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Old 01-09-2013, 10:17 PM   #1 (permalink)
It's all about Diesel
 
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Traditionally-powered motorcycles vs. hybrid cars

I know it's quite a controversial theme, which leads to many arguments about advantages or disadvantages of each vehicle, but environmentally-wise an average small-displacement motorcycle (or a scooter) seems to make more sense. Considering the amount of raw materials needed to make the vehicles and all the replacement parts, hydraulic fluids and lube oils required thru the vehicle's predictable operational life, a motorcycle seems to provide a higher overall sustainability. There is also the road surface occupation ratio for passenger hauled, more favorable to the motorcycles.

workaround ideas to discuss among friends: Motorcycles: the most environmentally-suitable vehicles for Diesel-haters

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Old 01-09-2013, 10:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What is true about motorcycles being efficient applies to bicycles even more. A bicycle uses even less material and lubrication. Motorcycles are a good option if you solo commute more than 25 miles and live in a warm climate. The 125cc motorcycle and the school bus are widely used in Third World countries. In temperate regions car pools and buses are efficient when wind chill factor makes riding a motorcycle uncomfortable. For those of us in rural areas a bio-diesel truck or van is useful. Now if we can just get a multi-cylinder diesel motorcycle that gets 500 mpg highway for under $10,000 USD.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I like motorcycles, but it's nice to have a car for the winter. So I chose both!

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Old 01-09-2013, 11:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Motorcycles suck in cost of ownership per mile vs a decent economy car. $15,000 car is easily good for 200,000 miles and get 35 mpg, most multicylinder bikes will get 45-55 mpg, cost $10,000, sold for $6,000 and be to the next owner before they hit 10,000 miles.

If you are going to own a car and bike, just accept the bike is a toy and not (in most cases) going to save any money.
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Old 01-09-2013, 11:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We're talking different markets here.

Outside of America, it's not only cars that feature lower-displacement engines, bikes, too.

On the streets of most developing nations, a 250cc bike is already considered huge. Most bikes range between 100-200cc, with a big portion of cyclists driving 125-150cc motors. Delivery bikes are typically between 175-250cc.

Middle-class commuters typically drive 150cc bikes that get 80-90 mpg (US) and cost under $2k. A 150cc bike with one rider will get to 60 mph in the same amount of time as a typical 2.0 compact. A 250cc bike will hit 60 as quickly as most hot hatches and still get you over 60 mpg.

A multi-cylinder bike of 400cc or more will hit it in the same amount of time as a 300 horsepower sportscar. Apples and Oranges.
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Old 01-10-2013, 12:12 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I have both... But motorcycling in the snow has it's drawbacks....
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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After these years on exclusively 2 wheels I have both now and this winter did not favor commuting on 2 wheels so I'm glad for finally having a cage. I had only 3 days since the 1st of December I risked getting in the saddle and one of them was a clear mistake (I had run into fog after a few miles and everything was covered with ice thereafter).

I have and extensive log about the costs of my vehicles and after 4.5 years I think I can save fuel with a motorcycle (my lifetime is not far from 80 mpgUS (above in the summer) with Teresa - and she's a 650, not a 125!), but money? Not necessarily. In my case maintenance+tax+insurance costs slightly exceed fuel cost, and I still don't have such data about small cars, but I suspect that their fuel:everything_else ratio leans much more towards 'fuel'. We'll see about it.

I still think one could save money by riding a cheap(er) 125cc, and riding it a lot. Because as roosterk0031 mentioned, early replacement of a vehicle is not a recipe for economy (and manufacturing something to be hardly used is a waste of resources anyway). The main thing that makes Teresa competitive cost-wise is that I've owned her for 50k+ miles (after buying second-hand) and don't plan to sell her.

About environmental footprint: I guess it's better with a motorcycle, because of the less used material, and less burnt fuel. On the other hand, older ones (without catalytic converters) are definitely much worse on non-CO2 emissions.

The very reason behind choosing a motorcycle as my primary vehicle was this smaller footprint, and the scary idea of dragging a ton of iron to get my 150-pound arse to my destination. It's a shame that motorcycles are not proportionally efficient to their weight, but they'll probably never be, 'thanks' to aerodynamics.

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Old 01-10-2013, 01:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a gas car, an electric car, a gas motorcycle and a bicycle and my miles are split between the gas and electric cars, my bicycle tends to get used more times per day in the summer and a few times per week in the winter (studded tires and I dress for the cold) while my motorcycle sits... I take it out a few times per summer to use up the gas.

I don't like riding motorcycles at night because it gets cold and my chances of getting hurt go way up, I don't like ridding if there is risk of rain, I can't haul much and taking a passenger with is less then ideal because I'd need to find a helmet for them that fits them and bring it with me if I'm picking them up, you could say the same is true for a bicycle, but bicycles keep you warm while riding them, blinky lights, side streets and side walks keep me safe at night and if someone wants to come with on a bicycle either I can walk with them or they can grab their bicycle.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Bicycles are good, though I rarely use mine to commute, only in the summer, when days are long enough to remain visible for 14+ hours (I have 12-hour shifts and my commute takes ~2.5 hours per day). The bicycle's own lighting died after a few times of commute, and I don't want to use disposable battery powered blinkers, because I hate everything that's disposable. These are not enough to see anything at night, either. Neither were the original lights. The other issue would be dressing up for colder weather: I'd sweat to soak on the first long, steep hills, then get cold on the rest of the route. But for short distances (getting to the village and the next town) it's fine even at winter.

On the other hand, motorcycles have (somewhat) decent lighting, so I'm not afraid to ride at night, I don't sweat when I have to climb hills, so when I dress for the cold and the wind chill, I'm fine. And I can dress for colder than I dare to ride anyway, because I'm reluctant to ride in frost lately. I dropped Teresa on a 15-mile long ice 'patch' of freezing fog in -6°C | 21°F (that was the 'mistake day'), and I wasn't even cold then, low speed helped a lot... the main thing is, riding heavy 2-wheeled things over ice is dangerous.

(Yes, I live out of the city, in the middle of nowhere.)
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Old 01-11-2013, 07:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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motorcycles can be highly efficient, and comfortable. Just take a look at Craig Vetter's work. I am currently working on a fairing which I hope to make available soon. the aerodynamics of my bike are approaching those of a car. with corresponding mpg gains. >100mpg while commuting last summer.

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