The Case for Motorcycle Ownership vs Car Ownership


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Are you currently contemplating the purchase of a vehicle? Finding yourself torn between the allure of a car and the thrill of a motorcycle?

As someone who is deeply passionate about motorcycles, I will do my best to provide you with my take on the advantages and disadvantages inherent in owning each of these vehicles.

From safety to fun factors, even the dreaded insurance talk, gathering all the necessary information and making a truly informed choice is of utmost importance.

After all, knowledge is power!

Money: All About The Benjamins!

Geico money man on motorcycle

Credit: Geico

First and foremost, let’s discuss money. Like anything in life, there is a product available at every price level for every person, this is very true with both cars and motorcycles.  What is also true, is that on average a motorcycle will be a far less expensive purchase compared to a 4-wheeled form of transportation. Yes, it is always possible to order some exotic, bespoke, one-off custom motorcycle with a hefty price tag, but do the same with a car and again the custom car will far exceed the cost of the custom bike.

Looking at the costs of maintaining each type of vehicle, again a motorcycle will always be a less expensive overall service bill, compared to a car. With regular wear items, like brakes and tires, the motorcycle has half the components. No need for washer fluid on a bike. The only bill that can be similar in cost is an oil change.

I wish someone was able to explain to me what magical ingredient is included in motorcycle oil that increases the per-liter cost so dramatically. I am convinced there is no other reason beyond, riders will pay it, so they charge it.

Fuel, now this is always going to lean in favor of the motorcycle. To be fair, we must compare similar to similar. Will a Toyota Prius have better fuel economy than a liter bike? On the surface yes, but this isn’t a fair comparison. If that same Prius is compared to say a Honda CB125F, the Prius achieves about 57 mpg compared to the CB’s over 130 mpg. Matching apples to apples, the motorcycles always win.

I will add a final thought with respect to fuel economy. Sure fuel economy numbers can always be changed based on how many people are being transported, but for the sake of this writing, I am only looking at the transportation of one human at a time.

insurance papers being handled

Credit: Pexels

The last key subject around the cost of ownership of bikes and cars would be insurance. None of us can escape this critical part of vehicle ownership. Motorcycle insurance typically costs less than auto insurance and may come with different coverage.

For example, underinsured or noninsured coverage, windshield coverage, and theft coverage can all be quite different between cars and motorcycles. The sheer complexity of a car, with so many additional safety elements like airbags, bumpers, seat belt pre-tensioners, and the list goes on, means even the smallest of fender benders can have shocking repair bills.

Insurance costs also relate heavily to vehicle value. Automobiles are more expensive than motorcycles on average, therefore you can expect the insurance rates to reflect the higher values of replacement. As I referred to above, it is easy to sway the numbers around to match any argument as it relates to the insurance cost, and look strictly at the value of each machine and comparing that to the cost to insure, bikes will be higher due to being statistically proven to be at a higher risk for a claim.

Safety: Trust Me Mom, It’s Totally Fine!

I love riding, and therefore will totally admit to having some two-wheel bias, but I cannot claim with a straight face that motorcycles are safer than automobiles.  There is ample evidence that motorcycles have made huge leaps in technology.

The ABS braking systems are amazing, as are the traction control and lean angle systems. Features similar to automobiles like blind spot monitoring, airbags, and radar-guided cruise controls are all options available on certain 2023 motorcycles, but they are still very rare overall.

two motorcycles on the beach

Credit: Pexels

Riding gear has made huge improvements with slide protection, and even in jackets/pants, airbag systems can be had. There is still no replacement for the level of crash protection that is standard across the board for a 2023 automobile.

Drivers of all vehicles must accept that no matter how good your individual skills may be, the roads are filled by many distracted and less skilled drivers. There is no getting around it, motorcycles will never be able to win the safety debate when compared to a car.

Function: Cars Are Way More Practical, No Way!

Finally, we hit the wild card area, this is where the gloves come off and I will debate till my voice is lost, bikes are often far more practical than a car.  “How are you going to get a families worth of groceries on a bike?” Just watch me! I packed a $340 Costco run into the bags of my Goldwing. There is a reason that many in developing countries use bikes, they have figured out you can load them down like pack mules. I get that I am an anomaly here, but it is doable.

The Wolfman Luggage Expedition Saddle Bag is a great way to carry things on a bike.

There is always a spot to park a bike, mic drop! It only takes a moment to pull on my rain pants, and my helmet always keeps my hair dry! Small mic drop? Okay I agree to call this one a split. I have room for 1 friend, and you have room for 3. More isn’t always better you know, and besides they will try to change your radio station. Another split decision.

I am not sure I can win this final point: winter. I have heated gear and I can keep warm without issue on a bike, but it is not as simple as just adjusting a temperature dial. But my heated seats and grips feel really nice. Right, I know, so do yours. This debate can still rage on if you live in a climate that never sees snow, but I am in Western Canada, I’ll have no credibility left if I attempt to claim I can ride in the snow without issue. I have to give that one to the car.

Fun Factor: Finally, The Small Details That Matter Most

There is a fun factor to riding a motorcycle that a car can never replace. The power and acceleration are undeniably addicting. The open-air sensations have no match in a car, not even in a convertible. Feeling a dragonfly kamikaze into your body at highway speeds is something unique to two-wheeled freedom, trust me, it reminds you you’re alive.

Slipping easily through traffic, or around a mountain curve is just a different kind of joy on a motorcycle. But, my Fiance does give me a different measure of side-eye after she removes her helmet and checks her hair.

Helmet hair is gorgeous sweetheart, honest. She never seems to hear me when I say that, could be because she hasn’t removed her ear protection yet?

So Is There A Case For Motorcycle vs Car Ownership?

That is a Texas-sized 10-4! When it comes to daily commuting for a single person, a motorcycle kicks a car’s butt. Despite the need for a helmet and riding gear, those become simple to toss on and off, you can’t beat the ease of getting through traffic, the fuel economy and the reduced environmental impact motorcycles provide. I admit they carry slightly more risk, but they also have a fun factor that just keeps a person all smiles.

custom motorcycle

Find a car that can make you smile the way this motorcycle does. Credit: Pexels

If you live where snow never falls, have fun choosing a new motorcycle. If you live where real winter arrives each year, have fun choosing a new bike, just save a little money for a winter beater car or rideshare services.

My conclusions here are absolute, I am protected because I admitted my two-wheeled bias early on!

All kidding aside, the decision to buy a motorcycle or a car depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and budget. Motorcycles are more fun to ride and cheaper to run, but they come with safety concerns. Cars offer more versatility, comfort, and safety but can be more expensive to run. Keep in mind that insurance for both types of vehicles is equally important to be a responsible driver.

Make your decision based on what’s best for your needs and lifestyle. Whatever you choose, make sure you are a responsible driver who follows all safety measures and traffic laws.


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