motorbikes buying your first one

motorcycling in this country is now at an all time high. the monthly new bike registration figures for the past couple of years have seen a continual increase. no longer are motorbikes considered to be poor man's transport. the image of bikers, too, is changing. no longer are they black leather clad invaders from another planet.

However, before you can even think about hitting the open road Easy Rider style you have to take some training. Whether you want a basic 125cc scooter, an all singing, all dancing chrome-laden Harley Davidson, or a Carl Fogarty race rep, if you haven't got a bike licence there's no way you can ride. All new riders, regardless of age and motoring experience, are required to undergo Compulsory Basic Training (CBT).

The idea of the CBT is to familiarise new riders with the way that a motorcycle behaves and how to ride safely. The course usually only takes a day and the first part is done away from public roads, leaving you free from the stresses of riding on the street.

Once new riders have their full licence, they're restricted to a bike with a power output of no more than 33bhp, for two years. However, if you are over 21 you can take your test on a much larger bike and go straight onto any size of bike, once you have gained your full licence. Though, you can still only ride machines up to 125cc while awaiting your test. This procedure is known as Direct Access (or DAS). As you can see, both your age and experience affect your choice of bike. Next you have to sit down and ask yourself some serious questions and be realistic with your answers.

What sort of riding are you planning on doing? If you are going to ride to work along crowded city streets a super scooter or naked bike, will be far more practical than a race replica sports bike. While a dirt bike may be great in the mud, is it going to be any good to you if you plan on regularly touring with a passenger?

You also need to be realistic about what you can ride and what you can afford. If you only passed your test a month ago, it would be lunacy to buy a 200mph Yamaha R1. After all, these machines are deigned to be ridden by seasoned riders, who have climbed the ladder of experience. Should you still decide to go ahead, and buy a bike like this could you then afford to insure it?

New riders are ably catered for thanks to manufacturers who have wised up to the market demands. The majority of the major bike makers now offer restrictor kits to reduce the power output of their mid-range machines below the 33bhp cut-off point for new licence holders. Okay, so now you have some idea of what style and size of bike you want. Set yourself a realistic budget, allowing for the cost of a helmet and any other ancillaries you may need. Now it's time to decide new or used.

Buy used and you can avoid the depreciation that affects new purchasers. Go through a dealer and you should still be able to get a warranty and full after sales services. Shopping around can un-earth some real bargains, as everyone clamours to buy the next new phenomena. Take the new route and there is the satisfaction that only comes from knowing you are the first person to ride that bike. You should also be able to benefit from discounted insurance schemes and a range of finance plans. Whatever bike you choose, the result will be hours of fun on the open road. So just get out and ride.