Every Time You Ride an Old Motorcycle, Jesus Kills a Hippy

OK, maybe not. But close.

I've been trying to figure out how to compare the "carbon footprint" of an old motorcycle to something new and trendy like a Prius. How cool would it be if we could quantify to that self-righteous neighbor in the semi-electric bubble how he is destroying the planet and the old Panhead is really way more green? Not that I really care that much, but it would be more articulate than just giving them the bird.

With gas prices in the US going nuts, what's a responsible citizen supposed to do? Wring our hands and vote green? I say, ride an old motorcycle! Not that we need an excuse, we are going to ride them no matter what, but with gas at $4.00 a gallon, it actually makes sense from a practical perspective. I'm not even entirely sure how you can truthfully gauge a "carbon footprint" but I'm pretty sure the ten year old sporty I'm riding to work nearly every day has a smaller one than some Urban-crossover-SUV™ with "Hybrid" badges on it.

I googled around and found I'm not the only one thinking this way. Seems there are a few enviro-geeks who've figured it out too. Read what they've got to say if you are really interested, but to distill it down, this is what you get:

• It takes a shitload of energy, some of it real bad stuff to produce a new car, especially one that has giant batteries and is only expected to last 100k miles.
• Any old bike is already manufactured. Duh, no new energy expended. In fact, you do more by keeping it running instead of letting it rot.
• On a bike, you only take up as much room as you need. Hell, you don't even need a lane, you split them anyway. Not to mention you are one less person on a cell phone which has to be worth something.
• I discussed this with Chris last week, and he said "You are giving the dinosaurs back their juice every time you park it!" Now, who doesn't want to save the dinosaurs?
• You can use the carpool lane. And the strip in between the carpool lane and the fast lane...
• It justifies that big truck or van that you need, but only drive when you have to pick up a bunch of parts or a broken bike.
• How fun can driving a car like that be? I rented a Prius earlier in the year and it was novel, but basically sucked.
• You can do your own maintenance and modifications and that's gotta be worth something, right?

A couple quotes from some of these more articulate bloggers:

"One last fun fact for you: it takes five years to offset the premium price of a Prius. Meaning, you have to wait 60 months to save any money over a non-hybrid car because of lower gas expenses." -Prius outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage

"But, what would happen if you kept riding that bike long after you could afford not to? How would you fare had you invested that car money rather than spent it?" From Motorcycle Math 101

An ugly motorcycle still better looking than a Prius. Seriously, butt-ugly-chic? It doesn't exist.
From the Great Motorcyle Pizza Tour

Save the planet, ride an old motorcycle

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