Considering buying your first motorcycle?
As you’d expect, my answer, coming from a writer for a motorcycle site, is: Go for it!
But hey, it is important that you make an informed decision, and what better way than a pros and cons list? Like everything, motorcycles have both.
1. They’re Cheaper to Buy
Now, of course, you can get luxury motorcycles that cost several times that of a budget car, but all things being equal, a motorcycle is much cheaper than other vehicles like cars and trucks. After all, it requires fewer materials to make a motorcycle.
In 2022, the average cost of a new motorcycle was $10,000. A new car? $48,000. You can even get new small motorcycles for urban mobility for under $2,000.
2. They’re Cheaper to Insure
Again, this depends on a lot of factors. It costs more for full coverage on a brand-new Ducati than liability on your grandma’s 1997 Corolla.
However, on average, it’s much cheaper to insure a motorcycle than a car, especially regarding liability, since motorcycles are smaller and cause less damage in accidents.
3. They’re More Fun
Okay, so this may be a matter of opinion, but you’ve probably heard the old saying that you’ll never see someone frowning on a motorcycle.
On the other hand, I’ve seen plenty of people frowning, crying, and yelling in their cars.
Few things beat the thrill of riding a motorcycle, whether it’s the wind in your face, the rush of a tight curve or feeling the engine rev between your thighs.
4. They Have a Community
To this day, I still smile when a fellow rider and I exchange the two-finger motorcycle salute when we pass each other, something I’ve experienced all over the world. Motorcycle riders are a global community. You can join clubs, meet new people and find friends anywhere.
5. They Use Less Gas
While some of the biggest bikes can be real gas guzzlers, motorcycles generally get better gas mileage than cars and trucks. They’re smaller, lighter, and often more aerodynamic, so it takes less energy to move them around.
The average passenger vehicle in the US gets about 25 mpg, with even highly efficient sedans getting about 32 mpg. Meanwhile, most motorcycles get at least 40 mpg, with small bikes sometimes reaching as high as 150 mpg.
6. They’re Easier to Park
When I first got a motorcycle, this wasn’t even something I considered, yet it’s become my favorite advantage of bikes over cars.
Finding a parking spot in my city is a nightmare, often requiring 30 minutes to find a place that’s still several blocks from where I’m going.
If I’m on my bike, though, there’s usually a free spot in the motorcycle zone right next to my destination.
Oh yeah, and it’s free.
7. They Give You More Mobility
When I lived in Colombia, Google Maps would give separate trip times for motorcycles and cars since going by motorcycle was much faster.
Admittedly this had a lot to do with the fact that lane splitting and filtering are legal there, but even though this practice is illegal in most US states, it’s hard to deny that motorcycles are more mobile than cars.
They can squeeze into tighter spaces, utilize advantageous infrastructure like advanced stop lines, and park more easily. My bike gives me more mobility than my car.
8. They’re Easier to Maintain
Since a motorcycle is smaller, it’s easier to get into its guts and work on it. Maintenance costs are usually much cheaper on motorcycles, and many riders like to learn how to work on their bike since it’s more accessible and requires less skill and equipment than a car.
1. They Can Be Dangerous
Unfortunately, an inescapable fact is that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars. While cars provide a protective metal case around their drivers, motorcycles leave their riders vulnerable.
Additionally, cars have four wheels and therefore don’t require balance, while motorcycles are only kept upright by forward momentum. In the US, 13 out of every 100,000 cars are involved in a fatal accident, but for motorcycles, that number shoots up to 72. (source)
You can improve motorcycle safety by wearing the appropriate gear, especially a safe helmet. You can also take classes and learn essential safety practices while riding.
2. They’re Cold, Windy, and Wet
This is my biggest complaint. Your experience changes significantly depending on the weather. Even in warm weather, the wind on the highway can really beat you down.
There’s no protection from the rain, so even if you don’t consider the increased danger of riding on wet roads, it’s no fun.
3. They Get Less Mileage
Even for large bikes, 50,000 miles is considered high. Smaller bikes are usually considered well-traveled after 30,000. Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon to see cars get over 200,000 miles.
This isn’t to say you can’t get 100,000 miles or more out of a motorcycle, especially if you’re maintaining it. And since it’s easier to maintain a motorcycle and swap out old parts, it’s certainly possible to put a lot of miles on your bike.
4. They’re Easier to Steal
Unfortunately, motorcycles are bigger theft magnets than cars, mainly because some are so small that a couple of thieves can simply pick it up and put it in a truck.
Luckily, there are ways to minimize this with devices like locks, alarms, and trackers. See our guide to motorcycle security.
5. They Don’t Have Much Storage Space
There’s no getting around this one. Even a touring bike decked out with every motorcycle bag known to man can’t compete with the spacious trunk of a car, not to mention the bed of a pickup truck.
Attaching luggage like saddlebags can help you take belongings for commuting or touring, but at the end of the day, I still grocery shop in the car.
Read our guide to the various types of motorcycle luggage.
6. It’s Another License or Endorsement
Regardless of where you live, you’ll need to get some kind of endorsement, permit or license to ride a full-size motorcycle.
While some states make it easier than others, this at least means some paperwork and, yes, money. It may even mean classes and exams, theoretical and practical.
7. It’s Harder to Learn
Most people would agree that learning to ride a motorcycle is more challenging than learning to drive a car, especially if you only know how to drive a car with an automatic transmission.
Read: Is driving a motorcycle hard?
In addition to using both feet and both hands for controls, you need to balance the motorcycle through turns and maintain good situational awareness since you are less visible to the other vehicles around you. Learning to do all this well takes time and practice.
It’s worth it, though, and all the more rewarding for the effort you put in.
8. Some Don’t Handle Long Distances Well
I say “some” because many large touring bikes and cruisers have no problem going cross country. Some even handle it better than small cars.
That said, your average motorcycle is not designed for long distances or periods at high speeds, namely interstate speeds of 70 to 80 mph.
I sometimes take my 750cc bike about 200 miles to visit a friend. Even if the wind weren’t too much for me, I’d avoid taking the trip on the interstate because it would be too hard on the bike. Vibrations at 80 mph and sustained high RPMs would inevitably shorten its life.
There’s a reason motorcycle riders love the scenic route!