If you’re thinking about buying a motorbike, make sure you know the basics to enjoy a smooth ride.
There’s something cool about motorcycles. The image of winding over the roads with the wind on your skin is much more appealing than the thought of being stuck in a car.
Motorcycles are growing in popularity here with more dedicated events catering to enthusiasts, such as the Custom Show UAE, Emirates Bikes Festival and International Motor Show.
If you’re considering ditching that sedan for a motorcycle or just want something to cruise around on during the weekends, here are some things to keep in mind before hitting the road.
Choosing the right model
There are certain factors to consider when deciding to purchase a motorcycle.
“First, you have to ask yourself, ‘What kind of motorcycle do I want to go for?’ – and the main question is on-road or off-road,” explains Kleine Thomas, who’s been riding motorcycles for 36 years.
“There are many types of motorcycles and brands around so familiarise yourself with each to help in your decision-making.”
Having a clear idea about the type of roads you’ll likely be riding on will help determine the kind of motorcycle that best suits your needs.
On-road bikes are suited to straight, paved, well-maintained roads, while off-road bikes are more adept at handling rugged surfaces such as those in deserts and wadis. The bikes best suited for this purpose include touring bikes, sportsbikes, cruisers, choppers and café racer models.
For off-road driving, dirt bike models are recommended.
For Kleine, it’s all about the BMW R1200 GS Adventure: “This bike offers, at least from my point of view, the widest variety regarding the ride itself; you can go on and off road, and travel short and long distances easily.
“For me, this is the perfect bike for the UAE and Oman, but I’m sure there are many people with different opinions around.
“On top of that, after doing one bike trip to the Himalayas and another trip to Bhutan, I fell in love with the Royal Enfield and bought a second bike; this one is mainly to do a coffee ride in the city.”
Buying a bike
The majority of the big motorcycle brands have showrooms in the UAE where prospective buyers can choose from different models.
Prices of course will vary depending on the model, brand name and whether the bike is new or second-hand.
“In case you go for a bigger bike, bear in mind that this can easily cost up to AED 100,000 if you add special parts here and there,” Kleine notes.
If you’re on a tighter budget, pre-owned bikes are not difficult to find in the UAE and there are showrooms and websites that sell used models for a lower cost.
“On Dubizzle you can find used bikes for very reasonable prices,” Kleine suggests.
“For example, I sold my old BMW 2009 model at the start of the year for AED 25,000. It was around AED 80,000 when I bought it new ten years ago. The same bike is around AED 42,000 if you sell it second-hand in Germany.”
He adds: “I think prices for used bikes are very reasonable in the UAE. So if the bike is well-maintained, go for a used one.”
Of course, there are pros and cons to buying both new and used motorcycles. Purchasing a new one means you own a bike that has never been used, making it mechanically and aesthetically flawless, but naturally this comes with a much higher price tag.
On the plus side, new bikes bought directly from the manufacturer will be covered by warranty, meaning you can bring your motorcycle to the dealer for maintenance work.
Purchasing a pre-owned model, meanwhile, means you will be paying less, which could be a more practical option for people who are just getting into riding.
If purchasing a second-hand bike, be diligent: Ask the previous owner about the bike’s history, mechanical condition and modifications.
Seeking the help of an experienced and trusted mechanic will also be helpful when assessing the bike.
The industrial area of Mussafah is home to many maintenance shops. Again, be diligent in finding a reputable mechanic or ask other riders for recommendations to make sure you’re dealing with a trusted workshop.
Enjoying the ride
For many, riding a motorcycle is a social activity where bikers come together to share their passion.
If you’re new to Abu Dhabi or are purchasing your first bike, there are some great groups for you to join such as UAE Adventure Riders and Hawks MC.
“Facebook is a good place to search, plus you’re always certain to meet like-minded people in bike workshops,” Kleine says.
Joining a group, however, is not necessarily a requirement and some riders prefer to ride solo or in small groups.
“For serious rides, I prefer to be with a group of four people at most. Harley groups like to ride in bigger groups with 20 or 30 people. This might be a very social event, but makes the ride itself a bit more complicated.”
Whether riding solo or in a group, be sure to stick to designated areas. Avoid entering private property, nature reserves, beaches and military areas as these are off-limits to motorists in general and take note of any signs that prohibit motorcycles.
Other than that, Kleine says riding a motorcycle in the UAE is a smooth experience overall, thanks to the great weather and safe roads.
“My advice to fully enjoy the ride is to take some buddies with you, wear safety gear, plan ahead to find nice locations and take regular stops on the road to have coffee or chai with your buddies or the locals,” Kleine adds.
“It’s all about enjoying the moment and making a connection with your surroundings and the people around you.”
Getting your licence
If you already have a motorcycle licence from your home country, you can convert it here without having to take lessons.
However, this is not applicable to all nationalities so be sure to check if you qualify or will need to apply for a new one.
Emirates Driving Company offers courses that cover basic knowledge about the vehicle, traffic laws, safety and risk assessment.
Always keep yourself protected against accidents and injuries by following these precautions…
Be alert: “You have no airbag, no buffer zone, so pay attention to what is going on around you,” Kleine points out.
Stay hydrated: Carry water with you at all times to avoid dehydration. For longer rides, stop every hour to relax.
Wear safety gear: “When I drive I always make sure to wear boots, Gore-Tex motorbike trousers and jacket, gloves, helmet, back protector and neck protector – heavy stuff for sure, but it can save my life,” confides Kleine.
Tip-top condition: Make sure your motorbike is maintained properly to avoid mechanical problems. Lights and indicators must work perfectly as motorcycles are harder to spot on the road compared to cars.
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez