The Price of Biking – What is it going to Cost?


Motorcycling can be expensive or cheap; it all depends on you and your circumstances. Take a ride out to a bike friendly watering hole on any Saturday night, and you’ll see what I mean.

Parked right next to the low mileage 50 grand chop owned by that lawyer, is a kicked in Yamaha 650 bobber. A motorcycle that has had the bejesus ridden out of it by a guy with no knees in his jeans.

Not only is motorcycling that diverse, but its cost to the rider is also relative. The lawyer doesn’t shrug at a $500 service bill, while the bobber dude breaks out the spanners and does everything himself.

The Price of Biking:So, what’s it going to cost?

There’s no right or wrong to this, it just is. However, if you’re about to start out on life’s two-wheeled road trip and you are sufficiently concerned to ask the question: ‘What’s it going to cost’?  You deserve an answer.

 So, here is a shopping list of the basics you will need. Plus, we will look into how much these will set you back.

And here’s how I’m going to do it. Firstly, I’ll base the results on a 19-year-old, living in California, going through the process of getting his or her rider’s license.

 I will look at what happens when they go to buy their first real bike, get all the safety gear, plus any related maintenance charges they will accumulate in the space of a year.

With training and insurance differing from state to state it is important to be specific about age and location.

Below are the categories I’ll be looking at:

  • License
  • Training
  • Motorcycle purchase
  • Insurance
  • Riding gear
  • Maintenance

The Price of Biking: License

As mentioned previously, the actual process of obtaining a motorcycle license has to start with a learner permit. The permit costs $33 and some paperwork. This paperwork means you can practice learning to ride on the road, but to get to the next stage, you’ll have to go through rider training.

Once you’ve completed the course and obtained your Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training, it’s back to the Department of Motor Vehicles. You will need all your relevant paperwork and another $33.

The Price of Biking: Training

The Motorcycle Training Course in California (MTC) is administered by the California Highway Patrol and has been in existence since 1987. Since then, they’ve trained over 1,000,000 riders, so I think it’s safe to assume they know what they’re doing.

The MTC consists of a total of 15 hours’ tuition, which breaks down into five hours in the classroom and another 10 hours of hands-on riding. As mentioned, it’s compulsory for the under 21’s and ‘highly recommended’ for those over.

For over 21’s the cost is $258. But a 19- year- old will only have to shell out $180. But the applicant will be given a motorcycle and helmet to use throughout the test.   But he will need eye protection, a jacket or shirt with long sleeves, gloves with fingers, long trousers and boots that come over the ankle.

The Price of Biking: Motorcycle cost

Woohoo, this is where the fun begins. You’ve got your license, and now you can spend many sleepless nights agonizing over what to buy, where to buy it and whether to go for new or used.

Let’s suppose that you’ve settled on something around 500cc. This engine capacity is perfect for your first real bike. So, now let’s take a look at some motorcycles within this category and discover how much they cost.

If you fancy something a little outside of the box then a dual sports 400cc Ducati Sixty2 retails at around $7995. Something a little road sport orientated like Honda’s 500cc CB500F will set you back $6099. Meanwhile, a Harley 500 Street comes in at $6849. These are Spring 2017 retail prices.

You can, of course, go for used versions of the above or shop around online to get better deals. Within moments of searching, I found a 2015 Harley 500 Street in Lancaster, with 25 miles on the clock and some tasteful goodies for $5999. A 2016 Ducati Sixty2 with 758 miles for $6995 in San Diego and a 2016 Honda CB500F with 5000 miles in Santa Clara for $5350.

These are all comparatively new models that I was able to find quite easily from motorcycle dealers. They were all in spectacular condition and the savings, awesome.

The Price of Biking: Insurance

Insurance is one of those complicated categories. Costs are directly related to zip code, cover required, type of motorcycle and whether the proposer wants pillion and accident/hospital cover.

You will however in most cases, enjoy some slight discount for certain criteria. For example, for passing a recognized safety course, having anti-lock brakes, an anti-theft device, laying your bike up in the winter and even wearing a helmet.

This last one refers more to states where helmet wearing isn’t compulsory, but insurers will give you extra cover if you wear a DOT approved helmet. On the subject of which, check with your state’s helmet laws.  You may not be required to wear a helmet, but the state can insist that you have a minimum amount of medical payment cover.

I didn’t realize getting an online quote was so tiresome and long-winded. But after filling in all the forms, including answering such questions as – Do you have custody of a child? And do you have a motorcycle license?

Choosing a zip code which I picked at random (Compton) and based on a 19-year-old riding a Harley Street 500, I eventually got a figure of $93.75 per month or $1066.76 for the year. I did receive $43 in discounts though.

Whether this is typical or average, I honestly couldn’t tell you as the variables must affect the final price. But getting an online quote is totally doable, just make sure you have a comfortable seat before you begin.

The Price of Biking: Riding Gear

Riding gear is yet another one to check with relevant state laws.  In California, it is only mandatory to wear a DOT approved helmet. Eye protection, long sleeves and heavy pants and such like are just ‘highly suggested.’

So, what you choose to wear on your motorcycle is up to you, your sense of style and your wallet. But an average helmet is around $150. A leather or textile jacket $200, while a decent pair of boots is probably another $100. Remember these are ballpark figures. If you shop at an army surplus store, it will be a lot less, an upmarket branded boutique and you’ll be looking at four times as much.

The Price of Biking: Maintenance

The average biker does around 4000 miles a year, so if we take the worst- case scenario of the Ducati, which has traditionally high maintenance costs, it looks something like this.

If you only clock-up the average annual mileage, on a new Sixty2, all you will incur service wise is the first service charge.  All this service consists of, is an oil and filter change. A first service will cost between $100-150.

So, there we are, a rough total of just under $8000 for your first year in the saddle! It’s enough to break out the bicycle. Don’t be easily put off though. This cost is the total outlay spread across the finance period or the length of time you own the bike. So realistically, you can’t lump the full amount onto this figure.

The Price of Biking: General Costs

The same goes for motorcycle gear, which usually lasts far longer than one year. So realistically speaking your initial outlay for getting on two wheels consists of training fees, insurance, and maintenance. With only a portion of the vehicle and clothing cost attached.

And remember this, you only need to pass your driving test once. If you don’t claim on your insurance, it should reduce over time. Plus, if you can learn how to maintain your bike you will save on some maintenance costs.

Anything can look daunting if you break down the figures.  But there is one simple solution to this worrisome problem, and it’s one that many bikers around the world employ. Suck it up and enjoy the ride.