Motorcycle Shopping - Pre-Owned Travelers

We know it. Most people who are shopping for a motorcycle aren't checking new-bike road tests and visiting showrooms. They're looking at eBay and the local classified ads. For every new bike sold, several used bikes change hands. The reason is obvious: Used bikes are significantly more affordable than new ones and-if you can accept a little wear and tear-much better bargains.

Of course, shopping for a used motorcycle is fraught with challenges. Not only do you forgo the easy financing and comprehensive warranties available with new-bike purchases, but you also have to inspect your potential candidates and make some mechanical judgments. Even the simple test ride has its perils. Some sellers may be rightfully reluctant to let you ride their bikes, and if you do and crash, are you covered? See the accompanying sidebar for one solution to the test-ride dilemma.

We can't help you inspect the particular motorcycle you're looking at, but we can tell you which models we recommend. We have had the chance to ride almost everything out there. We have definite opinions about which ones work best, and we can balance that against used prices. We also have some idea of what problems crop up after bikes are ridden home for the first time. As a group, we tend to favor function over flash, and our choices reflect motorcycles that are meant to be ridden.

For this issue, the Cruiser staff picked which touring-oriented cruisers we'd buy used if it were our own money. The minimum standard equipment required here were a windshield and saddlebags, but the chosen bike could have much more. The bikes could be anything from a V-Star 650 to an Electra Glide Ultra Classic-we just had to pick what we consider good bang for the used-bike buck. Our brief was to shop as if we planned to travel on the bike and the money was coming out of our own pockets.