Depending on whether or not you’ve done the homework, purchasing a new motorcycle can be just about the most fun you ever had with your clothes on, or it can be a confusing, overwhelming experience. And probably the first question you must ask yourself before you even darken the door of the dealership is this: What am I going to be using the bike for?

I’ve purchased a few new motorcycles over the years and a whole lot of used bikes. And I ask myself if I’m going to be doing a lot of touring on the bike, or just some around town cruising. This helps narrow down the search, letting me concentrate on the different models from which I have to choose. For instance, if I’m thinking of doing a lot of cross-country riding, I might want to look into getting a touring bike such as an Electra Glide or a Road Glide. For around town cruising and short trips, maybe I’ll scope out a Fatboy or a Heritage.

In my particular case, I use my bike for many purposes, so my choice was a Dyna with motorcycle saddlebags. This bike has the best of both worlds. I can cruise in and out of busy downtown traffic as well as hit the freeway for a trip upstate on the weekend.

Another reason the Dyna was a good choice for me is it was priced to fit my budget. Price is certainly one of the biggest factors for most of us when it comes to buying a motorcycle. I’m certainly not one of those people who dismiss you with a wave of the hand and say, “Price is no object.” Sure, I’d love to have a decked out Screaming Eagle Road Glide, but it just isn’t in the cards — or the bank account — in my case. If you shop around and take your time, you can find a great deal on new bikes these days. Knowledge of the going rate on the bike of your choice is a great bargaining chip when you sit down to do the deal. You can view MSRP on the manufacturer’s website or in the NADA blue book.

The days of creative financing are over, but haggling over price is the American way! Buying a new bike at the end of the year is a good plan because next year’s models are on the floor and the leftovers from the previous year are priced to move. So keep this in mind when deciding on the right time to buy.

A definite advantage to buying a new bike over a used bike is the warranty. Harley gives you a two-year full coverage warranty on all new bikes. This will cover everything except normal maintenance. And for an additional fee, you can purchase an extended warranty. This will cover the bike for an additional two years. When using the extended warranty, a $50 deductible will have to be paid on each claim. However, fifty bucks is a lot cheaper than buying a new transmission or motor. To me, these are big incentives to buying new.

Before you roar off the lot with a stock bike, I’m hoping you gave some serious thought to upgrades. Everybody wants his or her bike to sound great. To accomplish this, you’re going to need good exhaust pipes. And as long as you’re adding pipes, you should also add a high-flow filter and fuel manager to even out the air/fuel mixture. These additions will not only add some awesome sound, it will give you a boost in horsepower too.  If you choose to do these additions at the time of purchase instead of “later down the road,” they can be included in the financing of the new bike as well as be a part of the warranty.

Keep these things in mind while shopping for a new bike and be sure to ask lots of questions. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. Or

the one you think of when you’re heading home from the dealership on your new ride.