August 31 2010 by Jason Fogelson
Times are tough all over. Everybody's looking for ways to make their dollars go further (or farther, depending on your grammatical bent). I have a suggestion: Get a motorcycle, and ride the wheels off it.
Motorcycles are less expensive to buy, less expensive to insure, less expensive to operate than cars. You don't believe me? Let's examine a few scenarios.
Let's assume that you're an average driver, and you drive your car 12,000 miles per year.
According to the National Auto Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States last year was $28,400. By contrast, a 2011 Harley-Davidson Sportster Superlow starts at just $7,999. The Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited, a fully loaded touring bike, starts at just $23,699. So, the price of entry, on average, is much lower.
Car insurance has skyrocketed over the past decade. The average car insurance bill was $948.57 in 2005 (the most recent year figures are available), according to a report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. I couldn't find a definitive answer about the average cost of motorcycle insurance. It seems that several factors affect the cost of motorcycle insurance: The rider's age, riding experience and driving record; the motorcycle itself (classification and size of engine); the region of the country where the bike is registered; and the type of coverage requested. My motorcycle insurance has always been a fraction of the cost of my car insurance, no matter where I have lived. Currently, I pay about $300 per year for full coverage on my 1993 Harley-Davidson Sportster, while I pay over $900 per year for reduced coverage (no collision, no theft) on my 1994 Toyota 4Runner. I have a perfect driving record, no accidents, no claims and over 30 years as a licensed motorcyclist and automobile driver. My example is probably not typical, but it does mirror the experience of most every motorcyclist I've talked to about insurance. Check it out for yourself.
Motorcycles are certainly less expensive than the average car when it comes to operation. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards currently require that each manufacturer's lineup of new cars average at least 27.5 mpg, and light trucks (SUVS, pickups, etc.) must average at least 23.1 mpg. That H-D Sportster Superlow is rated to achieve 45 mpg city/60 mpg highway. Even the fully-loaded Electra Glide Ultra Limited clocks in at 35 mpg city/54 mpg highway, right up there with the stingiest (and least fun to drive) hybrid compact cars.
And if you buy a new Harley-Davidson, you get a 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty. So you really can ride the wheels off.