Did you just buy a motorcycle and come to the same realization that everyone eventually comes to when the end of the month rolls around and they open their wallets to find it dustier than your old VHS collection?
Probably otherwise, why are you here?
Nope, it’s okay. I see how it is. While we’re here together on the toilet, you might as well have a quick chat with me about saving some cash on motorcycles.
You see, they’re not the money-saving that some people say they are. Sure you might not have to pay to park them, and they do run a little bit more fuel efficiently than the average automobile, but you’ve probably picked up one as a second vehicle.
You are maybe assuming that splitting the km between a car and a bike would drive down the cost of both. I’m sorry to say, but you are wrong. At the very least, it’ll take you years for a motorcycle to pay for itself. In savings alone, you’d probably need to ride the bike for like 400 years, but there are a few ways to save cash if you know how to do it.
1. Let’s start off with the fun one today. MODS!
Modding your motorcycle is a great way to make it sound nicer, or even handle a little bit better, but the question is, do you actually need to modify your bike? Sure. If it’s quiet and you want it to be loud, you’re gonna have to swap your exhaust out.
Before you do, it’s worth taking a look online of seeing if someone else has figured out a way to maybe drill out some of the baffling in your stock pipe or doing something more on the cheap. At the end of the day, an aftermarket pipe is just a slightly flashier and louder version of your stock exhaust.
If you can’t live without the looks, drilling with the baffle out is usually a great alternative. That doesn’t cost you a dime, but how about the, Surely you need to swap to a new fork, and you might as well add a steering damper and the shopping cart while you’re at it too, right? Well, no.
When was the last time you checked your suspension settings? Maybe your bike only has preload, but then you have no excuse not to set it up from the factory. Most motorcycles are sprung for a person about the average size. 5’ 11” and about a 160-170 pounds. So if you’re under or over, the stock settings might be too harsh or too soft.
A few clicks of preload can really change the suspension because it means your rear end doesn’t squat so much under your weight. If you got a fully adjustable suspension, setting it up for your weight can completely alter the feeling of your motorcycle, especially if you bought it used and it’s got the previous owner settings.
You don’t need to mod your bike to make it feel better. A good setup might be all you. And help just invest in some good tires and make sure they’re pumped up to the right psi. That’ll do you wonders.
2. Do Basic Maintenance Yourself
I talk about this constantly and even mentioned it in a few other articles, things you should know before you start riding motorcycles, which you should definitely go and check out by the way, but it’s worth repeating again because it’ll really save you a bunch of money, and its good for you to know your bike inside and out.
Let’s say you need to get your oil changed in a new chain mounted up on your motorcycle. If your bike runs on 3.5 quartz, then you’re looking at about $75 worth of oil and filters, and then a chain and sprocket kit, which ranges in price, but we’ll call it an even 150 bucks. So that’s $225 right there.
If you take it to the dealership, then you’ll have to pay the tech the hourly rate, which here in Ontario, where I live is 125 bucks an hour. The oil change will probably be rung up as 30 to 45 minutes, but let’s assume the dealership in greedy is, call it a flat. Then another hour for the chain and sprockets, and suddenly that 225 turns into 475 plus tax because that’s how math works.
If you can do the work yourself, you’ll save a ton. Also, it’s not that tough. Sure, it might require some specialized tools like a chain breaker and a riveter, but once you have them, you can keep using them over and over again. Just buy a nice one so you don’t have to replace it every time. It’ll help to have a service manual or a Haynes manual for your bike as well.
So check online to see if you can find a physical copy or print out a PDF or have one electronically downloaded to your device. You can’t write notes on your phone.
3. Maintain Your Riding Gear
Do you have a white textile jacket that’s starting to brown?
Have you heard of this wonderful new invention called soap? That’s right. You can clean your motorcycle gear from your jacket to gloves, pants, boots, and even your helmet pads for your jacket. Just pop the pads out and toss that sucker right in the washing machine. You can even run it on Delicate if you’re worried about messing up your fancy dese.
It won’t. I mean, it’s rated for impacts with the asphalt, but some people worry about that stuff. If your jacket is leather and you can’t remove the liner, then spot-cleaning the inside with some soapy water will really help remove some of the oder. The same will go with gloves or your boots. I’d suggest tossing them in the washing machine too.
Just take off any toe sliders or removable plastic protective parts that don’t scope off the washing machine. When it comes to helmet liners, I would check with the manufacturer owner’s manual that came with them. Some of them are machine washable, others are hand wash only. Some you just need to replace, but having a smelly helmet is not reason enough to go out and buy a new one. If you are not sure about your helmet … ask Uncle Google.
If you want a quick tip to keep some of the smells at bay, putting a scented dryer sheet in your kit while it’s drying can help mask some of the worst odors. Not buying new riding gear every season will feel bad, but you will save some money. Now, listen, let’s say that the gear isn’t salvageable. It happens.
You’ll probably end up spending a few hundred dollars on replacement gear every year, but you can save yourself some cash simply by not buying the fanciest gear on the rack. This is another thing I mentioned recently, but price and safety are not directly correlated. Maybe they were back in the day, but now you can get a $300 helmet with the safety ratings of a piece.
It might not have the sick Rossi graphics on it, but it’ll help keep the mushy bits in your noodle safe. There’s nothing in that massively overpriced jacket that you’re not gonna be able to find in the cheaper one or add with a few bucks left in the pockets.
Money Save and Hack, if you’re looking to ride in colder months is to pick up yourself. Some snowmobile gloves, might be a bit bulkier, but they’ll be just as warm as a motorcycle glove and half the price. And let’s face it, winter motorcycle. All feel like crap anyway. One place you shouldn’t be saving on your gear is by wearing work boots instead of motorcycle boots.
Your Timberlands might have a steel toe, but that does not have any crush protection. That’s not worth saving money on and risking shattered shins and ankles.
4. Do Not Buy a Crazy Expensive Motorcycle
But if you still have to have a leader by today, maybe consider picking up one pre-2000. They’re still making way more power than you’ll ever be able to use. Handle better than you can and cost less than a quarter of the price. Heck, you can probably find yourself some sweet deals, just buy used over new.
If you’re thinking about buying a new motorcycle and you want a stupid hyper naked bike because who wouldn’t maybe don’t go straight for a brand new Ducati. Those things start at 18,699.
If you’re working with a basic bike, you can probably just figure it out yourself. You can always get a fancy bike later down the road, but it’s worth looking at the competition because you might be able to save a boatload of cash.
5. Here’s One for All the Sport Bike Riders
Stop riding around on super sport tires. Wait. Did you feel that it was the pain screams of millions of people crying out at once? Here’s the thing, you don’t need hyper sport rubber because you ride hard on the street..
They’ll handle perfectly fine on the street and last a whole lot longer than super courses. I know you’re probably thinking that sport-turning tires don’t have the edge grip. You really need to hit it at the track, but since you’re spending more time complaining about it in the comments section than actually riding on the track, let me tell you for your pace, You don’t need super sticky rubber.
If you’re squaring off your tires, that means you’re probably using the wrong compounds for your riding style, and that goes for any kind of motorcycle. If you’re on a big ass adv and you keep wearing out the knobs on your fancy off-road tires, then maybe consider switching to a longer-lasting street tire.
Especially if the most dirt those knobs have seen was the gravel patch in the middle of the road that one time. Sometimes just being honest with yourself and admitting that you don’t need the most expensive tires out there for your riding style is all you need to save hundreds of dollars a. But don’t buy Chicos.
6. Store Your Motorcycle
If you’re in a place where the riding season has come to an end, have you winterized your motorcycle properly? That means raising it off the ground or putting some cardboard between the concrete and your tires. Did you top off the gas tank and put the bike on the tender?
Did you put some uh, stabilizer in the gas tank? Did you mouse-proof your bike or put a cover? All those things can prevent costly headaches when the riding season comes around and you have to waste time getting your bike back up and running, but it doesn’t have to be just for long term storage. If you park your bike outside, investing in a quality cover will help prevent sun damage, rust, bird poop, and more from damaging your bike on the day-to-day.
If you store it in a garage, a cover might still prevent you from having to wash it every time you pull it out because garages are pretty dusty. Spending a few minutes thinking about where your bike spends its nights might save you more than you think. Also, invest in some security for your bike. I’m talking disc locks, trackers, and chains, all that can ward off the odd thief who might be considering taking a pass for your ride.