Due to the number of unpredictable variables that determine the value of an investment,
Identifying if a motorcycle is a good investment will be determined by what values you rate over others.
Values such as maintenance costs, longevity, mental and physical benefits, and as always how will the motorcycle hold out financially.
For example, if you put a large value on your mental wellbeing and riding a motorcycle fulfills that for you, then yes, a motorcycle will be a good investment.
On the other hand, observing how fast your motorcycle loses value may cause a negative impact on your mental wellbeing, making it a poor investment.
This type of comparison can be used in other factors as well let’s dig into a few of these below.
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Is a motorcycle worth owning financially?
Motorcycles lose their value the fastest within the first two years, typically by 19% to 27%, the first 5% of which is lost just for riding it home.
This means that in the short term motorcycles are not worth it financially.
However, in the long run, there could be some good financial opportunities.
After about 10 years a motorcycle virtually stops losing value as long as it is maintained correctly.
How fast do new motorcycles lose value?
Most motorcycles lose their value by 19% to 27% in the first two years dropping to about 5% in years 3 to 10 if the motorcycle is well maintained.
Determining a true value depends on other factors such as type, accident history, and societal influences like what’s popular at the time or what crowd your motorcycle attracts.
After 10 years motorcycle value drops very little if at all and around the 20-year mark can even start increasing especially if kept in good condition.
Most people are willing to pay a bit extra if they know the motorcycle has been well maintained or even rebuilt.
A rebuilt motorcycle can be as good or better than it was in its original condition.
What about dirt bikes?
A dirt bike’s value early on is very similar to street motorcycles, especially that first two years with 17% to 25% reduction, however, years 3 to 10 years of a motorcycle’s life becomes very different.
Dirt bikes have shorter maintenance periods which might lead you to believe they are more expensive to own but some intervals require replacing major engine components essentially giving it a new engine so to speak.
This can have a wide effect on the price as a freshly rebuilt model will fetch a lot more than one with even mild usage.
This can make it extremely confusing when trying to buy a used dirt bike.
Combine that with the fact that a dirt bike’s use is calculated in hours, not mileage.
What are the maintenance costs of a motorcycle?
Maintenance costs can vary widely on a motorcycle with the brand being a big factor, also type and use being the next biggest variables.
Motorcycle maintenance typically costs between $300 to $1,500, with some of the higher-end models costing thousands.
The highest cost of maintenance that I have knowledge of, was associated with a custom motorcycle that required 15 hours to change the oil and filter.
How often do motorcycles need maintenance?
This is a difficult question because of the wide range of motorcycles available, each with specific needs.
Motorcycles typically use mileage and/or time to determine the maintenance intervals.
To keep it simple, I broke this down to sport, dual-sport, cruiser, and dirt bikes however keep in mind when generalizing there are always exceptions.
Sport motorcycle maintenance intervals
Most sport-type motorcycles use an inline 4-cylinder engine.
The maintenance intervals are typically every 4,000 miles or every 6 months after the initial service at 600 miles or 1 month whichever comes first but always consult the service manual.
Sport-type motorcycles maintenance involves things such as the replacements of fluids, filters, spark plugs, and throttle synchronization.
The valves also require inspection every 26,000 miles.
Dual-sport motorcycle maintenance intervals
Most dual sport motorcycles use a big single-cylinder engine more similar to a dirt bike than a sport-bike or even a cruiser motorcycle.
The maintenance for these is usually every 3,500 miles after the initial service at 600 miles and involves for example fluid and filter changes, chain maintenance, and valve inspection.
Cruiser motorcycle maintenance intervals
Most cruiser-style motorcycles use a V-type engine meaning the cylinders come off the engine at an angle shaped like a V.
The maintenance for this type of motorcycle is after the initial service at 600 miles is every 4,000 miles similar to a sport motorcycle.
Cruiser-type motorcycles maintenance involves things such as the replacements of fluids, filters, spark plugs, throttle synchronization, and valve inspection.
Dirt-bike maintenance intervals
Dirt bikes sold now are single-cylinder 4-stroke engines although you can still find a few 2-stroke models in use today.
The maintenance on these are every race or 2 hours of riding, clean the air filter, cable and chain adjustments, lubrication, and a check over.
Every 3 races or 6 hours replace the engine oil and coolant, chain, and front fork oil.
Every 6 races or 12 hours of riding a valve clearance inspection and piston and ring replacement are required.
How long do motorcycles last?
If given proper maintenance, availability of parts, and a bit of luck a motorcycle can last forever however, this is rarely the case.
Sport motorcycles typically only last 50,000 miles because they are designed for racing, not longevity.
Touring motorcycles are built for mileage and can easily see 100,000 miles reliably.
Cruisers come somewhere in the middle at 65,000 miles.
Dirt bikes are near impossible to tell just based on the potential conditions they face.
Other potential costs of owning a motorcycle
Other potential costs you should consider are tires, riding gear, and damage.
With some tires only lasting 1800 miles, especially on the rear tire of a sport-style motorcycle, it is no wonder this can be an issue.
Simple math alone 50,000 miles total / 1,800 miles per rear tire puts this at 27.777 or 28 rear tires in the average lifespan.
Now add that to the fact manufacturers recommend changing motorcycle tires in sets, at $200 to $500 for the average motorcycle tire equals one big dent in your wallet.
Riding gear like helmets, boots, jackets, or gloves helps a rider stay comfortable but is also the only layer of protection between you and the road.
Gear is usually motorcycle-specific because of the special needs of each one for example boots for a cruiser cannot be used on sport models.
Damage is something to consider as most riders have some sort of minor mishap, usually falling over or sliding out on a corner.
On something like a dirt bike, this is expected but on a sport motorcycle this could potentially write it off according to insurance companies.
The plastic fairings and lightweight parts used on these sport motorcycles are very expensive not just to replace but install as well.
I can’t tell you how many motorcycles I have seen be written off due to what I consider cosmetic damage.
What I mean by cosmetic damage is anything that does not affect the major functionality of the motorcycle.
What are the mental and physical benefits of owning a motorcycle?
The mental benefits can be huge here, even just riding a motorcycle to work can help because you simply don’t have your phone, radio, or coffee to distract you while you drive.
Motorcycle riding has been shown to improve the cognitive function of the brain, sort of like a brain exercise, which is believed to help reduce the impact aging can have on your brain.
The physical benefits can range here depending on motorcycle type, especially dirt bikes but range from core strength and stability, neck and arm strength and stability to calorie burning.
Trying to figure out if a motorcycle is a good investment involves asking some personal questions about yourself and assessing if a motorcycle meets these needs.
Motorcycles are dangerous and may not be for everyone. I just hope you found this useful in making your decision.
There is nothing better than benefiting from something you love to do.