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Motorcycle Sales and Use on the Rise with Gas Prices, According to Consumer Reports

We saw this brief article on the Consumer Reports website, which essentially states that statistics indicate motorcycle use and ownership is on the rise with gas prices. Not only are sales climbing, but sales of road tires are up sharply, indicating existing riders are riding more.

37 Comments

  1. Wilson R says:

    I would like to think that the new CBR250R will be a big seller due to it’s economy and good looks. Ridder the way that most people ride during a commute, it should get close to 60 mpg. For around $4000 it’s affordable, too!

  2. troy says:

    Seems that if you could avoid commuting on the superslab, a 150cc scooter would get it done the most economically. I have an even smaller displacement scoot that I use for <10 mile runs, including groceries, year 'round (FL).

  3. Gary Farmer says:

    The tire price ($175-$225 each)replacement(+labor$75-2 tires!!) just screws up the bike economics.

    • todd says:

      the tires for my old BMW and UJM are around $50-75 each and can be installed with some inexpensive levers in less than an hour.

  4. Eric says:

    Prices go up, and more product is therefore produced, and eventually prices crash. People only eat so much. Just like the housing boom and bust, supply will eventually overcome demand. Nobody is doing anything evil in that article, and nothing in there proves it’s not other factors raising the prices.

  5. kpaul says:

    Currently I am driving my wife’s 2011 Ford Fiesta while I wait for my 2012 Ford Focus to arrive from the factory. The Fiesta gets about 38 mpg with my commute. My wife gets better mileage than that. The Fiesta is also has the highest safety score in its category. Plus it is very quite (much quieter than my old Civic, or Acura was) and has a killer sound system with iPod, Sync system for my phone, Satellite and HD Radio. Along with my HOV/Carpool pass with runs about $50 every two months. So for me going back to my bike for commuting is not attractive. I would rather ride my bike on the weekends for fun.

  6. gootie says:

    Cars need basically same maintenance as bikes only tires last longer and they dont need chains replaced I have a used cb100 i bought for 1300 2 yrs ago gets me 40+ mpg and I only have minimum ins coverage same with my car its only worth its wieght in scrap if you want to save money on transportation thats hard to beat Did i mention the cb is a blast for an older bike

  7. Bob says:

    Fo me, there is no financial savings riding a bike over my SUV. On the bike, I ride it faster and harder everywhere I go, just because I can and I like it. I may save gas money but I lose out by spooning on 4 sets of tires each year. I can keep the same set of tires on my SUV for 3 years. I also put in much better fluids, change plugs more often, chain lube, etc… Then there’s getting gear that’s better than “just to get you by”… And insurance is the same per year for me.

    My sanity is worth more than saving gas money. I wind down after work by riding the bike. If I were to get rid of the bikes, I’d actually have more money in my pocket

    • kpaul says:

      I agree. If you factor in that fact my bike uses premium fuel and requires valve adjustments. Plus the tire thing you pointed out. Compared to my economy cars my bike doesn’t make sense economically.

    • Wilson R says:

      Well said, Bob. +1

  8. monsterduc1000 says:

    Mine will be the opposite reaction as my `04 zx10r and `06 monster duc 1000 are purely for recreation as I carpool to work. The more gas goes up, the less my budget lets me ride. I am even considering parking one to save money on insurance and maintenance so I can at least get a bunch of rides in with one of them. It is not only gas that is going up, but everything else along with it.

  9. burtg says:

    All you guys are forgetting that you’ll be paying for a car and a bike. That automatically screws up the whole money saving thing.

  10. Vrooom says:

    Whether or not you save money commuting by bike has a lot to do with how efficient your car is. “Dave” put together a pretty reasonable analysis but compared the bikes to a fuel efficient car, if you car is an SUV or a pickup, pretty significant savings can likely be had, especially if you’re not going through tires every 3K miles (as on a sport bike).

  11. Jake says:

    “He’s gonna have economy — no matter what it costs.”

  12. Jack says:

    This can be good for some (more money for dealers, manufacturers, accessories, etc.) but with more riders you have to believe that means more in-experienced riders on the road. That can be bad for all of use and more than just higher insurance rates.

  13. burtg says:

    I can see the fatality numbers going up with the rising gas prices as well with all these noobs getting bikes. Secondly, I agree with those of you who say that riding a bike isn’t cheaper. Extra vehicle means extra registration, extra insurance, high octane fuel which costs more, tires that wear out sooner, plus the cost of riding gear. I ride because I love to ride and that’s the way it’s been for the past 30 years. Havin said all that, I don’t want to steal any passion away from the new guys coming in. And if gas prices is the excuse you used to convince your wife, then more power to ya. Welcome to the brotherhood.

  14. Wilson R says:

    Yes, bikes usually do get better gas mileage than cars, but when you figure in the added expense of motorcycle tires, insurance, gear etc…, the bike doesn’t really offer any savings. I ride because I enjoy it. I don’t believe the difference in gas between an economy car and a bike will net much savings. Ride because you want to.

    • Donnie says:

      Depends on the bike, the rider, and the riding style, I would think. The tires I’m riding on have lasted over a year thus far and I ride on a regular basis – i.e. the bike doesn’t get parked in the winter unless the temps are below freezing level.

      Gear is reasonably priced if you know where to look. My Teknic Freestyle jacket was on sale for $70.00 when I bought it; the gloves I just bought were $40.00, 2 pair kevlar-lined jeans ran me ~$120.00 for both pairs. Helmet $150.00. Insurance is under $400.00/year – that’s $200.00/6 months, and this is in Florida, notorious for high insurance prices (no tickets, married, one accident almost 3 years ago). I would have to drive a 1976 Vega to get that kind of insurance pricing for a car.

      While I understand where you come from, I think it works out to be cheaper in the long run, even if you’ve purchased a bike that cost over $10K.

      Now, if you’re riding a Desmosedici RR, that’s another story…

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Yes, bikes usually do get better gas mileage than cars, but when you figure in the added expense of motorcycle tires, insurance, gear etc…, the bike doesn’t really offer any savings.”

      don’t forget the added expense of tolls, parking, and gas wasted idling in traffic. a reoccuring theme found in 99 out of a 100 cities (small or large) across the country.

    • Dave says:

      Here’s my scenario:

      2005 ninja 250
      1 year of gas (12k miles @ 64mpg) $800
      1 year of tires @ $100 a set (mount/balance myself) $100
      2 oil changes myself $ 50
      Depreciation $200
      Riding gear $400 $350
      Registration $ 40
      —–
      $1540 annual cost

      2008 Honda Civic Si
      1 year of gas $1950
      1 year of tires $ 150
      2 oil changes $ 50
      Registration $ 260
      Depreciation $2000
      —–
      $4410 annual cost

      Now the plot thickens with my last bike…a 2008 ZX-10R

      2008 ninja zx-10R
      1 year of gas (12k miles @ 33mpg) $1620
      1 year of tires @ $250 a set (mount/balance myself) $1000
      2 oil changes myself $ 50
      Depreciation $1500
      Riding gear $400 $ 350
      Registration $ 170
      —–
      $4690

      Now a bike is more sensitive to depreciation with the same mileage as you’d put on a car. We all know that almost nobody on here would touch a used sportbike with 60k miles on it with a 10 ft pole. I recently did this math a month ago and decided to sell my rapidly depreciating 2008 Honda Civic Si in favor of a used 250 ninja for commuting 52 miles a day since I was unable to secure a job closer to home. In my case, riding a motorcycle makes perfect sense. Easy to do maint I can do all by myself and long lasting touring tires that work fine on a 250 ninja make it all work out mathematically. A modern sportbike with shim under bucket valve adjustments, tires that wear out every 3-4k miles, etc make it pretty much a wash with a car.

      • Dave says:

        Mistake on the riding gear cost…only $350 for full gear including helmet, gloves, pants, boots, jacket.

        Anyway, my above calculations are operating costs only. And I’m saving nearly $3k a year over the car. Factor in purchasing a new CBR250R @ $4k vs. a new civic for $19k and you’ve got an additional $3k per year in costs making the bike $6k per year cheaper.

        No brainer really. In other words, choose your bike carefully if your goal really is economy. These weak ass little bikes like I ride aren’t going to tempt me to do any additional recreational riding, or show up at bike nights/meets where I’ll be eating out for sport a lot saving me even more money =)

      • burtg says:

        I went through Dave’s calculations recently with a buddy of mine who just bought an ex500 using Dave’s logic. Only problem is that most guys won’t get 365 days of riding due to rain/snow or needing a car to get groceries on the way home or to pick up kids.

        I would cut the amount of miles down to factor in all the things I mentioned. That would be more realistic for most men.

      • Marc says:

        Dave, I like your figures. The 250 is vastly cheaper than the car at 1540 vs 4410. However, for most people they are keeping both. They spend $1540 on the 250 and $3000-$3500 on the honda for a total of $4500-5000. It is really hard to live with only a bike. If you are owning both, you aren’t likely saving any money over owning an economical car.

    • Wilson R says:

      I’m taking into account those of you that already own a car (most of us). I would not recommend going out and buying a bike because you think you’re going to save a barrel of money commuting on a bike. Ex: A car that gets 30 mpg avg vs. a bike that gets 45 mpg average means you are saving 15 mpg. That 15 mpg savings must pay for all the bike related expenses. If you commute 50 miles a day you would save 33% on fuel which works out to 1.67 gals for the car and 1.11 for the bike. At $4.00 per gallon that comes out to a savings of $11.20 a week or $45 a month. Now, how much is the payment on your bike? The insurance? Tires? Bike tires alone last about 1/4 as long as car tires and when your figure out the real costs you discover that the $45 a month savings won’t even cover many rider’s insurance!
      I’ve been commuting for 30 years on a bike and while I enjoy it, I find that is delusional to think that you’re saving a bunch of money because you’re riding your bike to work each day. I am a HUGE fan of motorcycles but I’m also a realist and prefer the truth. My own small car averages 36 mpg and my bikes average 38 mpg. No way is that 2 mpg paying for the cost of owning a motorcycle. Also, there are many days that I cannot/will not take a bike and this erodes the economy of taking the bike.
      The reduction in stress is the biggest reason why commuting on a bike makes sense. If you live in a congested area you’re reduction in stress is probably worth every penny you spend on riding a motorcycle.

  15. Youth says:

    I got a 1989 Honda NX250! Yes it’s Honda’s 1st liquid cooled twin-cam 250!

  16. Kjazz says:

    you think gas prices are a drag….wait’ll Wallstreet finishes putting their death grip on food prices.

    • Montana says:

      Yah, right.
      Wall street is responsible for turning corn into fuel,
      and for shutting down drilling in the Gulf and every
      other area in America that holds the promise of vast oil reserves.

      • Stinky says:

        I believe the last one WAS Wall Street induced. When the price went beyond comfort use went down and they brought the price back down untill use returned. NOW the rest of the worlds use has went up untill when we cut back they still have a market. Most of the drilling we do isn’t for our consumption, it’s exported. A lot of the oil we drill can’t be refined in our borders. 70% of the oil that comes down the Alaskan pipeline is exported for refining. Same with the North area they wanted to drill. We don’t have refineries to handle the grades of oil we have. We’ve only shut down refineries, not built them. I don’t have a problem burning other countries oil. Ours won’t spoil where it’s at. Gulf oil is the exception. BUT we need to make sure they can cover their mistakes. I don’t know how many more mistakes the Gulf can handle.

        • ROXX says:

          Fact; More birds are killed every year from wind turbine generators than oil spills.

          • Superchicken says:

            Hmm, how about all the other sea life?

          • kpaul says:

            Wrong Roxx
            The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska 21 years ago caused the death of 250,000 sea birds and 250 eagles, according to “best estimates,” said Bruce Woods, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska.

            The American Bird Conservancy estimated in 2003 that between 10,000 and 40,000 birds were killed each year at wind farms across the country, about 80 percent of which were songbirds and 10 percent birds of prey.

      • ilikefood says:

        Drilling for oil in America will NOT help bring down prices. Oil is a commodity, and its prices depend on global supply and demand. Oil companies would drill for oil in the US, but sell it on the GLOBAL market, so the impact on prices here would be tiny to none. Allowing expanded drilling in the US would be great for oil companies, but it wouldn’t help us at all.

    • ilikefood says:

      Well, actually gas prices are still lower than what they really should be. The government is subsidizing oil in a major way. The majority of our military budget is a subsidy for oil companies. Just think how much gas would cost if oil companies had to pay themselves for the cost of ensuring access to oil in unstable regions. But they don’t – we pay for that through taxes, so gas is much cheaper than it should be, so the incentives to use less oil simply aren’t there.

  17. Norm G. says:

    just in time for the new CBR250’s arrival (yesterday) at my local dealer. nothing begets sweeping behavioral change quite like inflation…! :)