How Much Does it Cost to Run a Motorbike: The Ultimate Guide

by Karen Neill

Motorcycle Maintenance

If you are thinking of buying a motorcycle or scooter, like all personal owned transport there are always costs to consider. We have composed this guide on how much does it cost to run a motorbike to help you factor in everything you may need to know regarding the financial aspects of owning a motorcycle.

The cost of owning a motorcycle can vary based on several factors, including the type of bike, maintenance frequency, insurance, fuel efficiency and other expenses.

Initial Motorbike Cost

The upfront cost of purchasing a motorbike can range from a few thousand pounds for a basic model to tens of thousands for high-end or specialised bikes. I recommend you consider the following points before deciding on what model to buy.

  • Brand and Model: Different brands and models offer varying features and performance levels, with high-end ones commanding higher prices;
  • Technology and Features: Advanced technology like electronic fuel injection, ABS brakes add to manufacturing costs and final retail prices;
  • Engine Size and Performance: Bikes with larger engines and higher performance capabilities are generally more expensive;
  • Materials and Construction: Premium materials and construction methods contribute to durability and aesthetics but increase the cost;
  • Research and Development: Investment in R&D for innovation and safety features is reflected in the price;
  • Market Demand and Exclusivity: Limited availability or exclusive models can drive up prices due to high demand.

Motorcycle Insurance

Motorcycle insurance premiums depend on factors like the rider’s age, driving record, location and the type of coverage selected (liability, comprehensive, & work use, etc.). On average, annual premiums can range from a couple of hundred pounds to well over a thousand pounds.

  • Higher Risk: Insurers rate motorcycles as riskier to insure than cars, leading to higher insurance premiums than car insurance due to the increased likelihood of accidents and injuries;
  • Repair Costs: Motorcycle repairs can be expensive, impacting insurance premiums;
  • Theft and Vandalism: Motorcycles are often targeted by thieves, leading to higher bike insurance costs;
  • Personal Injury Coverage: Medical costs for motorcycle accidents can be high, contributing to higher premiums;
  • Rider Experience and Age: Inexperienced or younger riders may face higher premiums due to perceived risk.

Maintenance & Service

Regular maintenance and servicing is essential for keeping a motorbike running smoothly and safely. This includes oil changes, chain adjustments, brake pad replacements, tyre changes and occasional tune-ups. Costs for maintenance can vary widely depending on the frequency of service and whether you do it yourself or take it to a mechanic. Budgeting a few hundred pounds per year for maintenance is reasonable.

Service Oil
  • Specialised Parts and Labour: Motorcycles often require specialised parts and trained technicians for maintenance, which can be costly. At Zenith Motorcycles we only use approved parts and all of our team and fully trained for their roles;
  • Frequent Servicing: Motorcycles need more frequent maintenance than cars, leading to higher costs over time;
  • Wear and Tear: Riding conditions and performance demands cause faster wear and tear on motorcycle components, necessitating more replacements;
  • Complex Design: Some motorcycles have intricate designs that require specialised tools and expertise for maintenance, adding to the cost. We only use manufacturer-approved tools for all our work at Zenith Motorcycles;
  • Preventive Measures: Owners often invest in preventative maintenance to ensure safety and performance, increasing overall maintenance expenses.

Fuel Costs

Fuel costs, like any petrol vehicle, are an ongoing expense for motorbike owners. Fuel efficiency varies depending on the bike’s engine size, type (e.g. sportbike, cruiser) and riding habits. On average, motorcycles can achieve anywhere from 10 to 20 miles per litre, (scooters possibly more).  If we assume an average fuel efficiency of around 15 miles per litre and a conservative estimate of £1.97, the cost of fuel would be roughly 0.13 pence per mile.

  • Fuel Efficiency: Although motorcycles generally have better fuel efficiency than cars, they typically have smaller fuel tanks, requiring more frequent refuelling. This can lead to higher overall fuel costs, especially for riders who commute long distances or use their bikes frequently;
  • Riding Habits: Aggressive riding styles, such as rapid acceleration and high-speed cruising, can significantly decrease fuel efficiency, leading to higher fuel costs over time. Spirited riding or frequent stop-and-go leads to frequent refuelling;
  • Global Oil Prices: Fluctuations in global oil prices can directly affect the cost of fuel for motorcycles. Economic factors, geopolitical tensions and natural disasters can all influence oil prices, leading to fluctuations in fuel costs for consumers.

Road Tax

Road tax costs can vary significantly depending on the engine size of your vehicle, local regulations, the value of the bike and how you pay for it. See full details on the DVLA website.

Road tax in the UK for motorcycles ranges from £25.00 to £122.00 per year, see full price breakdown below:

Motorcycle Road Tax (with or without sidecar) (TC17)

Engine Size (CC)
Single 12 Month Payment
Single 12 Month Payment by DD
Total of 12 Monthly Instalments by DD
Single 6 Month Payment
6 Months by DD
Not Over 150
£25
£25
£26.25
N/A
N/A
151 - 400
£55
£55
£57.75
£30.25
£28.88
401 - 600
£84
£84
£88.20
£46.20
£44.10
Over 600
£117
£117
£122.85
£64.35
£61.43

MOT

In the UK, motorcycles over three years old require a valid MOT certificate, similar to cars and light goods vehicles. It’s unlawful to ride without one, except en route to an MOT test. Non-compliance could lead to fines of up to £1,000. Zenith Motorcycles are fully qualified class 1 & 2 MOT testing centre and can MOT all motorbikes, scooters, off-road bikes, combination motorcycles & sidecars and some 3-wheeled vehicles.

See this website for a definitive list of parts checked during a motorcycle MOT.

Gear and Accessories

Safety gear such as helmets, jackets, gloves and boots are essential for every rider and can range from a few hundred to over a thousand pounds depending on the quality and the brand. Other accessories like saddlebags, navigation systems, and customisation can add to the overall cost.

Motorcycle Jacket
  • Safety Equipment: Essential safety gear such as helmets, jackets, gloves and boots are necessary for riders to protect themselves in case of accidents;
  • Quality and Durability: Investing in high-quality gear and accessories ensures durability and longevity, which may come with a higher price tag upfront but can save money in the long run by reducing the need for frequent replacements;
  • Brand Reputation: Well-known brands often command higher prices due to their reputation for quality, innovation and style;
  • Specialised Features: Some gear and accessories come with specialised features such as waterproofing, impact protection, or ergonomic design, which can justify higher prices for riders seeking enhanced comfort and functionality;
  • Customisation: Many riders enjoy customising their motorcycles with accessories such as saddlebags, windscreens, exhaust systems and cosmetic enhancements;
  • Lifestyle and Fashion: Motorcycle gear and accessories are not only functional but also reflect a rider’s lifestyle and fashion preferences.

Depreciation

Like cars, motorcycles depreciate in value over time. The rate of depreciation varies depending on factors such as the band, model and condition of the bike. Generally, higher-end bikes tend to retain their value better than budget models.

  • Resale Value: Depreciation refers to the decrease in value of a motorcycle over time. As motorcycles age and accumulate mileage, their resale value tends to decline. This means that owners may not recoup the full amount they initially paid when selling their used motorcycles;
  • Lower Sale Value: The lower resale value resulting from depreciation can indirectly affect the overall cost of ownership. Owners who sell their motorcycles after a few years of use may find that they have lost a significant portion of their initial investment, effectively increasing the cost of ownership over the time they’ve owned the bike;
  • Cost Benefit Analysis: Potential buyers may factor in the expected depreciation when considering the purchase of a motorcycle, which can influence their willingness to pay a higher price for a new or used bike. Manufacturers may adjust pricing strategies based on anticipated depreciation rates to remain competitive in the market.

Overall, the annual cost of running a motorbike can range from a few hundred to several thousand pounds, depending on these factors. It’s essential to budget for these expenses and consider them when deciding whether to purchase a motorcycle. However, generally, it is cheaper to buy a scooter or motorcycle and ride on a smaller budget. Once the initial investment costs have been laid out, the monthly outgoings on a motorcycle or scooter can be very cost-effective and save money in the long run.

How Much Does it Cost to Run a Motorbike FAQ

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