America is a great place for owning a motorcycle with its vast plains, long roads, and ingrained motorcycle culture. Motorcycle owners tend to immerse themselves in their bikes, and spend weekends riding as well as working on their bikes. But before going out and buying a motorcycle, it's important to understand the costs associated with ownership, as there are certain factors to consider which make motorcycles different than cars.
The factors that will determine the cost of ownership for a motorcycle are similar to those that apply to owning a car: year, make, and model of the bike, your location, driving record, and any applicable state laws. However, the maintenance costs on a motorcycle will differ from those of a car, and it's important to remember that owning a motorcycle will come with certain limits when it comes to transportation, including the inability to ride in inclement weather, and the inability to transport a child or much more than can fit into a backpack or saddle-bags.
The average cost of a motorcycle will range anywhere from the low end of $5000 all the way into the low double digits, so it's still significantly cheaper than buying a car which at the low end will cost you between $16,000 and $25,000 for a relatively high-quality vehicle.
Insurance rates for motorcycles are a catch-22. On one hand, the liability coverage for a motorcycle will be less than that of a car for the simple reason that during an accident, motorcycles typically cause very little damage to the other driver and vehicle. However, on the flip side, motorcycles and their drivers will sustain severe damage during an accident, which makes the premiums for collision and comprehensive coverage higher than those of an automobile. Overall, due to the costs associated with even minor accidents on motorcycles, complete coverage will be equal to, or more expensive than that of an automobile. Motorcycles are also more frequently stolen than cars, raising premiums as well.
As far as gas mileage goes, the average 600cc motorcycle will get between 45 and 60 MPG, depending on how it's driven. While this is significantly better than your average car, strict fuel efficiency standards may bridge this divide over the next several years. Maintenance, however, should be cheaper on a motorcycle than a car, assuming you're buying a model that isn't on the very high-end or the low-end of the manufacturing spectrum. A reliable Japanese bike like a Honda, Suzuki, or Yamaha will require little aside from oil changes, brake replacements, and tire upgrades.
When it comes down to it, owning a motorcycle isn't as cheap as it may seem. The gas mileage is good, but not amazing compared to many new cars that are coming out. Oil changes tend to be frequent, usually required every 2k miles, shorter intervals than a car, and will typically cost more, at approximately $50 per oil change. Tires need to be replaced at shorter intervals as well, typically between 6k and 8k miles, and are more expensive than car tires (although there are less of them). However, most people aren't buying motorcycles to save money, but to live the dream of two wheels on the open road, the office in the rear-view mirror, and the possibilities endless. So if you can swing it, don't let anyone stand in the way of your dream.
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