What's the Total Cost of Owning a Motorcycle?

Vehicle ownership, unfortunately, comes with costs. There is the price of petrol, oil changes, repairs, and overall maintenance that all combine to give you the total running cost of your motorbike. Here we will take a look at what you can expect to pay for some of these items. If these costs are prohibitive or you only want to ride occasionally, you may prefer to rent a motorcycle.

Yearly Costs of Motorcycle Ownership

A typical motorcycle owner pays in the range of £1,000 to £1,700 a year to cover costs related to keeping their bike legal, safe and running. For example, petrol costs around £500 a year. A motorcycle insurance policy will set you back another £300 to £800 or more, depending on factors like your age, bike and driving history. Other costs like an annual oil change, MOT, service and road tax add up to another £175 to £350 or more. Depending on how you purchased your motorbike, you may also pay finance charges.

How much does a motorcycle cost to run each year?
Petrol£494
Oil change£25
MOT£29.65
Service£100 up to £1,000
Road tax£20 to £91
Motorcycle insurance£300 to £800+
Total£969 to £1640+

How Much is Petrol for a Motorcycle?

The typical rider spends £494 on petrol for their motorcycle each year. Since the average motorcycle gets 56.7 miles per gallon and most motorbikes travel around 4,800 miles annually, the typical motorbike guzzles 84.7 gallons of petrol each year. According to the latest figures from AA, consumers paid 128.4p/litre for petrol in June 2019 (equivalent to £5.84 per gallon) so we estimate the annual cost of petrol for a motorbike to be £494 a year.

Yearly Cost of Petrol for a Motorcycle
Average distance travelled per year per motorcycle4,800 miles
Average motorcycle fuel efficiency56.7 mpg
Petrol used per year84.7 gallons
Cost of petrol per litre128.4p/litre
Average annual cost of petrol for a motorcycle£494.15

However, those who drive more obviously spend more at the pump. We analysed fuel costs for different annual mileages and found that every 1,000 miles you drive costs you just over £100 in fuel—for a motorcycle with average fuel consumption of 56.7 mpg. For example, a motorcycle owner clocking 2,000 miles a year pays around £206 for their fuel, while one driving 8,000 a year spends £824 at the pump.

Motorcycle Fuel Costs, by annual mileage
2,000 miles£206
3,000 miles£309
4,000 miles£412
5,000 miles£515
6,000 miles£618
7,000 miles£721
8,000 miles£824
chart showing the petrol cost for a motorcycle depending on how many miles you ride each year

To save money on petrol for your motorbike, see our tips on saving on fuel consumption in motorcycles. And since fuel efficiency has improved in recent years, another way to save at the pump in by upgrading to a newer model, if you drive an older motorcycle. Those looking to cut fuel costs might want to consider investing in an electric bike such as the Zero electric motorbike—they may cost more to buy initially but you'll pay less per mile to fuel them over the lifetime of the bike.

Fuel Costs for Popular Motorbikes

While it’s no surprise that motorbikes with smaller engines guzzle less petrol, the amount of money you can actually save each year by driving a smaller motorbike is more than you might think. For example, a Honda PCX or Honda Vision cost their owners around £240 a year for petrol to cover 4,800 miles, and a Vespa consumes around £362 in petrol.

How Much Does Petrol Cost for Popular Motorcycles?Average MPGAnnual Fuel Cost
Honda PCX115.8£242
Honda Vision 110114.4£244
Piaggio Vespa77.4£362
Triumph Bonneville61.5£455
Yamaha Tracer MT-0954.6£512
BMW R120052.9£529
Kawasaki Z 90051.7£541
Triumph Tiger 105049.2£569
Kawasaki Z100045.2£619

On the other hand, motorcycles with larger engines consume 2x as much petrol, or more. For example, the BMW R1200 uses up £529 of petrol a year, while the Kawasaki Z1000 will set back its owner over £600 each year in petrol costs alone.

chart showing the petrol cost for popular Honda, Yamaha, BMW, Kawasaki, Triumph and Piaggio motorbikes

How Much is a Motorcycle Oil Change?

A motorcycle oil change will cost around £25, if you leave it to the experts. If you are quite mechanically minded and don’t mind doing it yourself you can complete the task for just the cost of the new oil. Oil changes are required from time to time to keep your motorbike operating in peak condition.

To save money on a motorcycle oil change, check prices from a few repair shops in your local area.

How Much is a Motorcycle MOT?

The maximum fee you can be charged for a motorcycle MOT by law is £29.65. For your safety and that of others, it is required by law to have an annual M.O.T done on your motorbike to make sure it is up to acceptable driving standards. A certified garage or service center can do the test, and if your machine has any issues you will need to pay to have them corrected.

If you are fortunate enough to pass the test without any corrections needed then you won't pay more than the cost of the MOT.

To save money on your motorcycle MOT, compare prices for MOTs from a number of service providers in your local area, but also check customer reviews. You'll want to avoid MOT centres that seem to have a pattern of charging a lot for repairs needed to pass a vehicle. Also, you may want to read about the most common reasons for failing an MOT as you may be able to spot and fix some faults yourself before your MOT appointment. For example, lighting and signaling account for 39% of defects on failed motorcycle tests.

How Much does it Cost to Service a Motorcycle?

For a motorcycle service done correctly, you will pay anywhere from £100 to £1,000, depending on the make and size of your motorbike, and the work required. A basic annual service that includes a safety check and electronic interrogation might only cost £100. But, for example, a 2-year service for a Triumph, with valve check, linkages and rear hub cleaned and greased, can cost nearly £700.

Motorcycle service is usually cheaper for bikes with smaller engine capacities. For example, Honda charges £375 for 3 services for motorbikes up to 250cc; £599 for 3 services for bikes 251cc – 800cc; and £675 for bikes over 800cc.

Doing a periodic service will help keep your motorcycle in top condition. Making sure all the fluids are at correct levels, the brakes are good, and numerous other factors go into completing a full service on your vehicle. Always make sure you have any servicing done by an approved mechanic or service center.

To save money on a motorcycle service, check prices from a few local repair shops in your area; also read customer reviews and ask fellow riders where they take their bikes for service. If you're an avid motorcycle fan and are looking to offset the costs of motorcycle ownership, you can consider motorcycle mechanic training—either to service your own bike or even get paid to do it full time as a job!

How Much is Motorcycle Road Tax?

Annual road tax for a motorcycle ranges from £20 to £91 per year, and is based upon the size of the engine.

Engine sizeSingle annual paymentTotal of 12 monthly Direct Debit instalmentsSingle 6 month payment6 months by Direct Debit
Up to 150cc£20£21N/AN/A
151cc - 400cc£43£45.15N/AN/A
401cc - 600cc£66£69.30£36.30 (£72.60/year)£34.65 (£69.30/year)
Over 600cc£91£95.55£50.05 (£100.10/year)£47.78 (£95.56/year)

To save money on road tax, make a single upfront payment—it's the cheapest payment method and will save you up to 9% over other payment options.

How much is Motorcycle Insurance?

As a guideline, a consumer can buy a cheap motorcycle insurance policy for anywhere from around mid £300 (e.g., for a Honda PCX) up to mid £800 range (e.g., for a BMW R1200 GS) for a 30-year-old rider with a good driving record. The motorcycle insurance premium you'll pay will vary dramatically depending on factors like:

  • Your age
  • How long you have held your license
  • Value of motorcycle
  • Make and model of motorcycle
  • Engine size (cc) of motorcycle
  • Previous accidents
  • Previous tickets
  • Level of insurance cover

For example, in the chart below you can see how the cost of motorcycle insurance varies drastically by age.

Motorcycle insurance costs for 20 year old, 25 year old, 30 year old, etc.
Motorcycle insurance costs by rider age

To save money on motorcycle insurance, shop around at different insurance providers and comparison sites to get the best deal. Also, many people can save on cover if they buy car insurance at the best time—typically around 21 days before the policy is due to start.

Cheap Motorcycle Insurance in Your Area

Quickly compare over 15 UK insurance providers.

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Other Costs of Motorcycle Ownership

How Much does it Cost to Register a Motorcycle?

Registering a new motorcycle will cost you a one-time fee of £55—a fee that's paid only once by the first owner when it's initially registered. There's no fee to transfer ownership if you buy a used bike.

Vehicle registration is one of the legal requirements you must adhere to when owning a motorcycle, along with the maintenance, mechanical tests, and running costs. One of these is the requirement to register your vehicle whether it is new or used with the authorities to reflect correct and legal ownership information.

Are Motorcycles exempt from the Congestion Charge?

Luckily up until now, motorcycles remain exempt from the Congestion Charge and can travel around London freely. The congestion charge was imposed on vehicles entering certain areas of the city due to the traffic, pollution, and wear and tear on the city streets. Increases in motor vehicle ownership have increased traffic, making getting around London more difficult and the congestion charge aims to reduce these traffic levels.

Old vs New Motorcycle Costs

You may be weighing up the ownership costs of an older motorcycle versus purchasing a brand new machine. The upfront cost will be higher for a new machine. The purchase price plus vehicle registration, paperwork, plates, delivery, and everything else can put a rather large hole in your pocket.

On the flip side buying an older machine could save you hundreds of pounds on the front end but make sure you do your research. Just because its cheaper doesn't automatically mean it’s a good deal and it could end up costing you in the long run. Make sure you check things like:

  • Paperwork—is everything in full legal order?
  • Service history
  • Accident history
  • Does everything work on the vehicle as it should?
  • Has it had any prior repairs?

Checking these items should give you a good idea of the overall health of the vehicle before you commit to purchasing and bear in mind that an older vehicle may still cost you more in repairs and maintenance.

Cost Variations by Make and Model

Depending on the size, make, and model of your motorcycle there will be variances in costs for items like insurance and servicing. For example, you can expect to pay much higher prices for your insurance for a BMW K1600GT than you would a Honda CBR 500X based on the difference in vehicle cost. You can see in the chart below how the cost of cover varies for three different bikes with varying engine sizes.

Motorcycle insurance costs for 125cc, 900cc and 1200cc Engines
Motorcycle insurance costs by size of engine

The same can be true for maintenance and repairs. More expensive vehicles with larger engine sizes will cost more on average than smaller more economical models. All these factors should be taken into consideration when you're deciding which motorcycle to buy.

Finally, be sure to follow the rules around where you can park and ride a motorcycle to avoid getting a fine—surely the most easily avoided cost of owning a motorbike!

Finally, those looking to repaint their motorcycle or add some customised flair can read our article about the costs of painting a motorcycle.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.