How much petrol money will you save by trading your car for a motorbike?

To find out Brenwin Naidu and Mat Durrans pitted a Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX hatchback against a Suzuki SV650 sport bike

25 November 2018 - 00:00 By Brenwin Naidu and Mat Durrans
The Suzuki SV650 sport bike and the Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX hatchback.
The Suzuki SV650 sport bike and the Suzuki Baleno 1.4 GLX hatchback.
Image: Supplied

You must have proffered an eye-rolling emoji response to this article. Here we go again with another duel between a motorcycle and an automobile. Cue the frivolity of a drag race, gymkhana, or some other self-indulgent, fast-paced task for these juvenile scribes with deferred motorsport champion dreams. Hang on. This challenge is of far greater relevance.

The price of fuel is burgeoning. And for the sake of interest, motoring journalist Brenwin Naidu and motorbike enthusiast Mat Durrans decided to compare the economy credentials of their respective, preferred forms of transportation. There would be a mild element of competition, obviously.

The brief? A short route from Sunday Times offices in Parktown to Krugersdorp. And a comparison of how much juice each vehicle had used. As well as the time saving, which Durrans was poised to succeed at, given the enviable, fish-like manoeuvrability of his motorbike.

Both Naidu and Durrans picked vehicles from the same manufacturer — Suzuki — for the challenge.


In opted for a Suzuki Baleno hatchback in 1.4 GLX guise. A parsimonious champion of thrifty motoring that also happens to be serving in our long-term test garage.

It cost me R404.66 to get its 37-litre tank filled to the first click - I already had just under a quarter in there. The car registered an average figure of 4.7l/100km over the 51km journey.

It completed the trip in one hour, 17 minutes and 30 seconds and had used approximately 3.2 litres of petrol. I had essentially paid R54.83 to get from point A to B.

Simply put, this was twice as much as the motorcycle in both money and time. Though its frugality is still hugely impressive in car terms, I conceded to the leather-clad bloke that our headline could read "Get rich - get a bike!"

Still, I have a roof when it rains, plus space for three other passengers and their luggage. The Baleno 1.4 GLX is yours for a relatively modest (in car terms, remember) outlay of R239,900.


Fuel costs have soared alarmingly in recent times, leading any right-minded commuter to re-evaluate the vehicle they use for the trudge to and from work. Why pay more than you need to for a journey of necessity, not pleasure?

The Suzuki SV650 sport bike.
The Suzuki SV650 sport bike.
Image: Supplied

Naidu's long-term Suzuki Baleno is a perfect car for commuting duties, so my challenge was to find an equivalent bike. Sticking with the same manufacturer was a no-brainer since the builders of the legendary GSX-R superbikes also make a middleweight sport bike that happens to be one of the best commuting tools on the market.

The SV650 has a peppy V-twin motor, comfortable ergonomics and an attractive price of just R90,000.

Obviously I had an advantage when comparing the vehicles but that didn't stop me riding with a gentle right wrist, obeying speed limits, short-shifting through the gears and filtering through the mid-morning traffic where possible.

70% of our route consisted of stop-start congested city streets with the remainder being highway and consequently higher cruising speeds.

Less than a kilometre from our starting point and with a couple of robots behind me the car had disappeared from my mirrors, and just under 47 minutes later I arrived at the finish.

Halfway through my second coffee my editor finally arrived, a full half-hour later. His journey time was fully 64% longer than my own, a staggering amount that could have been more significant had we engaged the full misery of rush-hour.

That equates to an easy hour saved every day on a commute of this distance, or more than 20 hours every month. Almost a whole extra day of "you-time" gained by using two wheels instead of four, and nothing is more valuable than that.

The bike used 1,5 litres of fuel for the journey, or half as much as the car. That can be negated by putting four people in the car and a passenger on the bike, in which case they use the same amount of fuel per person.

Not measured was the fun factor. I enjoyed the trip on the SV650, I'm not sure Naidu can say the same of his experience.