Feb 7, 2023

The Things We Get Used To

I am a lurker with a bunch of local motorcycle guys who pass on rumors and facts about motorcycles and motorcycling. The latest batch of bqack-and-forth was about Hardly’s LiveWire sales; or lack of sales (569 motorcycles last year). Yesterday’s conversation was punctuated with a quote, At highway speeds, no real motorcycle gets more than 100 miles of range.”

I figured that the WebBikeWorld.com scribbler must have been talking about EV “real motorcycles?” Motorcycle repeaters just seem to become dumber and less literate every decade. I know at least one Zero owner who would disagree with that claim. He commutes 140 miles from the mountain desert to San Clemency several times a week on a 2020 Zero somethingorother. (Don’t know the model.) That rider was pretty jazzed about fuel savings, and bragged about it often, until his electric bills went through the ceiling in the last year. You’d think everyone in southern California would be powering their homes/vehicles with solar, but I guess not.

At least from my fixed-income and old fart vantage point, the price of EV vehicles is still an overwhelming obstacle for most everyone but the idle rich. But that is kind of true for motorcycles over 650cc in general. For example, the 80hp LiveWire S2 at $15k is their “cheap” EV bike, while $30k for the LiveWire One was priced for Jay Leno and his buddies.

As a reference bike that I might consider (if I were a decade younger), at about $12k Suzuki’s 2023 V-Strom 800DE is packed with features, 85hp, a 280 mile range, a Quickshifter, ABS (switchable), three riding performance modes, four traction-control settings, and low RPM assist. Comparing that to the LiveWire S2 still seems like a no-brainer. In every important category, except carbon emissions, the ICE bike wins.

But that is not the point of this rant. To me, $12,000 seems like a LOT of money for a motorcycle. $30,000 is an insane amount of money to spend on a freakin’ toy. And, for 99.99…% of motorcyclists, a motorcycle it’s used so rarely it barely qualifies as a toy.

I’m still stuck where any motorcycle costing more than $3k is “too expensive.” Since 1982, all 10 of my street bikes have cost less than $3,000 (most were under $2k) and, while they were all “used,” most of the were barely broken in after 2-10 years with their original owners. Granted, my current motorcycle is a 2012 250cc “beginner’s bike” that had 700 of climate-controlled-garage-stored miles on the odometer after 10 years with the original owner and the TU250X wasn’t expensive new ($4,100). Before my street bike period, all of my dirt bikes cost less than $1100, with a brand new Suzuki RL250 being the most expensive of the bunch (at $1100 in 1974) and the rest costing less than $500, including a new 1974 Rickman ISDT125 and my wife’s new 1975 Yamaha MX100. Those were my first and only new motorcycles and I’d been riding for a decade before that.

My most expensive car, so far, as been $9000 (a used 1988 Nissan Pathfinder in 1994 and our current 2012 Honda CRV). Most of my cars have been under-$2500 beaters and lots of them were under-$500 60’s and 70’s VW Beatles. The most I’ve ever paid for a freakin’ house was $104k in 1997 and our current home cost $88k in 2015 (a repo bank sale by the dumbest bank in recent US history, Wells Fargo). Any vehicle that costs a significant percentage of a house is nuts. But a motorcycle? Not even if I had Keanu Reeve’s money or Leno’s.