The Brain Bucket

How Much Does a Motorcycle Cost?

Oct 27, 2020 1:24:38 PM / by Kelly Kawasaki

how much does a mototrcycle cost

How much does a motorcycle cost? That question is an oversimplification of the journey you’ll experience as your riding career unfolds. We are here to walk you through the entire process from start to finish, so you’ll know what to expect before you shell out some cash and finally hit the open road.

Table of Contents

Before You Buy Your Motorcycle

There are several investments you need to consider before you buy a motorcycle. First, you need protective gear to protect you in the event of a motorcycle accident. Protective gear varies in cost based on the amount of protection, materials and construction, and styling features. As a bare minimum, you need a helmet, which will cost $100-$600. Riders wanting comprehensive protection should also invest in a jacket, gloves, and boots. Gloves typically cost a minimum of $30, boots start at around $100, and decent jackets start at $100. Beyond those basics, you’ll also probably want to budget for some specialized gear and accessories to make the most of your motorcycling journey.

Next, you need to obtain your motorcycle license or endorsement through your local DMV. Many states also require both a written test and a riding test. The two tests and printing of your motorcycle license usually combine for a total of roughly $75. Another option is completing the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourseSM, which doubles as the DMV written and/or riding test in some states.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourseSM provides personalized instruction through ten hours of riding practice. Even if you receive your license through the DMV, completing the Basic RiderCourseSM is a wise investment in your motorcycle safety and skills development while learning to ride. You can expect to pay $250-$375, but that cost is nominal when considering how much more quickly your knowledge and riding skills will progress in a controlled training environment.

Buying a Motorcycle

Next, it’s time to buy a motorcycle! This is easier said than done with many factors worth considering before you shell out some cash. Motorcycle prices vary by type of bike, engine size, age, condition, mileage, and the type of seller. Of course, new bikes will typically cost more than used bikes, but there can be hidden fees when purchasing used bikes. Namely, you should factor in the potential for minor repairs to get a used motorcycle road ready. Even if the previous owner kept up with the maintenance there can still be minor issues that aren’t discovered until after you buy the bike.

You should also determine whether you want to buy from a dealership or private seller. Buying from a dealership usually costs more due to dealership and setup fees as well as immediate depreciation, but you typically get the added benefit of the motorcycle passing a multipoint inspection to ensure it’s safely operable. Contrarily, buying from a private seller means you’ll often be able to haggle the price down a bit, but there’s less assurance the bike is in safe operating condition unless you are comfortable diagnosing and fixing simple mechanical and electrical issues.

Another consideration is whether you want to buy a learner bike or a motorcycle that will grow with you for several riding seasons before you have the urge to upgrade. Neither option is guaranteed to be cheaper than the other. You should think about how quickly you expect your skills to progress based on how often you plan to ride. If you’re able to ride year-round, then it might be worth spending a little more to get an intermediate level bike that will last you a while.

Buying a motorcycle during the winter months is a great strategy to save money because motorcycle prices drop when dealerships and private sellers are eager to complete a sale during the slow season. A willingness to travel to pick up a motorcycle will also bode well for you to be able to secure a great deal. So, how much does a motorcycle cost? Depending on the motorcycle, you can expect to pay $2,000-$10,000 when buying your first bike. You can find your perfect bike close to you by browsing our listings.

Motorcycle Insurance

You’ll be eager to hit the open road after you buy your bike, but there’s still one major step you’ll need to take beforehand. Protective gear alone isn’t enough to protect you, certainly not your bank account. You’ll need to get dedicated motorcycle insurance after you buy a motorcycle. There are several factors that play a role in determining your monthly premium. Your age, state of residence, prior driving record, type of bike, engine size, the value of your bike, and your amount of coverage all play a role.

Of all those considerations, the amount of coverage you elect to have often plays the smallest role in determining your monthly premium. Depending on the motorcycle and your prior driving history, you can expect to pay $30-$250 per month for motorcycle insurance. Small displacement will cost less than high displacement bikes. Cruisers, like Harley Davidson, and standard bikes will be less expensive than sportbikes, and used bikes will cost less than new bikes. A high-mileage motorcycle that has 20,000 miles or more on the odometer will be significantly cheaper to insure than a motorcycle with less than 5,000 miles.

It is imperative you are financially protected in case you are in a motorcycle accident. No matter what type of bike you end up with, the cost of motorcycle insurance is a small price to pay for your peace of mind.

Maintenance

Maintenance might be the least considered factor when it comes to determining the cost of motorcycle ownership. This is when purchasing a new motorcycle can prove beneficial as many private sellers tend to sell their bikes right before major maintenance and repairs are needed. If you know exactly what type of bike you want to buy, then we recommend finding the factory maintenance checklist with the maintenance intervals clearly outlined. The maintenance checklist will help you estimate the annual maintenance costs and ensure you’re not forgetting something critical.

Common factors that need consideration are gas prices, changing the oil, regularly checking the drive chain, replacing tires on both the front and rear wheels, and replacing a dead battery if it no longer holds a charge. Tires cost $200-$600 per set and need to be replaced every 2,000-10,000 miles. Chains start at $100, and many riders replace their sprockets at the same time for a minimum of $50. The cheapest decent batteries cost $75, and the prices for air filters, spark plugs, oil and oil filters, and other small parts and supplies add up surprisingly quickly.

The more mechanically savvy you are, the less maintenance will cost because you can avoid expensive trips to the mechanic for simple jobs. Maintenance costs often reflect the cost of the bike itself with high-performance sport bikes requiring maintenance and parts that facilitate that performance. Conversely, a simple commuter bike will typically have cheaper maintenance due to its trimmed down electronics, simplified mechanical design, and more economical construction. In any event, you should expect to pay $500-$1,000 annually for motorcycle maintenance. Anything less is a welcomed bonus.

Unexpected Costs

The last thing you need to consider when calculating the cost of motorcycle ownership is unexpected costs. Unexpected motorcycle repairs can put a severe damper on how much fun you’re having if you aren’t prepared for those expenses.

Depending on the motorcycle, even fairly straightforward repairs to the electrical system, engine, transmission, or bodywork can be surprisingly costly. Again, a willingness to do a little wrenching can save you a lot of money. Be prepared to shell out some cash if you have to take your bike to the mechanic every time you need some minor repair completed.

Furthermore, those unexpected damages don’t just randomly happen. They often come as a result of being in a motorcycle accident, so there’s a decent chance you’ll have medical costs as well. That means you might also have to take time off from work, which only compounds the issue. Nobody plans to incur unexpected costs, but a smart rider plans ahead with a little cash stowed away for those times when medical bills or bike damage necessitate those funds be available.

Final Thoughts

  • Gear: $330–$1,000
  • License/Safety Course: $75–$375  
  • Motorcycle: $2,000–$10,000
  • Insurance: $35–$250
  • Maintenance: $500–$1,000
  • Unexpected Costs: ???

Final Cost Estimate: $2,940 - $12,625

After presenting all the facts and estimated figures that go into motorcycle ownership you might be thinking you’ll be better served purchasing a used sedan. After all, can you really afford everything necessary to enter the world of motorcycling?

We’ll leave you with this question: Can you afford to not buy a motorcycle? We believe the emotional cost of not entering the two-wheeled lifestyle can be more costly than the money spent in actually doing so. Life is short, so the way we see it, it’s now or never. With so many great new and used options available, we encourage you to at least take that first step by completing the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourseSM. After all, there’s no freedom like the freedom experienced on the open road with the wind in your hair helmet!


Did we miss anything readers should consider when determining the cost of motorcycle ownership? Let us know in the comments below, and share with us how you got the best deals on your bike, gear, insurance, and maintenance!

Topics: Motorcycles

Kelly Kawasaki

Written by Kelly Kawasaki

Bringing you all things motorcycles.

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