New riders shouldn't purchase anything but a beginner bike unless they'd like to prematurely test their gear.
Not all salesmen are sharks, but remember, they're all in the business of moving bikes.
Take a stand against power mode mythology. A button won't turn a beast into a baby.
"Stand back son and let me show you how to give it hell."
The idea is to work down from the MSRP, not negotiate down the odd fees attached to it.
Some Sportbike Salespeople have been classified as sharks, swindlers, commission mongers, professors of squidology and pushers of premature insurance claims, but is that a gross misjudgment? A veteran rider is quick to spot an outrageous showroom claim but the new rider is easily deaf to anything but the excitement of buying a first bike. For every solid sales speech there is one so far off the wall that a newbie may just buy into it. Entering the world of sportbikes is a beautifully dangerous undertaking and the way one learns the ropes will ultimately decide whether or not they progress past that first bike. SSB went undercover to find out firsthand what dealerships were telling those they thought to be fresh to the scene with money to burn.
We visited five dealerships—from large to mom-and-pop—peppered throughout Los Angeles. At each, we kept an open ear for sales conversations and acted as prospective buyers with meager knowledge about motorcycling. With the goal of getting the lowdown on what a newbie encounters when the blinding excitement of hitting the street meets the reality of buying an entry steed, we set off. The names of the infiltrated were omitted for legality reasons but each editor dropped onto sales floors and swallowed whatever was spewed. Here were the worst offenders we recorded. Try not to vomit.
** **Dave: On a trip to a major dealer and gear retailer, my attention turned to a used Yamaha R1 with aftermarket wheels and a high price tag due in part to exorbitant dealer prep charges. I pulled a salesman aside for more information. He looked at me and without mentioning the wheel’s brand name said they were “really expensive and for performance.” I asked for the specifics and with a blank stare he asked me to wait a moment while he grabbed a second and third opinion. The other salespeople offered no further insight but did butcher the Carrozzeria name in an attempt to answer the question. The mystery wheels were actually Performance Machine, but they weren’t aware of that. I then noticed the throttle stuck even though the sticker price included an expensive “dealer prep” fee that was supposed to assure the bike was entirely road worthy. At this point I had enough and headed for the exit.
Sean: On a Saturday afternoon, I approached a salesman in regards to purchasing my first bike. I made it clear that I had no riding experience but liked the way sportbikes looked. After discussing what felt the most comfortable he brought me out to a recently traded-in 2008 GSX-R750 that would be the “perfect bike for me.” It came equipped with a full Yoshimura exhaust, Power Commander and Pazzo levers (quickly toting the high price but hesitantly pronouncing the brand name). Repeatedly, he expressed the benefits of using, “what they call an A, B, C switch” for its ability to “clip the nuts off the bike,” until I was ready for full power. He gave me absolute reassurance that this was the bike to start on for the room it left its rider to grow. We then made our way back into the showroom where he pointed out R6s to GSX-R1000s as if fishing for where my eyes would light up brightest. That is when I asked about the brand new S1000RRs sitting on the wall. I saw a steaming pile of BS fall from his lips and transform into words at that moment: “An S1000 is actually better than a 600 for a beginner because all of the electronics. It will slowly feed in the power on lower modes and all the California Superbike School instructors teach their new riders on this bike—it’s just expensive.”
I left shortly after.
Justin: On a recent trip to the local dealer I had the unfortunate pleasure of watching a complete newb walk in for a Ninja 650 and ride away (barely) on a new R1. I listened to him tell the salesman how “tight” he thought the 650 was after reading about it, but when the salesman didn’t reassure him about his choice, the newb replied with, “Alright, where’s the baddest bike in here then?” The salesman pointed to the R1 and said, “The R1 is tough to beat and Yamaha is running special financing on it,” and the buyer instantly jumped for the deal without even asking about the sticker price. Once the salesman started the bike and let the guy rev it to the moon, it was game over. On my exit, I witnessed the new R1 owner wobbling and stalling his way through the parking lot. He got halfway out before precariously teetering on the downward slope leading onto the road only to give up and park it on the curb. He eventually perched atop the saddle, ensuring that he looked cool and phoned for help.
**Making It Out Alive
** Outrageous claims ran rampant in our handful of trips to dealerships and often diluted any sound advice that was handed out. Clearly, new riders are being force fed misinformation about drive mode technology, the basic skills required to safely pilot a sportbike and general aftermarket part follies. The idiocy behind buying a S1000RR right off the bat or using power modes as a crutch is the reason insurance rates are so high and wrecked bikes litter Craigslist.
So what is a green-behind-the-gear motorcycle virgin looking for his or her first streetbike to do? Take “cool” out of the equation and learn to ride on one of the many entry-level models out there before thinking about a big boy. For some, a Ninja or CBR 250R is the smartest starter and for others it is a 600, either way the most important part of surviving on the street is becoming comfortable with the basics. Trust us, even on a 250 a new rider will find themselves dodging danger and ducking close calls brought on by other motorists and mistakes. Do your research and take advice from unbiased riding vets. Don’t be swayed by the lunacy spewed from some salesmen who explain the ins and outs of RPM bandwidth, Car-o-gerria wheels, power switches and Gucci brake lines.
3 TYPES OF SALESPEOPLE TO AVOID
The Uneducated Know-It-All
Warning Signs: Unwillingness to accept corrections, turning opinion into fact, backing up statements with stories regurgitated from his racing buddy.
Reason to Avoid: Nothing informative or helpful comes from speaking with a person who throws logic and reason out the window so take your money elsewhere.
Encountered By: Dave
The Misinformed Teclker
** **Warning Signs: Over-emphasizing electronics’ ability to save riding errors, assuring low mode detunes a literbike to a 600, making extremely vague statements about how a feature works.
Reason to Avoid: Features like TC, ABS and power modes are there to make experienced riders even safer. They are not an excuse for rider laziness or to be used as handicaps.
Encountered By: Sean
The Death Dealer
** **Warning Signs: Changing buyer’s focus to a more expensive and faster alternative, underselling power as manageable, vocalizing top speed numbers, describing bikes as, “badass,” “fast” and “cool.”
Reason to Avoid: You wouldn’t start driving with a Ferrari so why would you take up riding on something faster? This person cares nothing about your safety.
Encountered By: Justin
**Bike Buying Myths & Considerations
** - You can’t turn a 1000 into a 600 with mode switches.
- Aftermarket parts are not a major selling point or reason to pay much more for a used bike.
- Used motorcycles aren’t necessarily in fine working order no matter what the dealer prep fee alludes to. Private parties have been known to purchase wrecked bikes, repair them to appear stock and sell them to unaware dealerships.
- Insurance on a 1000 is significantly more than a 600. Consider that when budgeting for a bike. Also, don’t forget to add the price of proper gear into the equation.
- Don’t buy into the notion that, “The bike is only as fast as you make it go.” Wrong. Without learning proper throttle control it’s much easier to get into a serious accident on a literbike with 75 percent more power than a 600.
- Look for outside financing through a bank or credit union for lower APRs but don’t just buy a bike because you can afford the payments—make sure you’re not paying $15K for a new 600.
- Be willing to travel outside of your area for a good deal. Just because a dealership is the only game in town doesn’t mean you’re stuck buying from it.