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Which Saves More Gas – Cars or Motorcycles?

The Battle for Best ‘Bang for Buck’ from Motorrad

A car mirror with a motorcyclist int he background. Media sourced from RideApart.
A car mirror with a motorcyclist int he background. Media sourced from RideApart.

When I first swung a leg over a motorcycle, I’ll admit I had no clue what I was doing. 

Sure, everybody riding had introduced the concept of motorcycles to me as ‘a bike but faster’…but the real perk came when I could ride for a handful of hours and refill for under $15 CAD (just under $12 USD). 

Of course, this knowledge fuelled the occasional Google search into the gas-guzzling specs of two wheels versus the perks of the increasingly efficient four-wheeled sibling.

So which machine boasts better bang for buck? Have automobiles caught up to bikes when it comes to best bang for buck?

A motorcyclist in his....less natural environment. Media sourced from 5FourMotorcycles.
A motorcyclist in his….less natural environment. Media sourced from 5FourMotorcycles.

RideApart has found a test from Motorrad exploring three categories and pitting the following machines against each other:

Sport: Yamaha YZF-R1 vs. Porsche 718 Cayman

Economy: Honda NC 750 vs. Ford Focus

Utility: BMW R 1250 GS vs. Audi Q5 Sport Back 45 TFSI Quattro

Can you guess the results? 

A Porsche 718 Cayman. Media sourced from Top Gear and Crossroads Yamaha.
A Porsche 718 Cayman. Media sourced from Top Gear and Crossroads Yamaha.

SPORT

Yamaha YZF-R1

Claimed: 33mpg

Test Result: 41mpg

Porsche 718 Cayman

Claimed: 27mpg (highway)

Test Result: 24mpg

A Honda NC 750 with a Ford Focus. Media sourced from MCN and Top Gear.
A Honda NC 750 with a Ford Focus. Media sourced from MCN and Top Gear.

ECONOMY

Honda NC 750

Claimed: 80.5mpg
Test Result: 67mpg

Ford Focus

Claimed: 40 mpg (highway)

Test Result: 31mpg

A BMW R 1250 GS with a Audi Q5 Sport Back 45 TFSI Quattro. Media sourced from BMW and Edmunds.
A BMW R 1250 GS with a Audi Q5 Sport Back 45 TFSI Quattro. Media sourced from BMW and Edmunds.

UTILITY

BMW R 1250 GS

Claimed: 50mpg

Test Result: 52 mpg

Audi Q5 Sport Back 45 TFSI Quattro

Claimed: 25 mpg

Test Result: 22mpg

The real bits and bobs I’m taking away from this whole thing is the spec difference – specifically, who over-performed and who under-performed.

Several cars next to a handful of motorcyclists. Media sourced from RideApart.
Several cars next to a handful of motorcyclists. Media sourced from RideApart.

(For those of you dubious as to the numbers, we’re told that this particular test had a set of rules which the Motorrad marque adhered to very strictly, ‘forcing each similarly-sized driver/rider to adhere to posted speed limits.’)

What do you think? Drop a comment down below, be sure to subscribe to that newsletter pop-up for the best of the latest twice-weekly, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties. 

*Media sourced from RideApart, MCN, Crossroads Yamaha, Top Gear, 5FourMotorcycles, and BMW*

Leave a Reply

  1. I think cars are ahead of motorcycles in efficiency, for what they can do. But, in reality this article is an apples to oranges comparison. In the case of the Focus vs NC750, why would you compare a vehicle that can carry 4 to 5 people, and probably 500 pounds of luggage, in weather protected, climate controlled, crash protected cabin, to an open air 2 wheeler with a total load capacity of only 430 pounds , and no weather protection, no climate control, and no crash protection?

    If you were to compare a dump truck to a car, yes, the car is more efficient, but the car can’t haul 8 yards of dirt.

  2. Another important factor is that the Porsche, Audi and BMW run on premium gas. Where I live it is 20 cents and more per litre more than regular.

  3. Have a 2012 Versys 1000 and a 2009 prius. Bike does 6.4 litres / 100 km and the prius does 5.2 l/100 km …
    Of course, I don’t beat the prius like the mighty V, but than again, there’s at least a 1500 pound advantage in favor of the V, so ???

  4. What I think this points to is that motorcycles are a better choice when weather and people/load requirements can be met with either vehicle. My Toyota Highlander does things my Honda Goldwing DCT Tour can’t. But for solo trips in good weather, I leave the Highlander at home, provided I don’t need to take or pick up more than the ‘Wing can handle. I also leave the ‘Wing at home when I expect cold temperatures, ice, or snow.