Are Motorcycles Expensive to Maintain? [Costs Chart]


It’s safe to say that motorcycles are expensive to maintain as the annual costs of owning a motorcycle start somewhere around $1,000 and can go as high as $15,000+! Yes, just like their price tags, the maintenance and ownership costs of motorcycles can vary widely. Are you wondering what these annual costs are? In a nutshell, the main costs associated with motorcycle ownership are as follows:

  • Purchase price /monthly payment/depreciation
  • Gear and accessories
  • Taxes/licensing
  • Gas
  • Tires
  • Insurance
  • Service costs and fixes
  • Other costs (cleaning, storage, tolls, tickets, parking, etc.)

If you would like to learn more about these costs, you are in the right place.

We at PowerSportsGuide have done the research and compiled the main motorcycle owning costs under one roof!

Factors that Affect the Maintenance Cost of a Motorcycle

It’s hard to tell what the exact maintenance costs of a motorcycle are, since the numbers depend on several factors.

For example, you can purchase a vintage motorcycle for $1,000 and a helmet for an additional $100, and you are ready to ride. In contrast, you can finance a brand new $40k luxury bike. As you can assume, the annual cost of this machine would be multiples of the previous one.

If you are considering purchasing a motorcycle, you probably want to know what maintenance costs you will have to reckon with. There are many factors that determine these numbers, but the most important ones are arguably as follows:

  • The brand, type, and performance of the motorcycle
  • Price of the motorcycle and financing conditions
  • Age and condition of the motorcycle
  • Your riding style
  • Your age and driving record
  • How many miles you ride in a year
  • Whether you can do the maintenance or not
  • How much you spend on gear, accessories, and modifications
  • Where you regularly ride

Let’s drill into the details and take a closer look at these factors!

The Motorcycle’s Features

The machine’s features are some of the most important factors affecting its maintenance costs.

First, let’s face it, some brands are cheaper to maintain, while others require more attention and maintenance. For some examples, Triumph, BMW, and Ducati are known for having very unique technology and features. These not only result in higher price tags, but also make these bikes harder and more expensive to maintain.

The type of motorcycle can also heavily affect its maintenance costs. Many dirt bikes are still powered with 2-stroke engines, which frequently require top-end rebuilds. On the other hand, these bikes are not street-legal, so you don’t have to bother with licensing or registration.

When it comes to performance, the general rule is the higher the engine performance the more maintenance costs you can expect to pay.

More power always means worse gas mileage and wears out the chain, sprockets, tires, and brakes much faster. Insurance also costs more on performance motorcycles, especially on sportbikes.

Besides its performance, the age and condition of the bike is no less important.

If you purchase a brand new bike, you will have significant price depreciation. Moreover, new bikes are becoming more and more complex and feature many electronic parts that are prone to failing.

In contrast, older machines are typically simpler and more durable. In many cases used bikes can run a lot of miles without any major issues. Or at least until they get too old!

But when older bikes start to wear out the repairs can cost more than the entire bike is worth.

Your Riding Style and Habits

Another major factor affecting the owning costs of your motorcycle is your riding habits.

It’s not surprising that the harder you hammer the throttle the more expenses you will pay. Speed junkie sportbike owners can go through 3-4 sets of tires in a single season while on touring bikes the tires can last for many years with reasonable riding.

Also, don’t overlook the importance of ridden miles, which always has a big impact on running costs. While the average motorcycle rider rides about 3,000-5,000 miles every season, others are lucky enough to be able to ride 20,000-30,000 miles per year!

More miles mean more fun, but it also results in higher gas bills and more wear and tear on the parts. If you can do the maintenance yourself, you can save a lot of money, as the cost of labor is very high nowadays.

Finally, motorcycle owners are prone to purchasing new gear and accessories every year. And these are not cheap!

Without further ado, let’s move on and check the major motorcycle owning costs in this chart!

Motorcycle Maintenance Costs Chart

Items Yearly Costs (USD)
Monthly payments $0-$5,000
Gear $0-$2,000
Licensing/taxes $100-$500
Gas $200-$1,000
Tires $200-$1,000
Insurance $200-$1,000
Maintenance and repairs $300-$2,000
Modifications $0-$1,000
Storage $0-$500
Other costs $0-$1,000
Total $1,000-$15,000

The costs in the chart above are for general informational purposes! Your real expenses could be less or even more!

As you already know, the owning costs of a motorcycle depend on many different factors. If you ride relatively few miles and you can do the maintenance yourself, your motorcycle won’t be expensive to maintain.

If you are lucky, you may only spend about $1,000 in a season, but keep in mind that there is relatively little chance of this.

If you want to be realistic the total annual costs of your motorcycle will be somewhere between $1,000-$5,000 each season. This sum may be shocking, but it’s the real cost of motorcycle ownership, which includes everything from insurance to speeding tickets. (Yes, you should expect to get some!)

Moreover, as you will see there are many hidden costs that you don’t even think about.

What’s more, if you finance an expensive motorcycle, your yearly costs can easily exceed a whopping $10,000+ with monthly payments and insurance. That’s why you should prepare a budget in advance.

Are Motorcycles Expensive to Maintain?

Are motorcycles expensive to maintain? The short answer is yes, they are. But if you would like to learn more about each cost, keep reading!

Purchase Price

When it comes to motorcycle ownership there are two main types of costs you should consider, ongoing and one-time costs.

One-time costs are independent from the usage and most of these are incurred at the time of purchase. These costs typically include the purchase price of the motorcycle, sales tax, prep, and shipping fees plus the gear.

Obviously, the biggest cost is always the purchase price of the bike. If you are looking for a new machine, you can expect to see price tags ranging from $5,000 up to $40,000, or even more.

What is the average monthly payment on a motorcycle? If you finance it (which is not recommended, since it’s a toy) keep in mind that the average monthly payment on a motorcycle falls into the $100-$300 range.

But even if you buy it outright with cash you shouldn’t overlook the depreciation, which is one of the main hidden costs of motorcycle ownership.

Just do the math. If you purchase a new motorcycle for $12k and sell it for 7k five years later, this means it lost an average of $1,000 in value each year!

Besides the purchase price, don’t forget the additional costs like prep, shipping fees and sale tax.

Licensing and Taxes

If you purchase a new vehicle it has to be registered and needs a title as well. Depending on where you live you may be required to have the bike periodically inspected and/or pay annual taxes.

Also, don’t forget that you need a motorcycle license and a safety course never hurts either. These items will also increase your budget!

Gear and Accessories

There is no question that one of the biggest and most unexpected costs is your gear and accessories.

Although the only safety gear required in most states is a helmet, most riders invest in many other safety accessories, and with good reason. Riding a motorcycle holds many dangers, so careful riders are looking for the best protection available.

And, unfortunately, good-quality motorcycle gear is fairly expensive. The price of a helmet starts at $100 but a high-quality carbon helmet can cost as much as $2,000!

For your convenience, we’ve gathered some of the most common types of motorcycle gear and their average price tags:

  • Helmet: $100-$500
  • Jacket: $100-$500
  • Pants: $100-$300
  • Boots: $100-$300
  • Gloves: $100-$200
  • Back protectors: $100-$200
  • Underwear: $100-$200

As you can see, you will spend at least $500-$800 for an entry-level set of gear. But if you are looking for something of higher quality, you can easily spend thousands of dollars on gear. From the cheapest Chinese no-name brands to the reputable manufacturers, the prices of motorcycle gear vary widely.

The same is true of accessories. You can ride your motorcycle as is, or you can spend more on accessories than the bike is worth.

Although these expenses are generally considered to be a one-time cost, many riders are prone to purchasing a lot of new gear and accessories every season. Because of this, these become more like an ongoing cost for many motorcycle owners!

Gas

Gas is also one of the most noticeable owning costs, so you have to reckon with it! To calculate the gas expenses for a motorcycle the following must be considered:

  • The number of miles your ride in a year
  • The average price of gas per gallon ($3)
  • The average mpg (miles per gallon) the motorcycle gets

As a rule of thumb, an average motorcycle gets about 40-60 miles per gallon.

For example, if you ride 5,000 miles each season your total cost of gas would be about $250-$375. But if you ride 10k miles your gas bill can jump up to $500-$750, and with 15k ridden miles you may end up paying $750-$1,125. But generally speaking, most motorcycle riders spend somewhere between $200-$700 on gas per year.

Tires

Another reason why motorcycles are so expensive to maintain is that their tires wear out much faster than car tires. While car tires typically last 40,000-60,000 miles, you can expect to get only about 3,000-15,000 miles on a set of motorcycle tires.

High-performance supersport bikes can especially wear out the rear tire very fast. Therefore, some owners go through 2-3 rear tires in a season.

In contrast, touring tires on cruiser and touring motorcycles can last much longer. With reasonable use the tires on these bikes can even last years.

Again, the life of the tires is strongly dependent on the number of ridden miles, the performance of the bike, and your riding habits.

If you are looking for a hard number, you can’t go wrong if you calculate using the cost of one set of tires each season, which may be about $400-$600. (If you are lucky, you may get more out of them.)

Servicing and Repairs

Just like any other vehicle, motorcycles require regular servicing, which should be done every year or after every 5,000-20,000 miles.

Costs?

If you get the services done by a dealership it may costs you about $500-$1,500 depending on the maintenance your bike needs. Oil changes and chain maintenance are barely the minimum each year. Bikes usually require periodic valve adjustments, carburetor settings, chain/sprocket replacement and so on.

(The required steps and service intervals are always clearly stated in the service manual.)

If you have skills and the required tools you may be able to maintain your bike yourself. This way you can save a lot of money, and also don’t have to take the machine to the dealer, which makes things easier.

But don’t forget that even if you do all the maintenance yourself, you still have to pay for the liquids, filters, and any other parts that are required.

Another often overlooked cost is the replacement of chain/sprockets and the brake pads.

On top of the periodic maintenance, you always have to be prepared for extra repairs. There are many parts on a motorcycle that can go wrong, and repairs are usually quite costly.

Insurance

Even if your state doesn’t require it, it’s strongly recommended that you have insurance on your motorcycle. A good insurance policy can cover various types of property damage, injuries, theft, and more. So, there is no reason not to have coverage!

The cost of motorcycle insurance depends on many factors such as the type of insurance (liability vs. collision), features of the machine, your age, driving record, where you live, the theft rate of your bike and so on. Most riders pay about $200-$700 for motorcycle insurance, but again, it depends on many factors so don’t be surprised if you get higher quotes!

Other Related Costs

If you think that these costs are more than enough, the bad news is there are many additional smaller costs that motorcycle owners have to face. What are these? Here are some of the most well-known ones, without being complete:

  • Washing and detailing
  • Parking
  • Traffic tickets (yes, you can expect to get some)
  • Tolls and road taxes
  • Cost of capital

Conclusion – Is Owning a Motorcycle Worth It?

Let’s face it, motorcycles are not an investment. Just like most other vehicles, they lose their value over time.

What’s more, motorcycles are very expensive to maintain. The annual expenses of motorcycle ownership start at $1,000, but it’s safe to say that most owners spend anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 for their bikes each year.  

If you’re considering financing a luxury motorcycle, the yearly owning costs can even reach the $10,000+ range with the monthly payments and other related costs!

Finally, whether you’re budgeting yearly or monthly, best practice is that you always estimate more so you are prepared for unexpected expenses.

This is our short compilation of the most common motorcycle owning costs. We hope you find it useful!

References:

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/motorcycle-really-worth-cost/

https://gorollick.com/articles/consumer/the-true-cost-of-motorcycle-ownership-its-more-than-just-the-bike/

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