If you’re a car lover, you may think there’s never an advantage to riding a motorcycle instead. The same can hold true in the opposite direction. Maybe you have a beautiful, customized motorcycle and you wonder why anyone would ever want to drive a car again.
So in the great debate of car versus motorcycle, which is better for day-to-day use and especially commuting to and from work? You may be surprised that in countries aside from the United States, including throughout most of Europe, people tend to prefer motorcycles for their commute for various reasons including lower fuel costs and convenience for parking in tight areas. In the U.S., what should you consider if you’re weighing your options for your commute?
Are You Comfortable Driving Either?
First and foremost, no matter how great making the move to a motorcycle might seem for your commute you have to realistically think about how qualified you are to drive one. If you don’t already know how to drive a motorcycle, but you want to change up your commute for any reason, you have to give yourself the time to learn the ins and outs of driving a motorcycle.
If you are new to motorcycles, you’re probably going to have to go with a lower power bike too, so are you okay with that?
How Far Do You Regularly Drive?
If you have a pretty long commute every day, you may want to stick with your car. Motorcycles can be good for shorter commutes because they’re faster and might benefit you in terms of being able to maneuver traffic. However, if you’re going to be driving for a long time, they’re not that comfortable.
Maintaining Your Bike
If you have a car, you’re probably fairly used to doing regular maintenance. However, with motorcycles, the maintenance costs tend to be lower than a car unless you’re using your bike every day. If you’re going to rely on a motorcycle to get you to and from work every day, you need to be able to put in the time and potentially the money to maintain the bike regularly. You’re going to be putting quite a bit of wear and tear on a motorcycle if it’s used for a commute.
You may find that it’s valuable to try and learn how to do some of the more basic maintenance and repairs yourself because otherwise, you’re going to be spending a lot on labor and also potentially seeing that your bike is out of commission while it’s in the shop.
Even just learning how to check your own tire PSI is important if you’re using a motorcycle on a regular basis.
Be Prepared to Stand Out
If you’re used to only joyriding on a motorcycle and you typically wear a black leather jacket and matte black helmet, you’re going to have to make a change to become a commuter. If you’re typically driving for fun on the weekends, there’s less traffic and fewer other people on the road to contend with.
Not the case when you’re commuting—there’s a lot of traffic and unpredictable, tired and generally distracted drivers on the road. You want to stand out as much as possible, and you may need to wear hi-viz items such as yellow or orange jackets.
There are even one-piece suits designed for commuters that you can wear over your work clothes.
You’re going to have to consider how you transport items that you normally bring to work as well if you’re thinking about becoming a motorcycle commuter. For example, you might need to bring your lunch and your laptop, or if you run errands on the way home, you’ll need somewhere to store the items you pick up.
Saddlebags are an option, or you can go with hard luggage sold as aftermarket accessories.
Finally, you will need to give yourself a lesson on driving offensively. You will be surrounded by a lot of potentially impatient and angry people and some very large cars and trucks. You will have to always be on alert during high-traffic times because the risks to you as a motorcycle rider are much more significant during these times. You’ll have to think about staying out of blind spots, and going faster than the traffic, although only slightly. You’re also going to have to keep your mind on the road even if it wants to wander elsewhere. There are a lot of responsibilities that come with being a motorcycle commuter, and you really have to weigh these if you’re thinking about giving up your car.