Sell car for Big Dummy
Alright so I'll give you the plot first. Im 22 yrs old, soon to be married to a beautiful girl....the girl of my dreams. I live 16mi from work. About 8mi from grocery stores. I live in Carlsborg WA (Pacific North West)= WET. I currently own a 2005 Subaru Impreza with
90K on it and in need of a timing belt. I have always wanted to sell my car and be free from the gas prices, ESPECIALLY now that 1GAL of gas is $4!!! The problem is though, the soon to be wife is not to fond of the idea, saying that "what if we NEED your car" (she has a 2WD 08 Ranger) Im fearing the commute at 0500 on my way to work. Im fearing that she will be right. Im fearing regret. Im fearing those winter mornings when its freezing rain, next to her warm body.
So, I figure maybe that if i ask my peers(mtbr) maybe i can help convince myself...But more importantly have you guys and gals convince my fiance that i should (or shouldnt) go through with selling my car and building a BD. Hopefully there's people from both sides that can help me decide what to do.
Hey, man. Thats a toughie. Some of the folks over on Bikeforums.net Living Car Free have been asking the same of late. Many of the responses followed a similar theme. Keep the car for a while but let it sit while you use bike for your day to day goings on. Depending on your needs, a trailer could be had for cheap to use for cargo before you make the jump to big dummy. They advised charting the usage(or non-usage) for a while, maybe a month or two, and then presenting the physical data to the wife and then make the decision together based on the facts.
I really don't have anything against cars, but I hate paying for gas and I love riding my bike. Do I wish more folks would bike rather than drive while doing normal daily errands? Yup, but I don't get into the cyclo-evangelics. I say if it's logical to get rid of one of the cars, then go for it if its something you really want to do, but if it doesnt make sense then you can always keep the car and just ride a bike anyway. My twopence. I'm also interested to hear what everyone else has to say about it.
I'd second the going slow approach. The big dummy is a big investment and going car free or car lite is a big change. We've been car light for a while but only recently got a cargo bike. We've avoided getting a second car, but it's been quite an adjustment especially in New England winters. Riding in the wet isn't as bad as it seems at first and can feel fun after you get used to it and get the correct clothing. Good clothing is essential for year-round riding and is not an insignificant expense.
I had a multi-modal commute and rode a pretty trashy Trek hybrid to the train station, which worked for a while. The next step was a better bike combined with a good rack and panniers and a Burly Travoy for heavier loads/large grocery shops. I combined this with a front seat for my kid. Now that I'm trying to manage cargo and a rear seat for my daughter and I've proven that I'll go pretty much anywhere on my bike, I've placed the order for a big dummy.
But I'm keeping the travoy because it's phenominal for going shopping since you can wheel it into the store, fill it up then attach it to the bike.
How long is your fiancées commute? Are you living together or going to be living together soon? If so, is it possible for you to drop her at work or her to drop you at work if necessary? Having to ride while sick is a drag but if' you're sick enough not to ride, you're probably too sick to go in to work. Would a trailer satisfy your needs for a while? If you have a bike that's dialed in to you, panniers, good racks and may go further with less money than a cargo bike. Later, if you need to haul kids & or large cargo you might want the larger investment. If it takes too much of your day, is moving closer to work and groceries an option?
All that being said, it's much easier to ride in all weathers and situations that it feels like starting out. Getting on the bike is the hard part.
likes to ride bikes
With the resale value of an '05 Subaru you could probably afford a high-mileage used car to drive in a pinch, plus afford a Big Dummy. You could get minimum insurance coverage; for instance State Farm offers a discount for vehicles that will be driven less than 7500 miles per year. I say go for it.
I'm in the midst of a similar experiment.
There's no question that there are times when it is good to have the car as backup - or when you have a car that needs a lot of maintenance (as I do) the BD can act as a backup for the car.
I bought the BD and will start commuting with it shortly. I'm sure I'll use it for nice days; what remains to be seen is if I have the fortitude to use it when it is cold, wet, and rainy.
When you run straight numbers, the argument for the bike isn't that compelling. Even at $4/gal, gas is still pretty cheap on a cost per km basis. The bike is effectively free to run per km, but the purchase price must be compared to how much it would cost to take the car instead. At 20 MPG, a 20 mile round trip costs $4. At a purchase price of $1500 (say) that means you have to complete 375 of those 20 mile trips before the bike can be said to have paid for itself. Depending on the weather, that's ~2 years or so.
But the bike offers a side effect that the car does not - it helps keep you in shape. You'll get 1-2 hours of strenuous aerobic exercise out of your bike commute (depending on how hard you push, the elevation profile of your route, and traffic) that the car cannot provide. This has long-term health benefits, and if you are a gym rat, may free up workout time (and gym fees) that you won't have to spend any longer.
I'm avoiding the pollution/carbon emissions argument because I really don't think that argument is very strong on an individual basis.
My decision to try primarily hinges on the exercise argument. I'm of an age where if I'm not getting in at least an hour of hard exercise every day, my fitness level plummets. I work long days and I'm naturally lazy, so fitting in workout times to my schedule has proven challenging. By going Big Dummy, I can do the work commute and kill two birds with one stone.
And best of all, Big Dummies tend to hold their value. If the experiment proves unworkable for me, I'm reasonably sure I can recoup my expenses by selling the bike.
I recommend picking up the bike, but don't think of it as a car replacement; think of it as a car reduction.
I have not owned a car for a some time... maybe 7 years or more...i forget
for me... personally, its easy. No big deal. The big dummy is the perfect "reducing valve" (huxley reference)
that is for me... whatever I care to be stuck to has been moved by way of the bike.
my girlfriend... thats a whole different story...
she has a ton of stuff
while of course I've been down that path a few times in my life, for the last 3 or 4 years, the process has been effective in ditching all the junk... if I haven't used an item in 6 months... give me a break... get rid of it.
so we can be like ants and their nests
literally hauling tons of merchandise into a mortgaged/rented residence
few people have the persona or wit to deal with "less is more"
and more so yet yet
the way of bicycle, is much more effective in close quarters.
a 16 mile one way commute, while not undoable... could be more convenient if you were within 6 miles.
something interesting about living a bicycle centric life
is that its easy to live light
that is, if whatever it is you have hauled into your residence... has made its way by bike...
its that much easier to cope with changes
because... well... obviously you have less
my girlfriend has watched me in this process
I'm about to move
I'll probably rent a uhaul...
its about a 200 mile move
once I move, I won't have a car
there is a ton of stuff to read/experience in the life of being bicycle centric
some of the challenges are social acceptance and infrastructure.
I have no car, I ride a Big Dummy, and I live in the PNW. My commute is shorter than yours but I often comfortably ride the Dummy for long distances. I say go for it, especially if you're concerned about your environmental impact. It's a great lifestyle choice.
Last edited by mattbryant2; 04-06-2011 at 02:44 PM.
I know so many people with 4wd vehicles that have them just in case they "need" them. If you guys aren't skiers, then sell the Subaru. If you like to head into the mountains in the winter every now and then, sell the truck. But regardless, if you are getting married, it would make sense to me that you just have one vehicle plus the Big Dummy. You would save money, get exercise, and still have the use of a vehicle when you want it.
Too bad she's not into selling BOTH cars though. That would be even better. I got married when I was 22... Biggest problem with getting married young is if you decide to go different paths in life, for example, one person wants to live lean and ride bikes and the other one wants all the ugly trappings of the American dream. People change a lot in their 20s and 30s. Good luck!
Down South Yooper
I made the choice to sell my high mileage truck late last year and replace it with a Dummy. I live within 2 miles of shopping, 3 miles of daycare and 4-5 miles of work. In theory, I wouldn't drive at all..
In practice, it works OK. I have a couple limiting factors, they're 2 and 4. If it were just me, I could do easily without a car. As it is, I still drive the car (my wife and I have an '08 subaru) almost daily during this time of year. Kid Dr. Appts, my wife's schedule, etc are all limiting factors. Some weeks will easily be car free, other weeks will be shamefully bike free.
One car doesn't seem to be an issue for us though, which is cheaper than two, and the dummy can easily do anything I ask of it, but it's not always that easy.
If you can reduce your car useage to zero, good for you. Good advice here to try it for a month before you sell the vehicle, or sell the car and get something cheaper, that you can leave parked for long periods of time..
This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good eh!
Lot of good, balanced advice here. An oasis of sanity on the internet.
I'd like to add that my wife and I have been 1 car for something like 5 years now, first in Arizona and then in Alberta, Canada. These are two extremes in climate and, with a little adjustment in gear, biking has worked for us.
I agree, park your car for 2 months and see how it goes--but really park it. Put it up on jackstands or give the keys to your parents--make it a real hassle to use it, or, out of habit or in moments of weakness, you will.
If any emergency that required us both to suddenly have a car cropped up, renting something from Budget would still be less than the cost of owning a 2nd car that we mostly don't drive.
I use my Big Dummy a lot but it is in no way a long haul cargo bike for me. For real cargo like 2x4's and 4x8 plywood sheets you need to get a Bikes at Work trailer. But hey, you're 22, and you may be able to balance a sack of sod on your head while riding. I have 21 years on you.
The other option is to outfit a fast cross bike with a rack and grocery panniers. Save the $1200 and get a timing belt for the car.
You say the commute is 16 miles, have you done it yet? On a bike? Is it flat miles? Up and down? Up in one direction, down in another? 16 miles is nearing the limit of what I would call a reasonable commute for 80% of people (mostly due to time). Have you done the commute by bike yet?
And why the dummy? (ducks) I mean, I would LOVE to have a BD, but I had to settle for a Yuba (which would be an awful 16 mile commuter) I already had a touring bike and was short on funds. Have you considered a touring bike? I ONLY mention this because of the length of the commute AND the doubt you expressed.
I'm all for ditching a car in favor of a bicycle. We have one car, but have workable contigency plans (meaning, if needed, she drops me off and it isn't a terrible inconvience for either of us). For most of us, there are days where you just can't ride in (understood that this varies by individual). Look for coworkers that might be able to give you a ride. See if there is any kind of city, county, township car pool (even some of the smallest towns have dial a rides and such).
I take it this is an either/or? Car $ is needed for BD purchase? Have you located / tried out a BD? Be sure to ride one first. Commuting on a BD is not as easy as, say, on a LHT (or other touring/road bike).
Read the commuter forums. You mention fearing winter mornings freezing rains, but you'll find stories of glory from people riding in inclimate conditions! Look to these for inspiration and measure yourself honestly against them. While I'm a fair weather rider (meaning, I live in so-cal and the weather is often nice: occasional rain is all we get) I get excitied living vicariously thru the stories of riders from the north! Read them, look at the pictures, visualize yourself waking up in the cold and ice, donning your winter gear. Does the ride that day look peaceful in your mind? Do you feel empowered overcoming the elements?
It sounds like fear is the enemy here. Take each fear and squash it. Spend a week getting up an hour early and see how you feel. If you have not done the ride, do it with your current bike (I see it's a 1x1, so that may not be the easiest). You can also mentally do it while driving it. Look at where you'd ride.
Are there other bike commuters at your work? Does your work have any facilities to support bike commuting? We had showers, but my ride is short and I'm an engineer so being disheveled is appropriate. And, my office allows me to bring my bike inside, which I greatly appreciate.
Also, run some numbers. Will the sale of the car cover the cost of the bike? Calculate how much you'll save in gas. How much is that per month? Per year? You should eventually reach a point where if you need to buy a car again, the dummy will have paid for itself. And if not, BD's really hold their value well!
Anyhow I'm rambling. The TLDR version is: sell the car, buy the BD. Read the stories from your peers. Be excited!
You should probably keep one car and have one cargo bike, either a BD or a Yuba. The BD is really nice but the Yuba is right on the money for me because of the price. I have a station wagon, and 2 Yuba Mundos (his and hers). I have 5 kids. Longest commute for me with the Yuba is around 15 miles round trip daily (total 30 miles / day). That is when I take my 4 year old to her class. My other 3 kids, I put them all in the back of the Yuba, ride 3 miles round trip to their school (total 6 miles / day). 1 kid is only 2 years old, so she just tags along in the peanut shell with her sister. There are days that we sometimes run late or when it's too chilly for my kids to ride, then I take the car. So in a day, I ride roughly 36 miles around town. On weekends, we don't use the car, we ride our bikes to anywhere in the city where I live in. I recently installed an electric motor on my wife's Yuba. She likes it for the assist on uphills but other than that, she just likes to pedal along. I will be installing a mid-drive motor soon to my Yuba, just for those days that my knees feel rusty. We have been saving almost $250 / month on fuel. That translates to more toys and goodies for everyone in the family. I thought it would eventually payoff the cargo bikes but instead, we end up spending it on something else, LOL! Good luck on your journey!
Mid Drive is the future of e-cargo bikes.
The BD is a cross between a car and a bicycle - in that it needs almost the living space as a compact car - it doesn't go up apartment steps as easy as a shorter wheelbase bicycle - it's got to be treated more like a tandem - some stores let you bring the bike inside - the BD would be harder to maneuver than a bike - so you lose some of the benefits of a traditional bicycle only lifestyle.
If you can get by with a basket and panniers, for most things, then attach a trailer for the bigger jobs, like groceries, then that's a more versatile system, in my opinion.
Any real cargo rig needs a sturdy center stand, so add that to the cost.
I love the Big Dummy, don't get me wrong, but if I only could have one bike, I'd go with an economy car with a trailer - rather than driving a v8 Suburban everywhere. Wait. I mean a more modular system. The traiiler can work with other bikes, and only when you need the extra capacity. If you always know you always need that capacity, then the BD is the way to go - but I wouldn't have a bike that nice unless I could keep it in my living room. My current living situation wouldn't allow that - and it's too bulky to put in my bedroom.
If you're going to be chauffeuring your wife around - then I'd make her pedal and get a tandem or something modular.
I want to let the members that have posted thus far that I greatly appreceate your input. I will definately utilize the posts. But please keep them coming for the benefit of myself an anyone else that is merely reading thru this thread. Again thank you all so much
I would love to be carless......even if I lived close enough (whatever that is) to work to always commute and necessities of life nearby for that lifestyle. I'd still have a really hard time having NO car. What about emergencies? Heaven forbid someone gets hurt/sick and needs immediate transport? How about wanting to go on vacations far away? OK if it's just you; you can load your Dummy on the bus/train like Devo. The whole family with bikes? I dunno.
I was born and raised in LA; maybe the biggest car culture in the world. Nothing I'm proud of and I'm definitely a product of my generation. I struggle with many of the issues that are discussed in this forum.......carbon imprint, waste, pollution. It's hard to hop on those two wheels on a dark, blistery, freezing morning when I can ride on 4 with comfort; even though I don't want to.
Cars and bikes are not enemies.
Don't be drawn into the false dichotomy that you must be either a "car person" or "bike person". Both the car and the bike is a tool. There are times when the car is the right tool to use, and there are times when the bike is the right tool to use.
Does the screwdriver hate the wrench? Does the hammer wear a t-shirt that says "One Less Saw"?
The trick is to match the occasion to the tool. The Big Dummy is a tool that, because of its cargo capacity, can increase the number of occasions where a bike is the appropriate tool. But it can't completely replace a car and that's OK.
I have to disagree with this. Plenty of people all over the world get by just fine without owning a car. Yes, they can be useful. But they also require insurance, registration, maintenance and a place to park. Not to mention a significant amount of cash to buy in the first place. On those rare occasions that a cargo bike won't do the job, you can take public transportation or rent a car.
Originally Posted by RecceDG
So yes, you CAN completely replace owning your own personal car with a bicycle combined with public transportation.
Maybe the correct tools are like this:
Short distance (less than 1 mile) - walking
Commuting, local errands, shopping (1-20 miles) - Big Dummy
Medium distance trips (20-200 miles) - train, subway, bus
Long distance trips (200+) - train or airplane
How many cities/places have you lived in?
There are some cities where it is entirely possible to get around without using a car. But there are also places that didn't really start growing until the turn of the century that are completely built around a car-driven infrastructure system, where the planning assumption was that everybody would have a car and so the city plan was conducted accordingly.
Lacking meaningful rapid transit, there are places where the only effective way to get from point A to point B (were points A and B are separated by a certain distance threshold) is a car. These cities also tend to keep residential and commercial sections well separated, so there is no "local market" - your nearest food source may be 15 km away. Los Angeles is one of them.
Yes, car ownership does bring along with it some hassles - but so does bike ownership. Bike security, for example, can be a huge hassle. And let's be honest, so can weather. A cold, steady downpour can be miserable on a bike, whereas in a car, it's a non-issue.
If you live in circumstances where you are able to live 100% car-free, hey, that's great. Seriously, good for you. But it behooves you to understand that not everybody is in the same situation, and there are times and places where having access to a car can be a real godsend - and that making use of a car does not make someone in any way less of a person or of a cyclist.
This is the one aspect of cycling advocacy that drives me around the bend - advocates on the CYCLING side of the argument who present the debate in zero-sum terms, where it must be "car OR bike" instead of "car AND bike". It is not an act of sacrilege to suggest that there may be times and places where a bike may be a less than ideal form of transportation. It is not necessary to commit to a completely car-free lifestyle or we pull your cyclist card. The trick to successful advocacy is to admit that the car is not the enemy, and to concentrate on presenting the argument on when (and how) a bike really is the best tool for the job - and for cases where a bike can be an adequate tool for jobs normally thought the exclusive provenance of the car.
A Big Dummy (and similar bikes) can be used to carry cargo and children for short hops. Assuming the laydown of your city places your destinations within reasonable distance of your place of residence, a Big Dummy can be used to pick up the groceries or deliver your kids to daycare. It unquestionably increases the number of trips for which a bicycle is the right tool for the job. It can be an effective tool for reducing the number of car trips and, in the right circumstances, may even be the tipping-point enabler to going completely car free.
But owning a Big Dummy does not require you to go car free, and much like the man with a hammer who starts looking at everything as if were a nail, attempting to push a car-free lifestyle on someone whose circumstances may not support it (and the classification of those circumstances is their call, not yours or mine) is a less than wise course of action.
I'd adjust the second and third to add car share/cab for medium and rental cars for long distance trips. To get to my parents house it's 250 miles and either plane or bus would take a full day of travel rather than 4 hours by car.
Originally Posted by Thor29
Once you get rid of a car money frees up from gas, insurance, taxes, inspections, oil changes, repairs, etc... It definitely adds, which is why I can afford my new BD build.
That's very true, but getting on the bike is the hard part. Riding in a light rain at night feels like flying. Some of the best times I've had on a bike are in bad weather. Things get much easier once you have the right clothing. Good outdoor clothing makes all the difference between a comfortable commute in the rain and a miserable, slog home.
It's hard to hop on those two wheels on a dark, blistery, freezing morning when I can ride on 4 with comfort; even though I don't want to.
If you're not sure if you can ride it, ride a few times to test it out before committing yourself. Once you start riding a commute regularly, it'll get easier. From your distances, you may want multiple bikes, a commuting setup and a cargo setup. A used CX or touring bike can be a good place to start if finances are an issue. You can add racks & bags as you need them.
I'd still suggest examining your needs before investing in a cargo bike. Here are my thoughts:
Being car free involves more time to get places. Getting there is much more fun and there are lots of benefits, but it does take more time. The greater the distance, the greater the time. I know that's a bit obvious, but the reality of it can be hard. AAA estimates ownership cost of a car to be around $9000 a year. Cutting back on that can make more options accessible.
A touring bike can hold quite a bit as can trailers. The touring bike will definitely be easier to pedal longer distances. With a good rack, and panniers a regular wheelbase bike can hold quite a bit. Normal wheel base bikes also fit on bus racks and trains easier than cargo bikes. Trailers come off the bike so you're not using a single-tasker. Commuter type trailers can go into stores with you. Kids trailers can be picked up on c-list pretty cheap and can be re-purposed for cargo pretty easily.
Shorter trips are easier to do on a regular basis. 8 miles can be a bit far carrying groceries on a bad day. It depends on your ride and the hills involved. Flat riding is very different than hilly. Not impossible though. My comfort level would put a regular commute at 10 miles or so, groceries less than 5. People do all sorts of distances regularly, your comfort level will vary.
It may be easier to be car light or car free if you live closer to a town center. One of the reasons people live away from work is the "cheaper living" in suburban areas. If you don't own your house, you may want to find a neighborhood that is closer to the things you need to do. If you're saving money on transportation, you may be able to afford more in rent.
As far as emergencies go, if it's a real emergency, you'll call an ambulance anyway. If less so, you can take a cab. Cabs will often wait if you're going a long distance so they're guaranteed a return fare. If you use the same cab company for your trips, they'll often give you priority or give you more flexibility in what they'll do. Depending on your location, car share, light rail and the bus are all possibilities too. Bus systems are not typically user friendly in terms of figuring out which routes you want to take but they can often get you where you want to go pretty easily. If you need a lot of stuff from the home center it may be easier to pay the delivery fee.
Figure out what sort of loads you want to take before deciding on a setup. Want fast hauling? Heavy, smaller loads? You may want something like a Cetma, Bilenky, or a Civia Halstead. Shorter distances with kids, you may want a bakfiets or Madsen. Want an all rounder? Possibly an xtracycle or Big dummy. Think of the extras involved in the method too. Hauling kids on a dummy, you'll want a centerstand, which will add to the cost.
Are you a big or small guy? One-size bikes may not fit you.
You're in the Pacific NW so you may want to take a trip to Portland or Seattle to visit bike shops that carry stock of the bikes you're looking at. Chicago, Portland Maine, and a few other cities have good shops that specialize in cargo cycling/ transportation bikes. So going on a vacation or day trip can be an option to try out some options for most people. Like with every bike, it makes a world of difference to ride it first.
I'm doing a big dummy build now, but I've had about three different setups to get there.
I would agree with a few of the posters above on looking at a smaller bike that can be set up with panniers/ racks and maybe a trailer for the big loads. I am a big fan of the Salsa Fargo and it's road sibling the Vaya. They both offer rack mounts and are excellent for commuting and longer rides. If you like 26" wheels, the Surly Troll would cover similar ground. These bikes cover the "workhorse" part of the equation and still work great for everything else.
I use my Fargo for training and commuting/grocery and it works just fine with racks and fenders installed. I think it is great that you are considering going car free. I drive a full size 2006 v8 Toyota and the truck is paid for. It is expensive to run so I have kept the mileage down by planning trips and riding the bike locally. I also try to plan carpools to xc ski in winter and mtb rides in summer. If your car is paid for, why not just keep it and ride a reasonably priced bike as much as possible? I guess it boils down to what freedom is to you. Is freedom from car operating costs more important than freedom to go anywhere you want, when you want to?
Portland Off Road Navagators
lives to ride
One thing I have found time and time again with commuting by bike to work is that if I have an alternative, as soon as something isn't perfect (I wake up tired or lazy, it's raining out, or even LOOKS like it's about to rain outside!), I'll take the backup option.
If you want to succeed on a bike for commuting, I think you really need to either be incredibly strong willed, or you need to have no other alternative than to ride your bike. "If I don't ride, I'm not going to get to work!".
All the best with the challenge man. Life is about choices, good on you for thinking about your future.
i don't own a car
once upon a time
a boss said to me, "you rode your bike to work?"
yes... just like every day
"but its raining. Oh ya, I forgot, you don't have a car. You don't have a choice"
steve, that is the choice
same group of people said to me last year as I was about to leave for an attempt at the Tour Divide.
"its good you get this out of your system now."
boss (my old mentor) ... I don't see the Tour Divide as a stop gap measure
this is my system
Nice... Your insight is always fine, Devo. The choice is the point. Ultimately, we always have a choice. In many ways, all we have is choice.
Originally Posted by SelfPropelledDevo
Some of us choose to ride bikes. Some of us do it because it's fun. Some of us do it to save money. Some of us do it to live a lifestyle we believe is environmentally and socially responsible.
OP, the choice is yours.
90% of the riding I do on my Dummy would be done better by another bike (such as a Fargo, Karate Monkey, or Troll), and the other 10% would be doable with a trailer. If you're always hauling a lot of stuff, a Dummy is probably your best option. If you're normally hauling what you can fit in a set of panniers, I think a Karate Monkey or Troll with a Surly trailer is a more economical, and possibly more efficient alternative to the Big Dummy.
But I ****ing love my Dummy.