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!