Two Wheels in Motion

Geysering gas prices make motorcycle ownership a smart move

Take one look at the chart below and you might wonder why you are driving an SUV or minivan or pickup truck or midsize sedan when you could be zooming off to work or school on a fuel-frugal motorcycle or scooter. With the average price of self-serve regular topping $3.50 a gallon, or 75¢ a gallon higher than this time last year, two wheels instead of four starts making sense. What makes even more sense is taking a Motorcycle Safety course at Dakota County Technical College, but more on that in a minute.

Chart and graph courtesy of AAA
Fuel for thought

Even the most fuel-efficient four-wheeled vehicles wolf down gas. The top SUV, the 2011 Ford Escape Hybrid FWD, gets 34 mpg city, 31 highway. The top minivan, the Honda Odyssey, gets 19 city, 28 highway. The top pickup, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 15 Hybrid, gets only 20 mpg, 23 highway. The top midsize sedan, the 2011 Toyota Prius Hybrid, gets a respectable 51 city and 48 highway, but a 2012 Prius will have a base price of around $24,000–$30,000. A 2012 BMW K1600GTL, the top-of-the-line luxury touring machine, runs $25,845 for the Premium Package and you are still getting 51 mpg.

Bikes taking a bite out of gas costs

Time to scoot

Scooters do even better in terms of mileage and price. The Honda Ruckus, which starts at a mere $2,149, averages nearly 82 mpg. The Vespa LX 50 gets from 95 to 100 mpg and starts at $3,300. If you want to swear off gas altogether, you can opt for the Vectrix VX-1 Li+, an all-electric, highway-capable scooter with a top speed of 68 mph and a range of 55–85 miles—all for a measly penny a mile. Alternative fuel motorcycles are also on the horizon, including the Suzuki Crosscage prototype, which employs a fuel-cell block to generate power from hydrogen gas.

At the speed of green

Still not convinced? Then it’s time to break out your environmental scruples. Take a look at this data compiled by the Current Motor Company regarding carbon footprints. Big SUVs are the bigfoots of the bunch while motorcycles and electric scooters are dialing back their shoe sizes big time.

Safety First, Last & Always

Now that you’ve taken the Harley road and realized “It’s time to ride,” then the first thing you need to do is sign up for a Motorcycle Safety course at DCTC. Jim Unger, the college’s customized training director of public safety, reported that DCTC partners with the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities as well as community and corporate sponsors to provide one of the most comprehensive motorcycle safety programs in the world. MMSC and DCTC are committed to reducing motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities.

Unger himself took motorcycle safety classes at DCTC after 23 years of riding. “I learned a lot,” he said. “I think the Basic Rider course should be taken by anyone who plans on riding a motorcycle.”

MMSC and DCTC Courses
  • Experienced Rider Course | 5 hours
  • Basic Rider Course | 14.5 hours
  • Basic Rider Course Refresher | 5 hours
  • Motorized Bicycle (Moped) Course | 4.5 hours
  • Motorcycle Refresher (Individual Training) | 3 hours

Motorcycle Safety Schedule

Quotes from satisfied students
  • “Good class. Learned a lot and was able to become comfortable with motorcycle, especially with starting and stopping.”
  • “Great instructors. Never been on a bike before and it was the perfect pace.”
  • “I am very happy to have been here, even though I have ridden for a few years. I learned plenty and had a good time.”
  • “I have been riding for six year and this class still helped with my skills. I wish I did this sooner.”
  • “I never thought in three days I would go from never riding a motorcycle to feeling fairly comfortable on one.”
Basic Motorcycle Maintenance

This new offering is a hands-on, four-hour course designed for new riders or people who want to learn basic motorcycle maintenance. Learn how to do a pre-ride inspection, preventative maintenance, repairs on the road and winterization. Topics will include:

  • Basic adjustments
  • Changing oil
  • Clutch adjustment
  • Belt/chain adjustment
  • Brake adjustment
  • General problem-solving

To ride safely, riders should know their bikes as well as the rules of the road. The cost for this class is $65.

For more information about DCTC Motorcycle Safety courses, including the new Basic Motorcycle Maintenance course, contact:
  • Jim Unger
    Director of Public Safety
    651-423-8482

Honda (Elysium) 750 Scooter Concept

Photo courtesy of gizmag