How to keep your motorbike running costs down

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Riding motorcycles is one of the most rewarding and fun things you can do in your life but there are certainly ways you can cut the costs of owning and running one.

There’s lots of research out there showing using motorcycles to commute and ride for fun makes you a happier and more contented person and with our top tips you can also shave off some of the costs involved without losing any of the benefits.

How to save money on motorcycle maintenance

There are lots of reasons for ensuring your motorcycle is kept in good mechanical condition – your general well-being is top of that list, as problems with your bike could result in the bike crashing and hurting you.

Learning how to carry out some basic maintenance on motorcycles and scooters isn’t hard and there are loads of motorcycle-specific – many for your actual model of motorcycle or scooter – that can show you how to carry out day-to-day maintenance.

Some simple visual checks each time you ride your motorcycle or scooter can be of huge help. A look over tyres to check there’s nothing sticking out of them like nails or screws can avoid problems once moving. Also check tread depth is within legal limits.

Chain tension, brake pad wear, oil level and the condition of chain sprockets are all worth keeping a close eye on and the biggest MOT failure is from failed headlight, taillight, brake or indicator bulbs.

There’s nothing to stop you carrying out basic maintenance on your own bike but new bikes will have to have manufacturer original specification parts fitted in order for the warranty to remain valid. This is the same if you ask a non-franchised workshop to carry out work on a bike under warranty.

PRICE OVERVIEW: The price you will pay for a franchised main dealer can be up to £100 per hour or labour alone but this can be as much as half that for an independent. So learning how to change your own brake pads and carry out some simple maintenance tasks could save you hundreds of pounds each year.

POTENTIAL SAVING: If you avoid main dealers and carry out some home maintenance yourself then the potential saving over an average 3000 annual mileage could be £250.

motorcycle gear chain maintenance

How to save money on fuel

Most motorcycles are pretty frugal when it comes to fuel consumption but all of them can be made better if the rider learns to smooth out their riding style.

Heavy applications of throttle will dramatically increase fuel consumption and this kind of riding style is easy to avoid. Not only does a smoother riding style help increase fuel efficiency but it makes you a better rider overall.

Keeping the motorcycle tyres at the correct tyre pressures has a big impact on fuel economy and also helps improve safety. Make sure to check these pressures regularly as they can vary greatly as the ambient temperature changes.

Removing any luggage fitted to the bike that’s not needed will reduce weight, air drag and not carrying heavy hard panniers around will save you money on fuel for sure.

Simply looking around for the cheapest fuel can save you as much as 10p a litre; even more if you look at the high prices charged on motorway service stations.

PRICE OVERVIEW: Filling up at a motorway service station can mean paying more than 30p a litre more so for a motorcycle with a 20 litre fuel tank, that means each tank will cost £6 more each time. Searching around and using a web search can save 10p a litre by finding the cheapest local station to your home or work. That’s a £2 saving every single time you fill a 20 litre tank on average and spread across a year that soon adds up.

TOTAL SAVING POTENTIAL OVER AN AVERAGE ANNUAL 3000 MILES: £30 at 10p a litre cheaper and £90 by avoiding motorway service stations.

What about saving money on insurance?

Lots of people allow their motorcycle insurance to auto-renew each year but making sure you shop around for insurance by The Bike Insurer can save large amounts of money.

Although leaving your policy to auto-renew saves you a bit of time, make sure to shop around when your policy is drawing to an end to see if you could get a better deal through another broker.

Your insurance renewal date is also a good opportunity to consider if your circumstances are likely to change in the coming year. Do you need to change to short-term bike insurance for the winter for example?

Removing parts of insurance policies you don’t need will also reduce the premium. Do you need pillion cover? Is covering your riding gear essential? If not, cut back to save money.

Keeping your bike as safe from theft as possible is number two on the list of ways to bring your insurance down.

If you don’t have a garage then try to find a lockup close to your home to considerably reduce your premiums. There are also steel sheds can be bought to offer more secure parking than a wooden shed might offer.

Having your bike parked on your drive or in your bike garden is never going to be as safe as having it stored away in a secure facility.

When you’re out and about make sure you have a lock and chain on you and get an alarm and a GPS tracker installed so if your bike does end up in the hands of thieves you’ll know where to find it.

Another important point to remember is that it can sometimes be far cheaper to pay for repairs yourself than to claim on your insurance and risk your premium hiking up. You should also take into consideration

Your No Claims Discount is one of the biggest factors when it comes to your insurance premium so you could also consider paying slightly more for Protected No Claims cover, which could end up saving you money in the long run.

PRICE OVERVIEW: Taking off the bits of a policy you don’t need can save around 10% of the total policy cost for each bit you don’t need being removed. This works out at something like £25 to £30 for each bit like legal cover, riding kit cover and other bolt-on extras.

POTENTIAL SAVING OVER A YEAR WITH A £350 POLICY COULD BE £125.

Other Top tips for keeping your bike costs down:

  • Check online auction sites for used motorcycle riding gear as there are always bargains on nearly new kit. DO NOT BUY USED CRASH HELMETS THOUGH! POTENTIAL SAVING: You can bag a set of used but great condition leather for around £200 when compared to a £1200 new price so a saving of £1000.
  • Discount supermarkets have sales of underlayers and other non-motorcycle clothing that does the job perfectly well for much less money. POTENTIAL SAVING: A set of discount supermarket underlayers can be £25 cheaper for both top and bottoms when compared to top-spec motorcycle specific versions.
  • If you ride your motorcycle in winter make sure to spend some time using anti-corrosion products like ACF50 and XCP Rust Protector to stop heavy corrosion devaluing the bike.
  • Work out if using your motorcycle for commuting to work can save you money as generally motorcycle parking can be free and it can be a lot cheaper than a train ticket. POTENTIAL SAVING: Up to £11.50 per day for train station parking, up to £6000 per annum for a year train ticket from a location one hour from London.
  • If your work takes you to airports for short trips, almost all of the UK airports have free parking for motorcycles and they are almost always right next to the terminal. If you have riding gear to store, you can bag it up and store it for a small fee with the left luggage areas. POTENTIAL SAVING: Up to £25 per day for short term parking.
  • Investigate if an advanced motorcycle riding course can generate insurance discounts.
  • Before spending big money on locks and chains, check which ones are Thatcham rated and will be recognised by insurance company. Check on the website here
  • Find out if fitting an alarm or a tracker system to your bike makes any difference to insurance before investing money on them as in some instances it makes almost no difference.
  • If you only use your motorcycle for a few months of the year, declare it SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) with the DVLA so you only tax it when you need to. Doublecheck what impact this might have on any insurance cover. POTENTIAL SAVING: £44 per year for maximum cost of six months of not taxing a motorcycle in the most costly tax bracket.
Next page: How to get cheap motorbike insurance