“I wish you rubber trees and wide roads.”
– quote from my Polish cousin
The first time I was on a motorcycle, I must’ve been 11 or 12. My Dad finally bought one after years of hum-hawing over whether he could afford it, and if it was worth it. The one he bought was a used, 199-something 750cc Katana – and he definitely waited until he could get a good price on it. He bought two helmets, got his license, and took me out for a spin.
I remember wrapping my arms around him and grinning like an idiot as the world whipped past me with just the thin helmet visor between me and it.
If you’re buying something that’s not a necessity – be honest with yourself about why you want it.
Do I need a motorcycle? No.
Can I afford a motorcycle? Yes.
Would a motorcycle improve my quality of life? Eh, depends what you define ‘quality of life’ as.
Is it worth it for me, for the experience of riding it and the time I get to spend with my Dad? Yes.
Full disclosure, I’ll probably get rid of it if I ever have a family. When I really think about how dangerous it is flying down the highway at 100km/h+ with just a helmet and a protective jacket… I know why everyone worries, but what’s the point of life if you never take any risks?
So why did I want one? I love the feeling of riding a motorcycle, and the immediacy of your surroundings. There’s no car to contain you and drown out the presence of the highway world (though there are plenty of times I would gladly drown out the wind and bugs and cold and rocks) – and there’s a peacefulness about being with just yourself, inside a helmet.
I started looking for motorcycles in the summer I decided this was a Thing That Was Happening. Nothing fit the bill during our summer hunts, but I still went to the training course in the fall (2016) and got my license using one of the school bikes on the test. My Dad and I drove out to half a dozen places to look at bikes that fit my requirements during this time, shopped around the local stores, and the trade show. I read articles and reviews, and picked my Dad’s brain for tips.
I did a lot of extensive research before buying a motorcycle for the first time, to find out what I liked, and so I knew exactly what I wanted:
- something light (I’m not very strong or big)
- something small (easier to handle)
- with a low-seat (both feet flat on the ground, thank you!)
- was older (chances are I’ll drop it one day, so if it’s got scuffs at least I’ll feel a bit better)
- was around 500cc (no point in getting a bike that can’t keep up on the highway, or one that has too much power for a beginner)
- wasn’t a complete fixer-upper
- was a good deal
And what better time to get a good deal on a spring/summer time toy than in the dead of winter? A guy was moving across the country and needed to sell it in the next month or two, so the price was right, and it checked off all the important boxes for me.
So let’s look at how it breaks down finance-wise:
|Year 1||Year 2|
|Insurance (full year)||$211.00||$211.00|
|New Front Tire||$84.00||$-|
You’ll notice the $0 cost of labour. This is another big reason that made buying my motorcycle worth it. My Dad is a car mechanic and between his skills and google/youtube, we replaced the handlebar, changed the oil (I mostly did it by myself!) and decided the oil filter was good for another season of riding. He replaced the battery, and changed the tire / installed it himself, and got it adjusted thanks to a friend at work. To be honest, the tire and the oil are the only things that really needed changing, but my Dad’s a stickler for mechanical-melt-down prevention, so I elect to replace whatever he recommends to extend the life of my bike (like the battery). The helmet/jacket were purchases I would have had to make anyway, to ride on the back of his motorcycle, which I’ve been doing since I was a kid.
Going forward, I’ll be changing the oil every year, and likely the oil filter as well. Add that to the insurance (which will hopefully go down once I get out of my ‘dangerous-20s’) and registration, and I’m looking at about $325 a year to maintain the hobby. (Unless my Dad accidentally breaks something trying to make it better, like he most recently did with the clutch lever – but it works SO much better now that we’ve replaced it!). When I decide to sell it, I’ll be able to get at least $2,000 if not $2,500 for it, depending on average prices at the time – and I’ll be willing to wait until I get a good price for it!
For something that initially cost me $2,800, costs $325/year to maintain, and is worth ~$2,250 when I sell – it’s definitely a worth-while investment for me for what it gives back in experiences. And definitely the most frivolous, doesn’t-really-make-sense thing I own.