Whether you already own a motorcycle or are contemplating the possibility of getting one, it’s always a good idea to weigh in on the pros and cons of such an activity. There is no right answer for everyone; riding a motorcycle is a very individual thing.
I have owned over twelve motorcycles of all types and sizes and have been able to see the biggest pros and cons of owning such a vehicle. Consider these points if you are still trying to make the decision of pursuing this hobby (but just know that I love it!).
Motorcycle Pro: Increased Physical Health
You may have heard before that riding and owning a motorcycle can actually improve your physical health. Some may say this is debatable, but I can attest to the improvements on my physical health since I’ve owned a motorcycle.
There’s actually a little bit of a science to it. I mean, think about it; moving around a large machine obviously requires muscle engagement. Moving a motorcycle in neutral isn’t an easy task and your muscles make up for it, even if you don’t notice it.
I’ve often heard the questions about whether or not you need to be strong in order to ride a motorcycle. You don’t necessarily need to be strong, you just need to practice and get good at handling the bike; in other words, you build up muscle to it which is something you will do if you haven’t already. For more information about being strong enough to ride a motorcycle, see my article here.
You actually engage a lot of muscle while you’re riding a motorcycle, too. Riding a motorcycle has shown to increase core strength and improve posture due to the engagement you have to use with your neck carrying a helmet.
Motorcycle Pro: Increased Mental Health
Along with physical benefits, riding and owning a motorcycle actually has some mental health benefits as well. But this is something you don’t have to tell a seasoned rider twice; there’s a reason people love riding a motorcycle so much.
When you exercise and engage your muscles, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are a type of hormone released within the brain and nervous system and essentially makes you “happy” or “feel good.”
Aside from that, being on a motorcycle means you’re out in the open getting some fresh air which that in itself provides increased 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.
There’s something about being out in the open air, just you and the environment around you with no car roof confining you to a small space. If you haven’t already tried it, borrow a friend or family member’s motorcycle or go for a ride with them and note how you feel mentally during the ride.
Motorcycle Pro: Money Saver
A lot of people don’t realize how cheap it can be to own a motorcycle. Yes, it does cost money to purchase it in the first place, but if you’re planning on using it as a primary source of transportation you can really save a good amount of money.
First let’s note the gas mileage you can get on a motorcycle. 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.
A lot of people don’t realize how cheap motorcycle insurance can be. Unless you’ve caused a previous motorcycle accident or you want to get some crazy fast motorcycle, your insurance should actually be quite reasonable. I currently pay $17 a month for my motorcycle insurance. Not bad.
Motorcycles can also be considered DIY projects because they’re a lot more simple machines than cars. If any issues come up, you can often learn how to fix it yourself. Or if you do have to take it in to the shop, the bill is usually much lower than taking a car in to get fixed.
Motorcycle Pro: Easier To Fix Yourself
One of the most wonderful things about motorcycles is the simplicity of it’s systems compared to other vehicles. It may seem intimidating, but motorcycles are pretty basic when it comes to their mechanical functionality. As I had mentioned before, they can also be considered DIY projects for those who are willing to pursue it.
When I was going to college, I started restoring motorcycles and sold them for a profit. I was injured while at work one day that put me out for the rest of the summer. I had a few hundred bucks to spend and needed something stationary to do, so I bought a motorcycle and started tinkering with it. I had zero previous experience motorcycles.
With a little help from YouTube and online forums, I was able to fix up that motorcycle and make it look stunning. I ended up selling it for a profit and found I could easily do this many more times. I was very surprised with how easy it was to work on motorcycles.
Take a chance on yourself and see what you can accomplish when it comes to fixing a motorcycle. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn if you’re willing to put in the time.
Motorcycle Pro: They Last Longer
This is a point that a lot of people will argue. Most people assume that motorcycles don’t last near as long as cars and shouldn’t be used after they have a certain mileage on them.
The truth is actually quite the opposite. Motorcycles can last just as long as cars, if not longer. Like it was mentioned before, motorcycles are simple creatures and parts can easily be replaced at an affordable price so they last longer.
Most of the motorcycles I’ve restored (which there have been over a dozen) have been older motorcycles. A lot of them were still running when I started restoring them and the ones that weren’t running didn’t take much to get them back up and running. The fact that some of them had been sitting in a field for years and only required a little bit of TLC to get it running says a lot.
As long as you provide the right maintenance, motorcycles can last you as long as you want them to. Be sure to change the oil at the right times, use the right gas (click here to see my article about the right gas to use in a motorcycle), and keep it out of the elements as much as possible. If you take care of it then it’ll take care of you.
Motorcycle Con: More Dangerous
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and advantages of owning and riding a motorcycle, I’d like to touch up on the disadvantages and cons of owning one as well. These are things you should pay attention to if you’re thinking about getting a motorcycle.
The biggest con you’ll hear about motorcycles is the increased danger that’s associated with them. Motorcycles themselves aren’t necessarily dangerous machines, it’s the lack of protection they provide that’s dangerous.
According to iii.org, motorcyclists are more likely to get injured than those who are driving a car. The hardest part about this is that cars cause almost half of the accidents that occur with motorcycles. Car drivers who have never ridden a motorcycle are very unaware of motorcyclists and don’t think to look for them.
This is also in addition to motorcyclists thinking they can get away with riding a motorcycle in less than ideal conditions. For example, motorcyclists are more prone to accidents in harsh weather or being intoxicated than they would be driving a normal car.
Motorcycle Con: A Bigger Target For Thieves
In a perfect world, we would be able to leave our belongings out without any worry at all. Unfortunately that isn’t the case, especially with motorcycles. In fact, motorcycles are more likely to get stolen than cars.
Motorcycles are a more frequent target because they’re much easier to access and much lighter than cars. With cars, you have to break in somehow, creatively get it started, and drive away without being noticed. Stealing a motorcycles requires much less time and effort.
There are a few types of motorcycles that are more sought after by thieves such as Japanese motorcycles. It’s important that you keep track of your motorcycle, store it in a secure place when it’s not in use, use a cover when you can, and use a motorcycle lock when you have to park it in public places. Click here to see my list of recommended ways to secure your motorcycle.
Motorcycle Con: Limited Space
Though this may be an obvious disadvantage to owning and riding a motorcycle, there may be a little more to it than you think. Be aware that a motorcycle has pretty limited space on it, so you should plan accordingly.
Unless you have a touring motorcycles that has several compartments for storage and luggage, using your motorcycle to run errands such as going to the grocery store is pretty much out of the question.
Having a passenger on the motorcycle might be iffy as well. If the seat is only big enough to fit one or one and a half people, there is not room for a passenger and it should not be attempted to do so.
I used a motorcycle to get around when I was going to college. It was often difficult if I needed to carrying anything other than my backpack with my books in it. I often needed to ask for rides to go to the grocery store since all my groceries could have never fit on my bike.
Motorcycle Con: More Susceptible To Weather
I had mentioned earlier the physical and mental health benefits of riding and owning a motorcycle can bring especially because you’re outside, but being outside can also be a big disadvantage at the wrong time.
Bad weather is no friend to motorcycle riders. Getting caught in a bad rain or snow storm while riding is not only uncomfortable, but it’s also dangerous. Motorcycles are more susceptible to hydroplaning in wet weather (see my article here for more info on motorcycles hydroplaning).
Other drivers around you either seem to panic a little or become even less aware of motorcycle riders in such conditions. Perhaps they’re not expecting motorcycle riders to be out riding in bad weather.
If you get cold enough and wet enough, it’s also possible to develop hypothermia pretty quickly. That’s why it’s so important to wear the right gear when riding and look at the weather ahead of time to make sure you won’t run into any trouble with mother nature.
Motorcycle Con: Hardly Any Exceptions Made
One misinterpretation people seem to have about motorcycles is that they think motorcycles have special rules on the road. For the most part, that isn’t true and motorcyclists are required to abide by the same laws and rules as any other motor vehicle.
Motorcycles don’t have any parking privileges. You may have seen a motorcycle parked on the striped lines in parking lots or on the sidewalk up next to a grocery store. While not everyone gets a ticket for doing this, it’s actually quite illegal because it’s obstructing foot traffic. For more information about motorcycle parking etiquette, see my article here.
Motorcycles aren’t allowed to ride in bicycle lanes either. You’ll see a lot of motorcycles taking advantage of that lane assuming their vehicle is more like a bicycle rather than a car. That’s also very illegal.
The few exceptions that motorcyclists do have, such as running red lights and lane splitting, aren’t legal everywhere. Though those advantages are nice to use, you’ll need to make sure to check in with your state laws before doing anything like that.
Are motorcycles good for college students? There are pros and cons to college students owning a motorcycle. The advantages include a cheaper purchase price and less money towards maintenance and gas. The disadvantages include inclement weather and increased theft on college campuses. See my article here for more information.
How far can you ride a motorcycle in a day? There is no cap on how much you should ride a motorcycle in a day. A lot of it depends on the condition of your motorcycle and how much you as the rider are willing to endure through while on the motorcycle.