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How to buy first motorcycle

Categories: How To. Lists. Expert Advice

“Enough” is a rarely used word in motorcycling. Most of us wish we had a stable of motorcycles, each one in a different color and unique from the rest. I’ll never have enough, but many things limit my motorcycle count. The most restraining factor being money. So, if you’re onto your second, third, tenth, or just your first motorcycle, here are some insider tips and tricks for getting the best deal on your next new-bike purchase.

In our first installment, we sat down with a dealer friend to get the ins and outs of new motorcycle sales. A secret world of tricks and techniques you may not know about unless you worked at a dealership.

We featured a price break down of where our insider's dealership makes its money and how you can benefit. Here, we’ll examine the dealer ranking system and how to find the right dealer. Our third piece will list simple tips—like the best day to buy and the best things to do before stepping foot on a showroom floor. Also, don't forget to tell us your experience with buying motorcycles in the comment section below.

Remember, these are generalized tips and not the end-all, be-all in buying a new motorcycle—every dealership is different, these are just what we've found to be the most common amongst most US dealers. For more tips on buying a motorcycle read:

Find the Right Dealer

“We all pay the exact same thing for [motorcycles],” said our anonymous insider. It comes down to how every dealer runs his or her own business. There’s the big shots, with gigantic inventory. Then there’s the little guys.

“Sometimes you may have a dealership with two employees, and one is the owner,” said the insider. “They can sell at cost and live off the hold-back checks, because he has little overhead. I can’t do that every time.”

Ways Dealers Make

Money - Hold-Back Checks

Dealers, of course, make a profit off of the difference in the cost of a bike and how much it's sold for, but that’s not the only way. Another way is a hold-back check, which can be small, so don’t assume these alone make a dealer profitable.

A hold-back check is from a manufacturer to the dealer on every unit they have. They’ll get this after a sale. The salesman does have the option to take the hold-back check into account on the sale, but they rarely seize that.

In one instance, our insider said, “I’ll just blow the hold-back check to screw over my competition.” But, “It all depends on where I’m at. If I lose $1,000 just because they came from that dealer, I’ll do it.” (We'll get to the dealer competition and ranking in just a moment.)

You can fight on the fees and the price with a salesman. “I’ll sell five [motorcycles] for nothing and make a killing on three,” said our insider. Dealers make money in many ways, not just from the profit made on a sale, but through rankings, incentives and hold-back checks.

“The more I order, the cheaper the interest rates I get on floor orders too,” said our insider. “It’s a big gambit.”

So know that a sale is a sale, even if the profit may not appear that high. You'd always prefer to deal with a salesman or dealer who is anxious to make a sale.


The biggest thing you can look for in a dealer is honesty. Recently on shopping for a new car, a salesman lied about the incentives. I mentioned a “friends and family,” discount. He immediately said, “Oh, well ignore the incentives than, you’ll get a better deal with your discount.” Wrong. The discount I mentioned was only included after the manufacturer and dealer incentives, not one or the other.

Category: Taxes

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