On its face, asking if motorcycles are cheaper than cars is a no-brainer. In just about all circumstances the bike is going to have the more palatable price tag. For example, one of the cheapest cars (brand new) in 2023 is the Nissan Versa with an MSRP just over $17,000. That kind of money can get you two, even three new motorcycles if you throw a Grom or other minibike in the mix.
However there are some high-priced bikes out there. You could have three Versys for the price of just one 2023 Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Limited (which starts at $51,999). Most motorcycles are well below that, falling somewhere between the $5,000 and $25,000 range while the average price for a new car in 2023 is in the ballpark of $48,000.
Sticker price is just the start, though, because owning any vehicle requires money beyond what it costs to drive off the lot. Gas, maintenance, and repairs factor for both motorcycles and cars, as does insurance. So we got curious as to which would be the most expensive over a five-year period. To find out, we came up with as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as we could between a single bike and a single car, and calculated the results.
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Honda NC750X vs. Honda CR-V
The appeal of both the Honda NC750X and CR-V is utilitarian. Both vehicles offer versatility in terms of on- and off-road capabilities, both have notable storage space, and both come with mid-low price tags brand new. The 2023 NC750X prices at $9,399 and the 2023 CR-V is priced at $28,410. For the purposes of this comparison, we’re imagining that the owner is using either vehicle as their primary mode of transportation for the entire year.
If you finance the CR-V over 60 months at 6 percent interest over five years with nothing down, your monthly payment will be $549. If you finance the NC under the same terms, you’ll be paying $182 per month.
The average monthly auto insurance payment is around $147 for full coverage. Insurance rates for motorcycles vary widely depending on many factors, but a median rate per month for the NC is likely to be around $60, give or take.
AAA estimates that yearly maintenance costs for tires, repairs, and upkeep on a new car is $123 per month. Maintenance costs will vary for the motorcycle depending on mileage, so let’s assume that each year the owner is putting 12,000 miles on either vehicle. In that case, the NC will get two oil changes a year (Honda recommends changing every 8,000 miles in the NC750X owner’s manual, so some years will only require one change) and will need at least one new set of tires per year. These costs will be in the ballpark of $1,600 per year, or just a bit over $133 per month. Add in another $600 per year to cover other maintenance items like brake pad replacements, fluid replacements, line servicing, chain and sprocket replacements, etc.
Gas costs will be $1,642 per year for the CR-V using today’s national average price of $3.83 and the listed 28 mpg highway figure provided by Honda. The NC will cost $877 per year with its 52.4 mpg.
Riders will need gear for their bike too, whereas drivers will be able to avoid this cost. Let’s assume that the rider opts for a full outfit of mid-quality gear, spending around $1,800 to get fully outfitted. Let’s also assume that there are no compromising incidents during the five years of ownership, and the rider is able to make use of this set for the duration of our comparison.
So let’s look at the breakdown of costs over five years for each.
CR-V Over Five Years
Financed Price: $32,940
NC750X Over Five Years
Financed Price: $10,920
Our rough estimate puts CR-V ownership at $25,645 above NC750X ownership. We left out registration since it varies so widely depending on the state, but even in the worst case scenario (living in Oregon, one of the most costly for registration) the difference wouldn’t be hugely impacted.
From a pure cost standpoint, it seems as if intuition is correct and that motorcycle ownership is the more affordable option, though the figures will obviously change depending on the vehicles compared and the circumstances of life (the NC has storage space, sure, but there’ll likely come a time when you need to rent a truck for something in those five years). It also doesn’t factor in the cost savings you can expect if you’re able to do standard maintenance on a bike yourself.
Let us know if you’ve saved money riding a bike instead of driving, or if you think things are the other way around in the comments.