More people turn to two wheels to save fuel costs

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008

While gas prices have stalled the market for sport utilityvehicles and other cars of the four-wheeled variety, both previousand first-time motorcycle owners are smiling at the pumps.

Brookhaven’s Albert Brown said it takes $89 to fill up hisChevrolet Tahoe, which averages around 20 miles per gallon. But itonly takes around $20 to fill up his Suzuki 1000 motorcycle, whichhe said gets a little more than 40 miles per gallon.

” The difference is that if I fill up my truck, I can ride a week -if that long – depending on where I have to go and how far I haveto drive,” he said. “For $90 a week, that’s like a bill, only fourtimes a month instead of once.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Brown said his motorcycle is a different story.

“I can ride for two weeks on a tank of gas on my motorcycle,sometimes more,” he said.

Brandon Crawford’s Honda Shadow motorcycle takes a little more than$10 to fill up, and gets between 40 and 45 miles to the gallon. TheBrookhaven resident compares it to his 2007 Chevrolet Silverado,which can get as little as 16 miles per gallon.

“It costs me $75 to $80 every time I fill up my truck. And look atthat,” he said, indicating the fuel pump as he put the cap back onthe gas tank of his motorcycle. “Six bucks and it’s full.”

Brown and Crawford are not the only ones who have turned to theirmotorcycles in a time of fluctuating, but always hefty, gasprices.

Billy Buffington, general manager of Road and Track Motor Sports ofBrookhaven, said his business has seen a 25 percent increase insales over this time last year.

“And from talking to other dealers, big cities are doing evenbetter, to the point of running out,” he said.

Buffington said he’s seeing people in his store who run the gamutof life stations, everything from veteran bikers to older people tofamily types.

“We’ve had a full range of people, from first-time buyers to peoplewho are looking for higher mpg bikes,” he said. “And we’re alsoseeing those guys who have been married for 15 years and their wifeis finally letting them have a motorcycle because of the gasmileage.”

But the men are not the only ones buying in to the motorcyclecraze, Buffington said.

“We’ve definitely had a increase of first-time women buyers,” hesaid. “We’re definitely riding the spectrum on buyers, and a lot ofpeople are finding reasons why they should buy motorcycles.”

Local law enforcement officials say, however, that it is hard totell the increase of big bikes on the road just by looking at thetraffic.

“Of course it is the season to be riding a motorcycle, and I havenoticed a lot of motorcycles, personally,” said Lincoln CountySheriff Steve Rushing. “But not as far as traffic-related citationsor anything.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson agreed.

“For the time of year, no, I haven’t noticed more on the road,”Henderson said. “I have noticed a few people that I know personallythat didn’t have motorcycles before, who have gotten them. But Idon’t know for sure if it’s for gas or if it’s just something theywanted to do.”

Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M Public Affairs Officer RustyBoyd said while there hasn’t been a great increase in citations ofmotorcycles, his troopers have seen more accidents involvingthem.

“We’re seeing more motorcycles involved in wrecks and evidently,that’s because there’s more on the road,” he said.

Henderson said it may take the advent of the cooler weather toreally see how much people are turning to motorcycles to take thepressure off their pocketbooks.

“We’ll be able to tell a lot more when it gets cooler,” he said.”This is a summer sport for some.”

But some bikers have already prepared to ride well into the wintermonths. Brown said he’s thought about it, and he’s ready.

“I’ll definitely be riding during the winter,” Brown said with asmile. “I already have all the gear for that.”

Crawford said, however, that he’s waiting to see what the gasmarket does.

“If gas keeps dropping, no, I’ll be back in my truck,” he said.”But if it gets up around $4 or $5 a gallon, I’ll be riding mybike. The only disadvantage is the weather.”