How trading your car for a motorcycle can reduce expenses

Save Money with a Motorcycle

by Debra L. Karplus, MS

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Motorcycle Commute

One Car Family

You've found many little ways to stretch your dollars and save money. Your food and utility bills have come down significantly. You've become more of a do-it-yourselfer with home repairs and improvements. And your family is learning inexpensive ways to have fun around town and at home. But maybe it's time for you to think bigger when it comes to economizing.

Maintaining a car, especially if it's the family's second vehicle, is never cheap. Have you ever considered trading in your car for a motorcycle or scooter? If you notice that most of your trips are local commutes with no passengers, you may be the perfect candidate to trade down from four wheels to two.

Riding a scooter or motorcycle can be fun and exciting, but you take certain safety risks by having no protection around you from other cars or from weather, as you do with a car. Additionally, you are limited as to what you can haul; no more trips to the home improvement center to pick up lumber if your main mode of transportation is with a two-wheeler.

A scooter is smaller than a motorcycle but larger than a motorized bicycle. Scooters travel as fast as about thirty-five miles per hour and cost from eight hundred dollars on up to about four thousand. Motorcycles will give you much more speed and versatility than scooters and may be more practical for you, but for a price.

One-Time Costs

New or used, plain or fancy, there is a big price range for motorcycles. The cost of a motorcycle should be notably less than for a comparable car. If you've looked at new cars lately, you've seen some inexpensive models with few added features for as little as about eighteen thousand dollars. As with cars, for motorcycles, you typically get what you pay for. Expect to spend about eight thousand dollars for a low-end bike and as much as twenty grand for one of the big fancy ones with a make and model that implies status; that's probably more motorcycle than you need for commuting to work or local errands.

Yearly Costs

Each state has its own requirements for licensing you and registering your motorcycle. You'll probably need to pass a course, a written test and a road test to earn your license to legally drive a motorcycle in your state. Also, you'll need to register your bike when you purchase it with the state and renew this registration annually. Your state undoubtedly has a website that defines its rules and regulations for motorcycles and their drivers. Check it out.

The high cost of motorcycle insurance may surprise you. The variables for insuring a motorcycle are similar to those with a car. The make and model of the bike, the age of the driver, and the amount of insurance coverage and deductibles are the main factors that determine cost of motorcycle insurance premiums. But don't expect that insurance to be inexpensive; you'll pay between two hundred and one thousand dollars annually.

Ongoing Costs

Motorcycle maintenance costs need to be calculated. Though motorcycles have fewer parts to maintain or repair than a car, those parts wear out quicker. Many people do their own routine maintenance on their bikes. That will definitely save you money, but you need to know what you're doing.

You'll save on gas with a motorcycle versus your car. Expect to get mileage of about one hundred miles per gallon with your motorcycle. Like a car, it varies as to where you'll be driving, in town or highway miles. Compare that with your compact car's thirty miles per gallon. But, if you're someone who typically doesn't do much driving at all, the savings in gas will actually be nominal.

Don't forget safety accessories and protective clothing for motorcycle riding. Whether or not your state requires a helmet, don't be a fool by not wearing one. Never skimp on buying a helmet; expect to pay about fifty dollars. Remember that a head injury from a tumble off your bike can impair your ability to function mentally for the rest of your life! Riding gloves, hard shoes, and long pants will also help assure your safety. And, you probably want to buy saddlebags for one hundred dollars or more to attach to the rear of the bike to hold and store things, such as groceries you buy while doing errands on your two-wheeler.

Before you imagine yourself as Peter Fonda in the 1969 film Easy Rider, hitting the open road on a motorcycle to find freedom, use one of the online calculators to determine if a motorcycle will really save you money and will suit your needs. A motorcycle or scooter can help you stretch dollars depending on your individual lifestyle. Like other large purchases, take this one seriously, shop around, talk to others who own motorcycles, and don't be in a hurry to buy one.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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