Should I get a motorcycle license?

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  1. Diaper Lover
And is riding really as dangerous as portrayed?

These two questions have been asked before, but let me explain my predicament. Hopefully some of you might have the experience to advise me.

I am going to university in a few months time. It's a local Uni, about 40km away from my house. I would have considered taking the subway except that it is very prone to morning breakdowns. And it is always crammed to the max, meaning I'd have to stand for more than an hour per direction, with a bus journey after, with my school things.

So I've been saving some money, but the next thing that really bugs me is the sales tax* for brand new bikes. It's called the Certificate of entitlement (COE) and, as of April's prices, stands at $6312. It was in the $1000s range just a year ago. Add in the licensing (~$800) vehicle cost (~$3000 max) and gear ($200), and you'd exceed the tuition fees for a semester.

Of course I could go for a resale bike, for which I could finish within $7000, the above mentioned other costs included. But there would be no peace of mind.

On one hand there is the uncomfortable subway system. On the other there is the phenomenal price tag for a motorcycle.

Please do give your advice, it will be much appreciated.

PS: It isn't actually a sales tax, but we will treat it as such for this thread.
I have a motorcycle (only a 125) but it's a great ride to commuting. Fuel consumption is very low and it can still easily go over 120km/h. I have a car but I haven't sold the bike because it's so much fun to drive especially in summer. I don't consider riding very dangerous, at least here in Finland. You just have to be careful because it's more difficult for car drivers to see you. It was a few years back when I bought it for 2600€, licence was about 600€ and insurance is about 350€/year. Public transport here isn't very good option, at least where I live, so a vehicle is almost a must-have.
What size bike have you planned getting? If you can afford a motorcycle and a licence then sure, go for it. Riding is extremely fun.
Between anecdotal experiences of friends and the stats: (the tldr is 30x more likely to die than auto passengers on a per mile basis), I know I wouldn't. You can be an excellent rider but due to size, visibility, and lack of protection, I think there are too many things out of one's control. Good luck with whatever you decide.
I rode many years ago and stopped. What I found is no matter how careful you are people who drive cars don't see you. A majority of those hurt on bikes are not at fault yet suffer the most.
Also I have visited your country, what about the rainy season?
They teach defensive driving techniques in driver's ed, and these techniques are in the back of your mind while you are driving a car. When riding a motorcycle these techniques move to the front of your mind and become an intuitive part of the experience, or else you die. Yes it's dangerous, but it is fun.

In your situation it appears you are looking for practicality more than fun. In good weather I'm sure you would enjoy the freedom and pleasures of biking instead of being confined to the subway. In bad weather biking is more dangerous and much less fun. I assume your school year is during the winter season when riding a motorcycle may not be so enjoyable. Still, with the proper rain gear for you and your school supplies, it could be doable on most days.

That COE expense is outrageous. Is that just for motorcycles or does it also apply to cars and trucks?
Hmm this place has a tropical climate, no snow. But as pointed out by Ringer, the rains can get quite torrential. I guess that is when I might have to take the train. Or wait it out.

I'm looking at a small bike, maybe 125cc is enough to get me around, and curb my instinct to speed.

About the danger element, yeah, I'm being bombarded by all these facts as my friends try to dissuade me. I am a small-sized person so that can be an issue. Given that I'll be on the expressway for most of the journey I guess that might help just a little.

About the COE, yes, all sales of new motor vehicles must be accompanied by this tax. For cars up to 1600cc, yesterday's price was $67,742. Commercial vehicles at $64,001. It is a 'necessary' form of vehicle control, as there are already 900k vehicles on this small 720km sq island. Definitely a sore point among all citizens.

So what are the disadvantages of riding a small bike?
I'am about to start riding a bike too. Curently i'am going mainly by car but i also have a motorcycle licence. So about size of bicycle. I think your new ride should have atleast enught power to go at speed of cars sorunding you so they don't overtake you with big speed diference, also changing lanes is much easier when you got equal or higher speed as cars on lane you want to go. Smaller bikes are much more agile so if you plan to go to city it's good choice. but lack of power is disadvantage when you go to longer trips. Dangerous ? yes it is dangerous but my father ride whole his life and never had accident, also my brother ride a bike for few years now and nothing bad hapend to him. Ofcourse you should remian extremly cautious. observe everyone and let to be noticed by others users of motorway.

Good Luck :)
Be careful if you get one. Be aware of other drivers at all times. Some people can ride their entire lives & have no accidents. Others aren't as lucky. I haven't rode a bike in a few years now.
start with a 250cc.. ^^ rode for years till i hit a deer. Now i get to nervous to get back on.
I'm looking at a small bike, maybe 125cc is enough to get me around, and curb my instinct to speed.

So what are the disadvantages of riding a small bike?
a 125 should suffice for most things; you could even put a trailer on it.

with regard to the danger of riding, it's not riding itself which is the danger, but the consequences of falling off or hitting something. even [what we think of as] slow speeds will be catastrophic to your body. for that reason, i reckon that everybody should first begin their motoring lives on two wheels, in order to learn to appreciate the consequences of 'slow' speed mishaps.

or we could look at the effects this way:
as rough guide, throwing yourself off a 30ft high building onto concrete and to land on your knees or head will have the same effects as a 'slow' speed bump.
I would look at how much of the year you can ride during.
Pull local accident reports to see how many motorcycle accidents are occuring. Also check often you can get maps for DOT that will tell you the risk factor on each road in your area.

Motorcycle riding can be a blast, it will save on gas so $$, but it does pose increased risk. No mateer what I would take a professional motorcycle driving course. It will make you a better driver, and a better rider if you do get one of your own.
Thank you all for your tips :)

In the interest of trading notes with people of other countries, let me share a little more. In Singapore you would have to go through a government-approved driving school to get a motorcycle license (there are private lessons for cars, but not for bikes.) There is the basic theory test of driving, which all road users have to take. Then there is the Riders Theory Test for motorcyclists. The equivalent of this test for car users would be the Advanced Final Theory Test, which have a validity of just 1 and 2 years respectively. After these tests are you allowed to take the Practical test. All of these tests are conducted by the Traffic Police.

For motorcyclists, there are 7 theory lessons, including 3 for defensive riding. These classroom lessons are compulsory, before you are allowed to take the RTT. For the practical component, there are 8 modules, and you must pass them in sequence before progressing to the next module. These include lessons for defensive riding, night riding, road lessons, sharp cornering etc. Only then are you allowed to attempt the Practical Test. But the last step before getting that license would be to go for an expressway familiarization course, without which you would not be allowed to apply for the qualified driving license.

Given this rigorous process, I have full faith that I would be able to learn about 80% of the knowledge required. The other 20% would come from my uncle and friends who ride. This is why, despite the abysmal rate, I am willing to embrace riding. 1 person dies from a road accident every day here, but most of these cases involve drink driving, in the wee hours of the night.

Yeah, I would likely stick to a 125cc bike. With the lowest class 2B license, you can ride a bike up to only 200cc. The next level would be the Class 2A which allows for up to 400cc. But you'd have to wait for a year after passing to attempt that test. But I'm not looking at that yet. I already have a car license, so I know about the nightmare of motorcyclists riding in the blind spot.

My riding schedule would be quite heavy, and I have been saving up for months and mentally preparing myself. But I had a little chat with my mother yesterday and she agreed in principle to let me stay in the hostel... But I've kinda grown to the idea of having my own vehicle. Not many 22 year olds would have that opportunity to say that.

So, apart from the weather and traffic condition, what other things should prospective riders know?
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This will most likely be covered in your defensive driving classes but it is something I considered important while riding. A common situation goes like this: You are cruising down the highway on your motorcycle when up ahead you see a vehicle approaching the highway from a side street. You watch as the driver stops and checks for traffic. He looks in your direction and makes eye contact with you. An inexperienced biker is liable to think "Oh good... he sees me". An experienced biker at that point would have envisioned a couple of possible escape routes based on traffic in all directions, road condition, shoulder condition, and obstacles including the conditions of the ditch, in the event the other driver decides to pull out in front of him. This kind of awareness increases with experience. If you don't spot a viable escape route your senses should be on high alert and you may have to make adjustments to your speed to try to compensate.

I don't know how much of a problem this would be where you live since there is probably more motorcycle traffic there, but in the U,S there is a phenomenon where some people have a psychological blind spot that causes them to dismiss motorcycles as being less than "real" traffic. Most bikers here can tell you stories of how other drivers would look them in the eye and then pull out in front of them as if they didn't exist.

Not trying to scare you. It's important that you develop an overall awareness of your surroundings so you can always "leave yourself an out" as they advise in defensive driving classes. This is especially important when on a motorcycle.
pretty much what Drifter said, 'cept we use the term Roadcraft and it includes offensive driving and shepherding, all of which take years to master and the latter two aren't really for bikers as you don't have the protection and the influential presence of a car, van or wagon.

never forget the basics: all round observation, all the time. see and be seen. green lights don't mean 'GO!', they mean 'proceed with caution' as you would a junction without lights, checking that it's safe to cross roads and that your way ahead is clear.
read the road ahead, and behind.
(you can help practice reading the road by making your way without using your brakes, or trying as best not to (safety first ;) ))
never drive in anger.
if you're on a motorway/highway or similar with various types of vehicles travelling at various speeds, you'll get a bunching-up of traffic - back off from bunches as that's when the crashes happen.
maintain your own vehicle; you'll then know how it works and how it should be used, appreciating it's limitations and not taking for granted things like brake function.
never forget that whatever happens to the vehicle and it's contents/occupants is your fault/credit; keep that in mind and your defensive driving should be tip-top.
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