Buying New Motorcycles - Let's Make A Deal

Smart Buying And Insuring Tips

Buying new vehicles, motorcycles included, often ranks with a voluntary root canal and an IRS audit on the high-anxiety scale. But it shouldn't have to. Although the old-world, street-haggler barter method of buying a new bike is quickly outliving its usefulness, it's not in the grave yet. To keep from getting the rough end of the handgrip, you need to educate and prepare yourself for the ordeal.

Exploratory Shopping
Once you've narrowed your choices, read everything you can about them and research carefully. Just because a bike wins one of our plain-spoken comparisons doesn't mean it's the bike for you. Then visit local dealers. Your task is to see what's selling well and what's not, to see which bikes are in high enough demand that they sell for more than MSRP. Scan the floor for leftovers; often, you can really deal on a previous-year bike that's not much different than current spec.

Most importantly: Don't feel pressured to buy on the first visit. Make it clear to the salesmen that you're still considering your options and that even a today-only special price will not open your wallet. (We'd bet that "good-guy deal" will return when you do.)

Check With Your Insurance Carrier
What? It's too early to worry about that, right? Nope. You'd be surprised at the number of similar motorcycles that are put in very different risk categories, which then helps determine the premium.

Get Your Financing In Order
Occasionally, manufacturers will underwrite low-interest financing on slow-selling models and it's often advantageous to try this route. But it's generally a better deal to have financing in hand before you begin price negotiations. Remember, the dealer will be taking a piece of the financing, and the base rates are all pretty much the same, so you might as well cut out the middle man and pocket the extra points.

Try your local bank, but also consider some of the newest on-line lenders like E-Loan (www.e-loan.com), Giggo (www. giggo.com) and the Lending Tree (www. lendingtree.com). This is a rapidly growing field and many of these E-lenders are scrabbling for market share, which helps keep rates down and approvals up. You're in a stronger negotiating position if you've got cash and/or financing ready to go.

To Trade Or Not To Trade
Simple: Don't. To negotiate your best price you'll need to make the purchase a simple transaction. Don't make it complicated by trying to trade in an old bike, clear up its financing and so on. You are almost guaranteed to get more money for your old bike on the open market than from a dealer. If you can afford to take the hit on the difference between trade-in and open-market values, fine, but check the Kelley Blue Book (www. kbb.com) to see what your bike is really worth.

Cutting The Deal
So you've arrived at the dealership, bike of choice in mind, insurance carrier notified and ready to provide coverage, and have cash-in-hand-excellent. You know how popular your bike is and have scoured the local bike classifieds to see what kind of "out of the box" deals other places are offering. Pick the lowest number and start at least 15 percent below that as your initial volley. Almost certainly, this offer will be declined. Make it clear that you don't intend to spend all day negotiating and ask the salesman for his best counteroffer. If he's not willing to at least meet the best published sale price, you should inform him that there are better deals elsewhere and that you're about to be walking. Then do it.

Finalizing The Sale
Once you've come to an agreement on price, be extremely wary of add-ons that will hike the bottom line to a figure the salesman originally had in mind. As a rule, dealerships for Japanese motorcycles are reimbursed for set-up so don't agree to pay it on the contract. There's not much you can do about freight, taxes and licensing fees, but look carefully for clever additions and markups. Don't sign anything until the numbers reflect what you've negotiated and be ready to walk out the door at any time. Park your emotions! Once you've signed, you're on the hook; that document is a contract.

Finally, make it clear that if you're treated with respect during the sale you'll come back when you need new tires or a helmet. Over the life of the vehicle, the dealer stands to make a lot more on parts and service than on the original sale.

**Five ways to reduce your insurance costs
**1. Drive smart and don't get tickets. (Duh!)2. Shop rates-and let the brokers or insurers know you're doing this.
3. Consider so-called second-string bikes. Sure you want a GSX-R, but that Bandit will be a lot cheaper to insure.
4. Seek multivehicle discounts; many insurers will offer better deals if all your toys are covered by the same company.
5. Attend motorcycle training or safety classes. Many insurers offer a discount for graduates