I recently compiled a list of the Best Cars for Commuters 2013. Even as I was working on that list, I realized that it held a fatal flaw. Many times, the best car for a commuter is no car at all. Commuting via public transportation, on foot or by bicycle can be quicker, cheaper and more reliable than using a car. For commutes that are too long for walking or bicycling, and for areas where public transportation isn’t a practical option (like here in my hometown of Los Angeles), there’s an even better choice: Commuting by motorcycle.
Buying a new motorcycle is substantially less expensive than buying a new car. Entry-level 250 cc new motorcycles start around the $4,000 mark. Freeway capable 500 cc motorcycles can be had for as little as $6,000. Many of the best new commuter bikes start under $10,000, thousands of dollars less than the least expensive car on our Best Cars for Commuters list.
Motorcycle insurance is also a relative bargain. Basic insurance, as required by all US states except Florida, Montana and Washington, is at least 50% less expensive than comparable auto insurance. High performance and custom motorcycles cost more to insure — but those don’t make good commuters, anyway. If you’re an adult with a good driving record and you’re riding a sensible motorcycle, you may be surprised by how little insurance can cost. Many insurance companies also offer discounts to riders who complete a motorcycle safety course, too — and that’s a good idea for all riders, even without the discount.
Fuel economy is another motorcycle strength. Even big bikes can average over 30 miles per gallon, and some smaller commuter bikes even approach 100 mpg. Choose a bike with proven reliability and a decent warranty, and maintenance costs will also be reasonable, especially when compared with the cost of maintaining a car. Performing routine maintenance, like oil and filter changes, is within the reach of most riders, and further reduces the cost of ownership.