Motorcycles make great commuter vehicles, saving you gas money and wear and tear on your automobile, but there are plenty of trade offs that have to be taken into consideration before you take the plunge. All too often, people buy motorcycles expecting to jump right on and start saving, but in reality, it just isn’t that easy. Not only must you consider the weather in your area, but your own ability to ride must be considered, and the costs of owning both a motorcycle and a car can be prohibitive. In fact, the cost of ownership for those who don’t already own a motorcycle can easily eat up any savings you might find.
Today’s motorcycles come in a wide range of sizes, from around 125cc to well over 2,000cc. This denotes the bike’s engine size, and relates directly to how much power the motorcycle produces. Small 125cc motorcycles produce little horsepower and torque, but get very high fuel economy, while large displacement engines produce large amounts of power but achieve fuel economy not much better than some cars. There are also bikes that are under 125cc, but these are considered scooters, and may not be legal for use on all roads. Closed-access highways typically restrict small scooters, such as those under 50cc displacement, because they simply cannot keep up with the speed of traffic on the highway.
If you’ve never ridden before, enroll in a Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved rider safety course. These will give you a taste of what it’s like to pilot a motorcycle before you actually purchase one. Setting aside the great gas mileage, motorcycling isn’t for everyone. Like anything in life, it comes with its share of ups and downs. The rider course will teach you the basics of riding, as well as some defensive riding techniques that will help keep you safe on the road. An added bonus is that when you’ve successfully completed the course, you’ll qualify for a discount on your motorcycle insurance.
When you’re ready to buy your first commuter motorcycle, there’s a lot of hype to overcome. A “bigger is better” mentality pervades in the industry, but for your ride to work, there are plenty of smaller bikes on the showroom floor. For your first bike, choose a motorcycle that’s larger than 250cc and smaller than 800cc. This will keep your fuel economy comfortably between 30 and 50 miles per gallon, and most bikes in this size range are inexpensive to purchase and to own. Bikes that are smaller than 250cc tend to struggle at speeds over 55 miles per hour, and your fuel economy will suffer. Larger bikes use more fuel, and though they are very comfortable, are generally not a good idea for beginning riders.
Buying and riding a motorcycle, even if its just to go back and forth to work, means that you’re buying into a culture that’s easy to love, and difficult to peel yourself away from. You might just find yourself enjoying that commute to and from work a bit more, as well.
Spot Motorcycles: “Save Money Commuting by Motorcycle? Not So Fast!” www.spotmotorcycles.com
Chuck Hawks: Good First Motorcycles: www.chuckhawks.com