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Old 5 Jan 2002
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motorcycle travelling - really the cheapest way?

Hey there!
I hope you can help me: I'm thinking about what way of travelling is cheaper - car or motorcycle. Though I don't have a big experience in travelling by car, I found some reasons why travelling by car (take a small car, like a fiat 126 or something) might be possibly cheaper:
1.the price: in comparison to used cars, used motorbikes are really expensive to buy.
2.fuel cost: I don't think that motorcycles are really better in this case: most 600cc bikes take about 5-7l/100km and that's not less than a small car takes.
3.running costs/maintenance: car tyres last much longer than bike tyres (ok, you always need to have 4 of them..); a car doesn't need to have a new chain every 20.000-30.000km - in general it takes less maintenance than a bike.

Ok, this is all theoretical stuff. And if I had the choice I defenitely would go by bike, just because it's the most - let's call it "impressive" way of travelling. But, like so often, I have to decide for the cheaper way...
So tell me about your experiences!

- Johannes
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Old 5 Jan 2002
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In your own country, a car probably IS cheaper. But as soon as you start crossing borders, things change.

Especially in the third world, you are suddenly "rich" and present a very different face to the locals. All "services" cost more, because you can obviously afford it - you own a car! They can often hope to own a motorcycle, not as fancy, but it's within their realm of hope, and a car isn't. So they identify with you when you're on a bike and are much more friendly as a result.

Everything at a border crossing is MUCH more expensive. All fees and duties get hiked up. A carnet is more expensive, insurance is more etc.

And of course when you change continents - try flying your car from Africa to South America. A bike willbe there in a couple of days for $1000 or less, a car will have to go by sea taking 2-3 months. And I don't want to think how much it will cost and what will be missing when it gets there. Meanwhile, you're stuck without wheels.

It also depends on where you are going and what you want to do. You can't get into the game parks in Africa with a bike for obvious reasons, so you have to rent a car. Of course, if you have your own vehicle the entry fee to parks is unbelievably high - I have vague memories of being told it was well over US$100 a day, whereas the local vehicles were around US$20.

Besides, a bike is more fun!

Grant Johnson

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at: www.HorizonsUnlimited.com

[This message has been edited by Grant Johnson (edited 05 January 2002).]
Grant Johnson

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Old 6 Jan 2002
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I think that as long as you are staying on one continent, a car would probably be cheaper overall.

Although Grant makes some good points about certain fees - especially ferries and other vehicle transportation issues - motorcycles impose their own restrictions that tend to limit our range of choices once we are underway.

For example, you can continue to travel at the same rate of km's per day in crappy weather (rain, snow, etc.) in a car, without discomfort. You can 'shop around' for accommodation in poor weather - something most of us are reluctant to do on a motorcycle, because we want to get out of the elements. In a pinch, you can sleep in a car. You can also cover more miles per day in a car, with less effort.

You can carry more camping equipment, more food, and more clothing in a car. You don't need to spend money on specialty items such as helmets, protective clothing, and ultra-light or ultra-portable camping equipment.

Your maintenance and repair expenses will likely be no more or less than a motorcycle of the same age and mileage, but you will have more choices available to you for maintenance and repair.

Given identical circumstances, a car is less likely to be stolen than a motorcycle of equivalent value.

It is more fun to travel on a motorcycle. But I don't think it is less expensive than a car. I think it is actually more expensive.
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Old 6 Jan 2002
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Well, I have both, a well equipped Jeep for traveling, camping and Sahara crossing as well as a newly bought Tenere, which I’m restoring and preparing for the same purposes. I think motorcycles are definitely cheaper but not by much. But they are much more demanding and the travel will be less comfortable overall.

I think a key factor you shouldn’t over look is which of these machines are you most familiar with and will you be able to keep in good running condition on your own? And how good of a driver (less acidents, falls and broken parts) on each machine? If you get an unreliable cheap bike and keep fix it at service centers along the route then it would definitely be more expensive than your average low maintenance 4x4.

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Old 15 Apr 2002
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For relatively short trips, the motorcycle is cheaper. For long trips, the shorter tire life, inability to carry much food, and the distaste you might have for camping during unpleasant weather conditions can make the trip cheaper in a truck, especially if you want to sleep in the back when you want (My wife and I use a shell).
We've taken 16,000 mile trips and often do 6 to 8,000 miles at a time averaging 300 to 600 miles a day when travelling together. When by myself, I commonly go 600 to 1200 miles a day. For fun and adventure, you can't beat the bike.
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Old 27 Aug 2002
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I'm not quite sure what you're looking on, but my experiences are quite the opposite - at least what I have seen...

Usually a trustworthy car would be some thousand bucks (used for sure and in EUROS) - a bike would be considerably less - at least what I would buy...
As far as my opinion goes you can get a bike which is taking you anywhere from somewhere around 1.000 EUROS, never seen a car in good enough condition at such a price - not to speak a 4WD...

Entry fees to N.P. can be a hell lot higher, parking fees apply (not so with bikes in many cases), road fees could be charged and so on...

And if you take a widely available bike such as KLR 650 or XT600 spare parts won't be such a prob - with the car the specific part CAN be a problem as I heard from people who broke down and just needed the cylinder-head sealing and some oil...
Many, but not all parts of bikes are similar or at least similar enough to do until the next garage stop.

Most things on a bike can be a lot easier fixed - if you're good in it most things can be done yourself = free of charge - a car usually needs special tools and a lot more hand-power which usually is done with machines in a garage...
Just imagine taking the engine of an old mustang or of a XT600 out...

Everything concerning transporting your vehicle somewhere else will be more expensive - and insurance maybe either...

There's an upside of a car - you can share driving, fuel, insurance and stuff - but you rely on other's that way....

You can see a hell lot more on a bike cheaper than in a usual 2-wheeler - and the 4WD option is a little to much money I reckon...
A 4WD takes heaps of diesel as far as I know!
A usual motorbike even for offroad would take up to 5 litres, when you look out for the right type...
(Depending on what you want I'm sure you'll find a bike using less than 6 litres in any category)

One of the major downsides for me would be the small tank and the availability of petrol...

But as others said, it all depends on where you go and what you expect doing there...
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Old 28 Aug 2002
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I realise this thread is on the cost of a bike versus a car, but surely there should be no debate between the two.

You either take a car because you want to take a car: Then you choose between various brands/types, depending on your needs etc.


You ride a bike. Again you are spoilt for choice of steed.

It has been said though that in a car you 'watch the film' and on a bike you 'are in the film'.

On my last trip I took a bike. On my next trip: I will again take a bike.

Good luck,
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Old 2 Oct 2002
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I ride a BMW F650 dakar... it is an expensive bike to get. But at least in Mexico most parts are cheaper that those of KLR (I used to own one) Anyway, to the point.

A road trip on this bike will be cheaper than in any car. The milage it gives is amazing. Even if you have to change tires and chain... a long trip would be considerably cheaper.
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Old 14 Oct 2003
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Originally posted by Grant Johnson:
....It also depends on where you are going and what you want to do. You can't get into the game parks in Africa with a bike for obvious reasons, so you have to rent a car....
All the car rental agencies in South Africa provide car rentals with unlimited kilometers to foreigners ONLY provided the reservation for the rental car was made outside of South Africa. This way you can really see a lot of the game parks without having to fork out additional currency for mileage. I understand this is also applicable in Namibia. Try Avis, Tempest or Budget Car rentals via any travel agent. (Contact me if you require phone numbers in SA)


"Too much good traveling is Wonderful!"

[This message has been edited by zr6fun (edited 13 October 2003).]
\"Too much good traveling is [b:]Wonderful![/b:]\"
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Old 14 Oct 2003
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The cheapest way we've travelled was by mini bus in New Zealand. We bought a Toyota 'Lite Ace' in Christchurch, for £600, folded all the rear seats flat and kitted it out with the cheapest cirtains, foam matress and bedding we could find. We travelled all over South Island then North Island for three and a half months then sold it, in Aukland, for just over £700.

There was only one downside and that was that for the whole journey I wished I was on a bike!

[This message has been edited by mcdarbyfeast (edited 13 October 2003).]
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