The Cost Effective Time Machine

Riding a motorcycle is one of those great American pastimes.  There’s something very liberating about just being on the open road and feeling the wind brush against you as you race down the highway.  There’s a freedom to it that just doesn’t exist when driving a car.  Yes, you can get a similar feeling riding a bicycle, and I love riding them too, but they don’t have the same giddy up.  You can’t turn a corner, roll your wrist back and be going 100 MPH instantly on a bicycle.

I have a 2007 Triumph SpeedTriple 1050.  That’s us up there in the picture.  And yes, I bought it used.  Very low mileage, garage kept, and about half the price of a new one.

This could very well be my bike!

It’s fun, it’s maneuverable, it’s dangerous, it’s loud.  It’s really just plain exhilarating.  I’ve had this bike for over 7 years now, and still every time I get on it, I giggle with delight.

So while it’s all fun, there are actually some practical advantages to having a bike.  Let’s walk through some of them.  I know for most folks, this list might contain some things that don’t apply to other places, and yeah, the weather where we live lets you ride year round, with very little worry of rain, so bear with me.

Let’s start with stuff that will apply to everyone.

  1. Gas Savings – One of the biggest advantages of riding a motorcycle is that it gets crazy gas mileage.  I have a pretty high-powered bike, with a large engine and I still get about 40-45 MPG (some smaller bikes/scooters get upwards of 100 MPG).  My gas tank holds about 3.5 gallons and on that I can go about 150 miles.  It’s certainly great to stop to fill up your tank and have it total under $10.  Pretty fantastic!!
  2. Motorcycles are cheap – Triumph’s are expensive imported British motorcycles, and yet even brand new one would cost you a little over $10K.  You can find good used motorcycles for $3,000 or less.  They’re easy and cheap to fix, too.  If you’ve ever been curious to tinker with an engine, a motorcycle is the way to go.
  3. Insurance Savings – Since a motorcycle is relatively small on the road, you won’t cause much damage if you run into something.  They are also pretty cheap, as mentioned in #2.  I think to insure my bike for a year is $125.  Mind you this is just liability.  And be careful, there is no personal injury insurance with motorcycle insurance, so your health insurance better be up to snuff.

Now we can talk about some advantages that pertain to the local moto riders in our area:

  1. Driving in the Carpool Lane – This is something that is immensely helpful when trying to get from point A to B.  Since your vehicle is always at full occupancy, you can ride in the carpool lanes everywhere you want to go.  It’s a great time saver.
  2. Easy Parking – Living in a large city with people everywhere, sometimes it’s a mess to find parking.  We have taken the bike several times to sporting events, and they just let you pull right up front and park right next to the stadium.  You can also wedge your bike right in between two cars on the road.   Just run your rear tire right up against the curb and pull forward when you are ready to go.  You only need enough space that you can walk through.

    Just back on in.

Here is where we will get into a little of a gray area.  But these are all further advantages, they might just be a bit questionable:

  1. Free Parking – Every time I pull into a parking garage, I take the ticket and put it in my pocket (or have to hold it in my teeth while driving).  Then on the way out, I pull up to the gate, and the guard usually just waves me around the gate.  I’ve taken that to mean that I don’t have to pay for parking, so I don’t on my bike.  Mostly now I don’t even take the ticket, I just drive around the barriers, the end.
  2. Free Toll Roads – As you can see from the main picture, my bike’s license plate is up under the seat, so there’s no camera that is going to get a good look at it.  So, I just blow through the express toll lanes, and don’t really worry about it.
  3. Splitting Lanes – This is something that is legal where we live, and even still, it’s a bit of a grey area.  Basically this means that it’s perfectly legit for you to ride between cars on the lane markers.  It’s dangerous, yes (some argue that it’s actually safer), but it can save you crazy amounts of time.  You can even split on surface streets and skip all the way to the front of a traffic light, so I never have to wait more than one cycle of a light.  My old commute in my car would take me over an hour, on my bike, splitting lanes, I’d make it in 25 minutes.  That’s cutting an hour off your commute each day.  That adds up!

    Lane Splitting at its finest!

  4. Speeding – As mentioned above, my bike is fast.  Most bikes are faster than any car, they have to be, lots of power, very little weight.  So, I tend to drive a little fast.  I figure it’s harder to hit a moving target.  Anyway, I’ve been pulled over many a time going way too fast, and every time, the police officer thanks me for pulling over, tells me to be careful and lets me go.  Usually a motorcycle will just take off as soon as they see the flashing lights.  The cop will never catch them, so they don’t even try.  Helps with the commute as well ;).

There are some disadvantages that should be mentioned, just to keep it fair and balanced:

  1. Gear – If you are going to ride a motorcycle, DO NOT RIDE WITH OUT GEAR!!!!  I don’t care if it’s not required, it’s just stupid to ride without gear, especially a helmet.  There’s even a term for them, SQUIDS, or more appropriately, dead. They say there are two types of riders: the ones that have gone down, and those that are about to.  Regardless, good helmets are at least $300, jackets – $250, gloves – $100, boots – $150, etc.  It all adds up.

    Just imagine with out the helmet!

  2. It’s dangerous – Yes, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to ride a motorcycle.  But it’s also very dangerous, more so because other people are not paying attention.  I’ve seen a couple of accidents, and one in particular that really, really shook me up.  So, please be safe.

All in all, motorcycles are a great way to get around.  They’re a rush that’s unlike anything else.  They provide a certain amount of freedom, that doesn’t come any other way.  They can be a very cost-effective mode of transportation and an immense time saver (granted your comfortable with the splitting and other things).  Even the Mrs. likes to go for a ride!

Filling up the tank for $8.

Any one else out there ride a bike?  What do you have?  Any other cost/time-saving tips?

 

20 Comments

  • Dads Dollars Debts June 26, 2017 at 7:13 am

    This is like a new version of Mr Money Mustache’s bike riding. I would love to ride motorcycles but the safety has always been a concern. Glad you find it fun and keep on riding!
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    • Mr WoW June 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      I do enjoy riding my bicycle as well. But when you need to get somewhere fast, and not sweaty, a Moto is the way to go. It’s a lot of fun. You should give it a try, there’s something very magical about ripping down the street on a nice day.

      Reply
  • SharonW June 26, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Motorcycles make great 2nd cars. I bought a cheaper house with a single car garage, but was able to wedge the bike and the car into the space. I used the bike as my main commute, husband took the car.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW June 26, 2017 at 9:16 am

      This is where we’re a little torn. I have my car and the bike still, and we’re thinking about going down to just one car, and me having my bike. It really is a great way to get around. It might be the only want to get around LA.

      Reply
  • Mr. Need2save June 26, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I’m definitely pro 2 wheels! I have two bicycles and recently bought a new Triumph Bonneville T100. It’s only a 900cc, so it’s not as fast as your SpeedTriple, but plenty fast for me. I love seeing that my average MPG is around 58!

    I’m still a novice motorcycle rider, so things like lane splitting (which I don’t think is legal in Maryland) is still something I wouldn’t be comfortable with. I sure do enjoy exploring back roads on my bike(s) though.
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    • Mr WoW June 27, 2017 at 8:58 am

      RAT!!!!! http://www.triumphmotorcycles.co.uk/inside-triumph/rat

      900cc is still faster than any car on the road. And those Cafe Racers are beautiful. And the MPG is phenomenal!!

      I believe lane splitting is a uniquely California (and outside the US) thing. Sit stopped on a freeway with cars speeding up behind you, driver looking at their phone, you’ll start splitting lanes quick. Someone rear-ending you at 40MPH on a bike would not be fun. You learn the ebb and flow, I think I am a way better driver than I was before. I actually have videos of me doing it, I’ll have to edit it together and post it. Regardless, it certainly helps with time savings, they even say, if more people did it, it would greatly reduce congestion: https://www.wired.com/2015/06/yes-california-let-motorcycles-ride-cars/

      They sure are fun, BE SAFE!!!!!

      Reply
  • My Sons Father June 26, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    I’m not a motorcycle person, but I briefly contemplated a zero motorcycle when I was trying to cut costs. It didn’t last long.

    I couldn’t agree more on the gear, I’m baffled when I see someone flying down the highway without a helmet.

    Reply
    • Mr WoW June 27, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Zero Bikes are pretty cool. One that I’ve wanted if I could bring myself to spring for a new bike is an Empluse: http://www.victorymotorcycles.com/en-us/electric Beautiful, powerful, and electric. Hooray!! But Expensive.

      I’ve seen some bad accidents, one in particular was awful, and while the passenger had a helmet on, it wasn’t buckled and came off immediately. I had to stop and give a statement. It was awful, and still haunts me today.

      Reply
      • Mr. 1500 June 30, 2017 at 5:49 am

        I test drove a Zero out here in Fort Collins last year and I really enjoyed it. As the age of internal combustion comes to an end, I look forward to owning a Zero or another electric some day. Zero does need to hire a good designer to improve the styling though.

        Is the Empulse dead now that Victory is gone? The thing I didn’t like about that bike was the transmission. Electrics don’t really need them, so it’s mostly dead weight.
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  • Mr. 1500 June 30, 2017 at 5:45 am

    Speed Triple! That is one fine machine. I test drove one a while ago and loved it. For a brief moment, I may or may not have gone 100 on a 40 mph country road. OK, I totally did.

    So, a used Speed Triple was my first choice when I was looking for a used bike a couple years ago. However, they hold their value really well. I settled for a Honda 919 (poor man’s Triple? Quadruple?). Whatever.

    In any case, there’s nothing like being out in the wind.

    Have you ever took it out on the Pacific Coast Highway?
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    • Mr WoW June 30, 2017 at 6:38 am

      The Speedy still makes me giggle with delight even 7 years later. It is sooo much fun to ride. And yes, I’ve had mine going way too fast, but it’s just so easy and you don’t even realize it.

      I ended up getting a killer deal on my bike, I found a guy that had it garaged for 2 years, it had 1,500 miles on it and he sold it to me for half what the new ones were going for. I just couldn’t turn it down.

      As far as riding on PCH, yes, many a time. My old job had an office in Santa Barbara, so I would take it up there periodically. And that picture at the top of the article is actually us going up to the RockStore. Which is basically a motorcycle show, Jay Leno takes all of his toys up there. You can see any type of bike you could possibly imagine there and the view a top the hills in Malibu is pretty beautiful.

      Reply
  • Troy @ Bear Market July 1, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve always wanted to ride a motorcycle. It looks ridiculously cool – like Tom cruise in top gun. But I heard that the accident rate is 35x that of cars, so I could never bring myself around to do it
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    • Mr WoW July 2, 2017 at 9:33 am

      Yeah, it’s definitely dangerous. Especially in traffic in a city. People just don’t pay attention. The thing about a bike is that there isn’t much room for error. You don’t have a big metal box around you at all times. And you have to pay attention to the road conditions as well as the traffic, don’t hit sand or a pot hole.

      That being said, if you’re smart about it and you’re careful it’s a great way to get around. When I first started riding, an experienced rider told me, “Just make sure you’re always afraid to get on it.” As soon as you get complacent, you’re gonna get hurt. So, I keep that in mind every time.

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