car-less for the summa

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by woolsocks, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. woolsocks

    woolsocks Been here awhile

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    Last weekend out on the highway in my 2000 Ford Focus SE I was hearing noise from the wheel bearings on the driver’s side front wheel area. I kept driving the car and the front driver’s side coil spring snapped in half a few days later. The broken coil spring punctured the tire, rims were bent and wheel bearings are damaged. Anyway, the whole ordeal has left me without a car for several days now and I will be out around $1,200 once everything is fixed. I don’t have money to buy a new car and I don’t want to take out a loan. The car has almost 130,000 miles on it and the blue book value is $2,000 to $3,000. My car is in relatively good condition (besides the current damage), so I’d expect to get closer to $3,000 if I decide to sell.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
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    Anyway, this got me thinking…maybe I could sell my car when the weather turns nice again here in Minneapolis. I’d be going car-less for the summer and would use my motorcycle for commuting. I need some advice:<o:p></o:p>
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    1-Can anyone advise me how to calculate savings (if there are any) of using a motorcycle vs. car? I wouldn’t be paying for the car insurance, gas or standard maintenance but is there anything else to factor in? I know the big things for motorcycles tend to be oil changes, tires, chains…<o:p></o:p>
    2-Any tips for going car-less? Pros/ cons you guys have experienced?<o:p></o:p>
    3-Anything else?<o:p></o:p>
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    I’d re buy a car once the snow hits in October/ November this year, but I figure I have about 6 to 8 months were I could use my motorcycle.<o:p></o:p>
    #1
  2. thomas.tc.young

    thomas.tc.young Been here awhile

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    i'm car-less. you have to get use to not being able to move stuff, getting wet when it rains and you need to commute, suffering on the bike in unbearably hot weather. maintenance is maintenance, no biggie for me. also if it gets stolen, then your completely SOL.
    #2
  3. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Dollar for dollar you use more money on a bike than in a car, unless you drive a dick compensating truck.

    That said, I lived for two years on a bike. It was great! You need to make sure you can haul your groceries and normal stuff on your bike safely, or have a friend with a car that will help occasionally.

    Other than that, good rain gear and enjoy!

    Jim :brow
    #3
  4. David R

    David R I been called a Nut Job..

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    I keep my truck at work all summer and only ride the bike. It is fun. Take the long way to work and the longer way home.

    Paying for gas is fun. I tell them Yup 50 mpg..... Rain or shine :D

    David
    #4
  5. rob30

    rob30 Adventurer

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    Not bike related, but I had a 01 Focus and had a front spring break. It is a Ford recall on this car; Mine was fixed under warranty in 07 or 08. Something worth investigating. Something about a bad finish on the spring from the factory causing corrosion and failure...
    #5
  6. monkeythumpa

    monkeythumpa When I go slow, I go fast

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    Here in the Bay Area between tolls and parking rates, motorcycles are much cheaper than a car even when factoring in tires and maintenance.

    Every month I save ($6-$2.50) x 20 days/month = $70 on tolls, ($5-0) x 20 = $100 on parking and 70 miles / (41mpg-24mpg) x 20 days x $3.80/gallon = $313 on petrol

    That is $5,796 savings per year. Two sets of tires and two major services per year total $1200. Add that I save 1.5 hours per day commuting and you have even more savings, assuming you apply your hourly rate. And my insurance rate is cheaper too. While it is a benefit, I ride because it is fun, and saves time. I have plenty of money, it is time I don't have enough of.

    Now I can always use my wife's car, but again I live in the Bay Area, 5th worst place for traffic, home to all year riding and lane splitting so my bike is my primary transport unless the kids or dog is with me. I prefer the bike for supermarket runs. Whole Foods in the heart of hippie land can be a frustrating place to navigate for larger vehicles. I park right in front. I have a topcase and two hard side cases which can get my family 60 pounds of food, plenty for a week. If I take my dry bag I can get up to 100 lbs, more if it is mostly cheese. That would be my biggest suggestion, get at least one hard, lockable case. It is nice to at least leave your helmet behind with the bike, maybe your jacket and boots while you slip into your loafers to walk around at your destination. Hauling your computer or groceries is a lot easier with proper storage. I go to the gun range on it and strap my shotgun case to the pillion. I prefer to commute during the rain, that is when traffic gets really bad. I ride it to go hiking, even to work out, but it can stink up your gear if you don't have a shower at the practice field.
    #6
  7. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    Great info!:clap

    Jim :brow
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  8. David13

    David13 Been here awhile

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    I don't think I would want to go for 2 years motorcycle only in Minnesota. Maybe just for the summer.
    Tho' when I was about 16 or so I was part of the winter on a motorcycle only, in Michigan.
    At my current age I hate to think about being motorcycle only here, let alone in Virginia.
    I would suspect the junkyards here have the whole front end for a Ford Focus; bring your own tools; the price, maybe $200 at most?
    dc
    #8
  9. Schnickelfritz

    Schnickelfritz pick, grin, repeat

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    This is all good stuff, but how are you saving 1.5 hrs/day? (I've lived in Chicago and Seattle, so I've seen some serious self-inflicted single-occupancy commuter woes.) Do you mean that instead of "commuting," you instead go for a motorcycle ride on the way to work, or that riding a motorcycle actually saves you 1.5 hrs/day compared to caging it?
    #9
  10. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    He lane splits.

    Jim :brow
    #10
  11. damurph

    damurph Cold Adventurer

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    I have been carless for years. I use the scooter around town from April to December and the KLR during the winter.
    Groceries come home in a milkcrate so you don't get the jumbo size box of cereal. On the snowstorm days i leave it home obviously and you have to pick your days to do some things based on weather.
    I think it is more of a mental thing really. You deal with what you have to deal with but it is transportation.
    It costs a lot less to register/insure/fuel it but more in gear but it saves me money.
    #11
  12. Schnickelfritz

    Schnickelfritz pick, grin, repeat

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    And thus saves 1.5 hrs in 70 miles? That means traffic averages under 24 mph, and he lane-splits at his average speed of almost 50 mph, which is a pretty good average speed for a trip into/out of/around a major metro, esp. if there are surface streets involved.

    I guess I'm surprised that lane-splitting can save this much time.
    #12
  13. monkeythumpa

    monkeythumpa When I go slow, I go fast

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    I probably split much faster than is recommended, but most of the time savings comes from the ability to use carpool lanes. I am doing 80mph while traffic is stop and go. It is a 35 minute commute each way on my bike, in the Forrester it is 1:15+/- When it is raining, the difference can be greater.
    #13
  14. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    There's quite a saving on a bike.

    My commute is 20 minutes with empty streets, 20-40 most days on the bike, 30-60 in a car.

    I don't lane split, but with lots of traffic lights, roundabouts and a few T-intersections speed through the bends and acceleration gains me a lot.

    Major win when things are really clogged as well, there are a few (illegal) short cuts I can take if it's totally wedged as.

    A (new) DL 650 saved me $$$ over a car or public transport, but for serious savings, a battered but mechanically sound second hand bike and doing your own maintenance is the big winner.

    Really tough to find enough space to do the sort of repairs your car needed and to do the work yourself, but a bike ?, almost trivally easy.

    Pete
    #14
  15. RFVC600R

    RFVC600R GOT SAND? NO!

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    I ONLY use my Focus for transporting my pregnant girlfriend and trips to wal-mart and grocery store. I am on my bike 99%of the time. Everybody at work thought I was crazy commuting in the freezing ass rain at night and I have NO rain or winter gear just cotton gloves under my gerickes. Even my buddy at work who has ONLY has a motorcycle for transportation got a ride from someone else. I am a motorcycle rider, rain or shine day or night :D
    #15
  16. kamikazekyle

    kamikazekyle Been here awhile

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    Cost savings will vary a lot depending on what motorcycle you get, miles per year, and what your car's cost of ownership happens to be. Assuming you get a small bike (say 250ccs) and stick to more touring oriented tires, and maybe adjust valves yourself you can save quite a bit.

    For an example, my CBR250. 65-70MPG city, 70-80 highway, 70 interstate, runs on regular. $20 or less for an oil change every 8k miles, and valve adjustment (~$150-200 at a dealer) every 16-19k miles (I forget). Insurance $120-$140/yr full coverage. I figure I can get about 7-8k miles out of the stock rear, so a touring rear would probably get as much as 15k miles or more. Replacement parts are cheap -- you can get a full set of custom plastics for $350; OEM fuel tank pre-painted for about $180-$220.

    So at $4/gal with an average MPG of 70 and 20,000 miles per year, net operating cost of $1793 ($1143 gas, $250 one pair of tires plus one rear, $60 oil, $140 insurance, $200 valve adjust)

    My car at $4/gal with an average MPG of 27 MPG, same mileage, net operating cost of $3832 ($2962 gas, $70 oil, $800 insurance, no tires or valve adjust). If you increased the average MPG to 37 MPG, it's still a total of $3032.

    Now I *am* ignoring purchase price here. Granted, you can probably find a Ninja 250 or CBR250 for $2500ish (+/- depending on year, but the CBR's introduction hit the Ninja 250's used market hard). I saw some barely used 2011 CBR250's going for $2700ish last year. A chain driven bike will need a new chain every so often, though unless ridden hard or offroad a lot it's interval is about equal to that of a car's timing belt and a lot cheaper to replace. If you get a bike that gets less gas mileage and costs more to insure, or has shorter service intervals, the difference can start to melt away. Especially if you have a fuel efficent, cheap to insure, low maintenance car. But, $4,000 will get you a better used bike vice a used car.

    Some tips on transporting stuff: get hard cases if it's in your budget, especially removable ones. If not, you can find really good soft side bags for $100. Don't be afraid to use some straps and a duffel bag, either. You'll probably have to buy less groceries at a time/go more frequently. On the flip side, this lets you keep fresher produce around. If you ever need to haul big stuff, you can rent a truck or van cheap from UHaul or a car rental agency.

    Other things to save cash and work good: get a good set of textile gear that you can layer under, and a cheap set of rain gear. Mesh jackets with true windproof liners and an insulated liner can actually be used year round. A set of cheap coleman rain coveralls works surprisingly well. If something isnt' waterproof there's always Plasti-Dip :p A semi-fairing or sport fairing will help a lot without interfering too much with summer.

    Anyway, short of it: stick to smaller displacements to save the most money if that's your goal. You can haul plenty of things but might have to make more trips. For things you can haul, there's always cheap rentals. Invest in some good gear (doesn't have to break the bank, though) and don't forget rain gear. Fairings/windscreens help a lot on colder days and/or with interstate miles.

    Oh, and I wouldn't suggest buying a motorcycle and using it just for the summer only to sell it again if you want to save money. You might be able to buy a used one and sell it used for what you paid for it, but if you take any loss it'll eat into the savings.
    #16
  17. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    I go carless for spring/summer/fall in Chicago, although I do have access to my roommate's car on the very rare occasions that I needed it (Mostly for driving to the parts store when the bike broke).

    Of most importance is to have a good ability to carry plenty on the bike, and having good rain gear. My bike is a V-Strom 650 with big Happy Trails panniers, so I never have problems not being able to carry stuff. Grocery shopping was a breeze, I could fit almost a full cart's worth of stuff into the panniers and the milk crate bungeed to the luggage rack. Got some funny looks from cashiers, though. :)

    Total cost of ownership is about the same as a car; what you'll save on gas, you'll make up for in consumables (chain/sprockets, tires, farkles, etc). You'll also find yourself buying more and higher-quality riding gear if you truly are using it every single day. I have full head-to-toe gear for everything from 100f+ to below freezing, and mix and match every morning depending on the forcast. (Three different jackets, plus a one-peice textile suit, numerous gloves and boots, and a couple different helmets. I've also got a couple sets of racing leathers, but I only wear those on the street when I'm feeling extra power-rangery.)

    However, if you get rid of the car, and therefor don't have all of it's associated costs, you'll be SHOCKED at how much more money you have over the summer. Right now, you're paying for two methods of transportation, and if you ditch one of them, you'll be very surprised with how much extra cash you've got in your pocket at the end of every month.

    I know Minneapolis winters are harsher than Chicago, but I found that I could reliably ride pretty deep into November with no problems, and for a good chunk of December. January and February are sketchy as shit, but come March you're usually pretty clear aside from a screwball snowfall or two.
    #17
  18. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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    One more tidbit is that rental cars are cheap as shit for when you need them. Most places are like $25/overnight, and many car-sharing programs are between $5-$10/hr for ultra-short rentals. Not sure if you have any of those in your area, though.
    #18
  19. woolsocks

    woolsocks Been here awhile

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    Thanks for all the insight guys. I currently have:

    - 2006 Ninja 650R- just over 15,000 miles, just had the 15,000 mile service done, currently in storage.
    - I get around 50 mpg.
    - I need a new set of tires and a new chain before I can start riding safely again.
    - I can use my girlfriend's car or the city bus in a pinch
    - If I can't fit it on the bike, I probably don't need it anyway...:D

    So Here's the math-


    - new tire set- approx. $300 to $400
    - new chain- approx. $60 to $100
    - Minneapolis average gas price= $3.564/ gallon (http://www.twincitiesgasprices.com)
    - Oil + Filter every 3,000 miles= approx. $30

    - Using Google Maps I probably ride around 70 miles per day (home, work, girlfriend's house, gym, errands, etc)
    - 70 miles x 184 days (May 1 to Nov 1 per http://www.timeanddate.com) is 12,880 miles next summer (I'll round that up to 13,000 miles though)

    So...

    - 50 mpg at $3.564 is $0.07 per mile @13,000 miles = $910 for gas
    - Approx. 5 oil changes for 13,000 miles @ $30 each= $150 for oil changes
    - new tires= $400
    - new chain= $100
    - insurance= $89 per month @ 6 months = $534

    Approx. Total = $2,094 (cost to run between May 1 and Nov, not including additional issues)

    If my motorcycle is going to be my sole unit for transport, I'll probably need:
    - a better helmet
    - a good waterproof over suit (Aerostitch)
    - a better backpack- Kriega R25, Kriega R35
    - cellphone/ gps mount on the handlebars
    - Rear rack and/ or top case
    - Other miscellanious gear I don't have but should probably have :lol3
    #19
  20. TXRKC

    TXRKC Been here awhile

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    I'll differ from the majority here. Your car is a 2000 so I assume it's paid off. I say fix it and keep it. You said you'll buy another car in 6-8 months anyway. Yes, you'll need to keep it insured and also the yearly tags. But if you sell it and buy another car in 6-8 months, you'll be paying taxes on the new car purchase, so that probably about evens out. Plus by keeping it, you'll still have use of a car if you need it to move items too big for the motorcycle or if you need to go somewhere and the weather is really bad. I've had a motorcycle as my only transportation for a while when I was in the military and living Kansas. I gotta say I dont miss riding in the blistering cold rain or snow.
    #20