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Cost Comparison: Motorcycles vs. Cars


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At face value, the answer may seem simple. Motorcycles must be cheaper than cars, right?

Well, it’s a little more nuanced than that. Keep reading to learn about the costs you’ll need to consider when comparing motorcycles to cars.

Are Motorcycles Cheaper than Cars?

All things being equal (from buying a new or used motorcycle or car, to registering and titling, to insurance coverage, to gas mileage), motorcycles are going to be cheaper than cars.

  • Motorcycle purchase price: While there are plenty of super expensive motorcycles you can buy, on average the purchase price for a new or used motorcycle is going to be considerably less expensive than a new or used car.
  • Registration and title: In most states, the cost to register your motorcycle each year is going to be less than what you pay for your car registration.
  • Motorcycle Insurance: Along with cheaper registration, motorcycle insurance coverage is also typically less expensive than car insurance.
  • Gas Mileage: On average, motorcycles get far better gas mileage than a car.
  • Parking: If you commute to work or school and need to pay to park, you’ll typically save money for a motorcycle parking permit over a car.

So, if we’re talking about a 1:1 comparison, you’ll find that motorcycles are less expensive to buy and own than a car.

However, there are some other hidden costs that you’ll need to consider that can tip the scales.

Motorcycle Cost Considerations

Like cars, motorcycles still need regular maintenance. This includes oil changes, new tires, and regular tune ups and inspections.

If you’re doing a lot of the maintenance yourself, your costs probably won’t be as high as that of a car. However, if you take your motorcycle to the dealer or a mechanic for service, it can still be pricey.

You’ll also need to consider the frequency in which your bike needs service. In general motorcycles typically need more regular service, more frequent oil changes, and to replace parts like tires, chains, brake pads, etc. more often that cars.

Here’s the main thing that many people don’t think about when comparing the cost of motorcycles and cars: the fact that you’re probably going to be riding your motorcycle more.

Even if you use your motorcycle for commuting, you’ll probably still take it out for joyrides and trips when you get the chance.

More frequent riding equals more gas, more maintenance, more parts.

So, yeah, if you keep the comparison simple, motorcycles are cheaper than cars. However, in reality it depends. Specifically it’ll depend on:

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