Motorcycle Gas Mileage

As gas prices continue to climb, I find myself considering more and more to move to a motorcycle, gas mileage being the most important factor in considering the change. But at what price does gas have to get to before you will make a change in your vehicle? Just check out this list of Honda motorcycles and their gas mileages (chart taken from http://www.totalmotorcycle.com/MotorcycleFuelEconomyGuide/Honda.htm):

Year Make Model AVG MPG / L/100km MPG City/Hwy
2006 Honda Shadow Aero

46.9/5

43.6/50.2

2006 Honda VTX 1300C

40/52

2006 Honda CBR1000RR

41/5.7

2005 Honda CB1300

34/41

2005 Honda Silver Wing Scooter

53/4.4

2005 Honda VTX1800F

31.4/7.5

2005 Honda Big Ruckus

57.4/4.1

2005 Honda CBR600RR

36/6.5

2005 Honda VTX1800N

36.2/7.5

2005 Honda 599

40.6/5.8

2005

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750

50/55

2005

Honda

VLX600 Shadow

49/61

2005

Honda

Rebel 250

73/86

2005

Honda

Shadow Aero

53/4.4

2005

Honda

Unicorn

129/1.8

118/1.6

2004 Honda CBR600RR

34.1/6.9

2004 Honda CBR1000RR

31.8/7.4

2004 Honda 599

49/4.8

2004 Honda 599

47/5

2004 Honda Shadow Sabre VT1100C2

48/5

2003 Honda CBR600RR

35.6/6.6

2003 Honda VTR1000F

29.4/8

2003 Honda Nighthawk 750

41/48

2003 Honda VTX1800R

38/6.2

Now, I of course chose Honda motorcycles for my example because I just love Honda. They are pretty much the only thing I drive, with the exception of Toyota (I would drive a Toyota as a second choice). But think about, let’s say you had a car like mine, where you had a 12 gallon tank and averaged around 25 miles per gallon. So you would average around 300 miles on a tank of gas, and at the forthcoming price of $4 per gallon, you are looking at $48 each and every time you fill up at the gas station.

Now, let’s compare that to the average of the chart above, based on just the AVG MPG / L/100 km column. That average over all the models with data displayed is ~46.5 miles per gallon. So that is almost twice the gas mileage. So to drive the same 300 miles, now it will only cost you $24 at the pump, instead of the $48. So the question is – how many times a month do you have to fill up your gas tank? I usually have to fill up once a week, which means I spend (at $3 per gallon for gas) about $130 per month in gas. Would I like to be able to spend just $65-$75 per month in gas? You bet.

Here’s my problem though (and maybe you can relate). My wife does not like the safety risk associated with driving a motorcycle. So to this point, I have obliged and not bought a motorcycle. But if gas continues to get more and more and more and more….you get the picture…and more expensive, that may be just what happens.

The other thing about motorcycles that is so great – they depreciate even faster than cars and trucks. So realistically, you can get a bike that is 3-4 years old, in good condition, for $1,000-$2,000. So for me, it may just be a matter of time before I take the plunge and go ahead and buy a motorcycle. The gas mileage is phenomenal, and the cost to acquire is low as well. A perfect mathematical equation for financial success.

17 thoughts on “Motorcycle Gas Mileage

  1. i agree with this! i am doing a reseach paper on this for school and i was wondering if you would recomend me some things to say in it.

  2. You could talk about the differences in hybrids vs regular cars, i.e. price differences, gas mileage differences, and if it is worth it or not. You could talk about the concept cars out there like the fuel cell, the compressed air engine, and others. You could talk about the oil crisis and how US government regulations are killing us at the pump. Lots of things to talk about.

  3. I have a 2003 Passat and get 33 MPG on average. I am looking into motorcycles as they are fun to ride but the wifey probably would not like it, and one advantage of a motorcycle is the increase in fuel economy. But you also need to consider the cost of the initial purchase, insurance, maintenace … and you still need the car for winter/bas weather. I think gas would have to double for this to be a good economic decision.

    Also, I have to disagree with you on deprecitation, motorcycles do not depreciate much faster than cars.

  4. Pingback: These Gas Prices are Insane!

  5. I agree with Rick…..motorcycles do not depreciate as fast as cars. In fact, with everyone now starting to migrate to the ” good old used cheap bike ” to save some gas….you will now start to see a price increase in these bikes… unless your are buying a piece of crap on two wheels. It is kinda like all these dumb little gas economy cars….before nobody wanted them and they was worth as much as a good bicycle and now everyone and there brother wants one so now the value has increased dramatically on these cars. I drive a 2004 Chrysler Sebring 2.7 V6 and I get 30mpg and I have not yet put a dime into the car other than brakes and tires. Gas would need to get pretty damn high before I would buy a bike to gain a couple of bucks on something I could not drive in the winter or bad rain, have somewhere to store it, pay for extra insurance, pay for maintenance, and increase my risk factor on the road. I think I will just continue to take less trips here and there with my car and just walk or do without.

  6. There are other factors that I have been studying for years that I think not many people are aware of. The automotive industry, petroleum industry, the government, anyone in a position of power that stands to benefit from petroleum profits has brainwashed the American public into believing that a car that gets 30-40 mpg is fuel efficient. By current production standards, yes, it is, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what could be. I have four main points I’d like to touch on regarding fuel consumption in internal combustion vehicles.

    First of all, conventional internal combustion engine design is extremely wasteful, regardless of displacement, number of cylinders, etc, they are all wasteful. They are designed to inject much more fuel than is needed into the cylinder head, thereby producing excessive residue inside the engine, creating large amounts of pollution due to inefficient combustion and because of that, the average car wastes 25-35% of the gas out the tailpipe! I have read about and personally known people who modify cars to pump gasoline vapor into the cylinder instead of spraying a mist of fuel. With conventional fuel injection, it is the vapor that ignites anyway, so where is the need to spray liquid fuel when you could get the same results with compressed vapor? The benefits of this vapor injection modification are increased horsepower due to higher compression, just about nil emissions and engine fouling, fuel economy is increased many times over, AND you don’t need to design a new car. This modification could be retrofitted to just about any existing vehicle and any type of car, even a big SUV would be remarkably more fuel efficient than even the tiniest of econoboxes or hybrids we have now. If you’re skeptical about this, consider how the diesel engine works by heating a less volatile fuel under compression to create combustion, rather than a spark. It’s a no brainer than gasoline vapor would work just fine. The know-how to do this has been around since the 30s, but only a handful of people have really done much with it. With the benefits considered, why WOULDN’T they be developing this? In a nutshell, the big wigs would lose A LOT of money, so it has therefore been suppressed from the public eye.

    Another piece of fuel saving technology that has been suppressed, covered up, bumped off or etc is the Firestorm and similar spark plugs. They employ the same technology and voltage as conventional plugs, but they are designed to last much longer and create a much larger, hotter spark. This spark causes the fuel to burn up more efficiently, which again increases horsepower, reduces engine wear and dirt and since the gas has been more thoroughly burned, drastically reduces emissions. Firestorms, from what I’ve gathered, were supposed to-in most applications-improve horsepower by about 15%, fuel economy by 40-50% and reduce emissions by the same. I have not been able to find any further information on the development or availability of these spark plugs. There are the next best things, which are iridium spark plugs. They more or less do the same thing, just to a lesser extent. At least they’re on the right track with that.

    Thirdly, I would like to discuss hydrogen power. Hydrogen is easy to make, is never going to go away since it comes from water and it has been in use as a fuel of sorts for a long time. We already have fuel cell vehicles and this is a good start. The question I have for the big companies is, why should people have to pay to get fuel cells refilled when someone could just build a car that has a hydrogen extracting plant on-board the car? I realise hydrogen is much more volatile than even gasoline, but if they’ve successfully made fuel cell cars that seem to be safe enough, why not a car that you can just fill with water? Even if it was dirty water from a pond or something, that’s what fuel filters are for, right? Even if that wasn’t enough filtration, it’s easy enough to get relatively clean water in most countries that are highly dependent on gasoline. It’s not like you’d have to buy spring water for the car. Again, it all boils down to EVERYTHING being engineered to cost money SOMEHOW. If they can’t charge you for swill from your local river, naturally they’re going to make it so you have to buy commercially packaged hydrogen.

    My fourth and final rant is regarding the absolutely outrageous business practices in America primarily that are contributing to the prices of well, everything. We have lots of oil right here on American soil, not to even mention the rest of North America, Europe and other friendly nations. So why is it that we sell the vast majority of our domestic crude abroad while importing foreign oil and simultaneously lining the pockets of oil lords in hostile middle eastern nations who do absolutely nothing with it to improve the condition of their countrymen?

    On this same note, I’m tired of hearing about things being built overseas because it’s cheaper. What REALLY kills me is products whose parts are made in America, shipped to Asia, assembled, and shipped back. This is RIDICULOUS. If it’s really cheaper, consider this. While we’re paying for countless ships and planes to burn astronomical amounts of fuel crossing the Pacific to bring foreign made products in, which in turn require yet MORE fuel consumption to be shipped in trains, planes and trucks, we could just build more of the products here, open more jobs, pay the workers better and then only have to worry about mostly domestic shipping costs. I’m pretty sure the fuel costs saved by drastically reducing international shipping would more than make up for the higher cost of labor, not to mention probably bring the cost of many basic necessities, including petroleum, down. If people want imported goods, they’ll just have to pay a little extra, like it used to be when America had an economy that worked for its own people.

    That’s about all. Thank you.

  7. A motorcycle is a good plan B but the problems are there. Anyway, SOME cars get the mileage–the Suzike Swift or Geo Metro [“now my legs are stickin’ through the vinyl in a used sub-compact”—catchy tune!]. Some got 50, many about 42mpg. Its not like there is no option. A fellow offered me a Suzuki Swift the other day for $500. Given my current car, it would pay for itself in about 220 days. Got a heater too. Now another car woud make me vehicle heavy so I’m not gonna do it. Not to mention the insurance rip off. So, I’m gettin’ ready to get the XL600 going and park the car. Irony: the mileage for the 600 will be about the same as a Suzuki Swift car–45-55. Tip: figure ALL the costs. K.

  8. I am doing a story for our local newspaper in South Africa about the increasing gas costs and I agree that prices are insane lately. South Africa is suffering its biggest fuel increase ever and it is definately not helping our economy. Inflation will soon go through the roof and people are looking for alternative ways of transport. We are debating whether motorbikes or scooters are the cheapest form of transport but I have had no luck in finding reliable figures to base the article on. Any tips?

  9. As a wifey I am dead set against my husband buying a motorcycle. I don’t care if I have to pay $10 a gallon for our cars. That’s cheap compared to my husband’s life. Plus my step brother was killed in a motorcycle accident 1 month after he got married. He was 24. Some 18 yr old pulled out in front of him. So basically it’s not the motorcycle itself but the other crazies on the road. Yes yes I know you can get yourself killed in a car accident too but I think you’d have a better chance being put back together from a car accident vs them mopping your remains off the asphalt.

    Comically, this husband of mine is like Tim Allen…the man is 5’5″ yet manages to bang his head on anything remotely close to it, falls off his machine at work and in the 5 years we’ve been together, he has visited the emergency room 6 times. Sure honey…motorcycle is a great idea.

    But really, how much is this actually going to save? Our current situation is a total mess as it is and I just don’t see a motorcycle as a means to extricate ourselves from it. I just lost my job (which means I now am saving about $30 a week in gas har de har har) we have a baby on the way, we live in a land of ice and snow about 5 months a year, and we own 5 frickin vehicles already!! 3 of which are his! When you account for winter, rainy days and a future infant, what is the point?

  10. Jake,
    Man I wish the stuff that you said was true, cause then you could just pop on a couple cheap after market parts and then you would be saving tons of gas.
    As an engineer I can tell you most of this stuff (unfortunately) simply isn’t true. Gas engines are simply not that efficent, but they do burn 99% of the fuel that is put in them. Most of this fuel simply becomes heat. Finding ways to trap and use this heat is a possible way to boost economy in the future. The simple truth is there is no over-arching conspiracy to force us to use gas, its just cheap gas made us all lazy. How many of us were screaming for high mileage cars a decade ago? I thought 25-28 mpg was good enough for me. Same goes for the spark plugs, simply isn’t true, wish it was. In the future gas may be ignited by compression (like diesels rather than a spark plug) for better economy and emissions, but that is still 4-6 years off.
    And shipping stuff across the pacific by boat is ridicously cheap per pound. And most ships burn fuel oil, that is basically trash oil and super cheap, but terrible emissions. So perctentage wise transportation make up a tiny bit of the cost. Still much cheaper to build overseas.
    I am against going after every little bit of oil in america, cheaper gas not worth messing up alaska in my opinion.
    Honestly, best way for most people to save a ton of money on gas is to car pool to work. Found a neighbor who works nearby, we car pool with my roommate and now we have more than tripled our collective mileage. And now the ride to work is much more entertaining. It’s not exactly easy to reach out to someone you don’t know to form a carpool, or give up some of your freedom, but when fuel is getting closer to $5 a gallon, its worth it to me.

  11. I am considering getting a motorcycle myself right now due to the rising fuel costs. I wish I had the ability to car pool but with 3 kids, it is impossible with all the car seats. Also add in the fact that there is not a car on the planet that is both “fuel efficient” (over 30mpg in city type driving) and can fit 3 car seats safely/comfortably.

    I really don’t let comments like Detiny’s bother me as far as motorcycle safety…not that I am not sensitive to her brother being killed…but unless everyone is up for taking Superman’s advice and traveling by place for sheer safety we’re just going to have to all make a personal choice on how we want to help our monthly budget through this time.

  12. I knew one with the best gas mileage ever and it will save you a lot of money – BiCYCLE!!!!!! let those big oil company raise their prices to the roof cause its good for the environment, any price increase will work against these oil company. yeah, make it 10 $ / gal or even 100 $/ gal and less people will buy, the lesser people buy the lower their income and the less gas we’ll burn = less emmision.

  13. Motorcycle or car? I have been thinking about this for 2 years. I too have a family. Buying a fuel efficient car was not an option. I opted for the motorcycle. My commute is 19 +/- 1 miles round trip.

    I tried using public transportation. It cost $45 a month and an hour and half commute one way. I tried car pooling but it just didn’t work out.

    I only use the motorcycle for commute. I have yet to take the freeway. Mostly streets. I am pretty sure fellow motorist will agree to the following: The responsibility of operating a motorcycle lies heavily on the operator(rider).

    Keep in mind i ride a Honda Shadow 750 and not a street bike.
    I respect the riders that can ride street bikes let alone take it on the freeway. However, i have seen some knuckle heads do pretty life threating stunts. Those riders on the other hand have no respect for life.

    Regarding gas, i am getting 44 mpg. I am getting about 130 miles for 3 gallons. I have .7 on reserve. I can probably get an additional 30 miles on my reserve. I am pretty sure i can get about 160 mp on a full tank. I am filling up every 6-7 work days. I will probably fill up 3 times a month.

    I used to fill up 3 times a month at $70 a fill up($210 a month). I now fill up 3 times a month at $13 a fill up($39 a month) Therefore, the money that i was spending on gas, now pays for my bike($139 payment, $39 gas, $26 insurance) The only difference now is that i take surface streets vs the freeway. My freeway commute with some surface streets was about 25 min. My motorcycle commute on surface streets only is 30 min. I just leave 5 minutes earlier.

    Savings, sure they are there, we just have to be extra careful when commuting.

  14. I am from india and have been in the US for about 7 years now.. fuel prices in India are pretty high when compared to average incomes in india and a lot of people use 2 wheelers.. I bought myself a motorcycle even before i bought a car in the US!..I currently ride 130 miles a day on my bike..save about 1.5 to 2 hours on my commute time and also on gas money..I have a 2006 kawasaki concours..its just its 1) a lot more tireing to ride a motorcycle 2)need to remain alert at all times 3)expect people to run you off the road 4)need to check the bike before you ride for anything loose..air peressure..etc. 4) more maintenance …tires dont last as long as do brake pads..

  15. I bought a Honda Shadow Aero last summer, when gas prices were near their peak. MPG was one of the factors, and one of the justifications I gave my wife. Others: I can park the bike for free at work; buying a bike is relatively cheap; and it allows me to put fewer miles put on the car, so I can go that much longer before I need a replacement.

    In other words, the bike didn’t replace my car. It supplemented it. I’ve been getting between 50 mpg and 60 mpg with the Aero, depending upon how hard I ride. Great mileage! But there are startup costs and you definitely have to worry more about safety issues.

    The bottom line is that you can save money with a bike, given enough time to overcome the initial costs. They’re not too expensive and the gas mileage is great if you have a gentle throttle hand. But the most important factor is whether you like to ride. If so, go for it. You’ll have a blast. If not, don’t try to convince yourself just to get better gas mileage. There are other options.

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