With salaries frozen and energy prices spiralling out of control, we investigate how much money could be saved by switching from a Car to a Motorcycle.
Automobile versus motorcycle, it’s the argument that has been raging on tarmac since the four and two-wheeled rivals first met in the 19th century. Be it performance, looks, practicality or economy the fiery altercation has taken many forms and featured in many places before now, but perhaps none have been quite so poignant as the topic we attempt to thrash out in this article.
Recent news that the UK’s economy has grown for the third successive quarter is welcomed with open arms, but whilst we are undoubtedly on the road to recovery, with employment rates also improving, the truth is that many of us are still feeling the pinch of very hard times.
The recently announced price rises from the UK’s ‘big six’ energy suppliers mean that households will face bills over 8% higher than last year. For the average household, this could mean annual bills hitting the £1,500 mark for the first time in history. This highly topical issue compelled us to take action, so we set off to see if consumers really could save money by changing from four-wheels to two.
The first problem we came across in our quest to save money and encourage motorcycling, was finding a starting point! A bit of research into running costs of cars and bikes seemed a logical place to begin, but what cars and what bikes? Should we target a particular user such as commuters? or perhaps first time bikers? Well to give this post the widest possible appeal we’ve hand picked a few different examples, all of which are based on 3-year ownership costs to build a balanced picture.
The following isn’t meant as a definitive guide for how to save money and which bike you should choose to do so, nor is it reflective of all the different types of drivers and riders, it is merely a few examples and generalisations we’ve made to get some healthy debate going.
To start with we picked a reliable and frugal commuter bike, something that will return good economy and won’t leave you stranded at the roadside. The Suzuki Inazuma 250 does just that and if it doesn’t put a grin on your face at the same time, then we’re not quite sure what will!
Next up we needed to find an equivalent from the 4-wheel world, we’re the first to admit that we’re not car experts, which is why we decided to keep things simple and pick a vehicle from the same company. The Suzuki Alto is ingrained with same brand philosophy to deliver value-packed products, it sits at the no frills end of the firm’s range and it’s Japanese heritage ensures a reliable and efficient performance.
So, how do the Inazuma and the Alto stack up on paper:
The facts are undoubtedly in the bike’s favour but some might argue that it comes at a compromise, and to a certain extent they’d have a point. With only 2 seats instead of 4 or 5 and no protection from the elements, it’s not going to be practical to sell the family car and invest in a bike. That said, the bike could be a serious alternative to a second car, and with savings of around £750 per year (50% of the average households energy bills), it’s worth some serious thought.
For this comparison we decided to use some real bargain second hand vehicles, for the bike we picked the original trusty learner bike, the Honda CG125. On the car front, perhaps an equally stereotypical learner-mobile or first car, the Ford Fiesta. Here’s how they compared:
So even though the buying costs are pretty similar, there is still a huge amount of cash to be saved in the annual running costs of the bike. We’ll concede that you’ll be hard pushed to get an adrenaline rush onboard a CG125, but the same can be said about driving the Fiesta.
If you’re looking for a no-frills winter hack or summer commuter and you’re not doing lots of motorway miles, then an economical 125cc commuter bike will bag you around £1300 in savings each year. What’s more you can also ride a bike of this capacity without getting your full motorcycle license. Instead you can do a 1-day compulsory basic training (CBT) course for around £100 and get straight out on the road with L plates.
The last car vs bike comparison we made has a slightly unexpected twist. You might think that an article written in an attempt to save money might only focus on the most frugal of machines, but we don’t think that those looking for performance should be excluded.
Our last comparison is between the tarmac-melting BMW S1000RR superbike and the BMW 135i M Sport super-hot hatchback. Realistically there are much cheaper ways to buy big performance, but the BMWs, like the Suzukis we mentioned earlier, are ingrained with the same core values to deliver a pure, unadulterated riding/driving experience. So here’s how they sit:
As you’d expect the super-car beating S1000RR simply outclasses the hatchback in all areas of performance and in the economy stakes it is leaps and bounds in front too. With the comparatively huge price tag of the car, you can also expect equally high depreciation. This has big implications when it comes to the annual running costs, meaning you can have the awesome performance of the S1000RR and save over £3100 a year compared to the 135i M Sport!
So to conclude, the figures really do speak for themselves on the performance and economy front, with two wheels coming out on top. That said, modern cars have almost certainly closed the gap on their more economical two-wheeled equivalents and they are clear winners in the practicality stakes, with longer tank ranges, more torque, the ability to carry more passengers and keep them dry!
We’ve proved that there is certainly some money to be saved if your lifestyle will support a switch from four-wheels to two and even though we are somewhat biased, you’ll also realise that nothing can beat the rush and the sense of freedom and independence you get from riding a motorcycle.
If you have any views or comments on this subject or if you’ve made the change from four-wheels to two-wheels we’d love to hear from you, please leave a comment below!
* Insurance quotes based on a 25yr old male with clean license, no accidents, 8yrs NCB.