I'm gonna save big money by buying an EX250
If you're buying an EX250 just because of the great gas mileage it gets, we suggest you think seriously about your purchase. Generally, a motorcycle will eat up as much or more in maintenance costs as it will save on fuel. Do the math for your own situation, and make sure you include all the variables. Here are a few examples from club members.
Today I had a few minutes to kill, so I decided to see what kind of gas mileage I get out of my bike in the long run. And, since I was at it, I decided to also see if I am saving money in the long run by riding the bike instead of driving a car. To use Microsoft's acronyms, I tried to estimate the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).
The executive summary is that the cost of maintenance is roughly equal to what I save in fuel. Of course, I spend less on car maintenance as a result, so there are some savings. If you are interested in the details, read on.
I've been riding it for almost a year, and it is interesting to average gas mileage over that period. In my accounting records I keep track of how much gas was put in at every fill up, mileage since the previous fill up and gas price (just so I can keep track of the historical gas prices, if I ever want to look that up).
I have 7233 miles / 111.457 gallons = 64.89 mpg. In the same time frame my Accord shows roughly 28 mpg. That's roughly 200 gallons saved over the course of 10 months (assuming that every trip I took on a bike I would've taken on a car instead, if I did not have a bike, which is not a bad assumption because almost all of the miles on the bike are just commuting). Gas prices seemed to hover around $3 over the past year, so that would be 200 * 3 = $600 in savings.
Since we are at it, let's do some more number-crunching. Insurance costs me $16/month. $16*10 months = $160. Tabs - $55. There were 4 oil/filter changes (80, 500, 3000, 6000 miles). Each is roughly $10. Can of chain lubricant is another $10 and a can of cable lube with a contraption to apply it was another $20, and I have plenty left. So, let's say I used $15 of that stuff. I have worn ~60-70% of the rear tire and have very little wear on the front. If we were to amortize that, let's say I've used $70 worth of rubber. I do my own maintenance, so there is no added cost there. (If you pay to have your maintenance done there is no way you will save any money in this scheme.) I will not include any “upgrades”, like lights in extra pods, bigger sprocket, rack, or hard top-case, as these are technically not consumables, and I could have done without them. For simplicity's sake, let's also assume that I will completely replace all of my gear in 5 years. That'd be roughly $100/year (and is a pretty conservative estimate). Tally up... 160+55+40+15+70+100=440. There's an unknown amount of chain wear, brake pads wear, other wear, fluids needing to be changed, etc. That should easily add up to $60 per year, making the total $500 if no repairs are needed
So, by riding a bike conservatively, servicing it myself and buying inexpensive gear I am saving roughly $100 per year. At best. Realistically, I probably would just break even - the savings in gas money would be completely offset by wear & tear and maintenance costs. In other words, riding the bike only saves me money I would've spent on car maintenance.
The result is: Yes, it will save you money, in the best possible scenario. In a more likely scenario, however, the bike will cost you more to own than not to. Also, a bike any more expensive than a 250 will cost you more money than you will save in any case.
I was of the die-hard "bikes are cheaper" camp back when that's all I had for transportation. Purchase was cheaper, insurance cheaper, better fuel economy (than most vehicles), etc....
Then a fellow rider challenged me to a receipt duel for a year... his '86 Corolla vs. my VFR. He beat the pants off of me in total cost, as well as cost per mile. We then tripled the mileage and added in the major work that the car would need in that frequency (belts, tires, brakes, etc...) and he still beat the pants off me. It was a long several months of eating crow everywhere we went somewhere and met other friends. Anyway, the end result was that for the difference in operating costs over the hypothetical 3 year span, the car saved enough money to buy an econobox, so that even negated the cheap entry cost of the bike ($1000).
I now own/drive a vehicle that's even MORE efficient than that old Toyota, a diesel VW. I have a 48 mpg lifetime average over 70k miles, tires that have gone 60k miles and look like they'll do 40k more (rated for 80k anyway), 100k mile belt changes, 25k mile oil change intervals, brakes that just won't die (no noticeable change in 70k miles), and insurance that's just barely more expensive than a motorcycle. It cost more to buy, but it has hardly depreciated in several years, either. There's no way a motorcycle can come close to those numbers.
Another consideration, at least for some: Before I bought the 250, we only had 1 car. So, when I went to buy it, I was looking at what $3000 would buy in a car, and the amount of repairs that would be needed with that car. By purchasing the 250 instead of a car, my savings have been more significant than they might be with others.
If I would have bought a car, insurance would have been significantly more. Gas would be significantly more (most $3000 cars don't get 28 mpg in town). Vehicle repairs on a $3000 car would be pretty expensive.
So, I admit that it might not always be cheaper to buy the 250, but at least in my case it has ended up being the cheaper option, by a decent amount.
I think that having a bike, in general, does not save you money. However, I contend that having a bike instead of a car -- that is to say, using a bike as your exclusive transportation, and maybe renting a car if it's absolutely necessary -- does save you money in the long run. Of course, this is not the usual scenario in this country (it's much more common back in England), so it's not all that useful a comparison, particularly if you have a family. That's why I also stay away from the "saves money" argument in general, even though I personally have saved money by riding my bike as opposed to driving.
Advantages to having a bike
With the bike, you have another option for transportation. You don't have to get the car fixed as quickly as might otherwise be necessary. You should be able to save some money on car maintenance by shopping for a better value, or taking more time and doing it yourself.
We're trying to help you justify the cost of your toy. At least it isn't a very expensive toy. You'd have a lot more trouble justifying a boat.
The other car does get a break. I put nearly 35,000 miles a year on my van. At that rate, it was going to be trashed well before it was paid off, which is what happened to my last van. Eating that negative equity is no fun. This was much of the reason that I picked the EX 250. Cheap, fun bike. I spin my own wrenches. My van will still be running when it's paid off.
Commuting a minimum of 60 miles round trip makes a big difference in my calculations.
Some other advantages
It is much easier to justify buying a motorcycle because you want a motorcycle (in other words, for the fun factor) than because you're going to save lots of money. You will have to consider your own unique situation when it comes to money. Just remember: Car tires last longer than 6-8000 miles, and most other maintenance items on a car need to be replaced much less frequently than on a bike.