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As the title self implies, i'm debating on what to get. A motorcycle, or a car. i'm aware that putting it on the motorcycle forum might be a bit biased at one point or another but FOR THE RECORD, i'm way more inclined towards two wheeled things.


Anyways, i'm a 19 year old guy. I drive an old car, a 71 mustang grande, which i bought from my father around a 4 months ago. As luck would have it, a month after i bought the car i lost my job. I spent a few thousands on getting the car, so i had to make the rest last for a few more months so that i could manage while i looked for a new job. My goal, was to get another vehicle, which would allow me to get from point A to point B. And in that way, i wouldnt have to use the ol'mustang at a daily basis. (it was my dads, so i'm specifically careful as to how much i use it.)

As i said, I was and am considering a different vehicle. However, i'm debating between a car
OR

A motorcycle. Something small, (btw. just to make it absolutely clear. i'm absolutely new to riding.)


Now, my question, basically is:

What would be a better purchase? A small car, or a small motorcycle.

im aware that there's a lot to consider, which is really why i'm asking. i want to be able to fill in all the gaps with your guys' knowledge, hopefully!

I live in San Diego, CA. Hardly rains, and never snows, so a motorcycle wouldnt be something i can hardly use, i'd be using it at a daily basis, and on the rare occasions that it rains (i mean. RARE, occasions. This place is always sunny) i'd simply just use the mustang. However, i'm aware that things like the insurance, and the general maintenance of the motorcycle are things i'd have to consider. I mean. i'm completely inexperienced at riding, so i'm guessing the insurance would be tons.

I'm pretty sure i'd be spending way less with the car (i could be wrong, but. hey, enlighten me, if so!) but i'm definitely way more inclined for a motorcycle.

Anyways, thanks for the replies, beforehand!

(Also, if you're wondering about what kind of motorcycle or car i'm planning on getting, really i'm just going for what's cheap. I dont know too much about bikes, which is why i'm also open to suggestions, lol. as for a car, honestly i'd get whatever junk can move me around without TOO much trouble)
 

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In all honesty, you can probably spend a lot less on a bike than on a car. The problem is, once you get a bike, you're going to constantly be thinking of things you "need" to upgrade on it. And San Diego County has some spectacular roads. Once you discover them, you'll be out riding a lot. The good news, your gas mileage will be great.

And yeah, at 19, any insurance will be tons. I'm in the same boat.

Before you buy a bike, though, take the MSF course. It's a bit of a long drive for you, but the one in the Saddleback College parking lot is really good: http://www.saddlebackridertraining.com/
It'll cost $150 and you'll learn whether riding is really something you want to do. You can also find a local one, of course. http://online2.msf-usa.org/msf/Default.aspx#
 

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there's a lot of factors to consider.
I don't think I can cover all of them - hopefully you will get various inputs.

many people buy motorcycles for commuting. there are probably some who manage to get some sort of reasonable "payoff" to that idea. but for most of us the motorcycle does not save the kind of money that we hoped it would. one big factor is insurance - which is quite expensive. you also wind up buying various upgrades, which eat into your pocket expenses. the bike definitely does save on gas. but unless you commute almost every day, it also adds a certain "hassle" factor. By that I mean the following - you go to jump on your bike in the morning, but can't immediately find some essential piece of gear that you vitally need (where are my boots, where's my sunglasses? ... ). this tends to slow you down a bit - or at least it happens to me :) it is a whole lot easier to throw all your stuff into a small car, if you need to make a quick exit.

the positive side of motorcycles is that they are an absolute blast and a lot of fun to ride. that part is awesome. I never have a bad day if I ride my bike to work - even if the job sucks that day :) and as someone else pointed out - there are a LOT of nice places to ride in San Diego. generally the weather is very nice, so that's also a positive.

be aware that if you get a bike, safety is an important factor. to overcome that issue you will really need to commit to "knowing" your bike - which means constantly improving your riding skills. In large cities in the USA this involves a fairly big learning process ... there's more involved than just passing the MSF class and jumping on the road. San Diego sees about 40-50 riders killed and about 1,000 motorcycle-related injuries each year. so staying safe is not a trivial matter. I don't think you need to live in terror, but you do need to take the safety issue to heart. So understand that there is difference between "riding" and "driving" to work. Just because you know how to drive, does no mean you will automatically possess the skills to commute on a bike. it takes time. those of us who ride learn that we must stay humble and be continuously learning and adjusting.

overall - people seem to gravitate to motorcycles just because they love them. it's almost like a marriage really ... that seems to be what actually happens.

good luck,
dT
 

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^^
What DT said, PLUS, If you are going to rely on your bike for main transportation you will likely want more than "whatever junk moves me around". I love old bikes and my dream is to have another 76 KZ900, but old bikes come with issues. You will need to learn how to work on it yourself since most shops won't touch them. Parts availability can be an issue, and reliability can be a factor. You will likely want to spend a little more on a bike as main transportation. That being said you should go ahead and take the MSF course before you buy anything. Lots of people buy a bike only to find out that they don't really like riding. Granted, the people here on this forum love riding or we wouldn't be here.
Good luck with your decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
^^
What DT said, PLUS, If you are going to rely on your bike for main transportation you will likely want more than "whatever junk moves me around". I love old bikes and my dream is to have another 76 KZ900, but old bikes come with issues. You will need to learn how to work on it yourself since most shops won't touch them. Parts availability can be an issue, and reliability can be a factor. You will likely want to spend a little more on a bike as main transportation. That being said you should go ahead and take the MSF course before you buy anything. Lots of people buy a bike only to find out that they don't really like riding. Granted, the people here on this forum love riding or we wouldn't be here.
Good luck with your decision.
No no! Sorry, mustve worded it wrong. When I said "whatever junk moves me around" I was really just referring to the car. :p.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies, so far! Keep em comin, lol.

Definitely a good idea, i was thinking of taking the course, and now i'm sure i will.

As for a bike, i was considering something like a Suzuki Boulevard S40?
(i read somewhere it was a decent choice for a beginner bike.) How does that sound to you guys?
 

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Thanks for the replies, so far! Keep em comin, lol.

Definitely a good idea, i was thinking of taking the course, and now i'm sure i will.

As for a bike, i was considering something like a Suzuki Boulevard S40?
(i read somewhere it was a decent choice for a beginner bike.) How does that sound to you guys?
That is a good beginner's bike, but so are a lot of others, and all will have differences in ride height, rake, handlebars, foot controls, etc. Find one that's forgiving enough to learn on (since you're looking at cruisers, I'd say anything with an engine under 800cc) but comfortable enough to ride long-term.

Look at Yamaha V-stars. One of their engine sizes is a 650, and they're fairly comfortable, at least to sit on. I haven't ridden one.

Most advice you hear will be to get a small piece of junk that you're aren't afraid of abusing while you learn to ride, which is definitely good advice. The saying I hear a lot is, "first bike, not last bike."

That said, I started on a 1200cc Sportster in November. It's heavy, with a high center of gravity (for a cruiser, anyways), and I dropped it twice early on, but I'm still riding it 10,000 miles later. Whatever you decide on, take the machine seriously and do not overestimate your abilities.
 

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If you can do most of the repairs yourself and stick with something that isn't unnecessarily powerful or costly to repair than a motorcycle isn't a bad investment for the commuter trying to save money and time. I have a 250 and I do pretty much all the repairs. It gets roughly 70mpg and can do nearly 90mph. Insurance is also pretty cheap on a 250. Living in CA isn't bad either with lane splitting. I currently don't own a car and I don't have a good enough reason to get one yet.
 

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From a purely economic standpoint, a small cheap car is a far better buy. A bike needs tires at around 10000 miles while car tires often go over 50000 miles. A single bike tire will cost you far more than 2 car tires, if you include the costs of mounting them. A routine lube on a bike will go well over $100 while a car at a local speed lube place is probably under $30 at about the same interval. Insurance on both is close to the same for similar performance vehicles so that doesn't enter into the equation much. Fuel mileage on a bike or a small car are not all that far apart. My Civic gives me about 38 MPG and my Victory Vision gives me about 40 MPG, but the Civic runs fine on 87 octane while the Vision requires 91 minimum octane. That means that the slight advantage on mileage just does not pay off.

I love my ride but I recognize that it really costs me in cash.
 

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From a purely economic standpoint, a small cheap car is a far better buy. A bike needs tires at around 10000 miles while car tires often go over 50000 miles. A single bike tire will cost you far more than 2 car tires, if you include the costs of mounting them. A routine lube on a bike will go well over $100 while a car at a local speed lube place is probably under $30 at about the same interval. Insurance on both is close to the same for similar performance vehicles so that doesn't enter into the equation much. Fuel mileage on a bike or a small car are not all that far apart. My Civic gives me about 38 MPG and my Victory Vision gives me about 40 MPG, but the Civic runs fine on 87 octane while the Vision requires 91 minimum octane. That means that the slight advantage on mileage just does not pay off.

I love my ride but I recognize that it really costs me in cash.
The Vision has an enormous engine compared to the 250 of most beginner bikes, and will consume a lot more gas because of that. A Honda Rebel can do 70 mpg on 87 octane and will generally have significantly cheaper insurance. You're comparing a compact (or midsize, depending on who you ask) sedan to a top-of-the-line touring bike.
 

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If you live in a place that you can ride comfortably all year round and/or have access to decent public transport, an inexpensive, reliable motorcycle would actually do you better than a car. Especially if you pay cash for the bike, since insurance would be cheaper. As for maintenance, oil changes at dealers are ridiculous, especially for high end bikes like the Victory or HD. An oil change takes 10 minutes on most of my bikes, changing brake pads on the disk brakes is a snap, unlike a car's. Tire changes are where it gets you, but I paid $300 total for the tires and install on my Magna and $250 for the tires and install on my 74 Scrambler. ONE of my truck's tires cost $250, and that's just the tire!
 

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While the S40 may be a good beginner's bike it also has a fairly large engine and for insurnace purposes that means more money. I honestly did buy my bike for commuting and it is a CBR250R. I can ride to work all week on less than $10 in the tank but as DT said it does take more thought to get on the bike than to jump into my truck. Since my bike is a sport bike I dont have the nice saddle bags to haul my stuff in so that means I bring my lunch and extra gear with me on my back, that is another thing to consider. So if money is your main consideration and you want to get around cheap, reliable and not kill your wallet in insurance I honestly would look into a 250/300 class bike, and if you keep the bike from around 2000-new you should be able to get any parts and most shops will still work on them if you dont know how. A Rebel around my neck of the woods will run you $4200 new and a 2005 with some upgrades like bags lists on CL for around $2000 with average miles.

Massey
 

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I'm considering the same decision you are-- going carless in San Diego as well! What part of town do you live in? If you are in the area where Car2GO is, that makes a great backup option when you don't want to drive. That is, I'm presuming you're selling the Mustang to fund the motorcycle purchase?

Remember to budget a good chunk of change for motorcycle gear. I have expensive taste, particularly when it comes to my safety, and I'm budgeting around 2,000 for stuff. Granted you can spend way less, but set some money aside for all that.

Definitely take the MSF as many have said, it's a must-do.

Keep me posted even if you don't update this thread, I'm curious how this goes for you and what you decide on. I'm currently leaning toward a Ninja 250 because they're cheap and easy to learn on, hold value well, etc. Maybe an SV650, but that may be too much at first.
 

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I'd assume there's a pretty decent public transportation system in San Diego.

Ours isn't too terrible, down here. My only transportation is my bike. When the weather looks like it's going to be bad, I'll just fork out $1.25 to hop on the bus.

That was the main factor in deciding to sell my last truck.

Moving stuff around (like a couch, or whatever) can be a pain, but if you know people with trucks or vans, you'll probably be alright.
I thought stuff like grocery shopping was going to suck, but I can put on a backpack, get a couple of day's worth of groceries, then I have another excuse to hop on the bike when I need more. Plus, it's easier to eat healthier that way, and I rarely have food that gets old and spoils now.
 

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I live on my motorcycle.....but I couldnt image not having a car.

Dont get me wrong......I have a $150 car and a $24K motorcycle (actually thats just 1 of 6 motorcycles).
 

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Aaron, I also live on my bike but I recognize that it is a choice I make and I accept the added cost of putting most of my miles on a bike. Unless you have a very old and very small bike, it is going to cost you real cash to ride a bike instead of driving a small cage. I freely make that choice but it is not what the OP asked for.
 

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I LOVE bikes, BUT I'm going to have to be honest and say if you don't have a car, get one over a bike. It would be a real commitment to have a bike only. Cars just make far more sense in terms of actually transporting things.
 

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Aaron, I also live on my bike but I recognize that it is a choice I make and I accept the added cost of putting most of my miles on a bike. Unless you have a very old and very small bike, it is going to cost you real cash to ride a bike instead of driving a small cage. I freely make that choice but it is not what the OP asked for.
With all due respect, sir.
I drive a full size truck that gets 15-22 mpg. By contrast, my bike (when it works) gets 50 mpg. Yes, I have to gas up every 2 days on my bike (I work 30 miles from my house), but my truck is running on E right now and is going to cost me $100 to fill. Not fun.

And furthermore, if you learn to do your own maintenance, its cheaper then a car. The inital cost is more for a tire change, but you don't need to balance motorcycle tires. They do just fine unbalanced, or can be jury-rigged to within 1/8 oz.

I LOVE bikes, BUT I'm going to have to be honest and say if you don't have a car, get one over a bike. It would be a real commitment to have a bike only. Cars just make far more sense in terms of actually transporting things.
Agreed. Cars and trucks are a good way to get around, and in heavy rain/snow they are ten times safer. If your car goes sideways you can recover it or spin out, if your bike does it I guarentee you'll go high/low.
 
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