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First article of this saga dedicated to beginners and not the least since we are going to try to answer a question that often comes up, namely what budget should you plan when you pick up motorbike riding.
However, we will have to qualify our answer a little, because your choices will strongly influence the final bill! But it will of course be possible to reduce certain expenses. So, hop on for a demonstration by the example. picking-up-motorbike-riding-budget
For several years now, a new category of the population has been riding motorcycles: urbans, millennials, etc. And these do not always have the chance to be initiated by a member of their family. And so, it’s a question that often comes up “how much does it cost to ride a bike?”
This is a seemingly simple question, but which is not easy to answer. There are incompressible expenses, eg. the student permit or the compulsory courses, and others on which you will have more leeway, for example the choice of the motorcycle, the brands for your equipment, etc. So, to give you a rough estimate: from 5’000 CHF for those running on a tight budget to more than 25 grands.
But let’s proceed in order to see more clearly. Obviously, these will be indicative values that may vary depending on the engine capacity, the cantons and even the places where you go. It will therefore always be possible to find cheaper, but also more expensive, it depends…
In any case, if you have a limited budget, by renting out your vehicle on Cruizador, you can offset all or part of these costs. We explain this to you at the end of this article.
Last general info before starting, it is important to note that some instructors offer motorcycle initiations on private land. Even if it will be a brief overview of the pleasures of riding a bike on an open road, it will allow you to develop a first feeling, to know if it is a path that deserves to be explored, or not. Because it is from now that the costs will start!
Before even looking for your mount, you must obviously obtain permission to ride it. And that will be the first expense. In Switzerland, you must contact the department of the motorized vehicles (DMV) of your canton of residency to obtain the precious sesame. Note that there are also differences, depending on whether or not you already have the car driving license (category B) or if you already have the A1 license (125cc).
Indeed, if this is the case, you will not need to go through the Samaritan course (1st aid) which costs 130 CHF, awareness classes at 180.- CHF or redo the theoretical exam (from 20 CHF). Significant differences also exist between the cantons, some including the practical exam in the price of the student permit (Fribourg for example), and others not (VD which charges extra.). In summary, minimal and incompressible cost of the license:
Last important info, since 1.1.2021, and in order to align with European legislation, any student driver over the age of 18 must start with the A limited category (or A2) for 2 years, i.e. vehicles of 35kw max. At the end of these 2 years, he will have to take a practical exam to validate his unlimited license (A). Whereas before, learners who were over 25 at the time of applying for a student permit could practice directly with the unlimited category.
For more information on the path to the license, go to the MotoSuisse website which explains everything in detail. Website in FR or DE (here). pking-up-motorbike-riding-budget
The crucial point in determining the necessary budget is that of the equipment. Because motorcycling involves inherent risks and investing in high-performance equipment is first and foremost a guarantee of safety. Secondly, having waterproof and/or warm clothing for between seasons, with ventilation possibilities for hot summer days, or possibly with removable layers, is a guarantee of comfort and riding pleasure. Having experienced it a few times, finding yourself riding for hours in the pouring rain with cheap equipment is quite annoying to say the least!
In any case, this is probably the only category of expense where we strongly recommend buying new, especially for the helmet. Because it is practically impossible to know in what condition a helmet would have been stored, if it has suffered shocks, alterations (custom paint), etc. As for synthetic fiber clothing, these deteriorate over time, especially with machine washes. Also, why not invest in new, which will also ensure a certain longevity. In addition, you can make sure you have equipment that matches your morphology and your needs.
But in any case, while you don’t yet know what type of biker you are going to be, no need to already invest in branded items, such as a Belstaff leather jacket. They will certainly look great on you but cost an arm. In addition, a biker who makes long road trips over several days will need specific equipment, while a cafe racer owner will probably focus more on style! So why not wait a bit, just to define your profile and who knows, invest in beautiful pieces that will accompany you all your life…but this in a second time?
The temptation to buy online is great, especially abroad to get the best deals. However, for the equipment, a fitting is essential to realize the comfort, the feeling, etc. In addition, you will benefit from the wise advice of the sales person, who will be able to advise you according to your needs, morphology, etc. So to save a few bucks it’s not worth it.
Worth mentioning is that there are stockists like Polo that offer attractive prices. There are season start or season end sales, but also offers for young bikers and that it is not impossible to get a swift -20 to -30% on new items. They also carry more accessible brands like FLM, Spirit, John Doe, etc.
In short, to return to our main topic. The helmet will undoubtedly be the most expensive but also the most important expense. As a matter of fact, the feeling between an entry-level helmet at CHF 100 and a Shoei fiberglass helmet for ex. will be incomparable. Indeed, the sound insulation but also the weight of the helmet will have a decisive impact on the comfort of use. In addition, a fiberglass helmet will need to be changed every 5 to 10 years, while thermoplastic ones every 2 years.
So in summary:
To be mentioned that some will be tempted to use their old military boots (KS) to start. These being relatively rigid, you will quickly realize that the feeling for changing gears is not optimal. But if you want to save a little, thick leather boot, such as Timberland, will offer reasonable protection. And same goes for the gloves.
Item very difficult to quantify. New or used? Leasing or cash purchase? How much does it cost ? The choice is not necessarily easy. Small engine size or dream motorcycle to start with? What are the taxes, the price of maintenance, insurance, hidden costs? A short review of the field of possibilities.
The motorcycle is largely a story of style and taste. And the heart has its reasons that reason ignores, as the saying goes. Also, the temptation to buy the motorcycle of his dreams to start is great.
In addition, dealers, with great bonuses or 0% leasing, etc. will do everything to trigger sales. But here, there is the reality of any beginning of a new activity, you have to learn. Thus, the likelihood of you crashing your motorcycle, especially during gymkhana exercises, is high. And unlike other vehicles, a motorcycle that falls will quickly generate significant costs, particularly for bodywork: clutch or brake lever, mirrors, fairings, fuel tank, etc.
For this reason, dropping a bike that has already been through a bit will be less painful than one with less than 1,000km on the odometer. And there is also the “running-in” factor, which if not done correctly can have an impact on the longevity of your vehicle. But afterwards, if it’s a new model that tempts you, and the dealership buying experience that goes with it, do not spend more than 8-10k CHF for your first motorcycle. Why?
Important detail, the type of motorcycle. Unlike cars, the differences between two motorcycles are more than significant, sometimes even within the same brand: driving position, engine architecture (twin, three or 4 cylinders), type of motorcycle (trail, roadster), etc. In addition, the type of biker you are going to be will define the kind of bike that will suit you. A long-distance adventurer will turn to a trail, a track racer to a sports car or a nervous roadster, etc.
But how do you know that without having racked up a few thousand kilometers on your first bike. How to know if you like to take long road trips abroad if you’ve never done it?
Also, we cannot recommend enough that you start with second-hand. Get your hands on a bike that already has a few km on the clock and, once you’ve gained confidence, it will be already time to go do some real test rides at your dealership. And you will see that you will discern the subtleties between the models with much more finesse.
First thing, check out our guide to buying a used motorcycle (here). We give you lots of tips to avoid pitfalls, prepare your negotiation, etc.
But in summary, for your first motorcycle, we recommend not to aim too low and not to take the cheapest ones that you will find on any marketplace. On the contrary wait a little bit and save to have the bike where there will be practically nothing to do on it. Go to online ad directories, such as Motoscout24, and choose by type of bike, mileage. Filter by ascending prices and move up the list.
As an indication, the author of this article started with a Japanese medium-sized engine, namely a 1998 Honda CB600 with 45,000 km on the clock. High mileage is not to be avoided, if the maintenance book is up to date. We would also be tempted to tell you to start with Japanese models, as these often have a better longevity. But still, if the bike has been serviced regularly, it will not be a problem. But a budget between 2,500 to 5,000 francs seems adequate for a second-hand bike regardless of its displacement.
For more information on which specific bike you should aim for, read up our next article (here).
Other criteria not to be taken lightly, the price of services, the insurance premium, the consumables budget (tires, pads, etc.). A sporty roadster, for example, will use more rubber than a mid-sized trail bike. For example, plan a tire change every 3-4000km on a roadster/a sportsbike, and rarely below 10,000km on a trail.
The spacing between services will also be a good indication. There are magazines that publish special editions on second-hand motorcycle every year. They give precious information such as price of spare parts, known weaknesses of specific models, etc.
The insurance premium will depend on your age, background, nationality, etc. Note that in Switzerland, only the third-party liability insurance is compulsory. Comprehensive cover (casco), is optional. Also, if you have an old motorcycle, the need to add a casco to it will be more than debatable. Count from 200 to 1,000 CHF and more, depending on the coverage. A website like Comparis will allow you to get a free estimation.
As far as maintenance is concerned, it also varies greatly depending on the workshops/dealers and the condition of the motorcycle at the start, hence the importance of not buying a wreck… In the end, it will depend on your degree of care but also the number of km travelled. Count about 20cts/km for variable costs.
Afterwards, you will also have the opportunity to save a little, if you are ready to get your hands dirty by doing some of the maintenance yourself. Do you know the Rideshaper DIY workshop in Lausanne? No, we present to you this unusual place, where Robin, the master of the place, provides not only the infrastructure and the tools, but also the advice that goes with it. And after that, no more excuses for not doing at least part of the service yourself. Read the article here.
We are finally getting to the heart of the matter! And here, it is difficult to give a precise estimate without knowing the number of kilometers traveled, the driving style, the type of motorcycle, etc.
We start with the highway vignette at 40 CHF. So yes, some will swear that they never take the highway and argue that real motorbike riding forbids it. But in practice we always find ourselves forced, at one time or another, to have to do a stretch of motorway to save time or to avoid being rinsed too long by the rain… Then there is the petrol and the number of kilometers you will travel. Although very dependent on engine capacity, avg. fuel consumption and riding style, the author of this article spends an average of 800CHF/year on gasoline, for an average of 10,000km travelled. And for those who drive abroad, we will eventually add tolls.
We have certainly mentioned some costs, but others will also be taken into consideration. Do you have a parking space available or will you have to rent a box, a place in a covered car park? Are you a nervous driver and potentially will have to pay speed tickets? What about the equipment for the bike (GPS, suitcases, etc.)? Do you want to custom it a little?
So yes, some costs are one-time and can be paid off over the first few years, such as the licence, equipment and the purchase of the motorcycle. Because in the end it is the first year that costs the most when you start motorbike riding.
Then it becomes a passion! And who says passion, is willing to deal with a certain irrationality… But finally, to answer the initial question of how much it costs, it goes from simple (5- 6000 CHF) to quadruple (20 – 25’000 CHF) depending on the choices you make.
Now if you only have to pay for the license and you can borrow everything (rider’s equipment and a motorcycle) from a friend, a family member… and only compensate the generous benefactors with a few bottles of wine or packs of cold ones, it could be almost free.
But now, if you don’t have any biker around you or if you are a little limited by your budget, Cruizador comes to your rescue. Did you know that in 13 days of rental on Cruizador during the season, you will have offset all your fixed costs and that your motorcycle will cost you practically nothing. And from 13 days, your motorcycle will even bring you an income, which you can use for accessories or why not, save for the purchase of your next bike! Don’t believe us? We run the math for you here
In a next article, we will talk about mechanics and more particularly which bikes are best suited for beginners. Read the article here.