Saving money by riding a motorcycle

I’ve long thought that somebody could save a lot of money by riding a motorcycle during the warmer months as opposed to driving their cars.  Heck, bikes get as much as 100mpg depending on how small you go.  Well, I’ve been doing some math and the results are a bit sobering.

I drive roughly 12,000 miles per year in my Ford Ranger averaging 20mpg.  That equates to 600 gallons of fuel per year.  At $3.60 per gallon that is a bill of $2,160 per year to drive.  Assuming that 5,000 out of the 12,000 are driveable on a motorcycle (due to weather, what I’m carrying etc) I would be able to save:

– $450 riding a bike that gets 40mpg
– $600 riding a bike that gets 60mpg
– $675 riding a bike that gets 80mpg

As you can see, it is a reverse logarithmic curve.  The more mpg you get on the bike, the lower the incremental savings as compared to a bike with lower mpg.  For instance the difference between 40mpg and 60mpg bikes is $150 in savings but the difference between 60mpg and 80mpg is only $75.  For me, the sweet spot appears to be about 60mpg.  I’ve been eyeballing a Buell Blast for a while and they get 70mpg average but I will use the 60mpg numbers to play it safe – especially since it will be within $40 anyway.

Assuming the current gas prices I would save $600 per year riding 5,000 of my 12,000 miles on a bike as opposed to in my truck.  Consider $2,000 for a used bike, $200 per year for maintenance and $200 per year for insurance of the bike.  That would mean it would take 10 years before I would “pay off” the bike and start actually saving money.  If fuel costs were to double and go to $7 per gallon, I would save roughly $1,200 per year and it would take just 2.5 years of riding to “pay off” the bike and save money.  This is of course assuming insurance and maintenance didn’t go up considerably as well.

Due to the current rate of gas price rises, I’m thinking we’ll be in the $5 per gallon range in a year or two and that would make the bike riding pay off in about 5 years.  What it comes down to is unless you are given a bike, it will cost more than it will save.  At least for the first handful of years – even with a very conservative bike.

Here is a link to an excellent calculator to compare driving your motorcycle vs your car and how much you will save:

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