Monday, November 29, 2010

Ask Kevin - A Gift That Can't be Wrapped

One of our readers is chock-full of holiday spirit and has her eye on a gift that's too big to wrap.

Dear Kevin,
My husband has been looking at motorcycles all year, and he’s narrowed it down to the 2010 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic. He test rode it, and he says it’s perfect for him. Do you think it’s a good idea to go the dealership and surprise him with a motorcycle for Christmas?

Thanks!


Dear Reader,
Wow! That you're considering such a thoughtful gift is unusual in most marriages. I know there are some envious readers out there. I'd like to respond in two parts -- the relationship answer and the buying advice answer.

The relationship answer: If your husband likes surprises, and is OK with not discussing a decision that is a large part of the family budget, then a motorcycle would be a great Christmas gift.

The buying advice answer: This is a great time of year to buy a motorcycle. One of the critical phases of getting the perfect motorcycle has been completed by your husband by choosing the style and model of bike. Your job in the next phase is to get a great deal.

I recommend that you find multiple dealers with the same bike available, and check around to see who can give you the best "out the door" price. The "out the door" price is the total cost including all prep, license, delivery, taxes, etc -- the total amount you will pay. This way you are comparing apples to apples. Also, make sure that the dealer you choose knows that this motorcycle is a gift, and talk about your ability to, and the potential charge for, return or exchange if your husband would like a different color, for instance.

If you are financing the motorcycle, use the Motorcycle Loan Shopping Form at www.theperfectmotorcycle.com/download-worksheets-and-che.html to get the best deal on that aspect of the purchase. There are other helpful worksheets at the website to help your shopping efforts as well.

Finally, you should probably get your "honey do" list up-to-date, because you will have a very attentive and productive husband -- at least until riding season starts.

- Kevin

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Be Your Own Santa This Year

Treating Yourself to a Motorcycle During the Holiday Season: Budget, Insurance and Financing Tips - By Kevin Domino

December is the best time of year to buy a motorcycle. The riding season for most of the US is closing down and most other buyers are distracted by the holidays and other winter activities. A high supply of bikes and low demand drive prices down.

Armed with worksheets available at the book’s website (or better yet, the book itself), you’ll make this a winter to remember.

The best buys from dealers are available now, before the dealer has evaluated inventory, balanced it with wholesalers, put in his order for the newly released models and set his bets on the next year.

Great deals from individual sellers are also available in December. The most common reason individuals are selling their bikes now rather than waiting for spring is because they need the cash, which puts you in a better position to negotiate.

Let’s put the pieces together to get you a new bike.

Your Budget
In October’s post, Uncover the True Cost of Ownership, we discussed the various factors that influence the costs between types of motorcycles. The decision to buy new or used is the first one you’ll need to make before shopping. If you decide to buy a used bike, check out September’s column, Inspecting Used Motorcycles – Ensuring You Get One in Great Condition, for some helpful advice and tools.

To evaluate motorcycle prices, there are multiple resources listed in the appendix (see below). One of the most popular pricing resources is The Kelly Blue Book. The Blue Book provides online trade-in and suggested retail pricing for motorcycles at no charge. Trade-in value is what you could expect to receive from a dealer if you applied your used motorcycle in trade on a new one. Suggested retail is representative of dealers’ asking prices for an excellent used unit.

The book’s appendix listing the resources, as well as worksheets and checklists for TCO, used motorcycle inspection, and more are available at www.theperfectmotorcycle.com/download-worksheets-and-che.html.

Commuter?
Justifying the cost of a motorcycle might be as simple as considering using it as a commuter. Using the worksheets available at www.theperfectmotorcycle.com, you can determine for the true cost of your motorcycle including maintenance, gear and fuel. The worksheets allow you to calculate how much money you will save commuting on a bike versus driving your car (and if you drive a truck or SUV, those savings can be dramatic).

Second Bike
If you already have a motorcycle, consider getting a second bike. There are many good reasons for owning two (or more) motorcycles. If you take this option, total cost of ownership will not double as you might expect. This is because some insurance companies give special multi-bike discounts that do not cost much more than insuring one bike—primarily because you can only ride one at a time. Also, you don’t need two garages, two sets of tools, two sets of riding gear, or double the training. Maintenance and repair costs do not double because your overall mileage for the two bikes will presumably remain the same as if you had bought a single bike.

Other Cost Savings
You can save as much of more on insurance and financing as you can on the motorcycle itself. Regardless of where you shop for a loan or insurance, do not be afraid to ask questions. Loans and insurance are simply other type of products—expensive ones, at that. An excellent resource for shopping for insurance and financing is Cycle Trader’s Research tab of its website at http://www.cycletrader.com/research/.

Insurance
Insurance coverage is no place to skimp. There is too much at stake. No one ever regrets getting too much insurance coverage when they’ve had an accident. However, coverage and cost for premiums are two different things. You can get the same coverage from different companies for different prices. When getting multiple quotes, make sure you are comparing coverage, replacement costs and any overlap with your existing health insurance.

Be sure to ask each provider before making your decision about potential discounts for:
• Completion of an approved rider-training course
• Using a DOT and/or Snell-certified helmet
• Approved theft-deterrent like alarms or Lo-jack
• Multiple vehicles or other types of insurance (life, homeowners, etc.)
• More than one motorcycle insured by the same provider
• Membership in the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA),
American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American
Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
• Installation of an approved security system

Also, ask the company to be considered for their “top-tier” rates, which are their highest discounted rates.

Financing Tips
You should have a good idea of all the expenses that go into buying your motorcycle from the total cost of ownership worksheet found at www.theperfectmotorcycle.com. There are many good free resources to help you with financial matters. For general information on personal finance and consumer rights see the book’s appendix.

Cash is the ideal way to pay for your motorcycle. If you don’t have enough savings for your next bike, installment loans from banks and credit unions are available.

Regardless of where you shop for a loan, some questions to consider are:
• How much will I pay in total in addition to the borrowed amount for the whole term of the loan?
• Can the interest rate change during the loan term?
• What happens if I’m late on a payment or two?
• What are the penalties for early payoff?

Factory and Dealer Financing
Some dealers and manufacturers offer financing. Only borrow money for a bike with an installment loan, and not with revolving credit. If you are considering factory or dealer financing, make sure you know which type they are offering. If you buy a motorcycle with revolving credit, you’ll end up paying too much. A revolving credit line works like a credit card, where you can borrow up to an amount of a credit limit and as you pay down the principal, you can borrow again against the line of credit. Besides the temptation to keep borrowing money for other things against the line of credit (and keep paying interest), the main reason you shouldn’t but a bike this way is that the interest can change before you pay off the loan.

Worksheets for evaluating insurance and financing costs are available at www.theperfectmotorcycle.com/download-worksheets-and-che.html.

Go Get ‘em
Your perfect motorcycle is out there, and at the best prices of the year. Armed with the worksheets (or even better, the book itself), you’ll make this the best winter yet. Please post comments here with the results of your shopping success.

The following is based on material in the book, The Perfect Motorcycle: How to Choose, Find and Buy the Perfect New or Used Bike (www.theperfectmotorcycle.com).

Progressive International Motorcycle Show Hits the Emerald City

The Seattle Progressive® International Motorcycle Show, December 10-12, 2010, will be a brand new powersports event experience from the ground up. From a completely new visual design and show environment to more entertainment, product interaction and learning opportunities, and gifts and prizes custom-built for you as a motorcycle enthusiast, the Progressive International Motorcycle Shows will send you home happy. The show promises a completely new and different experience from the time you see the first promotions for the shows, to arriving at your local expo hall and onto the show floor. You will be treated to a 21st century experience unparalleled by any other motorcycle event in the country.

What not to miss:
• New models from major manufacturers
• The Marketplace – aftermarket gear and accessories
• Ultimate Builder Custom Bike Show & Competition
• DIY Garage Seminars – step-by-step motorcycle maintenance and repair instructions
• The HUB Seminars – rider educational seminars, plus celebrity interviews
• MotoFlix Theater – Daily screenings from the best motorcycle movies ever made
• Women Ride – all-inclusive community of the show floor for experienced and new women riders
• Jason Britton Team No Limit Stunt Show
• And more

Get your tickets online with promo code SCT and save $3 off each 1-day adult ticket at www.motorcycleshows.com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I Ride

By Chad Sydnor, Sales Representative

It was a brisk Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, and I had just gotten off of work. I drove my car home, changed clothes, and hopped on my bike. I had to find something, something very important - it was a tailgating spot for my alma mater’s homecoming game.

As I was riding through the streets of Norfolk, VA on the way to Old Dominion University, I was thinking about all the good times I had in college and the old friends that I would run into because it was homecoming weekend. Just as I parked my Honda RC51 and pulled out my phone to text my friends that I had found the perfect spot, I heard a voice call my name, “Chad, is that you?” I turned around and saw Brandy, one of my good college friends. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought finding a tailgate spot a day early was a good idea. We talked for a while and caught up on what we had been up to the last five years and how work was going until she asked me a pretty good question, “Is that your bike? Why do you ride a motorcycle?”

Without even thinking I shot out an answer that I think summed it up pretty well, “Because I love it. It’s the most freeing feeling you can have legally!” She laughed, and we talked for a few more minutes before going our own separate ways. On the way home I was thinking about my answer and how many people felt the same way. So tell me, what’s your reason to ride? Is it for the freedom, because you think it’s cool, or is it something else?