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The Car v Motorbike debate continues; is motorcycling the most recession-proof way to get around?

The good news? Owning a motorcycle is officially cheaper than running a car; 50% cheaper, in fact. According to research conducted by, it costs half as much to run a motorcycle as it does to run a car. Fact.

The team at Motorcycle News looked at the costs involved with new drivers; their figures showed that a seventeen year old driving a car will have sent approximately £2,640 to get on the road, whereas a sixteen year old motorcyclist will have spent less half that amount, at only £1,288 (a whopping saving of 52%).

For a teenager looking to get from A to B by any means possible (short of asking Mum and Dad to be the Taxi Driver of course), there couldn’t be a more clear-cut case in terms of transport options.

What are the basic transport options for new road users?

For any new road users looking for a fast-track route to vehicular independence, there are two options:

  • Anyone over the age of sixteen can legally ride a 50cc moped. That’s a low-powered moped which the rider is permitted to ride on duel carriageways – but not motorways – at a maximum speed of 30mph. Riders must display ‘L’ plates and have carried out CBT training.
  • By the age of seventeen you have even more freedom as far as transport is concerned; you can choose between either a 125cc motorcycle (a higher-powered motorcycle) or a car. Riders need to have undertaken the CBT (the Compulsory Basic Training Course), must display L-plates, shouldn’t carry a passenger pillion (riding on the back of the bike), and are obviously subject to the speed-limit.
  • The most committed seventeen-year-olds can take the full test (the ‘A2’)and receive a 33bhp entitlement (that means that they can obtain a license to operate a more powerful motorcycle, carry passengers, travel without L-plates, and ride on motorways. The restriction to the 33bhp bikes is valid for two years, thereafter you can start considering upgrades.

The figures don’t lie

So how does it all add up? A like-for-like cost comparison shows that while the administrative side of obtaining a vehicle license is the same for cars, mopeds and motorcycles (£50 ea. For a provisional license), the real money-saver is the amount spent on training lessons and vehicular accessories. While a basic course of driving lessons start from £800 (ouch), excluding the cost of Theory and Practical tests (£31 and £62 respectively); the CBT costs only £89. That’s right, just £89.

The costs involved with purchasing a vehicle weigh more heavily in the car’s favour (£575 for a 1998 Honda with around 60,000 miles on the clock; £695 for your basic-model Baotian BT49 with 4000 miles on the clock, and £795 for a Honda CC125 with 4000 miles on the clock), however even with the additional accessories costs added to the motorcycling total (£120 total for leathers), the overall expense of driving lessons weighs in so heavily that the motorcycle still comes out on top.

With driving lessons, testing costs and the whopping insurance fees bumping up the total, the final figures showed that a roadworthy car would cost £2,639.96, a roadworthy 50cc moped £1,288.22, and a roadworthy 125cc motorcycle only £,426.00. Has there ever been a greater argument in favour of motorcycling?

Source material:–tests/2011/January/jan2711-bike-vs-car-price-comparison/

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