There comes a time when one motorcycle just isn’t enough anymore. A second is needed. But, which one should you get? Here’s how to pick a second bike.
There comes a time in every rider’s life when loving one motorcycle just isn’t enough anymore. A second — or even a third or fourth or fifteenth — is needed, just so we can feel whole. But, which one should you get? Here’s how to pick a second bike.
Background Photo by Chris Hunkeler
Start With Your First Bike
What do you ride now? Is it practical, everyday transportation or is it something ridiculous and impractical? If it’s the former, you likely want something a little more special to ride on high days and holidays. If it’s the latter, you probably want something that works all day every day and which won’t be stranded for months while you wait for some obscure part to make its way to your extraordinarily expensive mechanic all the way from Austria or Italy.
Or, do you have other needs? Do you want something so capable on long trips that you can’t ride it everyday in the city? Do you want to start getting dirty? What about racing or track days? Identify what it is that your first bike can’t do and think about what a second bike could add.
Try And Eliminate Overlap
So let’s say you currently have that CBR1000RR. A great bike for hitting the canyons or track and even surprisingly capable of commuting or, with some small comfort modifications, maybe even some sport touring. But not so hot at carrying a passenger, sitting on the highway for days at a time or making a larger trip to the grocery store. So maybe a large sport tourer like a BMW R1200RT makes sense. Two bikes with widely divergent applicability equal a greater whole than bikes with overlapping roles.
The Economical Option
You’ve finally seen reason (likely after paying for your first valve adjustment) and realized a Ducati 1199 Panigale doesn’t make sense for the daily commute. Can you add a second bike and save money? Absolutely. Figure out your total annual mileage, then calculate the running costs on that Panigale. Higher mileage is going to require more tires, a higher insurance premium, more servicing and more depreciation. So, what if you slashed its mileage to weekends only? In some cases, the money saved will fund the purchase of a small motorcycle. Factor in whatever it is you’re paying your chiropractor for your Ducati-induced backpain and you can probably fund the purchase of a large motorcycle.
In this example, a small commuter will make the most sense. It’ll be faster, easier to ride and safer in city traffic, much more comfortable, achieve much greater fuel economy. And, honestly, something like a DR-Z400SM will just be a lot more fun, too.
Buying With Your Heart
If you’re already pretty practical with your daily ride, then a second bike can be a great way to fulfill a lifelong dream. Have you always wanted to park a Ducati in your garage? Well, why not pick up the one that was in that poster on your bedroom wall when you were 13? A second bike is free from the need to start every time you push the button, so is a great opportunity to pick up something classic. Us? We’d much rather have a 916 SPS in our garage than the latest and greatest. Not only is doing so an easier financial pill to swallow, but it’s simply a much more special — and personal — purchase than simply swiping your credit card at ProItalia. It’s also one that will fill your nights and weekends with projects, something to which you can apply tender love and care too and something that will increase your knowledge of motorcycle mechanics and therefor help you more fully experience and enjoy all aspects of motorcycling. Plus, passing your Panigale-mounted friends on a classic just feels good.
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Ridden off-road yet? It’s probably the most fun you can have on two-wheels. And if you already have a street ride, it’s a great way to add fun and adventure to your life while actually increasing safety — speeds off-road are substantially lower than on-road and there’s no cops or other cars to worry about. Unless you already have a truck, we’d suggest picking up a dual-sport. Doing so will vastly increase the areas available for you to ride in while giving you the ability to get to the trails without the need for a trailer or hitch mount (although those are great ideas). Our favorite dirt bike of the moment is the KTM 350 EXC-F, but bewarned, it’s not a happy camper on asphalt. The used bike market for dual sports is also vast and starts at very low prices, so this is a second bike option for virtually anyone.
Want to see what lies over the horizon? If the bike you have now isn’t very distance capable, then we’d suggest checking out one of the big sport tourers or an ADV bike. The two classes share many of the same capabilities, but the tall, upright riding position of an Adventure machine is often even more comfortable while facilitating greater vision and control. If you’re on a budget, just shop for a used Suzuki V-Strom 650. That’s one of the most comfortable bikes out there, it’s totally capable of hauling luggage and a passenger and returns great fuel economy, solid reliability and has cheap running costs to boot. It’s not the prettiest bike on the block, but if your main bike is something sportier, that won’t matter.
Any bike that’s not being used regularly should be plugged into a trickle charger such as a Battery Tender. Depending on how rarely you’re using it, you also want to avoid flat spotting the tires, which means it should live on bike stands and maybe even under a bike cover if it’s outdoors or if you just don’t want it getting dusty in your garage.
If you ride something fancy, you may even find that adding a second bike could reduce your insurance premiums. Call your insurer to find out how much the reduced mileage on your more expensive bike might save you.
You should also consider beefing up your garage security if you’re leaving something valuable in there while you’re off riding something else. Ground Anchors, chains and alarms (either area or on the bike) are all a good idea as are stronger locks and deadbolts on the door.
If you’re on a budget, also factor in the cost of additional riding gear. If all you have right now is a one-piece race suit and you want to get a dirt bike, you’ll need all-new equipment.
What bike would you choose for that second spot in your garage?