could a commuter motorcycle save $$?

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Jun 15, 2003
Am considering getting into motorcycling this fall by buying a used bike from some impatient clod at a good price. I would commute to work on it and would ride like a completely sane person. My work hours and commute drive are lightly trafficked mostly country roads at 50mph so I'm not too afraid of being run over. (I'd be more afraid of hitting a deer.) I'm wondering if a "sensible" bike, like a Nighthawk 250cc, would save me any money. Stats: Current ride: Saturn SW1, 40mpg, would keep for rainy days. Commute: 12 miles one way. Gas: 87 octane, $2.25/gal. My insurance is very cheap on the cars; am male, married, late 20's, no tickets/incidents since 98. If I added a non-sport bike, what would its insurance run for state-minimum compared to a boring car in the same zip code? What maintenance expenses, like tires, chain(?), brakes would I be in for, and how often? What's the typical life expectancy of a motorcycle; I see many used ones with only 10k miles? I do 99% of my work on the cars; are bikes easier? When their parts get smaller do they get cheaper and are there as many sources for popular bike parts as there are for popular cars? Does everyone run premium gas in their bikes? Basically I'm crunching numbers: expenses per mile and fixed, to legitimize fun. [Big Grin]
500c would be more sensible for country roads. You should have enough power to get out of the way of the occasional moose in heat. A 500cc street bike will also beroomier, more comfortable, ride better and handle road irregularities better than a 250cc. Suzuki and Kawasaki have both made couple of nice 500cc twins for years. You should be able to get a 10 year old one real cheap. Motorcycle maintenance is easier than car maintenance but more of it is required. Tires don't last nearly as long, but as long as you ride sanely on a 500cc or smaller bike, the expense won't kill you. Still might cast as much as keeping cheap tires on a small car though. A chain should last 20k plus miles on a bike that size --if-- you take care of it. You should be able to get quite abit better than 50 mpg on a smallish bike, how much better depends on your riding, which bike and how will it is maintained.
I had a H-D 883 Sportster and it got 50 mpg. I wouldn't get a m/c just to save gas. They're lots of fun and you'll end up wasting gas just riding around.
I once did a detailed cost analysis of riding my Honda 750 VFR and discovered, to my dismay, that I wasn't saving any money over driving my car--a Honda Civic. The reason?--rubber. The high price of tires and their short life more than cancelled the money I was saving on gas. Also, depreciation was higher on the bike. Since you're buying used, the depreciation won't hurt you as badly, and rubber won't cost as much for the Nighthawk. Driving like a "completely sane" person on a bike means acknowledging that you're nearly invisible to other drivers, and riding accordingly. Most motorcycle fatalities happen to riders with less than 6 months experience. Take an MSF course. I pay only $80/yr to insure my VFR, but I have experience, and the MSF discount, and carry liability only. Good tires should last 8,000 miles, and a good quality, properly cared for chain/sprocket should last 30,000 miles. Motorcycle parts are expensive. The Nighthawk is a fine beginner bike. Buy it. I'm sure you'll love it. Just be careful.
Many years ago I had a number of motorcycles that were my primary transportation. Tires and chains more than offset any fuel savings I might have had over a small car. I'm sure the components are better now than they used to be, but small cars are better too.
Your commute is only 12 miles don't worry about it. If you want a bike just get one don't try to justify it. Dan
Buy it for fun. Some people have gotten up to 10K miles on tires, but the longer a tire is supposed to last, the less traction you will have. Same applies to car, but remember that you are rolling on about 6-10 inches of rubber, and every inch counts.
I am an impatient clod wanting to sell a bike at a cheap price...81 Goldwing with only 11k,bought it from a dentist,he rode to the beach and back...Just had all 4 carbs rebuilt,will need an exhaust in a year or two,1600 bucks and drive her home..
I dont thin youll save much money in gas if your already getting 40mpg. I rode a bike for awhile like you to save gas but after a wreck and not being able to work I really didnt save any money after hospital bills. I know you will probaly ride safely but its the other guys that dont see motorbikes which is what you have to worry about. You will wreck its just a matter of time for someone to hit you like I encountered almost everyday.
Most bikes (except HD's, maybe) have one carb per cylinder (except pre 1800cc Goldwings which have 2 for 6 cyl.). I am a motorcycle fiend. However, I'm down to only 2 bikes and one of them is a 1981 Honda CB900C that has 25K miles and isn't the prettiest thing in the world. I get just under 40 mpg partly due to the performance carbs on it. You will have a very hard time "saving" money - insurance and tires. My bike is a shaftie, so no maintainence there, but if you get a bike with a chain (the overwhelming majority out there) then chains are a maint. and replacement item too. Tires are very expensive, comparatively, although a good tire for most needs can be found for almost any bike which gives good mileage without giving up wet/dry grip or ride. Lastly, please PLEASE take the MSF course. If it's a Honda you buy, join the Honda Rider's Club (I think it's like $35/year) and they'll pay up to $75/year in training! Plus it knocks insurance down a bit too. But no matter what, please take the MSF course, it really is that good.
Originally posted by eljefino: [freaknout] FOUR carbs? [freaknout]
my buddy's got 6 carbs on his '01 Valkrie (flat 6). he rides it to work every non raining day.
There are millions of idiots rampaging across the landscape in their multi-thousand pound engines of death. Very few folks care if they kill another person.... especially if they are in a car. It's JUST AN ACCIDENT, yah' see. I would tremble with fear being on the road surrounded by the brainless tumors in their killer cards. Heck, they scared me constantly when I was in an 18-wheeler.
Originally posted by cousincletus: I had a H-D 883 Sportster and it got 50 mpg. I wouldn't get a m/c just to save gas. They're lots of fun and you'll end up wasting gas just riding around.
How true.
Did anybody notice that eljefino almost subconsciously used the phrase "life expectancy" in his initial post? Ask around, and you'll find that all MC riders agree that it's just a matter of time before somebody "just didn't see you..." I also think you need to have an inate passion for these machines, and not get one to try to save money.
I use to commonly get 45 mpg on 750 and 1100 cc bikes, high 30s for highly illegal driving, and close to 50 driving legal. Some cars get that, and they don't chew up tires every 10k miles, chains every 15k, clutch cables every 20k, front sprockets every other chain, plugs every 5k miles...etc. But few cars can do 0 to 60 mph in under 2.5 seconds :^)
Originally posted by 1sttruck: But few cars can do 0 to 60 mph in under 2.5 seconds :^)
*This* is why you own motorcycles. The performance of a car costing 5X or 10X as much... [Wink]
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