How Not to Test Ride a Motorcycle: Five Mistakes People Make

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By John Burns

It seems like most non-Japanese dealers are up for offering at least short test rides, which are way better than no ride at all. But the advent of more motorcycle rental services means you have the opportunity now to give nearly any motorcycle you’re interested in a more thorough shakedown before you pull the ownership trigger. Ride-sharing companies like Twisted Road and Riders Share give you the chance to rent all kinds of bikes from their owners for a day or three. And now even Hertz is branching out into motorcycles (just BMWs for now), like EagleRider has been doing for years with Harleys – but now also a smattering of BMW, Ducati, Yamaha, etc… Having test-ridden more than our share over the years, here’s our best advice about how not to do it.

Mistake #1: Don’t do your research before you book your ride

Sometimes a shiny motorcycle that attracts your attention distracts you from things that are incompatible with your needs. If you live in the urban jungle, a 3.4-gallon gas tank might work, but if you live out in the sticks, filling up every day will get old. If you’re 5-feet-2, well, we’ve seen plenty of short people ride the wheels off huge adventure bikes – but a KTM 1290 Adventure with a 34-inch seat might not be your ideal everyday bike, if that’s what you’re after. Given that life is short even if you aren’t, and that renting a bike ain’t exactly cheap (ones you’d want to buy, anyway), go ahead and be honest with yourself about what will work for your intended purpose before you even book that rental. Road tests like the ones we do are a start; reading comparison tests …read more

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