The street bike is often viewed as a recreational toy, a luxury afforded to those with the two-wheeled fever. Street bikes are also associated with the daredevil, the person who lives on the edge and takes life one day at a time. The reality however, is miles away from here. Street bikes are ridden by individuals from all walks of life including professionals like doctors and lawyers for example. The old stereotype of law breaking rebels and individuals who do not respect their own livelihood has begun to fade. A new era in the age of environmental abuse and overpriced fuels has begun. Riding a street bike for reasons such as fuel economy and reliability are taking hold around the world. An economical street bike can be safely navigate through city streets, country roads, and interstate highways. Prime examples are a trip to the store and transportation to and from work, the practical use of street bikes is rising at record rates. Generally speaking, street bike accidents and fatalities typically draw more media attention than serious injuries and fatalities in other types of motor vehicles. Because of this, the street bike is still considered dangerous by many non-riders, although it is finally beginning to emerge as a viable means of low-cost transportation.
According to the most recent figures released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average gas mileage for new vehicles sold in the USA averages about 24.7 mpg. This includes all vehicles from economy cars to full-size standard pickup trucks. The motorcycle however varies greatly proportionately with the engine size. Street bike engines range from 250cc to 1800cc therefore fuel use can range anywhere between 37 miles per gallon on the low end to as much as 65 miles per gallon on the high end. The size, design, and configuration of the engines greatly affects overall fuel economy. Differences in street bike engine design include liquid cooled or air cooled engines as well as single, two, or four cylinder configurations. The phenomenal fuel savings of motorcycle travel versus car and truck travel is overshadowed by two very important factors, safety and comfort.
Beside exposure to other motorists as well as the roadway and the increased safety risk involved in riding a street bike, other elements can reduce the practicality of motorcycle travel. Weather is of course the number one negative factor. It is no fun, nor is it comfortable to ride in the rain. The decreased visibility coupled with the soggy discomfort of wet clothing makes for dismal travel. Air temperature can also play a part in the motorcyclist’s discomfort. Temperatures above 90 degrees and below 50 degrees are not ideal for riding a street bike. Higher temperatures also introduce the tendency to wear less clothing which can be catastrophic in the event of an accident. Other negatives when comparing street bikes to cars and trucks would be limited capability for carrying passengers as well as carrying cargo. Road hazards such as potholes and loose gravel and debris can be far more critical to a street motorcycle than to four wheeled motor vehicles also.
Although there are some downsides to riding a street bike versus an average economy car, more and more people are putting on the helmets and giving the two-wheeled experience a try. The allure of open air travel combined with a real value per mile in terms of gas mileage are enough to continue to attract new riders into the world of street bikes.