It’s a bit ironic that a personal finance blog with the name Need2Save is writing an article about buying a brand new motorcycle. Shouldn’t we be encouraging you to be frugal and save all of your discretionary dollars? Well, having some fun along life’s journey is important too.
The Motorcycle Backstory
A little over a year ago, I decided it would be a good idea to get my motorcycle license. I really enjoy riding my bicycle, so trying out a motorcycle seemed like a natural extension. Not to mention that you never know when you’ll need to escape on a motorcycle like Indiana Jones.
Getting the motorcycle license was pretty easy – probably too easy! The local community college provides a four-day Motorcycle Safety Course for beginning riders. Two of the days (5 hours total) are in the classroom and two days are on the practice range. At the end of the second day on the range, you take a skill evaluation test. If you pass the skills test – you get your motorcycle license! The practice range is in an empty parking lot, so you don’t actually get any time out on the open road.
Now that I passed the test, what should I do about getting a motorcycle? It’s not too exciting to have your motorcycle license but no motorcycle to ride.
The Bike I Coveted – A Triumph Bonneville
There are many different types of motorcycles: Cruisers (think Harley Davidson), Touring (long distance travel), Sport (those annoying speed bikes that always fly past you on the road), Adventure (can also go off-road), Modern Classics (like the Triumph Bonneville), and more. I just plan on riding around back roads, running some errands, and commuting to work, so the Bonneville fits the bill nicely.
I never buy things on a whim and over-research almost every purchase I make. So I spent a lot of time researching and watching countless hours of YouTube videos, to make sure the Triumph Bonneville was the right bike for me. My original intent was to buy a used motorcycle, but Triumph had just released a new version of the bike that was significantly better – and safer – than the outgoing model. But do I really want to shell out $10k for a new motorcycle?
Try Out a Used Bike While Saving For a New Bike
I decided to buy a used motorcycle to make sure I was going to stick with this new pursuit. Although it wasn’t a bike I wanted to keep long term, I was able to find a used 2001 Yamaha VSTAR 650 for around $2,000. This was a good bike to learn on and other than a dent to my pride, I wasn’t going to feel too bad if I dropped the bike while learning (Note: I never did drop the bike or have any mishaps).
For these types of ‘fun’ purchases, our modus operandi is too use bonus money. I set aside bonus money over the last two bonuses (including some of our March Madness bonus money) and sold some woodworking tools I was no longer using. No borrowing money – NO DEBT!
After saving up the necessary funds and selling the Yamaha (for a small loss), I was ready this weekend to buy the motorcycle I have been eyeing for over a year. Here she is, a Triumph Bonneville T100 Black
Was Buying a Motorcycle a Wise Financial Decision?
Of course not! Although the motorcycle gets great gas mileage at over 50 MPG, I’ll never recoup the cost of the bike in fuel savings. But I sure will enjoy it as I ride it to work, run errands, and take leisurely rides around country back roads. I do plan on reducing my car usage by continuing to ride my bicycle to work and using the motorcycle significantly while the weather is good. I don’t want to replace my car before we stop working (hopefully within the next 7 years), so this should allow me to reduce the wear and tear on my car. So there is a little bit of financial benefit in this, right?
It can be hard to strike a balance between living today and saving for tomorrow. Sometimes you have to seize the day – carpe diem. We will always prioritize our savings and investments over this type of ‘fun’ spending. I certainly didn’t buy this motorcycle on a whim, although maybe it’s my mid-life crisis 🙂 By buying a used bike first, I made sure this was something I was committed to and not a frivolous purchase. I know a couple of guys who have very expense ‘toy’ cars that I literally only see them drive once per year!
Do you struggle with striking a balance between living today and saving for tomorrow?