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How much does it cost per month to run a bike?

There’s far more to getting on the road on two wheels than just buying a bike – but how much does it all cost?

While the old assumption that commuting on a small motorcycle is far cheaper than by car is true, actually getting on the road and doing it can incur far more cost than you may realize. While fuel costs and the like may be comparatively low, if you’re getting into motorcycling for the first time there’s lots of other things to consider like licences, training, insurance and so on, plus clothing and helmet never mind consumables on your bike itself, such as tyres, servicing and so on.
So how much does it all cost? Unfortunately it’s not a simple answer as so many variables such as bike type, your mileage, location etc are involved. But consider the following and you should get a good idea.
Your bike
While we’re not getting into the cost of buying a bike here, what you go for effects your monthly running costs, not just fuel but also insurance, road tax, servicing and its appetite for consumables such as tyres. While it’s impossible to explore in detail all the effects of those variables on your choice here as a general rule of thumb smaller capacity machines are less expensive to run as are less performance-orientated ones. Even so, you should still choose a bike suitable for the type of riding you’re likely to do. Buying a 50 or 125 for 100-mile daily commutes, for example, is obviously a false economy.
If you need new motorcycle gear we’d always recommend, both for safety and comfort reasons, buying the best you can afford. Helmets start at around £80 but can rise to well over £500; jackets £80 plus; boots £50 upwards; gloves £30 up and a waterproof oversuit £50+) for when you inevitably get caught out by British weather is probably a good idea, too. It doesn’t end there, either. If you’re planning to ride well into winter of over long distances you’ll need to invest in some quality warm and weatherproof winter textiles, both jacket and trousers and probably gloves as well. Reckon on another £100 apiece. While some also invest in thermal undies and neck warmers.
Compulsory, obviously, and it can vary hugely depending on you, the size of your bike and where you live. Our best advice is to spend some time on a price comparison site and get some examples for the bikes you’re interested in. On the plus side, most insurers allow you to pay by monthly instalments, which helps for your monthly budgeting, rather than one flat fee, although often there is an additional charge for this so watch out!
Road tax
Again compulsory and like insurance it varies although this time simply depending on the capacity of your bike. There are four bands, as follows: Up to 150cc £19 a year; 151-400cc £42; 401-600cc £64 and 600cc+ which is £88. The larger two categories can be bought six-monthly, for a slight premium and all of these are also payable monthly in installments, although again there’s a slight surcharge for this.
It’s worth mentioning here that there are exemptions, namely electric motorcycles or classic bikes made before January 1 1978.
Fuel costs
Again, it depends entirely on the capacity of your bike and how you ride it. So, for example, most 125cc machines are easily capable of 100mpg while most larger bikes vary between 45 and 65mpg, depending on how hard they’re ridden and over what terrain. The approximate mpg figures for most bikes can be found online. Using current petrol prices (£6/gallon) that roughly converts through to a 125 costing 6p a mile, an average larger bike about 11p. Beyond that, you’ll have to do the math.
(NB, virtually all bike are petrol, not diesel powered.)
Motorcycle licence
Again compulsory, but it varies according to whether full or provisional. A first provisional licence currently costs £34 online, £43 by post. Upgrading to full once you pass your test is free while renewal of an expired licence is £14 online or £17 by post.
Compulsory Basic Training is, as it says, compulsory for new riders without any sort of licence before heading out onto the road for the first time. Usually this costs between £100 and £150, takes half a day and includes all equipment. Pleae note, however, that it’s only valid for two years.
Test fees
Those seeking to gain their full licence should be aware of the following. The theory test currently costs £23, Module one of the practical test £15.50 and Module two £75.
MoT test
Every road legal vehicle in the UK over three years old is required to have a current MoT roadworthiness certificate. The current cost of this for a motorcycle is £29.65. Your bike needs to pass to be road legal. If remedial work is required obviously there will be additional cost.
All motorcycles require annual servicing. Although not compulsory by law it is usually required under finance agreements and to keep any warranty valid. Costs vary depending on the bike and what sort of garage undertakes the work but for most bikes a full service, which include full valve check and adjustment, is £250 upwards. Minor, interim services should cost around £100.
Again this is a little bit a case of ‘how long is a piece of string’ as it varies hugely depending on the performance and use of your machine and the grade of consumables you use, for example budget or high performance tyres. But remember this: average tyres cost around £100 each and last, very roughly, about 4000 miles for a rear, a little more for a front. A chain and sprocket set (£80-100) should easily last longer – but will be less if neglected and abused. Brake pads (£20 per caliper) should also easily last a year. Then there are less expensive items such as oil, cleaning products and so on.
Again, not compulsory by law but many insurance policies require specific, approved security systems (either locks, garages, alarms, immobilizers and more) and if they don’t the use of them often reduces insurance premiums. Besides, do you want to risk your bike being nicked. Good, approved locks cost £80-up; a good, fitted alarm/immobilizer/tracker system, around £250-up. Again you need to weigh all this up for yourself.