Whether you’re a fan of motorcycles or you’re a lifelong driver, you’ve probably had “the debate” with someone of the opposite persuasion at some point. Which is better: cars or motorcycles? Which is more fuel-efficient, more environmentally friendly, more practical? This debate, like many, doesn’t have a definitive answer; a lot of it will come down to which you prefer. Both have their advantages, but we’d like to take some time to examine some of the most pertinent questions around bikes and cars and see which one comes out on top when it comes to some of the most crucial issues.
Most drivers won’t actually need anything to drive a car other than a license, sensible clothing, and common sense. If you’re a motorcyclist, you need all of these things, but you’ll also need protective gear like helmets and boots. You’ll also want to get some good motorbike leathers. Of course, the downside of this is you’ll need to pay a little more to get the most out of your motorcycle, but the upside is that you’ll look cool and feel protected while doing it. This really comes down to a matter of preference, so there is no clear winner here.
Whether cars are more fuel-efficient than motorbikes depends on a number of factors: which make and model you’re riding, what fuel you’re putting into your car, how far you’re driving before you refill, et cetera. Generally speaking, though, motorcycles are more fuel-efficient than cars. The average motorcycle is capable of doing about 3.9 litres per hundred kilometres, while that figure for cars is around 4.7 litres per 100km. There will be exceptions to the rule, but if fuel efficiency is a huge concern for you, then it’s motorcycles all the way.
Public concern over the environment has reached an all-time high in the UK. If this is something that concerns you, then you’ll probably want to choose a vehicle based not only on efficiency but also on environmental friendliness. The fuel efficiency factor is huge when you’re deciding on this, but motorbikes do contribute to the greenhouse effect in other ways and can’t be said to be completely environmentally friendly. In general, there are currently more eco-friendly cars on the market than bikes, but the fuel efficiency factor offsets this. It’s another tie.
Unfortunately for avid motorcyclists, there’s a very clear winner here: cars are definitely the safer vehicles to drive. Statistically speaking, you’re much more likely to suffer a fatal injury if you’re riding a motorcycle than if you’re driving a car. This makes a lot of sense; a car is essentially a big metal cage protecting you and has airbags and other safety features, while a bike is much less secure. That said, you can, of course, reduce your chances of being in an accident by riding well and making sure you’re safe. Cars win this one, though, since it’s just harder to suffer a serious accident.
Both cars and motorcycles offer unprecedented freedom if you’ve never owned your own vehicle before. Suddenly, after years of walking or taking public transport, you’re free to go wherever you want, with only your petrol budget and geographic knowledge to hold you back. For us, bikes edge this one slightly for two reasons: traffic filtering and general feel. Being on a motorcycle with the wind whipping at your leathers is a superior feeling to being behind the wheel of even the most beautiful open-topped car for us. It’s a close one, but motorbikes take it.
When you need to transport your family somewhere, or when you need to move heavy goods from place to place, it’s hard to argue for the convenience factor of a motorcycle. Even with a sidecar fitted – which drastically increases the size and area of the vehicle, negating other benefits – you’re going to struggle to get a lot of important heavy items onto a bike. Cars, on the other hand, can store a lot more in their often roomy trunks, and when we factor in SUVs and other larger vehicles there’s just no competition. Cars win for convenience of storage and people-carrying.
That’s right: believe it or not, exercise is actually a major factor in which of the two vehicle options you should plump for. Riding a motorcycle is a surprisingly effective way to give yourself a low-impact full-body workout. Since you’re using your body to guide the vehicle rather than just sitting behind a steering wheel, you’ll notice that your body will tone up more effectively when riding a motorcycle. Cars don’t really provide much calorie-burning benefit, so we have to give this one to motorcycles. Just don’t use this as a replacement for your regular fitness regime.
This factor might seem cut-and-dry, but it’s actually more complicated than you might think. A car has seating, yes, and it also has various features (air conditioning, underfloor heating) that motorcycles can’t compete with. However, since you’ll be spending some of your time stuck in traffic in a car breathing in fumes and generally getting exasperated, motorcycles offer their own unique comfort option. We’re actually going to call this one as a tie; cars are more comfortable on a moment-to-moment basis, but motorcycles could well be better for your mental health.
As you can see, motorcycles come out slightly on top in our “great debate”. Of course, this is all for fun, and your mileage may well vary (pun very much intended). What do you think? Which mode of transport do you prefer? Are there any points we missed?