Top Tips for Saving Money on Travel – Motorbikes and Scooters
While you are at university, using a motorbike or scooter to get around is a potentially cheaper alternative to using public transport or a car.
If you ride a motorbike or scooter, it's worth considering using one during your time at university as they can save you money.
There are cheap models available
If you need a new bike or scooter there are plenty of good quality, cheap options. The Bike Market lists a brand new 125cc bike, ideal for learners and beginners, for £1,800. 125cc scooters are similarly priced. It is difficult to find a good second-hand car for close to that price.
Tax is usually cheaper
In 2018, the road tax for a bike or scooter with an engine of 150cc or less was £19 a year. Even for a bike with an engine of 600cc or higher the tax was only £88.
Compared to the road tax for a car, this a bargain. For most cars you will pay a road tax of over £100. Only cars with very low CO2 emissions have cheaper road tax rates.
Fuel costs can be lower for motorbikes and scooters
Again, this depends on which bike you buy and which car you are comparing it to, but motorbikes and scooters are often cheaper to run than cars.
This is because motorbikes and scooters tend to achieve more miles per gallon (mpg) than cars. Some models have fuel economies ranging from 60 to 120mpg, often using fancy stop/start technology. Very few affordable cars have as good fuel economy.
You can earn extra money
An added perk of owning a motorbike or scooter is the opportunity for getting a part-time job.
Major cities are full of companies needing people to deliver their products and services. These companies often allow for flexible working hours – which is ideal for students.
- Learn more about getting a part-time job at university
Assuming that you plan to learn on a 125cc machine shortly before you go, the first big choice to make is whether to go for a geared motorbike or an automatic scooter.
Scooters tend to be more practical, offer plenty of storage under the seat and have better wind protection. They are a little slower than motorbikes.
Scooters are well suited to an urban environment and very adept at lots of stop/start traffic work.
There are two main types of scooter to choose from:
- Traditional “step-through” scooters tend to be older/retro designs where there is a clear space in the frame to step through as you get on. They are usually lighter and cheaper.
Premium model: Vespa GTS125
Mid-Range model: Honda SH125i
Budget model: Lexmoto Milano 125
- Maxi Scooters fill in the step through space with additional equipment and storage capacity. They usually
offer more equipment and wind protection as well. They are generally more practical than the “step through” design.
Premium model: Honda Forza 125
Mid-Range model: Honda PCX125
Budget model: Lexmoto Chieftain 125
Check out the top ten 125cc scooters from the Bike Market for some more ideas.
Geared motorbikes put you in total control of how the power makes its way to the rear wheel.
The downside compared to scooters is that storage is usually non-existent, so you’ll need to arrange a waterproof rucksack or strap down luggage.
Like scooters, there are plenty of different styles to choose from, including:
- Sports bikes tend to be the fastest and include a decent fairing to keep the wind off you but tend to have a very aggressive riding position which can become uncomfortable over long rides.
Models: Suzuki GSX-R125 or Aprilia RS125.
- “Naked” Bikes are closely related to sports bikes. The main difference is they lack a fairing or screen and tend to have a more relaxed riding position. They are probably the best place to begin your search, especially if you aren’t planning much motorway riding.
Premium models: Honda CB125R, Suzuki GSX-S125 and KTM Duke 125
Budget models: Lexmoto Venom and Tekken.
- Adventure style bikes have high seats and longer travel suspension for going off-road. On the tarmac the height gives
a commanding view over traffic and the suspension is great for potholes. They also tend to feature lots of easy-to-replace plastic panels which are great for the inevitable drop or parking scrapes in a big city.
Premium models: Honda CRF250 Rally and Kawasaki Versys-X 300.
Budget models: Lexmoto Adrenaline.
Discover the Bike Market's top ten 125cc bikes for additional models
If you can’t ride a motorbike or scooter but want to learn, there are some initial costs to consider.
Lessons cost around £20–30 depending on which training school you use.
Provisional licenses costs at least £34, but you won’t need one if you already have a full car license.
Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) costs on average £120.
DSA tests has three parts to it:
- Practical test module 1 — £15.50
- Practical test module 2 — £75
- Theory test – £23
MOTs for a motorbike cost a maximum of £29.65, cheaper than the £54.85 maximum for a car.
Maintenance in general can cost more as it is more common to need other maintenance work done to your bike. Some of this can be avoided by going for a scooter where the engine and drive are more self-contained.
- Want to learn more how motorbikes and scooters work? Consider a degree in Mechanical Engineering
Safety gear such as a helmet, protective gloves, trousers, jacket and boots can cost a few hundred pounds all in.
Remember to wear ‘All the Gear All the Time’ (ATGATT) but don’t forget that much of the gear is designed to look normal when you get to your destination as well. The armour in the jacket/trousers is often removable and many are designed to look just like normal jeans or leather jackets.
As well as keeping yourself safe on the bike, you need to keep your bike safe from would-be thieves. Carry a cover to hide your bike when it’s parked and, if your budget stretches far enough, make sure you have a decent chain and a disc lock.
It is worth taking these precautions, as the average thief won’t bother looking under a cover and will be put off if the lock looks hard to break.
Next page: Top tips for saving money on travel – Bikes