“The best things in life are free,” so said Coco Chanel. She also said, slightly less famously “The second best things are very, very expensive.” I’m not entirely sure what she considers ‘the best things in life’ and quite frankly, I don’t want to know. I think it’s safe to assume though, that when she talks about ‘the second best things’ she means motorcycles. Because as we all know, motorcycles can be very, very expensive. But they don’t have to be, nor does motorcycling in general. It’s never going to be free, but there are ways to do motorcycling cheaply, and here are a few.
Unfortunately, this is part of motorcycling that you’ll struggle to do cheaply. It’s also something that, over the years, has become more and more expensive; that’s thanks to there being more and more hoops to jump through before you’re given a license. By the time you’ve done your CBT, theory test, mod one and mod 2 tests, as well as all the training that goes with it, you can quite easily have chucked the best part of a grand at it. Or more.
The best way to keep the cost of this down is to make sure you pass all your tests first time. Because even though the test fees themselves aren’t massive, if you’ve had to take a day off work, hire one of the training school bikes and squeeze an extra riding lesson in for good measure, it’s going to hit you where it hurts – in the bank account.
So don’t get pissed the night before any of your tests and turn up late. Don’t forget to take your driving license with you. Concentrate. Bring you’re A-game. And pass first time.
Buying a bike cheaply
If you’re not too fussy, you can buy a bike for not a lot of cash. And if you’re half decent on the spanners, you can buy one really cheaply; one that needs a bit of life breathing into it. If you’re looking for a cheap bike, my advice is to be patient. And not too picky. Decide what you want from a bike, set yourself a budget and wait until something turns up that you can afford. Check eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, everything, every day. The cheapest/best value bikes will be sold almost as soon as they’re listed, so if you want to bag a bargain, you’ll have to be quick.
But be careful. Don’t be tempted to buy something without a logbook just because it’s cheap. If you don’t know how a spanner works, a non-runner probably isn’t for you. And if it’s already got an MOT, it might save you a bit of ballache. And don’t forget, the cheapest bike to buy is seldom the cheapest bike to run.
Unfortunately I can’t do anything about the cost of fuel. But there are other things you can do to lessen the cost of riding a motorbike. Let’s start with preventative maintenance. Correctly inflated tyres will last longer than incorrectly inflated ones. A well lubricated and tensioned chain will last longer than a poorly lubricated and tensioned one. Riding with knackered brake pads is a false economy; it’ll destroy your brake discs and you’ll have a set of those to buy, too. If you try and get 50,000 miles out of your engine oil, you might need to buy a new engine.
Looking after your bike properly is one of the best ways to keep the cost of motorcycling down. Especially if you look after it yourself. Normal, everyday maintenance isn’t difficult, but you’ll still be charged handsomely if you take your bike to a garage. So learn to do it yourself. You might find you actually enjoy it.
If you really want, you can even go racing cheaply. Well, reasonably cheaply, anyway. If you’re happy to ride a 125, or a maybe a 500cc twin (like a Honda CB500), a couple of grand will buy you a race bike, and a couple more might see you through a seasons racing.
The problem with that is, once you get the bug, you’ll probably want something a bit faster. Something a bit more competitive. Something a bit more expensive. If you just put an extra grand in, think what you could have. Maybe if you sold your telly, you don’t watch it that much these days, do you? Do you really need your car?
You see, that’s what happens when you go racing. It’s never long before you get carried away. It’s all good and well having the good intentions, to just do one season on the cheap. Before you know it you’ve got budget spreadsheets and you rehearsing pitches to sponsors. But that’s racing.
You don’t have to go racing, though. And you can do motorcycling cheaply.