"You'll know better next time" is a line I've often heard, especially after a maiden attempt goes wrong.
I kept repeating this mantra as I set about searching for my second motorcycle. My first bike was a Yamaha YBR125, which cost less than $1,300 and only had six months left on its COE. It wasn't in the best condition either. But I got it because it would (and did) work well as a beginner's motorcycle.
Even before I 'retired' it last October, I had already started thinking about what I needed from my second bike. Something with a bit more power so that it more easily keeps pace with traffic. Something with better tyres and suspension so that it's more comfortable. And a taller seat height for better visibility.
Photo: Jon Tyson, Unsplash
My requirements were straightforward, and my only limitation was how much I wanted to spend. I'm okay with a bike with six to twelve months left (since this is for training purposes), and I'm also okay with spending around $2,000.
I thought finding a bike within these parameters would be a cinch, but I was wrong.
The search begins
Since I'm a newbie who's used to a standard/naked bike, I looked for models like the Honda CBR190R, Yamaha FZN150, Yamaha FZ16 and FZ16 ST. I kept an open mind and looked for Class 2B scooters as well, despite preferring a manual bike.
I don't spend the entire day searching Carousell, but when I do have a block of time, I'll spend it trawling ads.
Weeks went by. There were many ads with those aforementioned models, but none of them could meet my meagre budget. A friend suggested I search for a Honda CBR150R or Yamaha R15 V1, so I did.
However, the more I looked, the more I wanted to increase my budget. The next thing I knew, I was considering machines that cost nearly $5k.
Photo: Jon Schnobrich, Unsplash
Instead of being excited, I began to feel the sian-ness creeping in. But if I didn't keep going, I'd never get another two-wheeler.
I learned to distinguish between what was likely to be good and what was probably going to be bad. Bikes that looked decent but whose ads had been up for weeks or months were either too pricey relative to other offerings or weren't in good condition.
Conversely, bikes that didn't stay unsold for long were a hot commodity. Not surprisingly, some of them were purchased only to be immediately resold at an even higher price. Capitalism at its finest.
A return to reason
Class 2B sportbikes are not for me. Since my goal is to acquire a Class 2 machine in 2025 or 2026, I will minimise my expenses in the meantime. If I sink more moolah into a 2B bike or purchase an expensive 2A motorcycle later, that will put me further away from my goal.
Back to basics - and a $1.5k budget - then. And this time, I only looked for an FZ16. I also told myself not to stress if a potential bike was quickly snapped up. If it's meant for me, I'll end up buying it.
I won't have a perfect machine given my constraints. But I know that while leaking forks might still be okay, leaking oil or other fluids are a no-no. Blue-coloured exhaust smoke in a four-stroke machine is also bad, because that means oil is being burned.
The writer's new old motorbike is a 2014 Yamaha FZ16
My patience was eventually rewarded. A few weeks ago, an FZ16 listed for $1,500 appeared. Its COE is valid till November this year, and more importantly, the owner was willing to negotiate the price.
I viewed the bike the same evening. Aside from worn grips and scratches on the bodywork, it seemed relatively fine. After test-riding it in the seller's estate, he agreed to sell it to me for $1,350.
She's not perfect and will need TLC to keep running. But I think we'll work well together. Our first two rides have been smooth, and I hope our succeeding ones are just as seamless.
Finally! The search took longer than expected, but it was a lesson in patience and more importantly, staying focussed on my goal. Now that I know better, perhaps buying my next bike, be it new or used, will be an easier process.