Why Are Motor Bikes So Expensive

After owning 3 different motorcycles since 1999, I noticed that bikes are not only expensive but they are becoming more and more expensive. Unlike South America, Europe, and Asia, moped or underbone motorcycles are not popular in the US making big bikes the only option.

Bikes are far expensive than Asian street motorcycles. In fact, the price difference is tenfold depending on the brand and year model. In this article, together with Zecycles, I am going to discuss why are bikes are so expensive.

Unlike other parts of the world. Bikes in the US and Canada are luxurious and not intended for daily use. Because Americans own bikes with hundreds of horsepower, the accident also becoming a major problem and insurance costs also add up in the cost of the bike.

American brands like Harley Davidson are not your normal daily street bike. They are big, fast, heavy, and of source, expensive.

There may be hundreds of reasons why bikes are expensive and I’m going to talk about the more obvious ones.

Why Are Motor Bikes So Expensive


The production of bikes is different than manufacturing a car. Let say for example, if Harley Davidson produces 241,498 units in the whole year of 2017, Toyota Prius has sold more than 7 million units alone in January 2017. The number of orders determines the price of the product. Although some

Harley Davidson models are cheaper than Prius, most are more expensive at $40,000. This is because the high-end models of bikes are almost customized and few units are made.

In the contrary, the millions of Priuses have the same parts, same dies, same production machines, and same shapes and sizes. The tooling cost is the main factor why high-end bikes are more expensive than mass-produced cars.


Another reason why bikes are so expensive is that most bikes in the US (except Harley) are European or Japan-made. We have BMW, Volvo, Ducati, Aprilla, Ducati, KTM, Piaggio, and others from Europe that all are expensive brands.

Then we have superbikes from Japan like Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. These need to be shipped to America and shipping costs a lot. While American-made Harley Davidson doesn’t need sea shipping, the cost of labor in the US is far higher than in Asia where most Japanese bikes are made.


Motorcycles have lower demands than cars, at least in the United States. The main obvious reason is the cost. Another reason is that parents don’t want their kids to break their bones or be thrown out of the streets at a young age. Parents who don’t ride on bikes believe that bikes are more dangerous than cars and of course it’s understandable considering the influence of such a myth.

This is not the case, however, in Asian countries where motorcycles are preferred rides because of their cheaper cost. From India to Thailand to the Philippines all the way to Indonesia, the motorcycles running on the streets daily outnumber four-wheel vehicles.

Few Companies Produce Bikes:

Let’s go back to the US. As I mentioned there is only one American bike manufacturer (Harley Davidson) with some custom bike makers. But in automotive you have some of the biggest which are Ford, General Motors, Stellantis North America, Tesla, and some other smaller companies. So, the more manufacturers you have, the more product options there are. This means that Harley Davidson has almost no competition so they can price their product for whatever they want.

Manufacturing Cost:

Not only that producing bikes is expensive, but the labor alone in the United States also contributes a big cost to the product. Importing is less expensive than producing the product in the US but because of tariffs on steel and aluminum and other materials needed to produce the bike, the cost adds up.

Especially in sports superbikes, it needed light materials like copper fiber and titanium and these products are extremely expensive. Although these are light materials, they are stronger and more robust than steel and aluminum. Aircraft-grade aluminum is expensive as well and often used in the accessories of the bikes.

R and D Cost:

Research and development of a certain material or product needed to build a bike is not only expensive but takes a lot of time. For example, if Yamaha wants to beat Honda or Kawasaki in the next race, researchers need to do a lot of work on what materials to use, what power is needed, and a lot of computations, trials, and prototypes are needed.

The company needs to burn a lot of cash on these activities. Another thing is safety. Companies do a lot of research on safety because if not, they will end up paying millions when someone got into an accident and when it is proven that the cause of the accident is a faulty bike. It is better to spend a lot of money on prevention than cure.

Taxes And Insurance:

You need to pay taxes when you buy a US-made bike and if it is an imported one, you have to pay a bigger tax plus customs taxes. Motorcycle insurance is also expensive depending on what type of insurance you want. The tax depends on the price of the bike. If you have an expensive bike, you also need to pay an expensive tax. Sounds weird but that’s how it works.

Bikes In The US Are Luxury Items:

Yes, that’s right. As mentioned earlier, motorcycles in the US are not used for daily commute especially when you have a 1,000cc Honda Superbike. The gas is more expensive than the car’s fuel per kilometer. Only people who can afford can really buy a bike.

The motorcycle lifestyle is one of many lifestyles people want to experience but not many can afford. Bikers invest lots of money into their “toys” and while riding, they are also burning a lot of money!

Is It Worth Buying A Bike In The US?

If you are a working-class person who spends 8 hours daily in your office, you better think twice before buying a bike. Remember that you can’t use your bike daily going to your office and worse is you can’t use it during winter or rainy days. But if you have extra savings and want to enjoy a street life during weekends, why not?

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