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Cycle Your Way Into Fall

(ARA) - When the open roads beckon, its a call thats hard to ignore. What better way to satisfy your souls need for speed and adventure this summer than with a motorcycle to fit your every whim.

Although the decision to purchase a motorcycle may come easily, the dizzying array of makes and models on the market today can send your mind into a tailspin. While selecting the motorcycle thats right for you is completely personal and mirrors your own style, there are some general guidelines to consider before you start pounding the pavement in your quest for the ultimate bike.

Here are six important points to ponder to help put you behind the wheel of a lean, mean heart-pounding machine in record time.

* Money talks

Making sense of the amount of money involved is tops on the agenda. You really need to decide, before you spend a single dollar, what you plan to do with your bike, says Howard Kelly, editor of Hot Bike Magazine, one of the motorcycle worlds top publications. Will you be a cross-country rider or do you strive to make a statement with a cruiser bike? asks Kelly.

Making a budget-friendly decision is not only smart, but with the numerous options out there, its completely doable. Once you decide on the type of bike, figure out how much money you want to spend. Sport bikes can start around $4,500 while big twin cruisers average $15,000 to $30,000 for higher quality builds.

If cash isnt an issue, then youre free to customize to your hearts content. Not everyone will go to the extreme in his or her desire to personalize, but when you add up all that you might spend turning a stock bike into something along the lines of a custom bike, financially, it might make more sense, says Kelly.

A variety of custom bike manufacturers, today, allow you to add all the bells and whistles early on in the design to create your own motorized masterpiece. The only limit is your imagination. Either way, youll be ready to roll in a cycle that makes a bold statement no matter how much you spend.

* Oh, the places youll go

Another prime consideration: where and how often do you want to ride? If heading down the highways for long-distance driving is up your alley, then a touring bike is a sure bet. With their oversized engines and silky-smooth rides, touring bikes are built for cross-country trips. If quick, easy jaunts around town are more on your mind, then a cruisers the route to go. Once you determine where you want to travel, youll be one step closer to making a go of your purchase.

Styles for the miles

The look of your bike says a lot about you, which makes this point of paramount importance. Do you want a stretched-out chopper, decked out with sporty neon-orange flames and an attitude to match? Or do you fancy yourself riding a classic bike with lots of polished chrome? The style of your bike is an emotion-based decision that only you can make, says Tim Edmondson, who oversees design for American IronHorse Motorcycle Co., one of the nations largest custom bike factories with dealerships nationwide. Visit your local dealer, sit on the bike and scope it out from the handlebars to the tailpipes. Ask yourself: how does it make you feel. Once you find your soul mate, youll know it immediately, he says. If its a feeling of ultimate individuality youre after, then a custom style might be the option for you. Whatever your taste is, just take the time to pick the best approach to achieving it.

* Grade A quality

As with any vehicle purchase, you have a decision to make about the quality of your motorcycle design. It pays to do some research on the company building your bike. Do they manufacture and test most of their own parts for increased quality control? What kinds of materials are used on your bike? Some motorcycle makers opt to use higher quality steel parts instead of fiber glass for a more durable ride and less road vibration. Do your homework so you know how to compare and get the most out of your ride.

* Speed indeed

In the biking world, horsepower is the name of the game. Engine specs are as varied as the cycles that they power. Make sure that the bike you bond with at the dealership has an engine that will get the job done. Keep in mind though, a lot of horsepower without a great transmission could leave you in the dust. If you want to be fast and furious, look for cycles with 5-speed and higher transmissions, powerhouse engines and high-quality components that will keep you revving for miles and miles. On the flip side, make sure the bikes brakes provide ample power to stop you safely and smoothly.

* Staying on track

If the bike you fell in love with is short on support, then its probably best to keep shopping. An above-average warranty and easy-to-access customer service are essential. They not only give you peace of mind, but also demonstrate a companys commitment to its customers. With high-end motorcycle models, some companies even offer unlimited mileage programs and 24-hour roadside assistance. Also, if you want to add to your bike down the ride, can you get additional accessories? The ability to upgrade your motorcycle at a later date is one option worth having. When you plan your dream, you have to go at it with a very realistic thought process, says Kelly.

So before you make the journey toward bike ownership, arm yourself with this list, do the research and, above all else, take your time. Its a personal decision that lies within you and only you. Once you drive off the lot in your new machine, youll never look back.


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