Motorcycle buying guide: What to know before buying your first bike

Few things in life deliver the thrill and joy of cruising the curves on your own personal, two-wheeled fun machine. Sure, they may be dangerous — they are dangerous — but motorcycles offer a sense of freedom and excitement no car can provide, not matter what it costs. Riding requires sharp skills, a keen mind, quick reflexes, and the ability to handle hair-raising situations. Because of the demands inherent with riding a motorcycle, the barrier to entry is high — higher than it should be, anyway. To get you started, we’ve compiled a motorcycle buying guide with everything you need to know about purchasing your first bike — what type you should get, used vs. new buying, gear recommendations, and licensing info. Here’s a quick rundown to get you out of your cage and onto the open road.

Bike basics

The first gasoline-powered motorcycle, dubbed the Petreoleum Reitwage[1], was built by legendary German designers Gottlieb Daimler[2] and Wihelm Maybach[3] back in 1885. Since then, motorcycles have branched in countless directions, with different machines made for different purposes. Here are the five basic categories:


Think Harley Davidson. These bikes have lower seat heights and a more laid-back riding position. They often have large engines (though not always), but are not made for racing or super-high performance situations — situations you should not find yourself in for a long time if you’re just getting started. Most major bike manufacturers produce some type of cruiser.


Massively popular in the U.S., sportbikes — often called “crotch rockets” — are finely tuned machines capable of high performance[4] and even higher speeds. Because of the intense power of these bikes, we strictly recommend avoiding any type of sportbike for at least your first couple of years of riding. It takes time to train your body to handle a motorcycle, and it’s far too easy on a sportbike to chuck yourself into a deadly situation. But don’t worry: You absolutely do not need a sportbike to have fun on a motorcycle.


Touring motorcycles come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, but their purpose is always the same — long-distance travel. Some bikes, like the Honda Goldwing or the BMW K1600GTL (above), come fully-loaded with large fairings, luggage trunks, windshields, and even stereos and GPS. Others, like the BMW R1200GS, are more stripped-down, and have high seats and high clearance to allow for off-road riding. Touring bikes generally deliver an excellent riding experience — but because of their high price and weight, they may not be the best choice for a new rider. They’re definitely a great option not far down the road, though.


At their most basic, dual-sports[5] are just dirtbikes — which are generally illegal to ride on public roads — with some mirrors and lights slapped on to make them street-legal. “Supermoto” bikes also fall into this category, with the added change of street-only tires, as opposed to a dual-sports’ knobby tires. Because dual-sport bikes often have smaller engines and are light-weight, they are a good option for new riders. But if you’re short, beware that most dual-sports have very high seats. If you can’t put both feet down when stopped, the bike is too tall for you to ride safely. There are some options, of course, such as the Yamaha TW200, which is a great beginner bike but not exactly a powerhouse. It’s also possible to get lowering kits for some bikes, or to buy a dual-sport with a lowering kit already installed.


This category is filled with bastards, the mutts whose DNA contains elements from the previous four. Many of the most common bikes you’ll see fall into the “standard” camp. They generally have a more upright riding position than a cruiser (which leans you back) or a sportbike (which leans you forward). Engine sizes vary wildly with standards, but usually don’t edge into the super-high range.

Standards are often good, all-around kind of bikes, and easily top our list of the best bikes for beginners; it’s easy to find one without any extreme features that could pose a hindrance or danger while you’re learning the ropes.


  1. ^ Petreoleum Reitwage (
  2. ^ Gottlieb Daimler (
  3. ^ Wihelm Maybach (
  4. ^ capable of high performance (
  5. ^ dual-sports (

Survive the apocalypse (or just a week off the grid) with these zombie-proof rides

If the dead start to walk the Earth, things are going to change. The structure and order upon which we’ve built our lives will crumble under the weight of the impending threat, and fear — not work or play — will be what gets us out of bed in the morning. You’ll need to keep moving to stay alive, but not just any vehicle will do. You’ll want something tough, agile, and adaptable, and there aren’t too many vehicles that fit the bill. You can thank us now or thank us later, but just remember, there may not be much time left. Here are 15 zombie-proof rides to get you through the apocalypse.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles gibbs amphibians biski 970x647 c

The Biski is perfect for those looking to take on the end of days alone — others will only hold you back as resources become sparse. The amphibious two-wheeler has a maximum land speed of 80 mph and a top water speed of 37 mph. This, of course, is more than enough speed to outpace even the most spritely of zombies. And switching from bike to ski takes less than five seconds, meaning you can spend less time in transition and more time putting the two-cylinder engine through its zombie-thwarting paces.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles ev2 large 970x647 c

The Ripsaw EV2, manufactured by Howe and Howe Technologies, is one of the more unique vehicles we’ve ever covered on DT[1]. A distinct blend of dexterity, durability, and comfort, the EV2 is one of the fastest dual-tracked vehicles ever made, with more than 600 diesel-fueled horsepower pushing the menacing crusher forward.

With its zombie-squishing treads and 12 inches of suspension travel, the Ripsaw has the ability to weave through obstacles over almost any terrain, but it also boasts the power and grit to smash right through them if needed. Inside the thick armored walls lies a surprisingly pleasant interior as well, as the EV2 equips leather seats, a touchscreen, and attractive LED lighting. This is clearly not your average tank, but during the end times, that’s exactly what you’ll need.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles gibbs humdinga amphibious truck ajl 4512 2 970x647 c

In a post-zombie world, the roads will be filled with rolling coffins, the rusted relics of a civilization long dead. Needless to say, a standard four-door probably isn’t going to cut it.

Enter the Gibbs Humdinga ‘amphitruck’, a vehicle that grants you the freedom to go just about anywhere. It features permanent four-wheel drive, can travel at highway speeds on land, goes 30mph on water, seats six, and can transform into amphibious mode with the simple push of a button.

Zombie’s can’t swim, right?

best zombie apocalypse vehicles mercedes benz zetros 2733 a 6x6 in operation as luxurious hunting and expedition vehicle 970x

The Zetros 2733 6×6 is a massive, six-wheel drive off-roader with the fortitude to keep you safe in almost any environment. Inside however, you’ll find yourself pampered and comfortable, so much so that you might just forget the world outside has gone to hell.

On one hand, you have a 7.2-liter diesel inline-six with 326 horsepower, 959 pound-feet of torque, and three locking differentials. On the other, you’ve got heated marble floors, two flat-screen televisions, a Bose sound system, a shower, and just about everything else you could want in a rolling home. Everything’s powered by a diesel generator as well, so as long as you can appropriate fuel, you’ll be on cloud nine. Who said the life in the apocalypse had to be crude?

best zombie apocalypse vehicles paramount marauder 970x647 c

We normally wouldn’t include the Marauder in our list, since it isn’t a civilian vehicle. But it’s just too good to pass up. The South African ‘multi-role, highly agile, mine-protected armored vehicle’ is a true beast. It has room for 10 soldiers, can withstand a blast from 30 pounds of TNT, boasts a range of 430 miles, and offers a 14.5-mm heavy machine gun as optional equipment. With the Paramount Marauder, the apocalypse doesn’t stand a chance.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles local motors rally fighter 970x647 c

What’s not to like about the Local Motors Rally Fighter? The open-sourced two-door looks mean, has a meaner Corvette engine, equips a Ford truck rear end, and boasts the ground clearance to mow through groups of walkers without worry.

With this slurry of American-built components, you should be able to find tons of spare parts to fix it when it inevitably breaks down. Parts availability might not be sexy, but tell that to the snarky Land Rover owner when he’s being torn apart by walkers.

If you were brave enough to sit through Transformers: Age of Extinction, you saw the Rally Fighter being used by a fictional black ops unit of the CIA.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles jeep trailcat concept 1500x1094 970x647 c

When the dead rise, some will choose to confront them head-on with brute force and firepower. Wave after wave of zombies will fall, but the problem with the undead is they just don’t stop. That terrifying fact in mind, we suggest you do the smart thing and flee as fast as you can.

In terms of transportation that can move quickly almost over any terrain, Jeep’s Trailcat Concept is about as good as it gets. Powered by the supercharged 707 horsepower V8 from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, the Trailcat features a widened Wrangler chassis, 39.5-inch BFGoodrich Krawler tires, rugged Fox shocks, and Dana 60 axles front and rear. It’s a bit loud and exposed to overtake the Ripsaw EV2 or Inkas Huron APC in terms of zombie defense, but it’ll get you where you need to go quick no matter the conditions.

While this concept will likely never see production, Jeep has confirmed the next best thing — a Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee is set to arrive by the end of 2017.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles dartz black shark 970x647 c

No, you probably won’t be getting your hands on the Black Shark[2] unless you’re a Russian politician or Arnold Schwarzenegger. That said, it is a production vehicle, and this list would be incomplete without it.

The Prombron is simply a ridiculous thing. It’s completely bulletproof, offered with a 1,500-horsepower biturbo V12, fits electric-shock devices to the doors, and is wrapped in Kevlar-coated titanium.

According to Dartz, the armored vehicle also equips retinal and fingerprint scanners, psycho-physiological condition recognition, and cameras to eliminate blind spots. Put it all together and the Black Shark is just as capable repelling zombies as it is chasing off those pesky bandits.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles panther 970x647 c

Jeeps are known for their “go-anywhere” ability, but the Watercar Panther takes it to another level entirely.

As the name would suggest, the Watercar is a half-boat, half-car that can transition from land to sea in less than 15 seconds. All the driver has to do is shift into neutral, pull a knob to engage the jet, and press a button to raise the wheels. When it’s all said and done, you have a vehicle that can escape a walker’s grasp over a variety of surfaces, which should go a long way toward keeping you on this side of the afterlife… provided zombies can’t swim.

Despite its Wrangler-esque appearance, the Panther is actually built from a unique chromoly chassis and fiberglass hull, one filled with 32 cubic feet of Coast Guard-approved styrofoam. A rear-mounted Honda V6 and Panther Jet propulsion system provide forward motivation, and the vehicle is capable of over 55 mph on land and 44 mph on water.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles stella electric car 970x647 c

This teardrop-shaped vehicle, sprung from a collaboration between the Eindhoven University of Technology and Dutch company NXP Semiconductors, is completely solar-powered.

Stella — as the car is known — seats four and is actually energy positive, meaning that is produces twice as much energy as it consumes. That means it could power basic electronics like radios, heat lamps, and stoves. It’s also small and svelte, allowing it to maneuver around blockages than larger vehicles cannot.

Stella can travel up to 500 miles on a single charge, something it proved during a recent zero-emissions jaunt through California. If you can’t locate a zombie-free spot to recharge in 500 miles, you’ve got other issues to deal with.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles evx immortus 970x647 c

While most zombie-proof cars require some sort of fossil fuel to keep moving, we’re well aware of the fact that apocalyptic conditions and abundant caches of gasoline don’t exactly go hand-in-hand. In a cannibalistic panic, people will horde fuel for themselves, gas deliveries will come to a halt, and even the stations themselves will become serious hazards to the living — and we’re not talking about expired hot dogs and doughnuts.

Thankfully, there’s a car called the Immortus that has infinite range and never has to refuel, provided the sun is still shining. Manufactured by Australian startup EVX, the solar-powered Immortus wears 75 square-feet of solar panels on its roof that funnel energy to the battery packs inside. The carbon-fiber laden vehicle can travel indefinitely so long as it doesn’t top 40 mph, which is comfortably above the walking speed of most zombies.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles knight xv 970x647 c

Full-blown tanks are great for keeping the zombies out, but they can be hard to maneuver. The Knight XV splits the difference with an SUV-based urban assault structure. Highlights include underbody magnetic bomb detection, an external smoke screen, night vision cameras, electrostatic window tinting, run flat tires, and armor strong enough to stop anything short of a .50 caliber round.

The KV is also highly accommodating, with heated, quilted leather seats and a passel of infotainment features. What will it cost to barrel through danger in cowhide comfort? Just $450,000 (and an apocalyptic atmosphere).

best zombie apocalypse vehicles ucat amint hi03

Unicat is known for building incredible all-terrain vehicles, but while most of these rigs allow professionals to trek off the beaten path, they also double as apocalypse-beaters. Of the number of available Unicat models, we’d choose the TerraCross 52 Comfort. Business in the front, and a party in the back, the TerraCross 52 is ready for anything.

Its thick body, rigid structure, and ample storage make the TerraCross 52 a rolling safe zone for two to four passengers. Better still, the rig is equipped with a double bed, sanitary room/shower, kitchen, toilet, a water supply, a sophisticated power supply, and solar panels. With enough food and water, you could survive weeks or months without ever stepping foot outside.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles oshkosh m atv 970x647 c

Now for what is by far the most badass and durable vehicle on this list, we present to you the Oshkosh M-ATV. The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (M-ATV) is America’s latest defense rig[3], replacing the now-dated Humvee M114. While the M-ATV was designed to transport U.S. troops safely around Afghanistan, it can also weather the worst of apocalyptic scenarios.

The most impressive features include an armored V-shaped hull (great for deflecting mines), off-road capability, run-flat rubber (the M-ATV can drive for 30 miles with two blown tires), and a roof turret that can accommodate machines guns, grenade launchers, and anti-tank missiles. Even if zombies aren’t shooting at you, survival-minded humans might. The M-ATV all but guarantees your prolonged existence.

best zombie apocalypse vehicles terrafugia tf x 970x647 c

So far, we’ve shown you some incredible vehicles for covering earth and water, but what about the air? It’s tough for a zombie to penetrate a tank, and even harder for it to attack you on the open seas, but it’s darn near impossible for it to take flight.

Here, the TerraFugia TF-X[4] has you covered. The compact car-plane can drive on any paved roads and doesn’t need an airport to take to the skies. That means if you run into trouble on the ground, you can quickly escape to the skies. With a range of 500 miles and a cruising speed of 200 mph, the TF-X can’t stay in the air forever, but it won’t struggle to put some distance between you and the undead. The best part? The TF-X runs on automotive fuel, so anything you’d use to fill up your car, you can use to run the TF-X.


  1. ^ we’ve ever covered on DT (
  2. ^ Black Shark (
  3. ^ America’s latest defense rig (
  4. ^ TerraFugia TF-X (

Taking a page from BMW Art Cars, Ducati reveals its stylistic Scrambler ‘Maverick’

Why it matters to you

BMW has made

Commissioning talented artists to work their magic on a vehicular canvas is nothing new. Heck, BMW has made “Art Cars[1]” since the 1970s. But motorcycles, with their limited artistic real estate, aren’t usually candidates for one-off design projects (apart from individual customer requests).

That hasn’t stopped Ducati from pursuing its first-ever Scrambler “Maverick” in conjunction with renowned tattoo artist Grime. The Italian manufacturer says it chose Grime because of his unique style, self-expression, and “ability to effect change in the arts.”

For those of you unfamiliar with Grime’s work, in the 25 years since the San Francisco-based artist started tattooing, he has grown into something of an international public figure. His particular style includes bold medieval and mythological figures. In addition to body art, Grime dabbles in photography, canvas, board, and graffiti, with much of his pieces selling out in minutes during art exhibitions.

Ducati GRIME Scrambler Maverick

“Grime has always carved his own path, and as a result, he’s become one of the most respected tattoo artists, with a distinct style embodying free-spirited creativity –and the Ducati Scrambler represents these same attributes,” said Ducati North America CEO Jason Chinnock.

Ducati says it created the Scrambler Maverick project, which will have successor designs, to “empower unique mavens by embracing their creativity and individuality.” Each year, Ducati will select two new mavericks to work with local Ducati North American dealers to customize Scrambler Icons with only Ducati parts, fabrication, and a small budget. The Italian bike builder will look outside the motorcycle industry for its mavericks, as it believes their customization will be unlike anything seen before within the bike world.

At the conclusion of the project, all proceeds from the Maverick’s build (which, we assume, means auctioning of the bike itself) will be donated to the Maverick’s charity of choice. Kudos, Ducati. Not only does this project highlight up-and-coming artists, the results benefit charities that are close to the hearts of each Maverick. We hope more brands mimic Ducati’s model.


  1. ^ BMW has made “Art Cars (
Apps & Games Clothing Electronics & Photo Large Appliances
Baby Womens Apparel Garden Lighting
Beauty Mens Apparel Outdoors Luggage
Books Girls Apparel Health & Personal Care Pet Supplies
Car Boys Apparel Home Shoes & Bags
Motorbike Computers & Accessories Kitchen Equipment Sports & Outdoors
Fashion DIY & Tools Jewellery Toys & Games