Why buying the most expensive motorcycle on Ebay saved me money

My travel bike

My travel bike

As you may know, I have been traveling around Europe on a motorcycle from early April to the end of August. In 2011, BF and I did the same thing traveling from Guatemala to Seattle, to Washington D.C. on his motorcycle. This time, it was my turn to buy a bike and suffer the depreciation. We were very specific about the brand, BMW, and the model, a F650GS, like the one we had in the US, which didn’t fail us in 20000 miles. BF’s motorcycle was from 2006 and at the end of the trip, he estimated it was worth around $5000.

At first sight on Ebay, I saw similar bikes, with 30 or 40K miles already, that went for $3000 or $4000. I thought about getting one of those, and racking up another 20000 miles as we toured Europe. My consideration was that I would get a cheap bike, learn how to do the maintenance, like I did with BF’s bike, and run it for as long as possible. I would buy it for $4000 and always find a buyer at $2000 in a few years.

Enters a beautiful, almost new bike on the market. A 2010 model, almost like new with only 7K miles, belonging to the wife of a mechanic. Full equipment with ABS and cool details like a Scott Oiler, which is something that will continuously oil your chain so you don’t ruin your chain and sprockets. They were asking $10K for it, more than double the price I was thinking about in the first place. It also had panniers, a tankbag and a topcase, so we could just get there, pack our stuff inside and get going.

BF was much more enthusiastic than I was, thinking about all the money I would have to pay to own the bike. But he made pretty good points:

  • With the other older bikes, we would have much more maintenance than this one. When we toured the US we had to change the water pump in an emergency (about $500), and the chain broke (about $200), we also did extra oil changes to make sure the engine was running smoothly (about $100 extra). So we spent over $800 just to fix little problems here and there. It wouldn’t happen with a newer bike.

  • This bike is still under guarantee. Should a problem like the water pump one arise, it would be fixed for free. A relief when you plan on riding 20000 miles in the next 4 months.

  • The luggage is prime quality. The panniers and topcase sell for $1500 when they are new. The guy who sold the bike was the UK reseller so he surely got them cheaper, and those panniers are very valuable for travelers, so we could easily sell them separately at the end of the trip. We had problems with our old panniers, they stained our clothes, were hard to open and close, those were a breeze.

  • It would be easier to resell a bike than only had two owners and a full service history than a 10 years old bike with many, many owners.

Eventually, I agreed to purchase that bike, the most expensive bike we had browsed on Ebay. The guy threw in a few extras, like a couple of helmets and a charger for our Iphone.

After riding this beautiful bike for 20000 miles, without ANY problem, nothing at all, I can really see that I saved money, and here is why

  • First, we didn’t have those $800 emergency spends like we did on the other one. And if we ”only” spent $800 with the old bike, it was because BF had always been very careful with it, but with a bike that already clocked 40000 miles, you never know how well it was kept.

  • Fuel efficiency was much better on this bike. We spent less on gas, although this one is hard to estimate, we used roughly 300 gallons of gas for 20000 miles, instead of 375 with the old bike. Again, about $500 saved there.

  • Maintenance was reduced to the bare minimum, we had to change the tires once and the oil three times. Because of the chain oiler, we didn’t have to replace the chain or the sprockets. I have already accounted for the chain change, but a sprocket on that bike is about $60 rear and $40 front.

  • I probably can sell the bike today, for $1500 less than what I bought it for. It has, after all, 20000 miles more. A 40000 miles bike purchased for $4000 would probably resell for $2500 at 60000 miles. This one is a tie.

The $1400 or over that I saved by opting for a newer bike compensate the $1500 I would lose in the sale. And now that I absolutely LOVE my bike, I can’t think about selling it, and I am glad to get to keep such a good running one.

What other items did you chose to buy at a premium for their long lifespan and reliability?

This post was featured on the 99 Best Personal Finance, thank you!

A 30 something French girl embarking on a journey towards Financial Independence. I blog about money, travel, simple and deliberate living, freedom and choices. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or Reach Financial Independence's Facebook Page


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Comments

  1. Sounds like you made a great choice. I know it can be easy to go for the cheaper item in general. But, when it comes to a lot of things, you get what you pay for. They last longer and are of better quality, so that in the long run you end up saving money.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Are Credit Cards Really That Bad?My Profile

  2. You do get what you pay for, and dirt cheap can become crazy expensive. On top of reliability, I bought peace of mind. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere, paying hotel, food and next-day delivery for the parts that broke could have been very expensive and annoying.

  3. You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  4. I always try to buy quality items when I buy them. If you cut too many corners the product isn’t going to last. Sometimes you have to pay for durability and longevity. I think you made the right choice.
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter recently posted..Save Money with Geothermal HeatMy Profile

  5. You are right, they make much more sense in the long term. It has to be something you are going to use a lot though, to reduce the cost per use.

  6. Reading your post was quite an adventure in itself, and I bet you had a great time cruising round Europe. Would love to hear more details of your trip, but yes I know this blog is about finance. Still the preparation for such a tour is half of the fun and was great to share in our quest to find the ultimate machine.
    Ok so considering all your points I think you made the right choice not only financially but in saving yourself a whole heap of stress. Avoiding the stress when your preoccupied with getting around Europe is just as valuable as any long term saving you may of made.
    Yes I understand that when a machine gets past a certain age that the problems seem to come around faster and endless maintenance is not what you want to be dealing with.
    By all accounts it seems you will get an excellent price after the tour when you sell it on, so all around I think you did well. Of course we can’t be certain that just by buying newer that it means everything shall be trouble free, but it definitely will improve your chances of a better tour.

    Tell us some time about your adventures.

  7. Traveling around Europe on a bike sounds like quite an adventure. Do you also use the bike for day to day transportation when not on adventure?

    I’ve often wondered how folks pack when on long motorcycle trips – there doesn’t seem to be much space to cart your stuff around!
    Marie at Family Money Values recently posted..Six Reasons to Work in a Small CompanyMy Profile

  8. Hi Marie! Yes I do use the bike about once a week now that I am back in Paris, but it is usually more convenient to use public transportation.
    When you travel for a few months or years, you really have to be careful about packing only the bare necessities. You do learn that you don’t need much! I wrote a post about what I consider essential, you can check it here http://reachfinancialindependence.com/my-most-valuable-possessions-as-a-traveling-minimalist/

  9. Tubby thanks for stoppying by! I will try and share more about the motorcycle experience, it was great fun! Many aspects of traveling, packing, budgeting, buying and maintaining the motorcycle are in context for this blog.

  10. Excellent break down Pauline! At times people only see the price rather than looking further into it, it’s the same with cars and other gas powered machines. You acted like a real saver!

    I could imagine that you saved a hell of a lot, not just on emergency repairs but also on fuel! Not to mentioned you did your bit for the environment ;)

    Glad you had a great time!
    Roy recently posted..Ensuring Continuity of Business Operations with Business Cash AdvanceMy Profile

  11. I always try to purchase premium or the best quality item I can afford. (Quality over quantity and, secretly, it satisfies my inner snob, lol ;D)

    Sounds like you are having such a lovely time traveling through Europe on your bike. I would say, despite the depreciation hit, the experiences gained while traveling on a dependable bike are an abundance of wealth within itself.

    Soo, thumbs up on your sweet new ride!
    Jennifer Lynn recently posted..Financial Lessons I’ve Learned From Scrooge McDuckMy Profile

  12. Pauline, I just read your guest post over at Monster Piggy Bank and I had to learn more about this bike!

    I totally agree with your thought process here (and what an awesome experience to boot!). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the wisdom in paying more for something that will last and last, as opposed to going with the cheapest option. First off, there’s something to be said for all of the stress it saves you; but also, you would have paid so much in maintenance over the life of the bike.

    To be honest, this philosophy reminds me of something that really spoke to me when I visited Paris. The consumer culture seemed very different, in that a lot of people seemed to have smaller wardrobes than is typical here in the States, but everything they had was premium quality and would not only last for years, but would never go out of style. Here in the US, it seems like we tend to churn and burn through styles, throwing stuff away and buying more every year.
    Taylor @ Repaid.org recently posted..How I Eliminated 10 Grand In Credit Card Debt in 27 MonthsMy Profile

    • Hi Taylor! This is a very valuable lesson. Buying quality items that last longer and that you enjoy using on a daily basis will save you time and money. You are right about the wardrobe, my mum is still wearing things from the 70s and jokes that it is now fashionably vintage! Maybe because the privations from WWII are only one generation away, we tend not to be wasteful and look for sturdy items. Our money is spent in experiences rather than stuff. And almost never on credit.

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