The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership: It’s More Than Just the Bike

Written by Jordan Stokes.


Your dreams of becoming the next modern-day Fonzie have almost come true, but have you thought about what it’s really going to cost you? We did the research so you don’t have to! From bikes to safety gear, insurance, maintenance, and more, let’s get the most bang for our buck and break it down to the last cent, shall we? Find out the true cost of motorcycle ownership, right here.

The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership: 6 Expenses of Owning a Bike

There are 6 expenses you need to consider once you decide you’re ready to hit the dirt bike trails or tackle the tail of the dragon. Like any big purchase, this is going to be an investment, and there are added costs, especially when it comes to owning one of these 300-700+ lb whales. Here are the 6 expenses you need to plan for:

  • Bike
  • Safety Gear
  • Maintenance and Repairs
  • Insurance
  • License/Permit
  • Gas

You see, just like owning a vehicle, owning a motorcycle is more than just sitting pretty on your bike, and luckily, owning a bike is much cheaper than a car, so don’t start running away yet!

Pro Tip: Make sure you always ask questions about your bike before you make the purchase; for a couple reasons. One, it’s important that you know as much as possible about your potential future bike, and two, you can ballpark what it’s going to cost you in the long run. Whether you’re buying it from a dealership or a private party, they should be able to provide you with all the answers and information you need.

The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership: Are You Ready to Ride?

There are two types of cost you need to consider when making any big purchase, and those are your one-time costs and your ongoing costs.

  • One-time costs are expenses you pay once, regardless of whether or not you use the bike. One-time costs usually consist of the motorcycle cost itself, riding gear, tools, financing, sales tax, and depreciation.
  • Ongoing costs consist of recurring costs (insurance and vehicle license), as well as expenses that are based on how you ride like fuel, new tires, and maintenance.

You might be able to skimp on some of these things when money gets tight, but we definitely don’t suggest it.
The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership

The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership: Top 6 Expenses of Owning a Bike

The True Cost of Motorcycle Ownership: Top 6 Expenses of Owning a Bike

  1. Bike

The true cost of motorcycle ownership can’t be determined without the purchase price of the bike! Beginner motorcycles can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, and you can find used bikes for much, much cheaper, which is a great option for cost-conscious buyers. If you’re looking at sportier bikes or more heavy-duty machines, such as a Ducati Panigale or the Honda Gold Wing, prices can range up to $40K. Depending on the type of motorcycle you purchase, the price can vary dramatically. If you’re looking to save money, don’t forget that manufacturers will often provide vehicle incentives on new vehicles to move them off the dealership lot.
What is the average cost of a motorcycle?
Based on Rollick data, we estimate that the average cost for purchasing a new bike to be about $10,000.
Regardless, whether you pay for the bike in full or take out a loan, all expenses must be covered when trying to calculate the total cost. If you’re just getting started, check out our guide for buying your first motorcycle.
If you’re ready to see motorcycle pricing, head over to to find your vehicle and see how much it costs.
Here are a couple of resources for motorcycle loan quotes:
Lending Tree


  1. Safety Gear

If you’re riding a motorcycle, safety should be the first thing on your list. Helmets might be optional in various states, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear one. In fact, they can be life-saving in a serious crash. DOT, Snell, and ECE certifications are the three most common standards for motorcycle helmets when it comes to safety. DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) standards are federally mandated, while Snell certification is optional and issued by a private non-profit testing organization. ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) certifications are best and most worldwide, as they require more rigorous tests before the product hits the market.
The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) estimates that helmets saved the lives of more than 1,859 motorcyclists in 2016. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 802 lives could have been saved.
Motorcycle riding gear, such as boots, jackets, pants and gloves are also an important layer of protection when it comes to motorcycle safety. After all, durable riding gear such as leather and kevlar-reinforced clothing improve safety, which means they are essentially good insurance that you only pay for once, right? Maybe not, but protection from wind, rain, insects, dust, stones, injuries, abrasions and more might be worth it. Costs can vary depending on where you’re buying from, just make sure your gear will do the job.

  1. Maintenance and Repairs

You can’t be as cool as Fonzie or as tough as Rambo with a broken motorcycle! Regardless of which bike you go with, motorcycles can cost more to maintain than cars since they require service and maintenance more frequently. Of course, how often you’re going to need maintenance depends on the type of bike you are looking at.
A new bike will likely have little to no repair needs and will last for three or more years under normal riding conditions. On the other hand, if you’re looking at a used bike, that could need immediate maintenance and repairs and can vary by age and condition of the bike itself.

Pro Tip: Always overestimate the amount of repair and maintenance costs. You will run into unexpected repairs and you don’t want that to prevent you from riding. Knowing the replacement cost of parts and the average life of items like tires, electrical components, head and tail lamps, and more will help you estimate some of your potential repair and maintenance expenses.

How much do motorcycle tires cost?
A cost you might not think about is tires, and those can cost you. Tires can be especially expensive on motorcycles, running between $400 and $600 for a set. If you’re always riding, you may have to change at least the rear tire every 3,000 or so miles (the average rider rides 3,000 – 6,000 miles per year).
Regular maintenance (oil changes, chain maintenance etc.) should be done every 5,000 to 20,000 miles depending on the motorcycle, and typically costs at least $1,000 a year. If there’s a valve adjustment, you can expect to pay anywhere between $800 and $1,500. Remember you can always ask these types of questions before you buy the bike so you know just what you’re getting into, especially if you’re buying used.

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  1. Insurance

Insurance is definitely not something you want to skimp out on. In fact, in most states, it is required by law. If you are thinking about skimping out on insurance or taking the cheapest route, it’s important to remember that inadequate insurance can actually hurt you in the long run.
How much does motorcycle insurance cost?
Insurance is there to protect you in the case of an accident where injuries or property damage occurs. It can also cover medical bills, theft, damage, and more. Regardless of where you shop for insurance, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You want to make sure you get a plan that works for you when it comes to coverage and price. Remember, you can save as much, if not more, on insurance and financing as you can on the motorcycle itself (however, you should be prepared to shell out some cash). The average cost of insurance for a bike per year is $200-$500.

Need affordable motorcycle insurance? Get a quote from Dairyland >>


  1. License/Permit

It’s simple. You need a motorcycle license to drive a car, and you need a motorcycle license to drive a motorcycle. While motorcycle laws and license requirements vary by state, most are pretty fair and similar.
How to get a motorcycle license in California? In California, the following can operate a motorcycle:

  • 15 years and 6 months old with an instruction permit and completion of both an approved driver education course and a driver training course (no freeways after dark or passengers)
  • 17 years and 6 months old with an instruction permit (no freeways after dark or passengers)
  • Those under 21 cannot be issued a Class M1 or M2 license unless they provide evidence of completion of an approved motorcycle safety training program

How to get a motorcycle license in Texas? In Texas, the requirements are a bit more streamlined:

  • To operate a motorcycle or moped, you need a Class M driver’s license
  • To operate a three-wheeled motorcycle you need a restricted Class M license and you must complete a training course

How to get a motorcycle license in Florida? In Florida, everyone must take a motorcycle license endorsement exam on traffic laws and motorcycle knowledge, as well as prove their ability to ride and control a motorcycle during an actual demonstration.

  • 21-year-olds who are applying for their first license must provide proof of completion of a motorcycle safety course

Don’t live in these states? Find more information here.

Pro Tip: You also might want to take ongoing rider training and safety courses, or take at least a few along the way as refreshers. If this is something you think you want to do, make sure you are accounting for that expense too.


  1. Gas

You’re not going anywhere without any fuel! To calculate your gas expenses, you will need to estimate the following:

  • How many miles you will be riding in a given time frame (monthly, bi-annually, or annually); the average rider rides 3,000-6,000 miles a year
  • Average dollars per gallon of gas (about $3)
  • Average miles per gallon your bike gets (the average bike gets 50-60 mpg)

By estimating these three factors, you should be pretty close to your total fuel costs (about $245 per year). Whether you’re calculating them monthly, bi-annually, or annually, remember it’s always better to estimate more than what you think it might be.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning on taking your bike off road for a long trip, you’ll likely need a spare gas tank to take with you. These can run anywhere from $30-$100+.



All in all, owning a motorcycle is a great alternative to owning a car when it comes to your finances. For example, gas and insurance are much cheaper on bikes than they are on cars, which is a great way to save some cash on your transportation. Remember, you can also save as much, if not more, shopping for financing and insurance as you can on the purchase price of your motorcycle. Don’t be afraid ask questions before you buy the bike and consider all the expenses, especially your safety gear (it saves lives!).
Are you in-market to purchase a motorcycle? Check out the Rollick buying program where you can get upfront, transparent pricing on new and used motorcycles. You’ll also get special offers on not only the bike, but gear, accessories, parts and more.

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