If you’re thinking about getting a motorcycle or you are simply wondering what the benefits are to riding a motorcycle, you’re not alone. Many times I’ve often asked myself this and have done a lot of research about the subject.
The disadvantages of riding a motorcycle will sometimes scare people or their families/loved ones and people often abandon the idea because of it. While, yes, there are dangers associated with riding a motorcycle, I’d like to focus on the advantages of such a hobby and explain to you what I’ve learned through my research and my experiences.
They’re a Good Vehicle in Case of an Emergency
While learning to ride a motorcycle is a fun skill to acquire, there’s actually a lot more to it than just using it for a hobby. If, for whatever reason, you are caught in an emergency and only have a motorcycle as your source of transportation, your ability to ride becomes so much more valuable. Let me explain.
I once heard a story about a family that was working out in a field, miles away from any other house or phone. One of the family members, while using a hoe to till the dirt, accidentally stabbed his foot and began to bleed profusely. The only vehicle available was a motorcycle (the whole family had been carpooled there and dropped off). Luckily, a member of the family knew how to ride a motorcycle and drove it to the nearest town to alert a hospital to send an ambulance.
You never know what situation you may be caught in because life will throw us a few odd balls sometimes. This is a good way to be prepared in case you’re caught in an emergency situation. How grateful you would be if you could ride a motorcycle to end up saving your life or the life of someone else.
They’re Long Lasting
It’s difficult to put an exact life expectancy to a motorcycle; that entirely depends on the person who is riding it and taking care of it. Even with that considered, motorcycles still have a really long life expectancy with a little TLC.
I have restored over a dozen motorcycles, many of which were made anywhere from the 1960’s to the 1980’s and most of them didn’t require much engine rebuilding. That’s crazy for a vehicle to go 40 plus years without needing an engine rebuild!
If you provide your motorcycle with the love and care it deserves, it will give you back the love and care you deserve. Cars don’t last much longer than 20 years at best unless you’re willing to restore the engine and other complicated components that a car has.
Motorcycles are easy to take care of if you’re willing to give the few extra minutes every day. Making them last a long time doesn’t really require much effort. Keep them out of the elements by putting a cover over it and/or keeping it in the garage or shed, properly store it for the winter, keep it clean, and don’t constantly ride it like a madman.
You Become a Better Car Driver
Anyone who has ridden a motorcycle knows how alert you must be to keep yourself from getting injured while riding out on the road. You’re constantly on the lookout (or should be) of potential dangers and hazards coming your way and you should always be coming up with a plan in your head in case the worst happens.
Several studies have shown that generally those who ride a motorcycle are actually better drivers in a car compared to drivers who do not ride a motorcycle.
Those who know how to ride a motorcycle become more aware of motorcyclists on the road because they’ve been where they are. They’re more likely to double check their blind spots and look for them in a rain storm.
When you ride a motorcycle, you have to be a defensive driver because you are susceptible to more dangers than you would be driving any other type of vehicle. That defensive driving is usually implemented when a motorcyclist is driving a car. Reaction times tend to be quicker and there’s better coordination.
Getting a Motorcycle License is Simple
If you haven’t already gotten your motorcycle license but you are thinking about getting one, don’t worry too much about what it will take to get your motorcycle license; it is relatively simple.
Every state is different with their requirements for individuals to obtain a motorcycle license. Generally, you need to get a permit first which requires a short written test and an eye exam. Usually the permit lasts about six months to a year. Once you get your permit, you’re free to practice riding around controlled areas such as parking lots, neighborhoods, etc.
Some states require that you take a motorcycle safety course. If your state does require a safety course and you successfully complete it you may not have to take your driving test or you get a discount on the fee required to get your license.
A motorcycle driving test usually doesn’t last longer than 5-10 minutes. It will consist of your instructor asking you where all your controls are and ask you to drive a specific way to demonstrate your ability to control the machine. It’s much less intimidating than getting a regular driver’s license.
It’s a Great Excuse to Get Close to Someone
Sometimes motorcycle rides are romanticized; you see movies or pictures of couples riding a motorcycle and you can see how in love they are. Here’s the thing though. It’s all true. Motorcycles can be very romantic.
If you’re wanting to ride a motorcycle simply because you want to look cool and pick up someone attractive and give them a ride, you’re not alone! That’s actually how I got started with riding motorcycles. I restored my first bike when I was in college and ended up taking several girls on dates with it. One of those girls ended up as my wife and we have very fond memories of our motorcycle rides together while we were dating.
Motorcycle passengers are usually left with no choice but to wrap their arms around you for safety reasons. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it if you’re rather fond of the person doing it. So go ahead, use this as an excuse to get those attractive people to ride with you.
They’re Easy to Fix
There might be some who will argue with me on this, but if you apply yourself just a little bit, you can absolutely fix your motorcycle yourself in most cases. I bought my first motorcycle when I was 22 years old and had literally zero experience with them. I fixed it up watching YouTube videos and reading online forums and was able to do all the fixes myself.
Motorcycles are not complex machines; they’re very basic and minimal and they were made that way on purpose. If fixing a motorcycle intimidates you, take a chance and try doing a repair yourself. You honestly don’t have much to lose. If you get stuck and have to take it in to the shop, well, you were planning on doing that anyway, right?
You only need a few basic tools to help you maintain your motorcycle. You don’t need to be a major gearhead to keep your motorcycle healthy. Click here to see my list of recommended tools to use for your motorcycle maintenance.
Alongside the fact that motorcycles are easy to fix, once you get a better understanding of how they work, you’ll actually have a better understanding of how cars work, too. I started off restoring motorcycles and after I did so many, I became more comfortable with working on cars. I now do most of my car repairs myself and actually have started restoring a 1966 Ford Bronco.
Great Resale Value
Motorcycles usually hold a great resale value and aren’t as heavily affected by depreciation as cars are. A lot of this depends on the make and model of motorcycle you have, but this rule generally covers most motorcycles.
According to Edmunds.com, when you purchase a brand new car from a dealership, your car instantly depreciates 11% once you drive out of the parking lot. For example, if you purchase a car for $30,000, the car’s worth instantly goes down and is now only worth about $26,700. You lose $3,300 within five minutes! A car also continues to depreciate about 15% each year.
When you drive a brand new purchased motorcycle off the lot, you will also lose an instant 11% of it’s value in depreciation. However, though the percentage is the same, numerically it is very different compared to a car because the average brand new motorcycle doesn’t cost near as much as a brand new car.
For example, you can buy a brand new Honda CB650R for about $9,000. With 11% depreciation, your motorcycle will be worth about $8,000 once your drive it off the parking lot.
So let’s compare the two: a car loses about $3,300 worth in depreciation and a motorcycle loses about $1,000 in depreciation. $1,000 looks a lot better to me in this case.
After that instant depreciation, however, motorcycles hold up their resale value much better than cars. Motorcycles lose an average of 10% of their value each year compared to cars that lose at least 15% of their value each year.
If you’re in the motorcycle game, it is always financially wise to purchase a used motorcycle. That way you won’t have to worry about that instant depreciation and the worth of your motorcycle remains more steady.
Easy to Customize
Unlike a car (or any other vehicle really), customizing a motorcycle is really quite simple, especially if you know where the right resources are.
I have customized every single motorcycle I have owned (which is over a dozen motorcycles) and I did every single customizing and modifications myself. I had no experience before I started doing this and it was really simple to get into.
Customizing your gas tank color, your seat, handle bars, lights, etc. can be daunting, but a little courage is all you need. Why pay someone to customize your ride when you know exactly the look you want to have and can do it yourself for free?
There are countless resources out there that will provide you with everything you need. YouTube videos, forums, blogs and much more can give you the specific information you need about your motorcycle. Amazon and eBay have about every item you could ever dream of to use for your ride.
Become Part of an Unbiased Community
If you’ve ridden motorcycles for a while, you’re already familiar with that sense of belonging to the motorcycle community. You ride down the road and see a fellow motorcyclist pass you riding the opposite direction and you give each other that common hand wave to acknowledge one another, even though you don’t know each other. You probably don’t do that with someone driving any other vehicle.
My father-in-law and I love to ride motorcycles. I’m more of a cafe racer type of guy and he’s more of a skulls and Harley-Davidson type of guy. He once told me he was at a small cafe with some friends and noticed a group of motorcyclists eating there. He went up and talked to them and expressed an instant connection with them because of their common love for motorcycles.
One of them said they were a janitor at a high school, another said they were a heart-surgeon, another said they were an accountant.
The motorcycle community is unbiased about your past and your current social status. All that matters is that you all have the common passion for riding. If you’re looking for fellow motorcycle friends, click here to see my guide for the best ways to do so.
You Can Brake Faster
There’s often an argument about whether or not a motorcycle can brake faster than a car. You’ll see forums everywhere online debating such a topic.
The reality is, the average motorcycle can brake faster than the average car. Of course you’ll have your exceptions with sports cars and very heavy touring motorcycles, but I’m talking about the average vehicles here.
You see, a motorcycle can stop faster than a car because of the principle of momentum. A motorcycle and it’s rider will weigh about 700 pounds while a car and driver weight about 3700 pounds. It will take a lot less force to stop 700 pounds, so the friction exerted from the road and brakes will stop 700 pounds faster than 3700 pounds.
This all, of course, depends on your ability as a motorcyclist to brake properly. Braking properly takes skill and practice, especially if you need to come to an abrupt stop.
Using the front brake versus the back brake makes a difference. Slamming on the front brake can be hazardous and slamming on the back brake can lock up the tire and not be as effective when trying to stop. Using both brakes simultaneously with the right pressure will give you the best results to stop the quickest, even quicker than a car.
You Become Part of the Scenery
When you’re on a road trip, it’s fun to look out the window and see all the beautiful scenery around you. Sometimes you may roll down your window to smell the experience, too.
When you’re riding a motorcycle, you don’t just look at the scenery, rather you become a part of it. Your entire body is immersed in the beauty instead of glancing at it all through a window in a car.
This is especially true during a long road trip on a motorcycle. Some people think they would find the constant wind to be rather annoying while riding a motorcycle for such a long distance, but people don’t understand the amazing feeling you get when you’re a part of the beauty around you with no windows or roof to block your view.
One of the greatest perks about riding a motorcycle is the simplicity of parking. It’s so frustrating when you’re driving in a car and looking for a parking spot only to find some guy taking up two parking spots and doesn’t leave any room for another car. Or you may find a parallel parking spot that is just too impossible to squeeze into with a car.
Motorcycles are so much easier to maneuver because they’re smaller. If you run into a situation where a parking spot is open but the cars on either side parked over the lines, that’s no problem to you.
Parallel parking is a breeze with a motorcycle. You can simply pull in or back in if needed so your back tire is touching the curb. Not to mention the simplicity of pulling out of a parking spot with zero blind spots to worry about.
Parking laws for motorcycles are the same as parking laws for cars. You can’t assume that you can park in handicap spots, sidewalks, or access isles. However, I’ve been to a handful of places that have miniature parking spots specifically for motorcycles. You feel pretty special when you get to use one of those! Here’s a link to my article about motorcycle parking etiquette.
Get to Destinations Faster
If it is weather permitting, using your motorcycle to get to some other destination may get you there faster than if you drove a car. Even though motorcyclists need to follow the same laws as car drivers, motorcyclists are exempt from a few things that could make your commute a little faster.
There are several states who have passed a law, more commonly known as the “Red Dead” law or also known as the “Safe on Red” law, which allows motorcyclists to drive through a red light. You can only legally do this if you come to a complete stop at the light and notice that the light sensor has not acknowledged your presence (which is common with motorcycles because of how much smaller they are compared to cars).
After you have stopped and notice the light will not be changing any time soon, you can proceed through the light with caution and not get in trouble for it. Check your state’s law before you proceed with this as it is not legal in every state.
There are also some states, such as California, that permit “lane splitting,” meaning you can ride your motorcycle in between cars during traffic. Check with your state to see their status about this form of navigation. If you plan to do this, be aware that it can be dangerous and proceed with caution.
Another benefit about driving a motorcycle is you get to use the Express Lane or the HOV lane on freeways. This will cut off a lot of time while driving to your destination.
You’ll Save Money
Taking care of your motorcycle doesn’t cost near as much as it does for cars or other vehicles. There are many ways you can save money by riding a motorcycle, but we’ll highlight the most important ones.
Motorcycles get excellent gas mileage. Motorcycles get much better gas mileage than most commuter cars, in fact they get about double the miles per gallon. Most street bikes get between 30 and 60 miles per gallon, and that goes for a lot of the older bikes as well. I owned an old heavy Yamaha XS850 that got around 45 miles per gallon.
Maintenance on a motorcycle costs much less, too. Because motorcycles are much simpler machines (well, most of them anyway), you can usually do the maintenance work yourself which that in itself saves you a ton of money.
Most people assume that motorcycle insurance is expensive. Many first time owners don’t realize how much cheaper motorcycle insurance costs per month as compared to car insurance. For motorcycle insurance I pay $17 per month for my 1969 Triumph and I pay $62 per month for my 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee auto insurance, and each one is worth about $6,000.
Helps Your Physical Health
You may not realize this, but riding a motorcycle is excellent for your physical health. Believe it or not, motorcyclists are performing low impact exercises while they’re riding.
Your neck, core, arms and thighs are all engaged while you are riding a motorcycling. Consider wind into the equation and that causes your muscles to engage even more. You may notice that when you finish your motorcycle ride, you’re a little sore, not just from stiffness. Over time your body gets used to sitting on your motorcycle because you have developed and strengthened those muscles necessary to keep you up.
With that being said, you also burn more calories riding a motorcycle than you do a car. Because you are engaging so much muscle use, you’re burning those calories on top of it.
With the right handlebar and seat settings, riding a motorcycle can help with posture. Most of this is because your neck muscles are strengthened wearing a helmet and can help develop neck muscles necessary to keep your vertebrae in alignment.
Helps Your Mental Health
Alongside with assisting your physical health, riding a motorcycle can also help with your mental health. But this is something I don’t need to preach to motorcycle riders because there’s a reason they love it so much.
With the increased physical health mentioned previously, your engaged muscle exercises leads to increased mental health too. It’s a simple fact that when you exercise, your body releases endorphins and enkephalins which are the body’s natural feel-good hormones.
Being outside in the open can also have positive impacts on our mental health. According to Heart.org, spending time outside can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and well being.
It also makes sense that motorcyclists increase their capability to engage their minds. The concentration required to drive a motorcycle can result in higher levels of brain functionality.
You’ll Be Safe From an Electrical Grid Attack
This may be a little out there, but hear me out. The military has stated that the most likely type of attack on the United States would be an attack on our electrical grid, with bombs being able to burn up all circuitry within a large range. This would fry all computers, including computers found inside most vehicles newer than the 90’s.
But most motorcycles don’t have computers! So there is nothing to fry, leaving you free to travel like nothing ever happened.
You might think this is a bit extreme and that I’m one of those doomsdayers. Most people might say this will never happen, which would be great. But if it does then you have a source of transportation in a horrible crisis.
What are the different types of motorcycles? There are many styles of motorcycles. The main types are choppers, cruisers, sport bikes, touring, and standard. There are subcategories within each style of motorcycles. Each type of motorcycle was designed for specific purposes.
What are the best ways to tow a motorcycle if you don’t have a truck? Luckily there are several ways to tow a motorcycle including a towing trailer, a motorcycle carrier, and a motorcycle dolly. All options are safe and fairly easy to use, you just need to make sure you have the right equipment. Click here to see my article for more information.