the terms and conditions of the purchase, including financing if you choose not to or are unable to pay for the motorcycle in full. Terms to be negotiated include the price, loan term, down payment, and interest rate.

  5. Complete the sale

    The final step in buying a new or used motorcycle at a dealership is submitting all the necessary documentation. This often includes legal identification, proof of residence, proof of income, credit reference, and financing pre-approval documents. Check with your dealer for specific requirements.

Pro tip:

Shop around for motorcycle financing. Having a few quotes will give you some negotiating power if the dealer doesn't initially offer terms that align with your budget.

Tips for buying a new motorcycle from a dealer

Research insurance costs

When you’re buying a new motorcycle from a dealer, you can get a motorcycle insurance quote for the bike you’re considering before buying it. Two motorcycles may cost the same to buy, but one might cost significantly more to insure. Also consider what type of motorcycle insurance coverages and limits you’ll need to carry. Adding the cost of motorcycle insurance to your monthly payments will help you more accurately determine whether a new motorcycle is within your budget.

Ask questions

The sales associates at the dealership are there to help you make a purchase. It's a good idea to ask them questions about motorcycles that interest you. In addition to being familiar with motorcycle features, they often have personal insight or experience with a certain type of bike. Tap into their knowledge to make a more informed decision.

Take a test ride

If possible, take the motorcycle for a test ride. Some dealerships don't allow test rides, but if they do, it's a great way to familiarize yourself with the motorcycle's features and fit for your riding style. If the dealership doesn't allow test rides, you should still sit on the bike to get a sense of its size, comfort, and fit.

Tips for buying a used motorcycle from a dealer

Prepare to negotiate

When you're buying a used motorcycle from a dealer, knowing how to negotiate can help you save money. Be sure to research the makes and models of the motorcycles you're interested in. Consult commonly accepted sources of value like Kelley Blue Book, NADA, or Edmund's to find acceptable price ranges. Then make an offer that's reasonable and can be supported with these sources and any information you consider relevant to the purchase. Be prepared to make several offers before coming to a price that both parties will agree on.

Research the motorcycle's history

Ask the dealer for a vehicle history report using the motorcycle's VIN number. The report may include:

  • Previous owners
  • Service history
  • Accident history
  • Odometer reading
  • Motorcycle inspections
  • Title discrepancies

A vehicle history report gives you insight on the reliability of the bike and could raise red flags if you're skeptical of previous ownership or damage to the motorcycle. Learn about buying a used motorcycle versus a new motorcycle.

How to insure your new bike

Nearly every state requires motorcycle liability coverage to legally ride your new motorcycle. If you're buying your first motorcycle or need a refresher, find out your state's motorcycle insurance requirements and minimum liability limits. If you’re financing or leasing your bike, your lender typically requires motorcycle comprehensive insurance and motorcycle collision coverage. Learn more about how motorcycle insurance works and what motorcycle insurance covers.

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