When I decided to get my motorbike licence a few years ago, one of the reasons for doing so was the cost. Bikes (new or used) are cheaper than cars and use less petrol. Being on an APA at the time, price was a compelling issue. Other advantages include sexiness, fun, less environmental impact (relative to cars) and parking. Disadvantages include the big one (safety – the frequency of accident deaths per rider is about 20times that for cars), reduced capacity for luggage and passengers, and being exposed to the weather.
My bike is a Honda CBF250, a small, “sensible” commuter, which I bought new in June 2007, for $6000 on road. At the time, a friend warned me that a bike was “not an economical choice” because you also need to pay for more frequent servicing, extra stuff (clothing, helmets, etc), more frequent tyre replacements and so on. So I thought I’d do the numbers. Each day I ride to Liz’s house to pick her up, then into Usyd and finally UNSW. In the evening the trip is reversed. Overall that’s 80km per day.
Here are the numbers. At the top is my working, at the bottom are the results in dollars per week.
400km per week = 1 tank (13L) per week = $20 per week
6000km per service, one every 15 weeks, costing on average ~$300
Other repairs. In 17 months I’ve spent (new tyre, brake pads,
speedo cable, new chain) ~$500
Clothing etc: Helmet + clothing, replacing every few years: say $1000 per 3 years
Extras (oil, chain lube, degreaser, covers): ~ $100 per year
Rego + Green slip $400/year
Clothing & Equipment $8
Total – Insurance $62
Since I have no insurance (I have enough money saved to pay for any plausible costs), the ongoing cost of the bike is about $62 per week. How does this compare to cars? Favourably I presume (you can double or triple the petrol consumption right away). But the real surprise is how well motorcycling compares to the public transport options.
UNSW is awkward to reach from western Sydney by public transport. It requires a train and a bus. A weekly adult train ticket is about $33, and the bus ticket for the week is about $25. That’s $58 all up, almost the bike total. Adding Liz’s student weekly train to Usyd makes it $74, more expensive than the bike.
In conclusion, motorcycling is, in terms of costs, significantly cheaper than a car and competitive with public transport. At least, if you buy a cheap bike with a small engine. And yes, I know I didn’t factor in hospital bills. I try to do everything I can (besides quitting) to reduce the chance of that happening.