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Thread: Motorcycle Maintenace Costs versus Automobile

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  1. #1
    Mike LngRdr's Avatar
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    Motorcycle Maintenace Costs versus Automobile

    Just a topic for conversation that's been running thru my mind lately. I ride 2012 R1200 RT and love both the bike and riding in general. I ride quite a few miles, it's due for it's 30K service and is 14 months old.
    My thoughts are why does it cost so much for maintenance and why do things on a motorcycle wear out faster than an automobile. As a comparision, I have a 2009 Honda CRV with just over 85K miles on it. It's got the original brakes, has never had a tune up, outside of a $40 oil & filter change every 5K miles or so, has been perfect.
    My RT has burned out 1 headlight bulb, had the front brakes replaced, and now the 30K service is going to require flushing the brake system, changing all the fluids, and misc other stuff to a tune of nearly $800. BMW supposedly makes the best bike in the world, I'm just wondering why the bike is so much more expensive than my car usage, I ride many of the same roads I drive and treat it with the same care, probably more.
    I'm not complaining about the bike or my dealer, just thought some of you more experienced riders might share you're thoughts. Are we all suckers or do bikes really need that much more maintenance and should it cost as much as it does? I know I need to learn to do some of my old maintenance and I'm working towards that, especially once the warranty expires in another 6K. Your thoughts please.
    IBA Number 49673
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  2. #2
    Cannonball Rider #52 darrylri's Avatar
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    Even a touring motorcycle like the the RT is a high performance vehicle compared to your Honda car. Everything is built lighter for better performance. Think about the tires you probably buy every 6-10,000 miles for your bike. The tread is much thinner and softer than the tires you buy for your car. The shocks are much more finely tuned and wear out sooner (and you'll feel your bike wallowing on old shocks a lot sooner than you'll feel it in your car.)

    BTW, you should really change the brake fluid in your Honda. Although there's a lot more brake fluid in it than in your RT, with just a similarly sized opening for moisture to creep in, you should still change it more often than you are.
    --Darryl Richman, forum liaison
    http://darryl.crafty-fox.com

  3. #3
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Darryl's right about tires, but economies of scale also play a part: bike parts generally (or at least often) are more expensive than similar auto parts because there are a lot fewer bikes than cars.

    And I agree with him about the desirability of brake fluid changes. Brake fluid is hygroscopic - it absorbs water. Moisture is absorbed and will eventually find its way to the lowest part of the brake system. The result is corrosion pitting the piston bores in the calipers, which abrades and cuts the rubber piston seals. Changing the car's fluid regularly, say every four years, significantly reduces the chance that this will occur. Because the volume of the bike's hydraulic system is smaller than that of the car, and its reservoir more directly vulnerable to the atmosphere, I change the bike's brake fluid every two years.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  4. #4
    Registered User natrab's Avatar
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    It's kind of a bad comparison as well since you appear to be maintaining the suggested maintenance intervals on your BMW but not on your Honda. How much would all of your tune-ups and major services cost for your car? I know for my Tacoma having a dealer to a major service is still in the $600-800 range along with oil changes every 3k. I usually do most of the service myself and spend about $200 having my mechanic finish up the harder stuff.

    The nicest thing about the BMWs is how easy it is to do your own work. I've spent less than $200 doing two major services myself along with $300 for new tires. Not much for 15,000 miles of enjoyment. Do you enjoy all 15,000 miles spent in your car?
    Nate R
    2013 R1200RT 90th - "Tyr" - Purchased 12/13/2013 brand new!
    2007 R1200S - "Sexy Beast"
    2006 R1200RT "Wōden" - 84k - Retired and sold

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrab View Post
    It's kind of a bad comparison as well since you appear to be maintaining the suggested maintenance intervals on your BMW but not on your Honda. How much would all of your tune-ups and major services cost for your car? I know for my Tacoma having a dealer to a major service is still in the $600-800 range along with oil changes every 3k. I usually do most of the service myself and spend about $200 having my mechanic finish up the harder stuff.

    The nicest thing about the BMWs is how easy it is to do your own work. I've spent less than $200 doing two major services myself along with $300 for new tires. Not much for 15,000 miles of enjoyment. Do you enjoy all 15,000 miles spent in your car?
    I do ALL the recommended svc on both my cars (matching Ford Escapes) at the dealership and have always done so. Both have been perfect for 100K+ miles on each vehicle. And they still have been cheaper to maintain than my motorcycles, both Japanese and German brands. For all the reasons cited by other posters, bikes are more expensive and will always be more expensive than cars. Plus no one has mentioned the fuel mileage issue--bikes that get as many as 50 mpg are sluggards compared to cars that get way more "passenger miles" (weighs ten times more but carries up to four pax and still gets 25-30 mpg).

    But I am NOT complaining. My bike is more fun to get around on and it gives me what I consider a better life style. I don't know anyone who rides a motorcycle because it saves money. Some folks claim that's why they ride, but I don't believe it is never about money.
    Royce
    On the coast of Kansas
    2012 F800ST

  6. #6
    Registered User natrab's Avatar
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    In the long run, cars will be cheaper to maintain, but I think it's not a very big difference if you do your own work on the bike (which is way easier to do than on a car). I'd rather pay someone $30 to change the oil on my Tacoma than do it myself.

    On my BMW, I spend about $200 on parts every 12k miles and if I changed the tires at that interval add another $300. So $500 per 12k on the bike.

    In my particular situation, I commute about 80 miles a day 4 days a week by bike. On my bike I get a little over double the mileage of my truck, which means that in 12,000 miles, I'll have saved around $1200 over driving my truck. Factor in my bike payment is $144 a month along with the $500 per 12k mileage, my bike is more than paid for with my commute.

    Yes, I could by a little commuter car to haul me to work and back, but not only would it still get lower gas mileage, it would set me back the money to buy it and slow my commute down dramatically.
    Nate R
    2013 R1200RT 90th - "Tyr" - Purchased 12/13/2013 brand new!
    2007 R1200S - "Sexy Beast"
    2006 R1200RT "Wōden" - 84k - Retired and sold

  7. #7
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by royce View Post
    For all the reasons cited by other posters, bikes are more expensive and will always be more expensive than cars.
    Motorcycles are toys.

    Compare to Porsche, Ferrari, etc.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  8. #8
    Mike LngRdr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrab View Post
    It's kind of a bad comparison as well since you appear to be maintaining the suggested maintenance intervals on your BMW but not on your Honda. How much would all of your tune-ups and major services cost for your car? I know for my Tacoma having a dealer to a major service is still in the $600-800 range along with oil changes every 3k. I usually do most of the service myself and spend about $200 having my mechanic finish up the harder stuff.

    The nicest thing about the BMWs is how easy it is to do your own work. I've spent less than $200 doing two major services myself along with $300 for new tires. Not much for 15,000 miles of enjoyment. Do you enjoy all 15,000 miles spent in your car?

    Good points, I don't enjoy any miles in my car, probably why I don't spend the money on suggested maintenance for it. Thought I'd get a few opinions from you guys, thanks for the replies, I guess I'll just pay to play and learn more about doing some of my own maintenance. 30k, plus annual, plus a new set of PR3's next week, dealer's quote of about $1100 for it.
    IBA Number 49673
    Moore OK
    http://lngrdr.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by LngRdr View Post
    BMW supposedly makes the best bike in the world, .
    Did you read this on the internet?

  10. #10
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    My costs, very small:)

    I've owned BMWs for 42 years, continually and IF I had never learned to work on 'em, never would have been able to continue. The dealers are fine friends of mine too, just I cannot go there except to buy bikes. My service is entirely my thing, from the 600m initial dealer one I pay for. I like it this way, always have enjoyed tinkering my own machines. Saved me gobs of dollars and so much wiser for it, knowing what's under me so much better. The bikes are NOT so expensive in many ways and very reliable over all, mine anyways. I've got an Airhead here with 388000m, almost all original, not rebuilt(even the valves, unheard of)!!!! I do not think the new ones by BMW are Airheads, not likely at all to last like this without issues, but my current GSA1200 is almost at 100000m now and very good still. I see MOORE,OK, your address. Man, y'all been thru Hell, wish ya well. Been watching closely on TV here, the middle USA gets hammered. Stay safe. Randy

  11. #11
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LngRdr View Post
    BMW supposedly makes the best bike in the world ...
    Lots of folks might think the Bugatti Veryon the world's best car but its tires only last 7K miles and cost $15,000 to replace.

    Does that detract from anything?

    I agree with the quote, save for "supposedly."

    (Oh, it could be the other way around, i.e. 15K miles, $7K.)
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  12. #12
    Norm Norms 427's Avatar
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    I have a 2007 Corvette Z06 and I also have a 2012 BMW 1200 RT. The Chevy is a higher performance machine than the BMW capable of a top speed of 198 mph with the factory stock 505 hp engine. I find the following maintenance comparison quite interesting:

    Maintenance Schedules of My BMW RT vs My Chevy

    1. FINAL DRIVE / DIFFERENTIAL:
    BMW RT: final drive fluid changed at 6,000 miles then every 12,000 thereafter
    Chevy Corvette: changing differential fluid not needed

    2. VALVES:
    BMW RT: adjust valves every 6,000 miles
    Chevy Corvette: no valve adjustments, hydraulic actuation

    3. SPARK PLUGS:
    BMW RT: spark plugs changed every 12,000 miles
    Chevy Corvette: spark plugs changed at 100,000 miles

    4. THROTTLE:
    BMW RT: sync throttles every 6,000 miles
    Chevy Corvette: no synchronization needed, drive by wire

    5. TRANSMISSION:
    BMW RT: change transmission fluid every 30,000 miles
    Chevy Corvette: lifetime transmission fluid for manual transmission, automatic transmission fluid changed every 100,000 miles

    6. BELT:
    BMW RT: replace alternator belt every 30,000 miles
    Chevy Corvette: engine accessory drive belt inspected at 150,000 miles and replaced only if showing wear

    7. COOLANT:
    BMW RT: no engine coolant
    Chevy Corvette: change engine coolant at 150,000 miles

    8. BRAKE FLUID:
    BMW RT: brake fluid changed every 2 years
    Chevy Corvette: no scheduled change (!)

    9. AIR CLEANER:
    BMW RT: air cleaner changed every 12,000 miles
    Chevy Corvette: changed every 50,000 miles

    WARRANTY
    BMW RT: 3 year or 36,000 mile
    Chevy Corvette: 3 year or 36,000 mile plus 5 year or 100,000 mile powertrain warranty

    FINDING THE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULES
    BMW RT: Do you feel like going on a treasure hunt?
    Chevy Corvette: Printed in plain sight right in the owners manual

    SERVICE MESSAGE
    BMW RT: To turn off the message you must visit a dealer or buy an aftermarket GS-911 gadget.
    Chevy Corvette: To turn off message for oil change, turn ignition on (but not motor), floor the accelerator 3x in 10 seconds, turn ignition off.
    Last edited by Norms 427; 06-08-2013 at 02:48 PM.
    Now: '12 R1200RT Midnight Blue Metallic / '11 Ural Patrol 2WD ridden to Alaska / '09 KLR 650 / '05 HD Heritage Softail / '08 Harley Sportster 1200C / '85 Yamaha VMax bought new. I wasn't ready to say goodbye: www.shaunlunt.typepad.com

  13. #13
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Your Corvette is iron age technology compared to a BMW ... any BMW.

    Try comparing to a Mercedes SLS. Or the Audi S8 reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal. It has more power than your Corvette.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  14. #14
    Norm Norms 427's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    Your Corvette is iron age technology compared to a BMW ... any BMW.

    Try comparing to a Mercedes SLS. Or the Audi S8 reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal. It has more power than your Corvette.

    The OP started this thread to ask about maintenance costs for motorcycles vs automobiles. My post was in line with what the OP asked about and I compared my BMW RT maintenance schedule to my lowly Chebby, two vehicles I own and am familiar with. I wasn't intending to begin a road test comparison of sports cars ... the subject at hand is maintenance costs.

    Norm
    Now: '12 R1200RT Midnight Blue Metallic / '11 Ural Patrol 2WD ridden to Alaska / '09 KLR 650 / '05 HD Heritage Softail / '08 Harley Sportster 1200C / '85 Yamaha VMax bought new. I wasn't ready to say goodbye: www.shaunlunt.typepad.com

  15. #15
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    Your Corvette is iron age technology compared to a BMW ... any BMW.

    Try comparing to a Mercedes SLS. Or the Audi S8 reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal. It has more power than your Corvette.
    Iron age?..........Really?
    Even if the Corvette is iron age technology do you think the Mercedes SLS or Audi A8 requires periodic valve adjustment, final drive lube changes, etc and so on? Of course, the first 3 or 4 years of maintenance are covered on most up-scale cars.

    BMW cycle maintenance is expensive.......I blame Ducati for setting a precedent that demonstrated the potential profits to the dealerships.
    Cave contents: 99 R11RS, 2013 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & DW744

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