It struck me this morning that we have a ready source of data, CraigsList and eBay. So, I started paging through CraigsList ads this afternoon, copying down the bike year and miles advertised, tossed them into a spreadsheet, and did some calculations.
Observation and experiences are powerful tools. I realize that what appears to be isn't always what is, but I also realize that people making political claims are often motivated to tell less than the truth about . . . anything. One of my least favorite statistics is the "miles traveled" numbers that are used for motorcycle safety data. I simply do not believe that there are nearly as many motorcycles on the road as the industry, safety organizations, and, even, the government claims.
The Kelly Blue Book, for example, posts the following statement, "Obviously mileage will vary from year to year and model to model. A simple guide could be to consider the type of bike you are looking at: If the bike is a sportbike 600 c.c. to 999 c.c., and since these bikes are traditionally weekend only bikes, you can expect to see lower miles, about 3,000 miles per year. Tourers or Sport Tourers usually see a lot of miles, but these are generally freeway miles, between 5,000 to 6,000 miles per year." Those are silly numbers, based on fantasy. NHTA is considerably more conservative with an estimate of 1,943 miles per year for the average motorcycle. I'm not sure I buy that, either.
When people sell their motorcycles, they are pretty much forced to provide credible mileage numbers, so places like CraigsList, eBay, and local newspapers are pretty useful resources. In about a half-hour on two different days, I collected data on 60 motorcycles. So far, my data indicates the average mileage is about 1,425/year with a standard deviation of 863 miles. So far, there are some radically low-mileage outliers. The most annual mileage I've seen is 4,700/year over a 12 year lifetime. My own mileage tops that, but I'm trying to ignore anecdotal data and only collect "for sale" data to keep the information consistent and believable.
I created my own data gathering tool, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, that allowed me to enter data that I found in various locations and make some statistical assumptions from that information. Because I'm lazy, old, half-blind, and don't feel some kind of compulsion to do all of this on my own, I' originally posted the spreadsheet on my website for others to play with. A much smarter guy, William Wahby, transferred my Excel sheet to a Google Docs format:(Geezer with a Grudge: Average Mileage) where any of us can add data. If you want to add some bikes from your region, you'll see we've included the following data entry fields for you to work with:
|State||Date Sampled||Make/Model or Description||Year||Miles|
These are all data entry fields. The rest of the data fields -- Miles/Year, Miles Driven, and the statistical analysis fields -- calculate mileage automatically when you enter data into the Year and Miles fields. Please just enter the traditional two-letter State designation into that field. The date format is automatic: DD/MM/YYYY. I'll take pretty much anything for Make/Model.