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Old 01-28-2011, 04:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Make sense to buy a motorcycle?

Hello,

I've read these forums for a while, but wanted to register to tap into the knowledge base here to get comments on my situation.

I own a 1995 Ford Contour SE (V6) and I drive 50 miles everyday (25 there and back) for work. Over the last several months I've averaged 25 mpg. The majority of my trip is 55mph+ on either a "highway" or country roads. The issue is not increasing my MPG with this car, because I've tried many of the less serious tricks and they don't do much, if anything (I can drive at 2,000 or 3,500 rpm and not much changes).

Rather, I'm looking at buying a motorcycle and wondering if the math works out. I have been through the state-required motorcycle course, but have not gotten it on my license yet ($80 + an addition $15 every time I renew).

I have the chance to get a 2007 BMW X Country with <10,000 miles for <$4000. I believe this to be an excellent compromise between the ninja and a bigger bike with awful gas mileage (I'm too big for a ninja and think larger bikes miss the point for my goals). Supposedly, the X Country will get 60-70 mpg. I want a Brammo, but the realities of the Brammo considering my commute and its cost mean that I'm looking at the BMW.

So, the question is, does the increased gas mileage at all make up for carrying another insurance plan, having to buy all the gear, having to buy the bike, and maintenance? Around the web the limited info I can find is that no, it is not worth it. Just wanted to see what you guys thought. I've looked at the fueleconomy site and it says I'd make it back in 5 years... in fuel costs, assuming I rode everyday (and I wouldn't).

Thanks for any advice!

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Old 01-28-2011, 06:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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MPG-wise it'll definitely work out.

Given how cheap US gas is, it probably won't work out financially unless you're up to maintaining the bike yourself.
Doing all the work yourself isn't all that easy on a fairly new Beemer with lots of electrical and computerized stuff.

Keeping a mc running is often as expensive as a car.
Tyres are expensive, and wear fast.
Oil changes are more frequent.
Chains wear faster than a car tyre.
Good clothing is expensive.

I don't want to put you off the idea of starting to ride, but look beyond the fuel mileage to make the decision.
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Old 01-28-2011, 06:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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+1 everything from above, and how much you really think you'll drive, it takes longer to gear up, gear down, rain gear, can't have coffee or soda while driving. Do have to go out of the office working haulling stuff with you. All of those things are a pain to do with a bike.

Assuming 25 mpg vs 65 mpg & $3 gas, gas only you'll save 13.46 per week, $350 a year if you ride it everyday other day, $700 everyday. Almost 5 years to break even just on gas. 13,000 miles a year is atleast one set of tires, dealer installed will be $250. Down to saving $550 a year. Insurance on my 2001 FZ1 (1000cc) was around $450, 1997 Concours1000 $120, better get a quote on that.

And consider what if/when you go down, is saving at a penny or 2 per mile worth the extra risk.

After ten year averaging about 8,000 per year until last few year, I didn't save anything. I'll buy another streetbike someday, but it's not going to be under the pretence of saving money.
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In ride gear, I'm about 205 pounds and found a 250 Ninja fine for my daily commute. Bought it new in 2007. With the wife on board, our combined weight over 350 pounds, a brief stint on I-65 had me going with the traffic at 95 MPH! For normal commuting, I averaged 62 mpg. My back tire was completely worn out at 6000 miles. I did no wheel spinning (I'm 52 now) and precious little hard cornering.

At 2 years old, with just over 14,000 miles, I took a "flying lesson." There are no seatbelts on a motorcycle. Failing to remember all those safety tips they teach in riding school and practicing them at all times has consequences far more severe than your car.

A lot of fun to ride, but below 40 degrees, I couldn't put on enough clothes to ride comfortably. Hated riding in the rain.
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I should add that riding to work has effectively killed the fun of motorcycling for me.
Twice.

Ride for fun, not because you have to.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If you want to get a bike, get a bike.

Don't do it thinking you will save money. Have you looked at the price of a nice set of tires mounted and balanced? When they wear out after 10,000 miles, that will completely negate any fuel savings.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I wanted to thank you all for your comments, especially on things I hadn't thought of, such as tire replacements. I didn't realize tires on bikes wore out so fast (especially since my Michelin Hydroedge's are supposed to go 80k miles).

Your expertise really helps clarify issues. I think you guys are right, that it won't be a cost savings to me and that I really need to consider if I want/need a motorcycle.

As an aside, do you think ~$3800 is a fair price for a 2007 BMW 650 X Country (the price was $4500, but I live in an area where "luxury items" don't really sell)? Have any of you ridden one of the Brammos?
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Old 01-29-2011, 12:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Those are good bikes and you probably won't have any big troubles out of it. You can save a slight bit of money commuting with it but only if you do all the work to it yourself.

My bike is a dr650 and it is comparable in size and stuff to the bmw but it gets probably 10mpg less due to being 80's tech. I get consistently 50mpg. I run D606 knobby tires @ $125 a pair I mount them myself and get about 5,000 miles rear 10,000 front on a set. I do my own oil changes at 5-6000 miles. Insurance on it is 63 bucks a year full coverage, $500,000 limit and roadside assistance.

But the big expense is the good riding gear. Get something with cordura and CE rated impact padding. You are probably looking at around $1000 for boots, pants, jacket, gloves, and a good helmet that can handle a 35mph low side without getting a scratch on you.

Then you are looking at 15 minutes to gear up and 15 minutes to get it off and you have to have somewhere to stuff it all at work. With good gear it is usually waterproof so you don't really need rain gear for less than an hour or two of hard rain. Just zip up the air vents and keep riding.

So overall I think it is worth it. If you don't think it is, go over to advrider.com and you will change your mind
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Old 01-29-2011, 01:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey Pete lots of good advice and opinions in here. I have a 2005 Harley Sportster little 883cc to cruise around on,($5,000 Dealer New) I get 60-65 MPG avg taking it easy on it and have yet to change the stock tires . I will probably do it this year for Safety sake and possible dry rot. I don't have many miles on it because of Weather and that I work from home. But I would expect 10,000 from a good set of Avon on the Back and 15,000 miles for the front tire(cost $75-100each if on sale or not JPcycles.com).

Other guys with my bike say they changed the Belt(no chain) at 25,000 miles only thing else change oil like a car, and put gas in it. Insurance for me is $120 a year full coverage but my state is very expensive for insurance. As far as Gear I typially ride with a $300 Convertible Jacket get a new helmet every other year for $150 for good quality and $50-60 for gloves I have 4 pairs depending on weather. Boots I wear US Army Black Combat boots. So that is a breakdown on my costs.

Depending on your actual motivation to get the bike is going to affect you liking it or not. I assume you will also have your car for the bad weather days I park the bike for half the Year and it only stays on the road from March till November. Good luck i deciding it is a lot of fun to ride and yes it is dangerous but so is driving a car.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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What everyone else said. I rode for 20 years, accumulating over 100,000 miles, commuting most of that time, in five different states. Ride for the fun. It won't save you much money. I was die-hard, riding a one hour one-way commute down to 10 degrees F. I rode to work in 6" of snow to win a dozen doughnut bet. I rode to work in -6 degree F weather, just to be able to say I did it.

75% of motorcycle fatalities are riders who've owned their bikes <1 year. 75% of bike/car accidents are the cager's fault. Once you get your street smarts, your odds go way up, but a fender-bender in a cage is a serious injury on a bike. I was lucky. You might not be. Don't do it to save a few bucks.

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