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Make the Right Choice on a New Bike the First Time Around

So you've decided you're ready to plunk down the bucks for a new bike. You drive out to go shopping and ask the dealer if you can test drive the model you're teetering on. You get a funny look, a casual 'Sorry,' or maybe just a horizontal shake of the head. Then you ask yourself, "If car dealers will let me go for a test ride, why won't this motorcycle dealer let me test ride the bike I'm interested in?"

Right/Above: For Sean Siem (right) of Ride West BMW , passing the keys over to a customer so they can demo a bike is a daily occurrence.

We recently queried every dealer in Puget Sound and found that only about half the dealers in the region will put the keys in your hand and allow you to test ride the bike before you buy. The primary reason for this is that insurance costs are far higher for a dealer when they allow customers to test ride their bikes before buying.

Your option is to buy the bike "ride unridden" (rhymes with sight unseen, don't ya think), or go to a dealer with demo bikes that allows test rides. I'll take the latter.

Of course the kind of test ride you can expect will vary. While there are dealers who will let you test ride a bike, it can range from taking it around the block, to having the bike for a full weekend.

Taking it around the block is cool. There's a lot you can figure out about a bike in course of just a few minutes onboard. How well you fit on it, how it handles and how fast it accelerates.

Getting it out for a weekend is a good thing too, but you're limited to only a few dealers who will allow you to pick the bike up on say Saturday night, and return it on Tuesday. Ask nicely and see if it's possible.

At the local Harley dealers who rent HD's ( Cycle Barn , Downtown , Eastside and Destination ) they will all happily rent you a bike for a few days and then rebate back the cost of the rental after you've made your purchase. This is an exceptional way to go, but are you limited to just Harley's?

Actually there is another alternative that will put you on a Honda, Harley, BMW or Triumph for days at a time. If the model you're interested is in their fleet, rent a bike from the folks at Mountain to Sound Motorcycle Adventures in Fall City and take the bike out for a few days. And although Mountain to Sound is not a dealer, they've worked it out withI-90 Motorsports to rebate a portion of your Honda or Triumph rental when you buy the same model through the Issaquah dealership. Sean Siem at Ride West BMW confirms the same if you're interested in any BMW MTSMA has that you rent.

In the Sound RIDER! Dealer directory we have made it easy for you to know who provides demo bikes by noting such under the sponsoring dealer listings. We hope you find this useful and it saves you a few phone calls.

Of course you can't just walk into a dealer and take off on a bike. In most cases you need to provide ID and proof of a motorcycle endorsement . You'll typically also need to provide proof of insurance and sign a waiver.  

A number of dealers will require that you go through the process of making your deal on the bike you want and get pre-approved for credit before allowing you to ride the bike. Why? Unlike the car business, motorcycle dealers don't have a gaggle of demos around. If you're serious about making a deal, they're just as serious about letting you test ride the bike before you buy.

Making the right choices when you're laying down thousands of dollars on a new bike is critical. I can't tell you how many people I've met along the way who traded in their new purchase because it was the wrong bike in the first place. That's a costly scenario; don't let it happen to you. SR!

PT/Summer 02


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