Feb 04

5 reasons why motorcycles will be the vehicle of choice when T-SHTF

If you already have a motorcycle you have probably already considered the value of having two wheeled transportation if T-SHTF.  Motorcycles have many advantages over cars and those will be amplified many times over when times get tough and the rules go out the window.  If you do not have a motorcycle or license the good news is that it is not too late to make that happen.  Second hand bikes off of Craigslist or Cycletrader.com can be had for cheap and MSF training courses are readily available in most areas around the country.  Knowing how to operate a motorcycle proficiently definitely falls into the Prepper skills category, but this takes time and dedication.  Those who think they will hop on a bike when the time comes and roar off into the sunset are in for a rude awakening,

Since I first obtained my motorcycle license I’ve owned many bikes ranging from sportbike, sport touring, to cruiser.  I’ve owned bikes that had 4 cylinders, 2 cylinders and even 1 cylinder ranging in CC’s from 250 to 1600 with HP output from 25 to 180.  I easily have 75k street miles under my belt in all types of conditions and have done some hobby road racing as well.  It’s safe to say that I know my way around a motorcycle although I do not claim to be the best rider out there, as overconfidence can get you killed on a bike very quickly.  For what it’s worth my wife also rides (and has a bike) and we plan on putting our two wheeled experience to use when T-SHTF.  Here are 5 reasons why I believe motorcycles will be the vehicle of choice if things go sideways.

1- Gasoline Sippers.  Motorcycles get excellent gas mileage.  A standard tank usually holds 3 to 5 gallons, combine that with up to 50mpg and you’ve got quite a bit of riding that can be done locally off of one tank.

2- Recon / Scout Vehicle.  If you’ve ever watched The Walking Dead you’ll see a perfect example of how this is done.  The character Daryl rides ahead of the group on his motorcycle to scout out possible routes or roadblocks.  The main party can keep moving as he scouts out routes ahead and darts back to let them know which way to go.  Additionally if you were to bug in a motorcycle could be used to scout out dangers beyond the neighborhood or used to seek out essential services (medical etc).

3- Speed / Elusiveness.  One of the main reasons why motorcycles work so well as scout vehicles.  Even slower and heavier bikes can out accelerate most cars very easily.  If highways are blocked with cars this does not present a problem to a motorcycle rider who can simply weave in and out of the obstacles.  If a rider comes into danger while out on a mission, the possibility of a band of evil doers chasing down a rider (assuming the rider is skilled) is slim to none.  The bike will outrun, out corner and simply leave those evil doers sucking dust particles.

4- Mechanically Simple.  Troubleshooting a motorcycle engine, or even tearing one down to change out a part is relatively simple versus conducting the same operation on a new 4×4 SUV.  It takes less than 30 minutes to remove the fairings and gas tank from most bikes, after which you pretty much have access to the entire motor and fuel delivery system.  I pulled the rear tire, brake and swapped out the swingarm on a bike in a couple hours (taking my time).  How long would it take to swap an axle on your SHTF 4×4?

5- Versatility.  This really depends on the type of motorcycle which you own, but with the exception of the most dedicated sportbikes most two wheeled vehicles should be able to handle most road surfaces relatively well.  Pavement, gravel, dirt and (if you have a dual-sport or dirtbike) even mud shouldn’t present a problem giving the rider the opportunity to travel over various terrain very quickly.  Many motorcycles can be outfitted with tank and saddle bags, enabling the rider to carry quite of bit of equipment.

I’m not here to proclaim that the motorcycle is the be all, end all in SHTF vehicles.  Motorcycles obviously have their limitations but those aside they do make an excellent compliment to any Prepper contingency plan.  They provide yet another option when considering transportation needs after a catastrophe or even a TEOTWAWKI event.  If you do not yet have a motorcycle or license I suggest looking into it.  Here are a few tips to help get you started.

– Start with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, you’ll want to take a MSF course.

– Think small and cheap.  If you are looking at your first bike, buy something you won’t mind laying down a few times.  Shop second hand bikes, you should be able to find something under $3k easily.

– Wear good protective gear.  That 10 year old helmet that your buddy had in his basement is not what you want on your head.  Imagine jumping out of a moving car at 60mph while on the highway, what would you prefer to be wearing?  Shorts, sneakers and a T shirt, or proper protective equipment? I’ve hit the race track at around 100mph and the sensation of heat (while sliding) was almost instantaneous, and I was wearing full leathers.  I can’t imagine what it would have done to jeans or bare skin.

If you have additional questions or want to share your thoughts about two wheeled transportation after SHTF please feel free to comment below.


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    • T.R. on February 4, 2013 at 7:35 PM
    • Reply

    Have to disagree for two reasons . 1. unless you have a quiet bike , the bad guys will hear you coming long before you get there and plan a proper reception . 2. you are are too vulnerable , your body is protecting the vehicle and not vice versa , and the way you sit on a motorcycle ………you are easy to hit , you and the bike present to the shooter a large exposed target , I have seen some very fast bikes ……but none that can outrun a bullet . More bullets are going to hit you than the motorcycle ( most likely in the back and legs ) . Just sayin

    • PJ on February 4, 2013 at 8:55 PM
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    Thanks T.R.

    You definitely make some great points. Notice I never said a bike would be a good vehicle during contact or direct action, but in a scout role I think it could have value. I also agree that any rider would be exposed to gunfire, but hopefully a scout could avoid getting into that situation. I also have confidence that most shooters would struggle to hit a moving target, and especially struggle hitting a moving target while in a moving vehicle themselves

    Thanks for the comment.


    • Paul on April 20, 2013 at 6:02 AM
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    My cousins used to pack wire wool into the end sections of dirt bike exhaust pipes to reduce the noise levels.

    Bikes do have disadvantages but you missed out many advantages-

    1) They are quite easy to quickly hide in a ditch or hedge when you go to ground.
    2) Also if you stay overnight in a house or farm building you can take the bike inside with you so as not to leave a vehicle outside advertising your location.
    3) Small dirt bikes can be manhandled over walls fences rocks or similar obstacles unlike a car.
    5) You can carry a dirtbike in the back of a pickup or van to give yourself options.
    6) When it breaks down (which in time many vehicles will) one person can push it back home.


    • PJ on April 20, 2013 at 7:47 AM
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    Great points, thanks much for sharing them.
    It’s obvious I’m a little more biased to street bikes, thanks for adding valuable info reference off road / trail bikes.

    • Steve on October 13, 2013 at 2:42 AM
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    I agree that motorcycles are not the best for everyone. But I will always have one for all the reasons already here. Also, have you ever sat in traffic? Just everyday 5 O’clock traffic? Now think if everyone was leaving your area in a panic. Motorcycles can split lanes. Yeah you might get shot, run over, or just crash. Me personally though, I’ll take that chance (if I have to bug out).

    • joe on April 4, 2014 at 11:47 AM
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    The Honda CT90 and 110 are probably the best bug out bikes, very simply bullet proof motors, worldwide about 50 million have been made, so many spare parts available that you can practically buy every part online and assemble a whole bike from scratch. they are EMP proof, will get 150 mpg if ridden easy and have a huge frame mounted rack that can hold hundreds of pounds. preppers have even fitted additional racks on front downtube and there is even an available front rack. They are as extremely quiet and can easily be repaired in the field.

      • Jeff on July 15, 2015 at 3:02 AM
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      I wish they would sell the CT’s in the US again. I would have four of them in my garage.
      I have also owned big bikes down to small. Now I am down to three. A mid size adventure, a TW200 and a CRF80.
      The TW200 would be the one that I would choose. It’s almost like a montain goat with 75-90 mpg.
      With that said. I would rather have the CT90/110 for the added mpg and down right toughness. Not to mention, less weight. Sure my big adventure would do it faster on the road, but I would rather drag a CT under the fence than Mr heavy.

    • mac on July 28, 2014 at 6:27 PM
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    seeking light, durable motorcycle …first order is durable…no shake apart machines…Honda KB350, if memory serves ( CB350 ? ) gas line was pressed into the bottom of the gas tank…..spent a very long day after the gas line popped out….out of work, job seeking, no tools, no cash, no credit card…23 miles from home…only good part…hot Summer Florida….lots of rolling hills in the Florida Panhandle…push and breathe…breathe and breathe…wheeze oh me lighter bikes please…push ‘caz was no cuz to get me…only horse on this trail was me……did get it home…every foot of the way…still think first requirement of motorcycle is long road durability….endurance of the machine first…will it stay together ??? who wants easy to fix if must constantly need to repair it ?…I do not know….any real worlders that have ridden the dirt roads and trails of off the path America have suggestions for best moto ?

    • billy on August 13, 2014 at 6:52 PM
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    I agree a motorcycle is my choise of shtf vehicals. If I have to pick someone up and bring them to my safe house, I’ll take the bike and avoid the roads. My first pick would be a 400 cc dirt or enduro although a 125cc could be lifted over a freeway divider

    • billy on August 13, 2014 at 7:33 PM
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    The first thing after shtf is phone around and account for family. Second I’ll put on my body armor Third start the bike if nessary however I think if I took a bullet in the ribs it would knock me off the bike. Still agree 100%

    • Xman315 on July 17, 2015 at 10:52 AM
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    l have two bikes of the crotch rocket type. Hardly SHTF “vehicles”. I have seriously contemplated trading one of them in for a KTM650 or 400/500cc type of bike lately. Enduro with off road tread is what I’m thinking. Either way having that as an option when the need arises seems invaluable. Of course my go to is my 4 wheel drive pick up / SUV. However, if I’m going for stealth (minus the pipes, lol), or a quick “scout and go” situation a bikes the way to go. Oh Yeah, learn to shoot with both hands too…..keep the right on the throttle, lol!!!!

    • Curt58 on October 7, 2015 at 11:58 PM
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    I love my KLR’s, but I’m wishing I had a 125 cc Off Road capable lightweight Scooter to add to my SHTF Transportation Stable. Something like the Yamaha Zuma. I gravitate to the Zuma because of it’s rugged suspension and dual large lights. Easy to ride, fat tired for soft ground and mud, they can be operated with one hand and have a floor board that can carry a ton of supplies and gears when the rear rack is full.

    Scooters have a distinct advantage when the economy gets BAD.
    50 Million Asians can’t all be wrong. And talk about fuel sippers. 80 to 100 mpg is common.
    But, if I could find one, I’d rather have a carbureted one. Like the old Vespas and Lambrettas. Easier to rebuild and maintain with questionable fuel sources. I would stay away from the Chinese models because of the scaricity of replacement parts.

    The biggest advantage to as scooter is you could pick it up and toss over a barricade or ditch. Or toss it inside the back of a car trunk or pickup as backup transportation if need be. Heck, just strap it to the roof or bumper! And a 125 cc machine could carry two up well and fairly fast. And anybody could learn how to operate it easy. Like non riding wives and children. A lot like riding a bicycle for the novice.

    The 50 cc ones would work, but with a top speed of only 30 or 40 mph it’s top speed puts them at a big disadvantage for clearing an engagement. 125 cc or more would be better because they can run a top speed of 65 mph or more.

    And talk about quiet! Plus, like I said, you could fire a weapon with one hand and still drive it with the other hand.

    Oh, and they are a lot cheaper than some big bore Dual Sport Bike.

    You can get two new Zumas for what you’d pay for one KLR.

    Just something to think about.

    Now if we could just get someone to build a lightweight turbo diesel, off road, street legal scooter! They’d sell millions of them.

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