First of all, CONGRATS!!!!!!!! If you are reading this post, then you have most likely either signed up for MC course or have gotten your license!!!!!!! YOU DID IT!!!!!!!!!!!! There is no better feeling, right??
While more and more women are entering the motorcycle world, it can still feel very much like a 'man's world' when you are searching for a bike. We have ALL been where you are now - the nerves, the excitement, the feeling like you don't know what you are doing buying a motorcycle. You've GOT THIS!!!!!
Everyone you ask will offer their opinions. No offense to the men out there who tried to help me figure out what bike to get, but the "typical" response that I got was, "You don't want a bike that is too big." "Don't get anything over ____cc." "Stay away from ______ brand." Etc. (<-- men, don't go getting offended here. All the guys I talked to gave their advice with the best of intention, but being a newbie rider (literally), a lot of the details that I was told were in a foreign language and completely out of the realm of what I was knowledgeable, let alone comfortable with, knowing.
So here's my advice, ladies. Take it for what you want and feel free to ask questions. I have been there!!
1. Pick 3-4 dealers and just go SIT on bikes. Doesn't matter what dealer. Doesn't matter what kind of bike. Doesn't matter 'what size' bike. Doesn't matter the price. Just find a bike that appeals to you and sit on it. Does the bike 'feel' like a good size for you? Not the cc's or any of that - compare it to when you shop for a new bicycls - you know right away if the fit is 'ok', 'bad', or 'just off'. Same with motorcycles. Then ask yourself simple questions without doing anything else. Can you touch the floor with both feet when it is on it's kickstand? Can you reach the handlebars? Do your legs sit comfortably on the pegs/floorboards or are you straddling super wide and awkwardly to reach?
Helpful hint: If a sales person stops by and asks what you are looking for, tell them you are just sitting on bikes to see what appeals and then you will ask questions if you like something.
2. If it feels right, you can reach the floor with both feet, and comfortably reach the handlebars, then SLOWLY start to move the bike's kickstand off the floor - only like 1-2" at first. Don't lift with the intention of getting the bike fully upright. Go slow and pay attention as you start to lift the kickstand off the floor. As you start to tilt the bike upright (which YES, is scary and you will feel like every bike next to you will tip over .. but it won't if you go slow and pay attention to how it all feels. Don't try to look cool. Doesn't matter. You EARNED your motorcycle license - you have every right to sit on any bike you wish (within your physical abilities and limits). Ask yourself: Does it feel too heavy? Is it too hard to pick up? If not, tilt the bike a little farther upright (but leave the kickstand down no matter what), put your hands on the handlebars, feet planted firmly on the floor, and just move it back and forth a little. *Go back to thinking like you are shopping for a bicycle - does it 'feel right'? Was it hard to lift upright? It is hard to hold the bike fully upright (with the kickstand still down)? Once you tilt it all the way upright, does it feel like you are going to tip all the way to the other side? Take notes on how the bike feels. Take pictures. Soak it all in. Then find another bike, and do it all again. Then go to another dealer, and do it again. And again. Then, go back to the bikes that 'felt good' - and do it again. This is how you can narrow down your preferences, without having to understand or speak motorcycle jargon. Once you have dealer hopped and bike hopped, go back to 2-3 bikes that really strike you. Now that you have sat on a few bikes, shed some of the fear of tipping over every bike on the display floor, take more notes. Compare the feel, the weight, the height, the reach to the handlebars, the foot placement. Write down what you like and don't like.
3. THEN look at the details of the bike. Who makes the bike(s) that you felt the best on? What style of bike were they? (Dirt bikes, crotch rockets as I knew them then, or 'just cruiser styles')? Make note of the cc's of the bike, even if you don't understand what that means. Did any of the bikes fit in your price range? Were they new? Used? Take notes or at least take pictures. They will all blend together between the nerves of looking at bikes to the millions of styles of bikes.
*CC's explained - cc's are the engine size of the bike. The bigger the number, the more power there is to move the bike. CC's are often what people tell us to look for first - "Don't get a bike bigger than _____cc's" or "Don't get a bike that is less than _____ cc's". While engine size is important. it shouldn't be THE determining factor of purchase. Also, each style bike operates differently. Ie: A 'crotch rocket' (street bike) weighs less, so 600cc is quite big. Whereas a cruiser style bike is heavier and 600cc is relatively small. So heavier bikes take more cc's to move quickly. Light bikes take less cc's to move it. With that, if you intend to ride highways/freeways, you will want enough cc's to get you moving fast enough.
4. Once you find the bike that fits YOU, you will want to purchase it. Some dealers will let you test ride, others will not. I literally bought my first bike after just sitting on it and moving it back and forth on the showroom floor. I was terrified to ACTUALLY ride it off the lot. Especially in front of people. And into traffic. So I called my uncle to come and get it. I met him at his house and we rode out from there - waiting until it was not rush hour and he followed me for when I killed the clutch. Not in case I did, but when I did. Remember the car vs truck braking analogy? Well, your new bike clutch will feel different than the bike you passed your test on. This is neither good nor bad, it is simply something that you need to get the feel for by riding.
CONGRATS ON GETTING YOUR MOTORCYCLE LICENSE AND LOOKING FOR A BIKE!!!! And if you find a bike you love, even more CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!! Now it's time to ride and learn your new bike!!! Tips on that are up next!
My first bike was a Suzuki Boulevard M50, 800cc's. I picked it because it FELT GOOD. I could pick it up with confidence and control. It was well balanced. I felt in control just sitting on it. I had no clue what exactly 800cc's meant. For comparison, my next bike was a Victory Cross Roads, 1750cc's. Over twice as much 'engine'. They are similar in weight. They both feel great. My 1750cc can go faster speeds (highway/freeway) with less effort than my 800cc. But my 800cc could keep up with my friends 1600cc+ bikes just fine. I sometimes lagged for a minute, but overall, Suzi traveled 65,000 miles with friends who had 2x as many cc's as she did - and she was great for every mile!