Motorcyles have a reputation for being fast and fun, but high gas prices have given them a new reputation for thriftiness.
Tom Clancy, the owner of the Augusta Triumph/Ducati dealership, said interest in motorcycles because of their fuel efficiency has been on the rise since 2005. Gas consciousness rarely acts as the single driving factor in a customer’s purchase, he said, but it has come up in conversation more and more as gas prices climb.
Customers gain urgency when they feel that gas prices are getting out of control, he said, and that feeling has calmed down recently.
“I find it doesn’t mean a thing until gas actually hits $4,” he said.
The rush to consider motorcycles was at its peak when fuel prices originally reached $4 in some parts of the U.S. in 2005, Clancy said, but fuel economy is still on everyone’s mind.
“With some guys, it helps as a final way to convince the wife,” he said.
Chad Kimbrell, an employee at Augusta Kawasaki, said motorcycles are not a perfect fit for everyone. Fuel economy is important with current gas prices, but he said he reminds his customers there is more to transportation than just how much you pay for gas.
“In general, motorcycles are more efficient, but you’ve got to weigh all of your options,” he said.
Insurance for motorcycle riders can be expensive, and individuals who have lengthy commutes might not be happy with a motorcycle in the long run. Kimbrell said his happiest customers are the ones who do their research to make sure buying a motorcycle is good for them.
“They’re the ones who have thought about it, already researched and know what they want,” he said.
Alex Leung was looking to buy a new, small motorcycle at Augusta Kawasaki on Thursday. He said fuel economy is one of his favorite parts of owning a motorcycle.
“It’s saving gas and a lot of fun at the same time,” he said.
He agreed with Kimbrell that buyers should check their insurance rates before purchasing a motorcycle. His last one was a larger motorcycle, and he’s looking for a smaller one to cut down on insurance costs while increasing fuel efficiency.
“Smaller is better,” he said. “My insurance on the last bike was higher than the payment itself.”
Augusta Harley Davidson marketing manager Gabbie DuVall said customers looking at larger motorcycles have also become more mileage conscious in recent years, even if the vehicle will be used mainly for recreation.
“People are asking about the MPG more, and it’s because of gas prices,” she said. “For people out there considering buying even a Harley, fuel economy is an issue.”
Great gas mileage is a concern in all drivers’ minds, but it has calmed down slightly in recent years.
“It’s not nearly as much as it was in previous years,” said Neil Lauster, the sales manager for Aiken Motorcycle Sales & Service. “It was much more of a panic in 2007 and 2008, because people had no idea how high the prices were going.”
Interest in motorcycles typically increases in the spring in preparation for the summer driving season, he said, and because gas prices typically go up around the same time, fuel economy is brought up as well.
“It happens every year,” he said. “About the time gas prices go up, and when the weather starts to get good.”