5 things to know before buying a motorcycle

Updated April 17, 2024  |   Published March 2, 2023

If you’re born to be wild and you’re thinking about buying a motorcycle, there are some things you should know before picking out the steel horse you’ll ride.



Know your state’s laws

In the state of Massachusetts, it’s not illegal to register a motorcycle without a license, but it is illegal to drive one without it. According to mass.gov, to get your motorcycle (Class M) license you must first pass a learner’s permit test, and hold that permit for 6 months before you can apply for your license. Permit holders can only drive a motorcycle during daylight and cannot carry passengers. Your permit is valid for 2 years and if it expires you must retake the test.

Once the 6 months have passed, you can take a Class M road test or complete the Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP) course to obtain a license. If you are under the age of 18, you must take the MREP course and complete all junior operator requirements. You must be at least 16 and a half to be eligible to receive a Class M license.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also has the following laws in place for the safety of the driver. In order to ride you must wear these at all times:

  1. A DOT approved/certified motorcycle helmet.
  2. Eyeglasses, goggles, or protective face shield if your motorcycle does not have a built in windshield or windscreen. The best idea for your safety is to get a helmet that covers the whole face.

FAQ: Do you need a license to buy a motorcycle?

No, you do not need to your license to purchase a motorcycle, but you will need it if you want to drive it off the lot. You will also need to insure your bike before you take it on the road. More on that later.


Get the right gear

In addition to the gear required by state law, here’s some more recommended gear to help protect you from things like wind burn, heat burns, or injuries during a crash.

  • Motorcycle gloves
  • Long-sleeved jacket
  • Long pants
  • Motorcycle boots
  • Neck brace (These are most often used in motorsports. Consider one if you plan on off-roading or racing on a closed course.)



Before buying a motorcycle, find out which bike fits your needs

There is not just one type of motorcycle. There are cruisers, sport bikes, dirt bikes, adventure bikes, dual-sport bikes, mopeds, three-wheeled motorcycles, and choppers – just to name a handful. Don’t let a pushy salesman try to sell you on a bike that doesn’t fit your needs. If you’re only looking to casually ride, you may be interested in a cruiser or vintage bike, whereas if you want to go fast on roads and on dirt, you may be looking for a dual-sport bike. Do your research before buying a motorcycle.

Consider a motorcycle loan from Webster First for no pressure shopping. For qualified applicants, pre-approval is usually given within 1 business day and your rate is locked in for 30 days, giving you time to shop around.



Insure before you register

To register a motorcycle in Massachusetts you will need to bring your proof of insurance, vehicle title, and an odometer disclosure statement to the RMV. Massachusetts requires liability insurance of $20,000 bodily injury, $40,000 per accident, and $5000 for property damage at a minimum. Our subsidiary, WebFirst Insurance, LLC, can get you a quote and make sure you have the right coverage for your needs. Once you’ve got insurance, have your insurance agent sign the Application for Registration and Title before you go to the RMV.



Know the costs of owning a motorcycle

There’s more to consider than just the initial cost of buying a motorcycle. Motorcycles need standard maintenance to keep them running. This includes things like regular oil changes and the replacement of parts that wear over time such as the tires, brake pads, and clutch. Be aware that, much like a car, you’ll be paying for your bike long after the initial purchase. If you are buying a used motorcycle, you may need extra funds for things that need immediate fixing. Additionally, there are costs associated with keeping your motorcycle on the road:

  • Regular registration fee: $20
  • Specialty motorcycle registration:
    • Reserved plates: $40
    • Antique plates: $40
    • Vanity plates: $70
    • Registration transfer: $25
  • MA sales tax: 6.25% of the sales price.
  • Motorcycle inspection: $15

Motorcycle inspections must be done at a licensed Class M motorcycle inspection station. You are required to have your bike inspected every year during spring, no later than May 31.

For more information on motorcycle laws and fees, visit mass.gov or your state’s official website.



If you’re ready to apply for a motorcycle loan here at Webster First, visit our Motorcycle Loans page to learn more and get started.

Motorcycle Loans



Information is accurate as of January 2024. Always check laws and fees with your state’s official website.