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[LEFT]Note: I updated this two year old post a bit, to reflect current realities. I'm bumping it back up in the hopes it will help someone.


OK... 'Cheap' gas is over three bucks a gallon in many places.

We all love to bitch about the price of fuel, myself included. But what can we do about it? Not much, probably, about pump prices, because people in this country won't unite to the extent that would make a boycott or similar measures really effective.

That pretty much leaves reducing our usage as the only viable money-saving option for most folks. I had an old Jeep Cherokee a few years back. Man, I loved that Jeep, but it only got about 9 mpg, downhill, with a tailwind. Yup, it was FUN to drive. Big block V8, four wheel drive, LOTS of power, and fast. But it only got 9 mpg if I was really lucky.

Well, I sold that monster back in 2001. Got myself a cheap, 4-cylinder minivan to haul the wife and Demon Children around in. Problem is, that gets about 24 mpg. Worlds better than the Cherokee, but nothing to write home about. And still overkill if it's just me going to work or running errands.

There are options available, of course. Public transit works for a lot of people, but doesn't serve all areas. Bicycles are great, if you aren't going far, and don't have more to carry than fits in a backpack. They're cheap, but lousy for grocery shopping. Carpools/vanpools are great for commuting and the like, but they depend on having at least one other person who needs to get to the same place at roughly the same time.

Consider a motorcycle.

They're relatively inexpensive to buy, register, and insure. They move through traffic better than any car, and they're easier to park, because you can often tuck one away in an odd place where a car won't fit.

I ride this: A Kawasaki Vulcan VN1600.

It's the mutt's nuts for me, agile, very fast, and economical to operate. 46 mpg, and my insurance [full coverage with towing] and registration combined are less than $200 per year. It's definitely not for everyone. And it's certainly no choice for a beginner.

There are other choices available for the beginner, or those who are into seriously reducing their transportation costs. Smaller scooters [think Vespa here] are making a strong comeback, but I don't think they're terribly safe. Most of them don't have the power to get out of their own way, let alone get out from in front of a moving truck. Same goes for mopeds, only more so. An exception would be the newer generation of 'super scooters' in the 200-650 cc class, like the Honda SilverWing or Suzuki Burgman.

Your basic 'beginner bike', like this Honda Rebel
lists at $3,999, brand new. There's lots of them out there used, and many good ones available in the $1,500-2,000 range. They're light, agile, and easy to handle, and they're extremely durable. I've seen some still on the road after 20+ years. And they get on the order of 80+ mpg. Plus, a fill-up will set you back less than ten bucks.

Don't know how to ride? Look into a Basic Rider Course through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. They're available pretty much everywhere, and generally cost about $125 for a 20-hour course. If you can ride a bicycle and follow instructions, this class can have you riding a motorcycle safely. I've seen it happen. Passing the class also gains you a card that [in most places] is good for a waiver on the state motorcycle skills test, in addition to a 10% reduction on your insurance for the first three years. Here in Vermont, they're run through the state DMV, and provide a bike to learn on, included in the course fee.

Other than that, you'll need proper safety gear. A decent quality helmet will set you back $50-600, depending on your choices. You'll also need a jacket, gloves, boots, and such. That'll run another $100 or more, again depending on your choices. There are those [like me] who ride in sneakers, jeans, t-shirt, and the barest minimum helmet we can get away with [or none at all]. Don't do it. Asphalt hurts. Ask me how I know.

With intelligent choices and practice, it's possible to extend the capability of bike and rider considerably. In my case, I ride anytime there's no snow on the roads. I have the gear to be comfortable on the bike at temps as low as 15* F, although that's pushing it a bit. I can also carry $150+ worth of groceries in a single trip, lots more if I'm buying meat and such.

And I can still buy a tank of gas for under fifteen bucks.

Motorcycles aren't for everyone. But they are an intelligent alternative for lots of folks. I'll answer questions if anybody wants to know more. I've been riding for more than forty years, so I maybe know a little about it.[/LEFT]

great post wuelf,i am looking into alternatives.i will seriously consider this.that is a nice sled by the way. :D 8)

Sub: #1 posted on Sat, 05/24/2008 - 13:16

paulmergel paulmergel
Moderators Cum Industry Expert
(Posts: 15514 | Credits: )

Hey wulf - a lot of the guys I work with are either carpooling, riding a motorcycle, scooter, bicycle or moped to work these days - or are seriously considering buying one. I would if I could get one with a sidecar big enough for both kids, and if I wasn't worried about some fool wiping me out on these twisty, hilly country roads I have to travel every day.

I'd love to carpool if I could, but having to take the kids to school, and the older son to work every day during the summer months (he doesn't drive yet, thank goodness - not sure I could afford the insurance!), I just can't carpool. If it ever comes a time that I can, trust me, I'll be the first one in line!!

Sub: #2 posted on Sat, 05/24/2008 - 13:20

(Posts: 4583 | Credits: )

[quote=paulmergel]great post wuelf,i am looking into alternatives.i will seriously consider this.that is a nice sled by the way.[/quote]

Thanks kindly for the compliment, Paul.

If you need advice, ask. I have some resources available.

Sub: #3 posted on Sat, 05/24/2008 - 13:51

unclewulf unclewulf
(Posts: 3172 | Credits: )

Great post!!!! I can't express enough how great the motorcycle course is. I never even sat a bike before I took the course. And now I am on my bike, also, when there is no snow on the ground.

One thing you forgot to mention, when you take the course, you have passed your road test, if you pass their road test. Which is much harder than the one you get from the DMV but you learn so much.

I drive a Savage 650. It needs a cleaning but I will have to take a pic and show you.

I encourage anyone who ever wanted to drive, go for it. I hate my "cage".

Sub: #4 posted on Sat, 05/24/2008 - 16:51

spatterson_40 spatterson_40

(Posts: 400 | Credits: )

Unc if I can get over my fear of having no walls or roof,I may look into it.Great info. :D

Sub: #5 posted on Sat, 05/24/2008 - 17:18

cajunbulldog cajunbulldog
(Posts: 4850 | Credits: )

CB, I'm not trying to 'convert' anybody here, especially. But I've been watching the gas price thread :shock: . I just felt like it'd be a good idea to offer another alternative, to help folks get ahead financially. Like I said, they aren't for everybody. But thay make more sense than you might think.

Consider, for a moment, your average working stiff. He lives in a suburb and works downtown, and has a 30 mile drive to get to work. He gets around in a minivan just like mine: A 1993 Plymouth Voyager that gets 24 mpg. Here's what he's spending on gas:

Round trip to work: 30 miles x 2 = 60 miles

Every day: 60 miles x 5 = 300 miles

At 24 mpg: 300 / 24 = 12.5 gallons

At $4.20 per gallon: 12.5 x 4.20 = $52.50

So, in our imaginary scenario, our intrepid hero is spending over fifty bucks a week, just to get back and forth to work. Now, imagine that he's decided to ditch the cage for a bike. He looks around some, and settles on that Honda Rabel. Being cheap, er, strained financially, he looks around some more until he finds a used 2001 model in good shape for $1,650. He takes the class, spends some extra time practicing in parking lots after hours, and sets out riding to work a few days later. Let's look at the revised numbers.

Round trip to work: 30 miles x 2 = 60 miles

Every day: 60 miles x 5 = 300 miles

At 80 mpg: 300 / 80 = 3.75 gallons

At $4.20 per gallon: 3.75 x 4.20 = $15.75

So, by changing his mode of transportation for his commute, our hero has freed up $36.75 [$52.50 - 15.75] per week from his gas budget. That's $158.03 per month [$35.75 x 4.3]. Not bad, for a single change that doesn't really impact his lifestyle at all. And the money he's saving will pay for the bike in less than a year.

The following year, he decides he's ready for a larger bike. He looks around until he finds, say, a Suzuki VS800. He puts the Rebel up for sale, and likely gets as much as he paid for it, owing to the fact that the market in starter bikes [driven, in part, by gas prices] is so strong. Or, if you prefer, that savings pays back his total investment in course fees, insurance, registration, and safety gear over the course of a single riding season.

Sub: #6 posted on Sun, 05/25/2008 - 04:28

unclewulf unclewulf
(Posts: 3172 | Credits: )

That's a sweet ride you got going on ther Unc!! Alot of my friens have switched over, some of my female ones too.

You are right, at this point there is nothing we can do about the gas, and I think alot of us are looking for alternatives. We have 3 vehicles, and believe me, our trips are kept to a minimum.

Sub: #7 posted on Sun, 05/25/2008 - 08:04

Bossy4455 Bossy4455
(Posts: 5854 | Credits: )

[quote=Bossy4455]That's a sweet ride you got going on ther Unc!![/quote]

Thank you kindly!

[quote=Bossy4455]Alot of my friens have switched over, some of my female ones too.[/quote]

I'm seeing lots of new riders around here, both male and female. Of the ladies, I see'em on everything from Vespa Scooters and Rebels to HD Road Kings. To my bloodshot eyes, nothing looks as good as a cute lady on her own scoot.

There's one older [65+] gal locally who gets around on a Harley Road King with all the chrome. Not your average bike, by a long shot. The custom paint is light blue, with flowers.

Sub: #8 posted on Sun, 05/25/2008 - 08:14

unclewulf unclewulf
(Posts: 3172 | Credits: )

We have several HDs around here to, I love the chrome!! Alot of couples are getting bikes now too

Sub: #9 posted on Sun, 05/25/2008 - 08:20

Bossy4455 Bossy4455
(Posts: 5854 | Credits: )


Sub: #10 posted on Sat, 06/07/2008 - 08:06

unclewulf unclewulf
(Posts: 3172 | Credits: )

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