Ask Jack: A Six-wheeled Solution to a Four-wheeled Problem?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Everybody knows motorcycles are faster than cars, right? Except, of course, when they aren’t. On a dragstrip, under perfect conditions, with an immensely skilled rider and all the planets aligned, most of the modern literbikes can easily dispatch a Dodge Demon, McLaren P1, or Tesla P-whatever-Ludicrous-mode. If you can raise seven or eight thousand dollars in ready cash, you can walk into a motorcycle dealership and walk out with a new bike easily capable of breaking into the tens. On the roll, something like my Kawasaki ZX-14R can accelerate to a degree impossible with something like a LaFerrari — I know, because I’ve driven a LaFerrari and ridden my ZX-14R on the same roads.

So why isn’t the whole world, or at least the male half of it, on a sportbike every morning? You know why. They’re dangerous, even if you take pains to ride safely and sanely. They are sensitive to weather, road condition, and high winds. They are remarkably maintenance-intensive. They get stolen. You can’t carry much on them and you can’t travel spontaneously on one. Comfort is an issue. If you’re a track rat, then you know that mistakes on two wheels are far more likely to put you on the LifeFlight than their four-wheeled equivalents.

TANSTAAFL — There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, particularly when it comes to using a motorcycle to do a car’s job. Yet the rush of riding a truly fast bike with all cares thrown to the wind can be a needle to the main vein for adrenaline junkies. Which brings us to this week’s question, in which a complimentary pairing of the Most Sensible Vehicle On Earth with something considerably crazier is considered.

Fredro writes,

Hey Jack, I know you’re a long-time motorcycle enthusiast and owner who also likes to spend money on cars. I’m 26 years old and living in the outskirts of a major Midwestern city, which I think is your deal, too. No wife yet and no kids. I have a budget of about $600 a month for a new car, and I think I could do this one of two ways. Either get something like a Mustang GT, or get the “combo pack” — which is to say something like a really sensible Corolla or Civic plus a motorcycle. I’ve got dirt biking experience so I’m comfortable with something like the Yamaha FZ-09, Triumph Speed Triple, or even a BMW S1000R. Obviously insurance is going to be expensive. What do you think?

This is the sort of calculation that haunted my twentysomething years. When I was 28 I got what I thought was the perfect combination: a Saab 9-3 and a Yamaha YZF600R, both brand new and both in glossy shades of black and grey. Looking back, I should have continued with the modestly priced car and modestly priced bike instead of dialing up an ever-more-expensive succession of frustrating German uber-sedans. Oh well. Hindsight is 20/20.

Here’s my suggestion: Start with a 2018 Toyota Corolla iM. Stick shift, of course. You’ll have a car that will give you an easy decade of service and be worth real money at the end. With the right steelies and snows you can conquer most weather at a total cost of maybe $800. The hatchback form factor will suffice for most home-and-garden tasks. There’s only one downside: it’s not a fast car by any means.

You can rectify that with the addition of the cyberpunk Yamaha FZ-10. Faster, meaner, and more comfortable than the FZ-09, it’s all the bike most people will ever need and it’s still somewhat less expensive to insure than a conventional literbike.

I’m thinking that a five-year loan on the Toyota will run you $345/month with nothing down and a four-year loan on the FZ-10 should be $275. A Mustang GT Premium with all the discounts would cost you $676 or thereabouts, so you’re ahead of the game. Insurance for the two should be about what you’d pay to insure the Mustang, depending on your record and your local susceptibility to theft. This gives you the best of both worlds: an absolutely worry-free commuting box for the average day and a vicious near-as-dammit-to-hyperbike for Sundays and holidays.

There’s just one problem: If you’re single, a Toyota iM isn’t exactly a chick magnet. The good news is that putting a woman on the back of your motorcycle is sort of like a cologne made from real panthers: 90 percent of the time, it works every time. So what are you waiting for? Your six-wheeled solution awaits.

[Image: Ford]

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Hubcap Hubcap on Sep 14, 2017

    I like the ideal of a car and a bike but neither need be new and I kinda like to have some excitement while driving. The IA is a nice car but wouldn't be my choice. You could pick up a very gently used, 2016 Fiesta ST for around 15 large. You could also pick up one of a number of late model motorcycles, such as an FZ-07, for five grand. If you're looking for something smaller to get acclimated to street riding allow me to suggest the 2017 KTM Duke 390. This year's bike received significant upgrades, which is why I wouldn't recommend a 2016 or earlier. As a bonus the Duke 390 is $5100 new. I've seen leftover 2016 models going for a grand off sticker. The 2017 should follow suit. So that's a car and a bike for right around twenty large. And I have another suggestion. Take some of the money you saved and learn to fly. You can get a Sport Pilot license for around five grand and you'd be surprised at the influx of new and fun aircraft you'll have access to and the wonderful experiences you'll have. Many of the B&B were commenting on a motorcycle's effect on the fairer sex. Imagine, if you will, riding the bike to the airport and taking your SO on a leisurely glider ride. Or flying to Mackinac Island. Or any one of a number of interesting and exciting things you could do (to include becoming a card carrying member of the mile high club).

  • Manu06 Manu06 on Sep 14, 2017

    Since I just witnessed a horrible accident when a Harley and versa tried to occupy the same space, I'll refrain of a motorcycle recommendation. Get a used Jeep. Fun enough and your future dog will attract the women.

    • Charliej Charliej on Sep 14, 2017

      Everything is dangerous. Living is dangerous. You will never get out of this world alive. Riding is as dangerous as you make it. I rode for 54 years. My only encounter with a car was 34 years ago. A woman ran a stop sign ahead of me. I was too close to stop. Thanks to my training from racing motorcycles, I braked hard enough to drop my speed by three quarters before I hit her. I had a cut finger, she had a broken arm where the door came in on her. Just before impact, I jumped straight up as hard as I could. I went over the top of her car. This was before so many people drove trucks. My last bike was a Honda VFR750F. A 1994 model that I sold in 2012 just before moving to Mexico. I wound up with 122,000 miles on that bike. The best bike I ever owned. I cringe when a middle aged person wants to start riding. It takes a long time to develop the reflexes necessary to ride safely. Starting with a small bike is essential. In my youth, we started with a Cushman scooter or a Vespa. Now people think of a 750 as a small bike. Any bike that will do over 140 is not too good for a beginner. Also, not any bike that will rear over backward with a careless twist of the wrist. Like I said, I rode for 54 years and only had one street accident. However there were too many to count times that I went down racing motocross or riding enduros. Dirt riding will teach bike control much faster than riding on the street. But street riding is enough different that it must be practiced too. One good thing, riding in the woods you can be sure that a tree is not going to jump out in front of you. If you crash, it is your fault. I have really enjoyed my life on motorcycles. It is one of the many things that I miss. When you get older you have to give up so much. My advice to the young, is to get out and enjoy life now, while you can. When you get to be an old fart, all you can do is reminisce and enjoy the memories.

  • Lou_BC Another way to look at this is the upgrading of hardware and software. ...............The average length of car ownership is 10 - 12 years ....................The average lifetime ownership of a cell phone is 2.5 years. ................................................................... My phone will remain up to date, my vehicle won't. Especially if you buy a new "end of run" model.
  • TheEndlessEnigma "...we could be seeing a foundational shift in how Americans and car buyers see Stellantis products." yeah, I view Stellantis products as being off the cross-shop list. Stellantis is doing an excellent job of killing the Chrysler and Dodge brands and turning Jeep into something it isn't.
  • 2manyvettes 495 hp in a base C8 is more than enough. 800+ hp in a ZR1 is not worth the extra $60k (plus dealer markups). Unless the buyer is going for bragging rights. I remember when the C7 Grand Sport came out, and a reviewer got his hands on one and put it on the track at Lime Rock. His conclusion? Save yourself $15k and skip the Z06 and get a Grand Sport.
  • MaintenanceCosts Last year, I rented a closely related Audi A3. The overwhelming impression was of cheap build quality, although the drive wasn't bad. It had ~45,000 miles and the sunroof sunshade and passenger side power window were already not working correctly. Lots of rattles, too.
  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.