McLEAN, Va. (5/11/11)--High gas prices have persuaded many folks to park their cars and find other ways to get around--many on two wheels. Motorcycle sales among major brands rose 7.2% in the first quarter of this year, and scooter sales are up an even more impressive 50% from this time last year (USAToday.com
April 28). According to Vespa, a scooter manufacturer headquartered in Italy, if just 10% of U.S. drivers shifted a third of the miles they travel to motor scooters, it would reduce gasoline consumption by 3.9 billion gallons a year; that would save 198 million barrels of oil and $21.4 billion a year. Scooters average 75 miles a gallon. If you’re thinking about making a two-wheeled purchase, here are things to consider:
* Don’t look at fuel savings alone. You’ll save on gas, but the purchase of a scooter or motorcycle can be expensive. Scooter prices range from $800 up to $9,000. Motorcycles range from $4,000 to more than $20,000 depending on make and model. Also figure in insurance, routine maintenance, and safety gear such as helmet, jacket, gloves and pants. * Check lifestyle fit. Decide whether a motorbike purchase really makes sense for you. If you need to carry cargo or passengers on a regular basis, a motorcycle or scooter might not be the right choice unless you also have another vehicle. * Choose a bike that fits your body. Motorbikes come in many different sizes. Test drive bikes you’re interested in to make sure you’re getting a good fit and one that’s comfortable. * Know the risks. Driving a crotch rocket may look like fun, but will be far more dangerous than driving a car. No matter how careful a driver you are, you can’t predict actions of other drivers. Adverse road conditions such as gravel, ice, or rain can be much more treacherous for motorcyclists than other drivers. Take a training course. To find one near you, visit the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website. * Research financing options. It’s just as important to research interest rates when purchasing a two-wheeled vehicle as it is for a four-wheeled purchase. Check with the auto loan specialists at your credit union to see what rates they offer on motorcycles and scooters.
For more information about driving a motorcycle or scooter, read “Getting Great Gas Mileage on Two Wheels” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.