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How To: Choose your first motorcycle

How To: Choose your first motorcycle
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Nothing can replace the feeling of wind in your hair when riding a motorcycle. So, I decided to turn off the electric fan and check one out IRL. Aside from simply asking “Is this Megan Fox’s bike on Transformers,” here are other factors I was told to consider that I want to share with all you soon-to-be first-time bike owners.


125 cc (Beginner’s pick!)

Start small to avoid a great fall—and a broken leg—from riding on a superbike that ends up driving you. The 125cc is the smallest engine size available; no need for a full license to drive it. It’s also cheaper to run and easier to insure. Being low on power, however, means it’s a no-no on EDSA and rugged travels.

But I was assured I won’t look like a wuss because 125s come in all shapes and sizes. So, even that Paul Sr. look-a-like lording the road over could just be on a 125cc. We’ll never know for sure. And I’m certainly not asking.


More speed, power, and responsiveness leads to more fun. This type is very easy to find and gives you bang for the buck if you’re a more confident rider. A 250cc can be your companion even after you break out of level one.

Above 250cc

Beginners are also allowed to ride the superbikes—but only inside the showroom and only for photo-ops. It’s customary to wait two years after your first bike to make the leap onto a superbike. See you in 2015!



Cruisers (Beginner’s pick!)

These are lean with lower seats for a more comfortable riding position. Since they’re more streamlined, they’re the most common bikes I’ve seen appearing out of nowhere whenever I cross the street. So, I guess this is the bike for whirling around Manila’s cramped streets.


These bikes are more robust, with windshields, compartments, higher seats, and larger wheels. As the name implies, this is the kind of bike to be on for epic journeys. They’re also bigger on the budget, and the weight could make it harder for a beginner to control. It’s still the Cruiser for me then. The only “touring” I do is from home to work anyways.

Sports Bike

We all wanted superbikes since Shaider first appeared in our TV screens. But if I remember right, we were advised not to try that at home. It’s so unfair that after growing up, a beginner still needs to wait two years to own a superbike. Perhaps that’s just the right timeframe to amass super skills and super cash.



Japan brands (Beginner’s pick!)

Speaking of Shaider, all the action-hero TV shows of our childhood are enough to prove that the Japanese is the bike producer to beat. Best bite into top brands (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha) for street cred and easily replaceable parts.

Burly brands

Japan brands are great, but not all of them could achieve the badass factor that riding a Ducati or a Harley-Davidson brings. Maybe that’s why these big bikes cost extra to purchase and maintain.

China brands

There’s always a third option: China bikes! The Chinese have perfected the art of making everything and anything, and selling them at really cheap prices. If you’re going to buy a “Made in China” motorcycle, best choose a model inspired from other international brands for parts replacements.

Words Elaine Cotoner

First published in Speed August 2013

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