Four Ways to Save Money by Riding a Motorcycle

In these tough economic times people are trying to find any way possible to save money. If you do it properly, riding a motorcycle can save you a ton of cash while at the same time being a really fun way to commute. We all know riding a motorbike is a lot cooler than clipping coupons!

Save Gas

One of the greatest benefits of riding a motorcycle these days is how much gas you can save by doing so. If you are like millions of Americans you probably commute 5 to 30 minutes to get to work on a daily basis. Most cars these days get between 15 and 35 mpg (miles per gallon) depending on the make and model of the particular vehicle. I used to drive around in a 1989 Chevy suburban which got a whopping 12mpg on average. With a 40 gallon gas tank I dreaded whenever I saw the fuel indicator blink on knowing I could be spending upwards of 100 dollars just to fill it up. That beast of a car was a prime motivating factor for me to get a motorcycle. The first bike I got was a zippy Suzuki GS500 that would regularly get around 55 mpg even with spirited riding. Since it only had a 4 gallon fuel tank my monthly budget for gasoline was literally reduced by hundreds of dollars!

Save time

If you happen to live in California or another state that allows lanes sharing then you will be saving more than money. Lane sharing is where two vehicles can share the same lane on a multi lane road. This means that if you own a small vehicle like a motorcycle, it is perfectly legal for you to scoot by other slow moving cars. With the amount of traffic congestion that infest the major cities you will often see motorcycles riding between the lanes when rush hour traffic has ground everything to a standstill. This helps the cars by getting another person out of the long line of vehicles not moving, and it helps the biker because they are no longer in a traffic jam. Lanes sharing saves me about 5-10 minutes on average each day, and in certain situations it has saved me hours when the freeway has been completely blocked up. Anyway to save time is a great way to save money since it allows you to actually DO something with those extra minutes instead of just sitting in traffic.

Cheaper to buy

If you don’t have a vehicle yet or if your current one is on its last legs then I would consider getting a motorcycle (or a scooter!) as a replacement. You can get a brand new motorcycle for a fraction of the price of a new car. If you are savvy about it you can use websites like www.craigslist.com to find deals on used motorcycles that are sold by private parties. I’ve purchased every motorcycle I’ve owned through craigslist and never been disappointed. If you decide to go that route however it is critical to get someone who knows something about bikes to go with you to inspect and test ride it before any cash changes hands. I would highly recommend getting something small like the Kawasaki Ninja 250. They are great bikes with bullet proof engines that regularly get 70-90mpg on the freeway. You can probably find one of the ‘older’ generation Ninja 250s (anything preceding 2008) for a lot cheaper as long as you don’t care about getting a bike with a slightly dated look. If you are more fashion conscience then the ’08 or ’09 Ninja 250’s look great and are still thousands of dollars cheaper than any 600cc bike on the market.

Entertainment

Motorcycles are a fantastic form of entertainment. It’s a rush to feel the wind slapping against you as you lean far into a corner on a curvy stretch of mountain road. Whenever I need a little vacation from the real world and I don’t want to spend a lot of cash I just hop on my bike and ride to my favorite spot. It’s a great way to relieve stress and it saves me from doing something more expensive that my budget would hate me for later. Riding a motorcycle is also a great way to meet people. There are group rides and motorcycle clubs all over and I have found most riders to be exceptionally friendly whether they ride a crotch rocket or a cruiser style bike.

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways to save money out there but I really think riding a motorcycle is one of the more enjoyable ways. The only thing to keep in mind is some of the ‘hidden’ costs of owning a bike. It is really important to get good protective gear to wear since you won’t have a metal cage surrounding you if you crash. This can cost as little as 300 dollars if you find the right brands and get less popular items. Gear is one thing that I am constantly upgrading. I started off with a cheap helmet, free gloves, and a second hand leather jacket. Now I have multiple pairs of gloves, pants, helmets, and boots that I have acquired over a long period of time. Don’t let this initial startup cost dissuade you from riding a motorcycle, also do NOT skip it all together. Although it isn’t the law in most states to wear any gear, it will save you tens of thousands of dollars if you ever end up getting in a motorcycle crash! Ride safe, ride smart, ride cheap!

Comments

I'm gonna put a little different spin on this. Sure, if I could REPLACE my car with my bike, it would be a no brainer. But I'm not in that situation -- I have kids to transport, and my longest commutes are when I have to take my daughter to school and then work, which is at least 4 days out of 10. Yes, I could take her to school and then ride to work... But it's 17 miles round trip for work, 30 round trip for the school (which I would have to do twice on those days).

So given that I have to keep the car, I ran the numbers. Anyway... Given the difference in mileage, insurance, payment, maintenance... I'd have to ride 1000 miles a month that I would normally be driving my car just to break even.

Don't get me wrong -- I'd ride anyway. Nothing gets me going like being on the bike. I'm just not going to kid myself into thinking I'm saving money by doing it.

Bah! Haven't you seen those videos of people in thailand? They can get 3 or 4 grown adults on one scooter, I'm sure you could strap the kids to the tank and rear cowling on your bike no problem ;-)

Ben

I can see how you could save if your only transportation was a motorcycle, but I think that's not realistic for many folks because of a variety of factors (weather, family, job, hobbies, etc...). If you also need to own a car (as I do), the prospect of large savings disappear.
As for comparing the cost of driving a Suburban vs a GS500, it seems like pretty much an extreme. I think running the gas numbers of a GS500 vs a Focus or Neon would be more real.
Personally, I "drive" about 20K miles per year -- about 14K of it on a motorcycle. Factoring in maintenance (all done myself), insurance, gear, etc..., I do just a bit better than breaking even. Which is nothing to sneeze at, because I certainly can't say that for sailing or a lot of other pursuits.

Yeah I guess you are probably right about the extremeness of the Suburban vs the GS500, but that is a personal experience of my own that I was sharing. I've never really driven a small car and now all I own is a motorcycle and I've been this way for 2-3 years.

That being said I am currently saving up for a car :D Even during the mild california winters it's no fun riding around being pelted by rain! I guess what I was mainly going for in this article is if you buy a small bike as commuter, you really can come out ahead on a lot of things, especially on the time factor if you live anywhere where lanesharing is legal (which it seems you do! I was just in santa cruz last week)

Ben

Let me see.... Used Monte Carlo....now paid for... $6000.oo Insurance full coverage til it was paid off... more then I care to revisit. Brand new V900 out the door $8500, insurance full coverage 1 year (me only) $369 a year. Gas for the Monte on a weekly basis... $60 @$2.00 a gallon range 230 miles per tank. V900 gas... $16.00 on weekly basis mile range at or near 200 miles per tank. So far , yup, hands down the 900 has it. Gear for riding.... helmet $80 (deal came with bike) Boots $40, Leather Jacket $160, and chaps $100. Car equilavent... well is none. Maintenance on Monte continually climbing as it has 150k miles on it. V900.... regular maintenance ALOT cheaper thus far.
Round trip to/from work 72 miles.
I am coming out ahead on my deal. Results may vary. I keep the Monte due to the winter weather and I have my kids every other week end.

****Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but, rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy Shit....What a ride!!!"****

mmmmm Monte Carlos... Love those cars :D

How are you liking the v900? I"m really contemplating getting that as a second bike, I absolutely love the look of them!

Ben

Awesome cars. The 900...well it will be a bike that stays with me til the end of its days. It cruises very nicely, no to low vibrations. About 40+mpg. Honestly can't think of anything to complain about. I love her to death. I got a wild hair shortly after her break in and got into her... in a 1/4 mile she easily gets three digits with plenty left. I backed off after I realised how fast I had her as my speed days are over, I slowed back down. The floor boards are a nice add and the foot position is closer to standard then cruiser. Though theres plenty ways to move it forward if you feel the need. 3 months- past 1500 miles and thats with snow and cold weather breaks. I have a rule I can be cold, and I can be wet, but I can't be both so it's rare that she sits idle. If you like cruisers/touring types I would HIGHLY recommend one. Though for the rest of ya....not as a learners bike. Maybe one of these dyas I can step into the 21'st century I will actually get me a digital camera, I have a wonderful 35mm but I am lazy at getting them processed. I still have pics of my daughters from 2 years ago still on the film and not developed.

****Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but, rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "Holy Shit....What a ride!!!"****

I got my 07 Yamaha Virago 250 last August and rode it to work every day it wasn't below 40 degrees, or raining until Nov 1. I took it to work 2 days this week. I live in South Dakota, so a riding season of March to November is pretty good. I had my bike out in February, but just on the weekend a couple of times. I bought it because of $4 a gallon gas last summer, and the reason I'll keep riding it now, is to put less miles on my car so I can keep that at least 10 years. My problem now, is that I am getting the itch for something bigger, but I keep telling myself why I got the bike in the first place. I don't know if we'll see the number of people getting into riding this year like last year, but I will say to those of you who are thinking about it this. If you get a cycle thinking you will just ride it to work to save money, you will be sadly mistaken. Once you start riding, you will want to ride that thing everywhere, and will come up with excuses to take your bike out for a spin!

Sure, if you're driving a Chevy Suburban to begin with, then you can save money in three of Ben's four areas just by switching to a tossable little fourbanger like a Mazda Protege, Ford Focus or Honda Civic (gas, driving time and entertainment). But those economy cars are no longer cheaper to purchase. Something tells me a used Civic is commanding more right now than a used Suburban.

But here's another way to look at it. Even if you can't completely replace your car/truck with a motorcycle/scooter, every mile you put on your two wheeler is one mile less wear and tear on your regular vehicle. For instance, if you drive 15,000 miles a year and manage to put 5,000 of that on your motorcycle, then over 5 years you've save 25k you otherwise would have put on your car. That can help you put off the purchase price of a replacement, or delay buying consumables like brake pads, tires and mufflers.

Plus, the more I think about it, Ben's got a point about entertainment savings. I kind of wrote that off at first, but there aren't many other ways to spend an hour or two and end up with a big, goofy smile on your face than riding twisties on a motorcycle. Certainly not many alternatives that are that cheap.

They're a bit higher per mile that a car, in general. Tires will be replaced more often, oil and filters about the same, but then there's chain and spockets, gear...

But the cost of riding for 2 hours vs going to a movie theater... No contest.

I can't believe this but I think I rather ride my bike which is already payed off, plus the gas cost than to do my number one hobby. I am a golfer. A 4 hour round will cost $20 on the low end and up to...... If out for an hour or two ride I save money and time to do chores at home.

Eddie