car-less for the summa

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

  1. homme de fer

    homme de fer Been here awhile

    Jan 12, 2010
    GTA, Canada
    In the Toronto area, and with a commute of about 70kms daily, I really don't have the option of riding 12 months of the year, However, I keep meticulous records of expenses and this is what I came up with if I had the option of year 'round riding:

    Car expenses = Insurance + gas = $2,946/year

    Motorcycle Expense (BMW Sertao) = $1,662/year

    This doesn't include maintenance as I believe it would be a wash. Basically, I'd save about $1,300/year by commuting by bike all year.

    It got me thinking though, what is the difference in expense between driving a car year around and what I am doing currently (ride 8 months, drive 4):

    Car expenses = $1,406 + Bike expense = $1,396

    Total = $2800.28

    That means that I'm saving about $150 a year having both the car and bike. It isn't much, but at least I have a car and a bike. BTW, the BMW gets rediculous mileage so my savings would be more than someone riding something bigger.
  2. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

    Jul 2, 2011
    Chicago (sort of)
    If money is an issue, I would skip some of that. Those Kriega backpacks are nice as hell, but I vastly prefer just putting stuff in the panniers (Besides, a $30 pack from wal-mart will do fine). And don't go crazy with the handlebar mounted stuff, just keep everything in your tank bag. A good tank bag I would say is more important than a backpack; if you're riding every day, you'll find your tank back quickly turns into your man-purse and will hold all the useful little things you need. If your sense of direction is really so terrible that you have to use a GPS every day, just get a tank bag with a clear map pouch, and stick the GPS in there.

    Aerostich suits are nice in that they can tailor them to you, however I'm not a huge fan of them for the price. I prefer the Olympia Phantom suit; it's half the price and MUCH more versatile. It has a zip-out liner and better venting than the 'stich, so it has a wider temperature range that it's useable in, as well as more/better pockets. I've ridden in temps down to the 20s, and up into the 70s and been comfortable in my Phantom suit as long as I'm wearing sensible clothes under the suit. Up to 80f is doable as long as you're moving, but in city traffic it'll be unpleasent.

    As for the helmet . . . now, this is a personal opinion, but I would think about getting a modular/flip-face helmet. They do comprimise some safety; they're not going to offer quite as much protection as a solid full-face. However, for me personally, the IMMESNE conveinence of the flip-face is worth the minor reduction in safety for daily commuting. I still have a solid full-face that I wear at the track or when out riding aggressively.

    I'm not sure what the luggage options are for a Ninja 650. A luggage rack is going to be mandatory, but maybe not the top case; I find a milk crate and some bungee cords does fine :) If you can afford it, hard top-loading panniers are AMAZING. I have a set of Happy Trails on my Wee, and love them. A full set with the rack will run you $700-$800, though.

  3. monkeythumpa

    monkeythumpa When I go slow, I go fast

    Oct 21, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    I am a big 'stich fan, think they are worth every penny and I am have been glad I have been in it a handful of times like when I had to ride from Ensenada to Oakland in 15 hours of rain (The first two in a tropical storm) but for 99% of rainstorms, Frogg Togg suits work great for $100.
  4. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Oct 25, 2004
    India Wharf
    I was carless in DC for about 10 months. I found a pair of ski overalls and gloves solved the wet weather for about $50. I had a gortex jacket. I liked it for everything except having to haul stuff. Fortunately I could walk to a grocery store and my office, so I was'nt really commuting.

    I vote you try it and see.
  5. Eye of the Tiger

    Eye of the Tiger Adventurer

    Jan 12, 2013
    South Carolina
    I am seriously thinking about going carless pretty soon. I have a perfectly fine 2010 Hyundai Accent, but I just don't need it. I can borrow a friend's car if I really need to move something big. I feel like I could take advantage of the currently inflated used car values and sell it for nearly what I paid brand new. The weather here is good enough to commute all year without going crazy with the gear. I do have one rule, though: two or more vehicles at all times. Therefore, I would have to pickup a second motorcycle. Oh, bother. :D
    I am thinking a used Ninja 250 or 500 for around $2000 would be great for commuting. Selling the car would save me around $400/month between payment and insurance when compared to a second hand motorcycle.
  6. woolsocks

    woolsocks Been here awhile

    Oct 30, 2011
    Minneapolis, MN
    Yeah, I was reading something about that. It looks like it was only a 10 year extended warranty so it wouldn't apply to my vehicle. I already had the labor done. It looks like the labor had to be done by a Ford dealership mechanic, I'm not sure if they'll reimburse me if I send it receipts?

    That's true. There are a few "Hour Car" (great pun) and "Zip Cars" around here in Minneapolis. I hadn't thought about the rental option, thanks!

    Thanks for the tips. I love my Kriega gear! I have a US 30 dry bag, US 10 dry bag and a tank adapter for the US 10. I'd been using a Gregory 28 liter pack and an Osprey 30 liter pack last year along with the Kriega bags, but those back packs get uncomfortable with any significant amount of weight in them and the flapping straps are annoying as hell. Kriega R25 looks awesome for everyday house to work to gym commuting.

    The GPS isn't essential, but it's getting to be really a pain to have to look at google maps and memorize my route if I'm going somewhere new and have to constantly be remembering and checking my route as I go--not really a big deal on a weekend ride to ge lost and explore though :clap
  7. Eye of the Tiger

    Eye of the Tiger Adventurer

    Jan 12, 2013
    South Carolina
    I'm thinking, If I go carless, I might have to stop eating eggs. I think the vibrations from the Harley's engine, alone, would break them. Or maybe I can just get some chickens.
  8. WVhillbilly

    WVhillbilly Long timer

    Oct 20, 2010
    Something you may want to check into was that Focus had a recall for bad coil springs.
    Bad powdercoat or something, would cause the spring to break.

    I had one of those POS cars, and about 2 weeks after I got the notice the front spring broke.
    Ford wouldn't fix it until then.

    They put new springs on it, car was never right again tho.
  9. Thanantos

    Thanantos Ride hard.

    Jul 17, 2008
    It's possible I missed something in the thread somewhere, but (otherwise) this post is filled with a lot of wants instead of needs.

    My reply is based on me being suddenly carless last summer. It wasn't absolutely necessary, but I figured, "What the hell? Let's have fun."

    - Any backpack, messenger bag, pannier is waterproof with a Ziploc Big Bag available for $5 at target.
    - A locking piece of luggage is nice, but you can lock your jacket and pants to your bike with a cheap cable lock or just bring it with you.
    -----You may look like a dork for dragging a bunch of crap into class with you, but...wants vs needs.
    - If your helmet is DOT approved and within 5 years old it is good to go. A replacement can be had anywhere for $100.
    - Beyond that you have a great bike (I have a 2007 in the garage). Just ride it.
    - Replace the chain and sprockets every 15,0000 miles or so
    - Replace the rear tire every 10 to 15,000 miles or so and front even less.
    - Change the oil and filter every 5,000 miles or so
    - You CAN get a GPS device for your handlebars, but you can also memorize your route before you leave, stop momentarily from time to time, use your smartphone tucked away in your pocket or buy a Ram mount for your smart phone for $30 like I did.

    There are a lot of wants here that you have presented as needs. You have to balance the difference.
  10. B50Paul

    B50Paul Been here awhile

    Dec 25, 2010
    Salt spring Island the Hawaii of Canada
    First bike at 18 , first car 4months ago , at 66 . Ride every day , except the one week ayear we have snow ,
  11. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

    Jul 19, 2007
    Sydney Australia
    I have been carless for 17 years, but it doesnt snow here, we do get a decent amount of rain.

    Carrying stuff is a mix of planning, going without (which is why bikes are cheaper than cars), hire cars, delivery and carrying straps. It is amazing how much you can carry on a bike, people on this forum go for months then shirk at carrying a weeks groceries......

    The other thing is getting a good wet weather set up, maybe two because you dont want to put wet stuff back on. Wet gear not drying kills gear faster than anything and will cost money so have at least two gloves and jackets. Even cheap stuff.
  12. stoke

    stoke ocean minded

    Jul 30, 2008
    San Diego, DM12. KK6RWM
    The bullet points:

    -From Minnesota
    -Lived in California since 1999 (San Diego)
    -Bought a used car and a used bike around the same time for the same amount of money
    -Was semi-forced/wanted to go carless in July 2012, eight months ago and I did

    IMO, if the bottom line is just saving money then fix the focus and be done with it. It's cheaper. Plus MN doesn't have the insane amount of traffic that CA does, doesn't allow lane splitting, you can't ride year round and gas is cheaper. So there you go. Car is cheaper in MN.

    But you own a bike already so it's not actually about just saving money, is it? It's about an excuse to use the bike full time and see what's it like. Plus it's cool to be able to say you did it. You should. It's good for you mentally.

    Most, but not all, of the time a cheap car will be be cheaper over time vs riding a bike-a cheap truck is not. I bought an '08 DL650 and a '99 Yukon around the same time. I wanted a big truck to surf out of as well as use for work occasionally and a bike for everything else.

    But I had never owned a real bike before, just a Honda Reflex which was sketchy on the highways here. The Vstrom does it all, six lane 87-mph-on-your-ass-driver highways included. Finally I could convert to two wheels full time. I could of bought a much nicer SUV with the money, but instead I split the difference and got an older SUV and fairly newish used motorcycle and got the best of both worlds.

    The Yukon gets about ten mpg. The 'Strom, about 50. Sometimes more. I sat down and did all the calculations with my daily commute, etc and at the end of the day, because of the spread between the Yukon and Strom in gas savings alone, with gear included, the bike will have paid for itself in under a year. I was spending about $400 in month on gas on the Yukon. On the DL, it's $50-$100, and I rarely hit $100.

    That does not include time savings. I save a lot of time on the bike. Never look for parking, never stopped in traffic. It can save me on the low end, 15-20 minutes a day, and on the high end, an hour on my commute. Traffic can be wretched here.

    I work for myself and don't take lunches, so every minute of every day working counts. The time savings not wasted sitting in traffic and instead invested working would honestly pay for the bike in about the same amount of time as the spread between the gas costs.

    I think two factors affect the value of going two wheels full time the most: where you live and gear. A car has "gear built in" for lack of a better way to say it, so that's a cost you don't have to deal with. My initial investment in gear was over $2,000.

    Yeah, I know, you can get cheap stuff. F that. If you actually ride every day, in every situation, work, social, rain, heat, night, hauling stuff, meeting clients, gear is the deciding factor. It really is. And it's not cheap.

    This list looks like overkill, but if you actually use your bike for everything, including work (I work for myself and meet clients in the field) you have to have it. Take the boots for example-the marathon steels I wear in rain, cold, and dirt. The airs when I'm around town and doing some highway travel as well, but need to wear the boots off bike quite a bit. The Dainese shoes are for in-town only, usually to go to the gym.

    -I have a Shoei Neotec flip front modular to I can get stuff done without taking it off
    -Outlast tshirts to make the weird temperature swings out here even out
    -Held Carese Goretex Jacket & Tourno Pants for when I'm on and off the bike multiple times all day/dirt
    -Dainese kevlar jeans-eurotrashy but heavy duty and cellphone pocket is awesome. warm too
    -Kushitani Zylon jeans-for meeting clients, look like real "dress" dark denim jeans, clients can't tell
    -Vendramini Marathon Steel boots
    -Vendramini Air boots
    -Dainese mesh jacket-summer and gym/around town
    -Dainese shoes-gym/around town
    -Ram mount for cell phone GPS-hell no I can't remember every route!
    -ROK straps-not an option, I've hauled so much stuff with these (I have both sizes)
    -Tool tube-yeah. you keep tools in it.
    -Barkbuster hand guards-keeps your hands warm in winter & you can remove the windguards in summer. also stops the mirrors you hit while lanesplitting from hitting your front lever
    -Aerostich Roadcrafter-if you go to work, park, work all day, then go home, this is your ticket
    -Helmet Lok-carrying your helmet everywhere gets old real quick
    -Helmet Lok cable-for your jacket
    -Motofiz tank bag-not an option, man purse like others have said
    -A bunch of other little things I'm not remembering like a helmet liner for after the gym

    And if where you live doesn't allow lane splitting or lane filtering, it gets real tough to justify owning a bike and a car. Like people here already said, sell the car and go for it, or fix the car up and save money. You can't justify both where you live. Source: I'm from there.

    Plus you can't ride year round. Your only choice to really save money is to go all in on one or the other for set period of time. And at best, you're a break even.

    In CA, you can own a bike and a car and still make it pay for itself because:

    -You can ride year round (check out Minnesota's Aerostich catalog, there are guys that go year round in MN believe it or not)
    -You can lane split or filter
    -Gas prices are obscene here

    I just got my truck back this week and drove it to work to see what it was like after being on a bike for so long. The first day, it felt like incomparable luxury. The second, still nice to catch up on phone calls but kind of annoying. The third, I was getting pissed at wasting so much time in traffic. The fourth, I had to put gas in it and was shocked. The fifth day, I just rode my bike. Was the most productive day of work I had all week.

    Lastly, my bike came with hard cases when I bought it. SUCH a benefit, I can't even tell you. If you're using bikes as transportation and not recreational tool, you must have side cases or a topcase and straps, or some such combination.
  13. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

    Aug 31, 2012
    Phuket, Thailand
    I have been carless for 34 of the 40 years since I left school, and it is about 12 years since I last owned one. I have borrowed or rented a car about half a dozen times since then.

    I have been without a motorcycle for just 3 of those 40 years.

    I have owned just 8 small (sub 350cc), practical, second-hand machines, and none cost more than $1,000. Keeping them well maintained, they have seen me right for commuting, and touring; I have ridden my own motorcycles in at least a dozen different countries (both temperate and tropical) and rented in a few more.

    For me, earning a relative pittance, motorcycles are a cheap, practical form of transport..... I have no interest in big bikes that are mostly pose, and cost more than a car to run.

    Small motorcycles have allowed me to travel widely, and to live a life free of debt.
  14. wingnut11

    wingnut11 generally strange

    Aug 19, 2009
    Twin cities mn
    Well since a lot of replies are from people living in other climates and not where the op lives I'll throw my two cents in. Go for it, don't look back. If your car is paid for fix it, keep it take the insurance off it once the weather is nice enough to ride every day. Usually that's about March or April. Then in October put insurance back on the car in preparation for the winter. This is what I do with my 13 year old paid off truck. I pretty much do what you're asking about, so it can be done here. It may not be cheaper than your car but it will be more fun. For me I need the truck to take care of a lot of things for various family members, But that works out since the times it's needed are during it's insured part of the year. The rest of the time I am on the bike. On any given day I could be going to both downtowns multiple times, and I find that even though we can't legally split and filter here I still get places faster get more done and have a much easier time finding places to park, been doing it for a number of years now and I can't imagine giving up using the bike for my daily transport. Oh and that having more fun thing again. There's plenty more I could talk about, but I've got to clear my driveway of the damn white shit. Since I'm local I'll throw out the offer to meet up with you and talk about commuting here.
  15. Sox Fan

    Sox Fan SoxFan

    Apr 26, 2007
    Southeast Michigan
    Minnesota. Long winters, short summers.

    Fix the car as others have said and ride the bike as often as it is safe to do so.

    Most people don't save as much as they think riding instead of driving.
  16. bluegreen

    bluegreen Adventurer

    Feb 24, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    I'm confused, how?

    Even though I live in a place with relatively expensive bike insurance it's still half what it costs to insure a car or truck.

    If my tires only last a year they're still only $200 ish I'm still up at least $400 a year just in insurance

    My '73 Honda still gets 42+ MPG, I've never had a car do that well or even close. If any of my four wheeled vehicles got to 20mpg I was happy. Massive savings there.

    Unless you're riding a Ducati how does a bike cost more? How does it even approach half?
  17. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

    Feb 11, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    Figure 10K miles a year, car or bike.

    Tires, $300 every 10K on a bike. Small car, every 40K, and cost $500.

    Mileage on most motorcycles averages less than 50mpg. A small car gets at least 30-35mpg. Some savings.

    Gear for a bike, needs replacing every few years, and you need multiseason gear, this adds up to at least $2-300 a year for the cheap stuff. No gear needed for a car.

    Services on a motorcycle are usually shorter intervals and cost more. Often one of these if not both.

    You still need a car now and then, hope you have friends.

    Of course all this is crap if you ride an old bike, or a scooter, short distances and don't bother with gear, but the money is rarely less on a bike alone. Also crap if you have a monster truck that gets crap mileage and needs a bunch of repairs.

    Jim :brow
  18. Ceri JC

    Ceri JC UK GSer

    Sep 14, 2009
    All over, usually Wales or England

    I did the maths (for the UK at least, where both gas and insurance tend to be more expensive) both times I didn't have a car. The conclusions I reached was that bikes, like for like* are generally cheaper, provided you only have a bike: Having a bike to save on car costs, whilst you still have a car, seldom results in less total cost (apart from at the extremities, like you have a 50cc scooter and your 'car' is a 6 litre truck).

    * By this, I mean an equivalent bike to a car. The number one thing people cock up on when they present silly figures on this subject is that they don't compare like with like. You have to compare new with new, 2nd hand with 2nd hand and Fully Comp Insurance for your car with 10 years "No Claims" bonus (NCB) with the same, for your bike; not Third Party only, with 2 years NCB on your garaged bike. Perhaps the most overlooked way this rears its head: It's stupid comparing a 1.0L IL4 car to a GSX-R 1000, they're not 'equivalents' just because they have an engine that on paper looks similar. A Suzuki VanVan or Honda CB125 are 1.0L car equivalents. I'd say an ST1300 is the bike world's equivalent of a Jaguar or Audi touring car. Yes, an ST1300 is more expensive than a Fiat Punto, but it's considerably cheaper than the cars it should be compared to

    Disagree? Really think bikes are more expensive, like for like? Look at every 2nd and 3rd world country on earth and see what sort of vehicle people are on. Do they have two wheels or four? Do you think those people all just prefer the wind in their hair?
  19. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

    Feb 11, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    90% of them are on scooters, and cars and gas assosciated with them are way out of the average person's budget.

    A case can be made for cheaper, such as the guy who responded to me on his old Honda, but make it a Goldwing or BMW and the tables turn!

    That said, I have been carless a few times, once for two years, and it was pretty cheap. Add car ownership, and the cheapness of the motorcycle goes out the window. You are paying for both. Plus you need to figure lifecycle costs, not just gas and tires.

    Jim :brow
  20. randyo

    randyo Long timer

    Nov 17, 2007
    Northern NewEngland
    this is a post of mine in another thread and the reason I have an opinion that unless yer comparing a scooter or bike under 500cc or comparing to a larger truck/suv, cars are cheaper than bikes
    mostly tires

    also remember to compare apples to apples, don't compare professional maintenance costs for a cage to DIY costs on a bike, AND compare what the recommended intervals are.

    bike $425 for 2 tires (mounted & balanced) lasts 10k = 4.25¢/mile
    car $350 for 4 tires (again mounted balanced) lasts 80k = 0.44¢/mile

    bike spend almost 10 times as much on tires

    also routine maintenance, cars go 100,000 miles between tuneups, bikes go only 7,500 (going by recommended interval in manual)


    bike @ 50mpg = 7¢/mile car @ 38mpg - 9.2¢/mile

    cost of ownership similar

    bike new $8k, value with 100k miles $500 - 7.5¢/mile
    car new $15k, value with 100k miles $7,500 - 7.5¢/mile

    chain & sprockets is something that cars don't have, but some cars do require changing a timing belt at 60k or 75k

    I use my V-strom and in the past my SV650 for business use and have detailed accounting for tax purpose, My V-strom cost per mile is 45¢± compared to 36¢ for a Ford Ranger and 52¢ for a Chevy van, cheapest car I ever owned was a BMW 320i that only cost my 26¢/mile, My SV was 35¢/mile (over 135k miles)