Is a Motorcycle Cheaper Than a Car?

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Generally, people are looking for ways to save money, especially when it comes to their vehicles. There are lots of ideas to save money in terms of transportation and often times people consider investing in a motorcycle to do so.

Are motorcycles cheaper than cars? In general, motorcycles are cheaper and more cost efficient compared to owning a car with a few exceptions. When recognizing a motorcycle to be “cheaper”, the cost to maintain, repair, and insure a motorcycle is considered since it’s usually less than a car.

Vehicles, apart from a place to live, can oftentimes be an individual’s largest monthly expense. The vehicle itself costs money. It then requires gas to run and you will also have to regularly spend money in order to maintain it. On top of that, you will need to make sure that your vehicle is registered and insured so that you can legally drive it. Lastly, anything that breaks on your vehicle will cost money to repair. All of these costs can really start to add up.

The truth is that with owning a motorcycle, you can lower the cost of all of these things previously mentioned. You will have to consider the various pros and cons of owning a motorcycle though; for example, with a motorcycle, you have much less room for carrying passengers or other objects with you. You also will be much more exposed to the elements on days when the weather is bad. If these are not big enough concerns to make you worry, then keep on reading and we will walk you through exactly how much owning a motorcycle can save you in the long run.

Total Cost Of Ownership And How A Motorcycle Is Cheaper

So, how much money can driving a motorcycle actually save you? First of all, let us look at the upfront cost of buying a motorcycle. If you are looking at a new motorcycle, prices vary quite a bit. You can get a standard new motorcycle anywhere from $4,000-$20,000, with some exceptions (click here to see our article about examples of now much new motorcycles cost). This is a brand new, zero miles bike.

If you go to purchase a new car, this will cost you significantly more. The cheapest new cars that you can find are generally around $16,000. This is the cost of base model compact cars with minimal features. From there, depending on the type of car that you are buying you can expect to see up to $50,000 for a regular car. SUV’s and trucks can get up to $100,000 with luxury and sport cars going even higher than that.

Now if you were looking to buy a used motorcycle, you can find some extremely cheap. You can find worn motorcycles with a lot of miles for as low as a couple of hundred dollars. You can get a decent used motorcycle for between $2000-$4000.

Obviously, the price continues to increase the better condition the motorcycle is in and the nicer it is. You would be hard-pressed to find many used bikes over $10,000 though. As far as cars go, you can also get junkers for just a couple hundred dollars. From there, prices increase the better condition they are in and the nicer they are. Cars that are only a couple of years old can still cost you around $10,000-$20,000. 

There are also a couple of other upfront motorcycle costs that are often overlooked. In order to ride a motorcycle, you will need/want some motorcycle gear. These items could include a helmet, riding boots, a jacket, or gloves. While these things are not going to cost you thousands of dollars, you can expect everything to cost you a couple hundred bucks.

As far as maintenance on a motorcycle goes, you can expect your annual costs to be less than a vehicle. Your motorcycle uses much less fluids as it is much smaller and has fewer components. You will have to replace tires more frequently than on a car, but the cost still comes out a little less for owning a motorcycle since there are only two tires instead of four.

When it comes to repairs, a motorcycle will also be cheaper since parts are much cheaper for motorcycles than cars. They are generally much more simple, quick, and easier to access which makes it easier for you to do things yourself. This really helps save you money not having to rely on mechanics with special tools and equipment as much.

As far as fuel economy goes, unless you are comparing a motorcycle to an electric car, you will save a lot of money on gas by riding a motorcycle. Cars, SUVs, and trucks generally get 20-30 miles per gallon. The more fuel efficient ones and hybrid models can get higher than this. Your average motorcycle gets between 35-55 miles per gallon while there are some motorcycles that can even get between 60-75 miles per gallon. This is all very dependent on the engine of your motorcycle and what kind of fuel that you are putting into it.

Lastly, we will look at insurance. Insurance can vary quite a bit, depending on what you are insuring, how many vehicles you are insuring, and your own personal driving record. On average, the usual car owner spends about $130 a month on car insurance. The average for people insuring motorcycles is about $60 a month. This is a huge difference and can save you several hundred dollars each year. Keep in mind there are some states where motorcycle insurance can actually be more than regular auto insurance although the average amongst all states is significantly less.

Why Is Motorcycle Insurance Less Than Car Insurance?

So, why is motorcycle insurance so much cheaper than normal automotive insurance? First, a motorcycle is generally worth less money and costs less to repair than a full-sized car. Thus, if it were to get into an accident, the insurance companies would have to pay less to repair or replace it.

Second, it’s smaller and lighter than a normal car so you are less likely to do as much damage to another vehicle. That means that your insurance company is probably not going to have to pay as much to fix another person’s vehicle when you are at fault in an accident. They also are less likely to have to pay medical bills for another person when you are at fault. Those reasons may seem big but in fact, they are actually the smaller reason why motorcycle insurance is so much cheaper. 

The main reason why motorcycle insurance on average is so much cheaper is because it oftentimes does not actually cover the rider. Your standard insurance policy will cover others that you hit if you are at fault and their vehicle. It will also cover your own motorcycle, but generally it will not cover your personal injuries. The main reason being that you are much more likely to get seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and your insurance company knows that this is a high risk, so generally they are not willing to gamble with this.

Keep in mind that you can get insurance that will cover your personal injuries, but this will generally significantly increase your premium. That is why motorcycle insurance for most people is so much cheaper. It is only covering other people if you and your motorcycle are at fault. If you get into an accident that you caused and are injured, you will not be getting any help from your motorcycle insurance. 

You may have noticed lots of people use crowd funding websites in order to raise money for people injured in motorcycle accidents and this is why. Medical bills can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a couple million dollars, depending on what needs to be done. If your motorcycle insurance is not helping out, it is then up to your medical insurance to help with that bill. If you don’t have great medical insurance or do not have any medical insurance at all, you can be left with an enormous bill. That is why, in desperation, many people turn towards crowdfunding to try to get some help. This is something you should be aware of if you plan on getting a motorcycle.

Ways To Lower Motorcycle Costs Even More

Is there anything else that you can do to help bring down the cost of owning a motorcycle even further? Absolutely! One thing that you can do is own a motorcycle that is more reliable. Just like anything else, certain bikes are more dependable than others while some are known to frequently have issues. These issues are going to cost you money every time they occur. Doing some research beforehand to find out what the common issues are on a specific bike and how reliable it is can save you quite a bit of money down the road.

Another thing that will save you lots of money is performing maintenance yourself. Just like cars, motorcycles do requires routine maintenance though it’s not near as much as a car requires. If you end up paying a shop to do this maintenance, it can end up costing you quite a bit. This routine maintenance is fairly simple and does not require much beyond basic tools. Learning how to do these things by yourself will save you tons of money down the road.

Along the same lines, being able to do your own repairs will save you a ton of money. While repairing your motorcycle can be more difficult than performing the routine maintenance, it is still something that you can do with a little help from the internet. In the world we live in today, there is a huge wealth of resources that you can use to learn how to fix just about anything. There are videos that you can look at that will walk you through step by step on how to do repairs on your specific motorcycle.

As bikes are so much smaller and lighter than cars, they are generally more simple and easier to access than cars to work on. This is ideal for a DIY mechanic who wants to take care of things themselves.

The last thing that you can do to make sure that you save as much money as possible on your motorcycle is to make sure that it is properly maintained. Maintenance can be a pain sometimes whether you do it yourself or have a mechanic do it. While major repairs due to system failures can cost you hundreds and thousands of dollars, maintaining your motorcycle will only cost you a small fraction of that amount each year.

Proper routine maintenance will help all of the components on your bike last longer including the engine and the tires. The better your bike is maintained, the less frequently that you will have to fork out unexpected money for unexpected repairs.

Why Motorcycles Also Save You Time

Your motorcycle can actually save you quite a bit of time on top of the money that it saves you. And as we all know, time is money. So how can your motorcycle save you time? The first way that your motorcycle does this is allowing you to split lanes. This mean that when traffic is stopped, you are able to go between the stopped lanes of traffic or if there is a big line of cars at a light, you are able to go between the lanes up to the light and skip all of that traffic.  

Another big time saver that riding a motorcycle offers is the ability to use the HOV lane while driving on the freeway. This lane is reserved for people who are carpooling and for motorcycles. It generally goes much faster than the other lanes of traffic and does not get backed up as much. Anyone on a motorcycle can use this lane anytime that they want (though it’s best to check with your state’s laws before doing so). This will let you cruise down the freeway a lot faster and smoother than all of the rest of the traffic which will save you time on your daily commutes.

Time is often overlooked when comparing the costs of motorcycles vs. cars. As we have seen, you can save yourself quite a bit of money by riding a motorcycle rather than driving a car. In addition, we now know that you can also save yourself quite a bit of time by doing this. There are pros and cons to everything, but after we compared the two it seems that there is no doubt that motorcycles are certainly cheaper than cars in almost every sense. It’s now up to you to decide if that’s what you want to do and if the pros are worth it.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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