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  1. #1
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    Car v. Bike Maintenance Costs

    Looking at last years credit card receipts it occured to me that I spent more on bike maintenance than car maintenance (even with oil changes). Now last year was an anomoly in many respects because I bought a replacement wheelset, chain/crank/cassette, brake pads and bleed kit and some odds and ends for my bike. But I assume a $.05/mile operating cost and less the wheelset (bikes can fly, but they can't always land) I think I'm still on track.

    Okay commuters, I can't be alone in this. Who's the maintenance cost inversion king (pretty sure it's a real thing).

  2. #2
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    If you're just talking straight maintenance my car is less expensive by a factor of 3 this year.
    I drive a lot of miles. I ride a lot of miles too, but realistically only about 1/9 as much as I drive.
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    Gotta throw in a bike doesn't need insurance/registration or gas. I know its not maintenance, but you can't drive an automobile without either, so we should call it operational cost.

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    My wife and I drive two fairly new and reliable cars. Maintenance costs are pretty low for us. So far this year, we've only had oil changes. I need a transmission fluid change in my car, but that's about it aside from a couple flat repairs. I think I can get through this winter and a good part of next year on my current tires.

    For the bikes, it's been a little different. Within the past year (sliding scale), both of our bikes have received a bunch of new drivetrain bits. New chains, new chainrings. Cassettes have been fine, but will probably need replaced on the next chain. The brakes on my mtb died after 11yrs of service this past winter so I had to replace them. I replaced pivot bearings last winter. I think this winter will be time to service the seals/wipers and replace the fluid in both my fork and my shock. We both got new sets of tires for our mtb's. The wheels on my wife's mtb had a run of problems this spring. Thankfully a lot of that work was warranty work. And a new bottle of Stans. My commuter, thankfully, only needed a tube so far this year.

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    Bike parts don't go as far as car parts. You can get 60-100k out of most cars without major maintenance nowadays, and oil change intervals are no lower than 5k, on some cars as high as 15k. My Subaru is 7500 and my wife's VW is 10k. The VW has 85k on it and is 6 years old and has gotten the following since we've had it:

    -9 oil changes
    -sparks plugs replaced once
    -Air filter replaced once
    -Cabin filter replaced once
    -Brake pads, rotors replaced once
    -Brake fluid bled once (probably should have been done twice)
    -Summer tires replaced once
    -Snow tires replaced once

    In 85k on a bike, you'll probably have replaced every part on the bike multiple times. You probably would have gone through 20-25 chains, 18-20 sets of tires, 12-15 sets of brake pads, 10-15 cables, multiple bottles of chain lube.

    Per mile, considering maintenance costs only, I would bet bikes are more. But if you consider the cost to purchase, insure and fuel a car, it's a different story. Not to mention the health benefit and environmental benefit.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by snailspace View Post
    gas.
    Just playing devil's advocate here but I can go a lot farther on $10 of gas than I can on $10 of food to power me/my bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by snailspace View Post
    isurance.
    My monthly health insurance is more than yearly car insurance. Gotta keep the bike engine maintained too.


    In no way shape or form is it more economical for me to ride my bike rather than drive. I ride because I like it and I'll find any excuse I can to do things by bike.
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    I live in a place of free healthcare so that isn't a facto. We all gotta eat. There are health benefits of cycling, hard to put a dollar value on that. To me cycling is a lifestyle choice not an economical one. Economics depend on where you live. In a bigger city like New York do you think its more economical to own a car?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne View Post
    Just playing devil's advocate here but I can go a lot farther on $10 of gas than I can on $10 of food to power me/my bike.



    My monthly health insurance is more than yearly car insurance. Gotta keep the bike engine maintained too.


    In no way shape or form is it more economical for me to ride my bike rather than drive. I ride because I like it and I'll find any excuse I can to do things by bike.
    You need food and health insurance whether or not you ride, so I don't see how those costs make any difference. I could see the argument that you eat more when you ride, but I really don't think it comes to what gas costs. Regarding health insurance, the benefit of exercising reduces the risk of certain health issues, so that works both ways.

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    yup on a per mile basis bikes are more expensive than cars to maintain....

    Bikes are built light and fast....cars are not.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    Looking at last years credit card receipts it occured to me that I spent more on bike maintenance than car maintenance (even with oil changes). Now last year was an anomoly in many respects because I bought a replacement wheelset, chain/crank/cassette, brake pads and bleed kit and some odds and ends for my bike. But I assume a $.05/mile operating cost and less the wheelset (bikes can fly, but they can't always land) I think I'm still on track.

    Okay commuters, I can't be alone in this. Who's the maintenance cost inversion king (pretty sure it's a real thing).
    Bikes are expensive when you buy new stuff for them, or build up new ones. The rest is just tubes, chains, lubes (and you should really steal those..), tires and possibly cassettes and bottom brackets.

    If a bike built to some type of durability standard (maybe the car bone gold standard) is built up right in the first place the maintence cost and cost of owning/operation are close to 0.

    You like changing parts?? Then this figure is non zero.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

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    Specialized sucks ass.

  11. #11
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    Just thinking about Fat Bike tires and the comment related to miles before a part wears out. I can get 60K tires for my wife's car that cost the same as a single FB tire. Try getting a thousand pavement miles out of one of those.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straz85 View Post
    Bike parts don't go as far as car parts. You can get 60-100k out of most cars without major maintenance nowadays, and oil change intervals are no lower than 5k, on some cars as high as 15k. My Subaru is 7500 and my wife's VW is 10k. The VW has 85k on it and is 6 years old and has gotten the following since we've had it:

    -9 oil changes
    -sparks plugs replaced once
    -Air filter replaced once
    -Cabin filter replaced once
    -Brake pads, rotors replaced once
    -Brake fluid bled once (probably should have been done twice)
    -Summer tires replaced once
    -Snow tires replaced once

    In 85k on a bike, you'll probably have replaced every part on the bike multiple times. You probably would have gone through 20-25 chains, 18-20 sets of tires, 12-15 sets of brake pads, 10-15 cables, multiple bottles of chain lube.

    Per mile, considering maintenance costs only, I would bet bikes are more. But if you consider the cost to purchase, insure and fuel a car, it's a different story. Not to mention the health benefit and environmental benefit.
    I wish my VW is as reliable as yours.

    VWVortex.com - Long-term mini review of my VW 2010 Tiguan SE 4-motion

    If I didn't have these failures happen underwarranty (or recalls), I would be out several thousands of dollars. Not to mention the sheer cost of the car to begin with.

    Commuting with your bicycle relieves your car of the worst kind of miles too. City, stop-and-go miles!
    "Single track is for pansies!
    I blast down a mountain once, and in my wake, lies a new single track for the rest of you."-sm

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by KVW View Post
    Commuting with your bicycle relieves your car of the worst kind of miles too. City, stop-and-go miles!
    This is one of the big reasons I commute on bike. It takes the same time to drive or ride. I get a workout while riding. If you dont need high end parts for your commuter, maintenance is pretty dang cheap.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Straz85 View Post
    Bike parts don't go as far as car parts. You can get 60-100k out of most cars without major maintenance nowadays, and oil change intervals are no lower than 5k, on some cars as high as 15k. My Subaru is 7500 and my wife's VW is 10k. The VW has 85k on it and is 6 years old and has gotten the following since we've had it:

    -9 oil changes
    -sparks plugs replaced once
    -Air filter replaced once
    -Cabin filter replaced once
    -Brake pads, rotors replaced once
    -Brake fluid bled once (probably should have been done twice)
    -Summer tires replaced once
    -Snow tires replaced once
    At least we can be confident that we will not have to replace the "cabin filters" on any of our bikes!

  15. #15
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    ^^ And wheel bearings are much more expensive in a car (two rears for close to $400 (9 years and 215,000 will do that). One headlight's cost is close to my entire bike light collection and the second is now on borrowed time. Car insurance is about half a decent bike a year now my son has left home, the whole bike when he was a teenager. Every 100,000 it gets 6 platinum plugs (several hundred) that need the engine moved to install, and the CVT tranny filters are every 60 K at $400. OTOH no car payments!

    No bike cabin air filter, but the air conditioning never works when you really need it and seems to turn into a freezer in the winter.

  16. #16
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    My bike air conditioner is way better than my first 6 car's air conditioners. The heater works better than any of my motorcycles.

  17. #17
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    I have been working more on capital projects recently but I spent many years as a Plant inspector, asset integrity / reliability engineer and after that maintenance manager for upstream oil and gas facilities. You lot sound just like the myopic bean counters I used to have constant arguments with; they can't see past the annual balance sheet either.

    In total I expect to spend $400 to $500 per year on my commuter: couple of sets of tires (I run GP4000s which don't last long), one or two chains, lube, brake pads, cables and housings and approx $200 annualised cost or so towards a drivetrain replacement every 2 to 3 years.
    If you are running a new car under warranty your maintenance costs are going to be very low not sure how long people keep cars in the states but over 6 years you are highly likely to have one or two major repair jobs to do that are going blow $3000 for a bike out of the water. So you cannot look at maintenance costs on an annual basis - you have to look at it over a lifetime

    Secondly and more importantly taking maintenance as a cost outside of the context of overall operational cost (or total cost of ownership however you want to call it) is a classic trick of the bean counters to slash annual budgets and a classic example of logical fallacy. If you lease a car and every 2 years get a new one your maintenance costs are going to be low but your overall cost of having a car is going to be a lot higher, or you may miss oil changes, service intervals to reduce maintenance costs etc but experience increased fuel costs and increase the probability of having a very expensive failure quite dramatically or bring forward the time when you have to make a significant capital outlay to replace it. Fuel, insurance, road tax and replacement costs etc all have to be taken into account to get any sort of meaningful information you can use

    However you look at it as far as I am concerned the total cost of ownership of riding a bike is hands down less expensive than driving a car. Just because some years you may spend more on your bike maintenance than on your car in absolute cash value is a meaningless number taken on its own.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by KVW View Post
    I wish my VW is as reliable as yours.

    VWVortex.com - Long-term mini review of my VW 2010 Tiguan SE 4-motion

    If I didn't have these failures happen underwarranty (or recalls), I would be out several thousands of dollars. Not to mention the sheer cost of the car to begin with.

    Commuting with your bicycle relieves your car of the worst kind of miles too. City, stop-and-go miles!
    I had an '09 Tiguan SE 4-Mo for a couple years, it treated me great. Not one issue with it. Though I only put 35k miles on it before trading it in.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    ^^ And wheel bearings are much more expensive in a car (two rears for close to $400 (9 years and 215,000 will do that). One headlight's cost is close to my entire bike light collection and the second is now on borrowed time. Car insurance is about half a decent bike a year now my son has left home, the whole bike when he was a teenager. Every 100,000 it gets 6 platinum plugs (several hundred) that need the engine moved to install, and the CVT tranny filters are every 60 K at $400. OTOH no car payments!

    No bike cabin air filter, but the air conditioning never works when you really need it and seems to turn into a freezer in the winter.
    Borrowed time for a headlight? In 16 years of driving, the only headlight related part I've ever had to replace other than halogen bulbs was a ballast for an HID, which was $60 on ebay and I replaced it myself in about 10 minutes. I'm curious what kind of car you have that you have to replace headlight parts so much and what parts keep breaking.

  19. #19
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    I have owned my current car for 7 years. Only routine maintenance, unless you count the time a couple weeks after I bought it that someone dragged a shopping cart across the passenger door.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne View Post
    Just playing devil's advocate here but I can go a lot farther on $10 of gas than I can on $10 of food to power me/my bike.



    My monthly health insurance is more than yearly car insurance. Gotta keep the bike engine maintained too.


    In no way shape or form is it more economical for me to ride my bike rather than drive. I ride because I like it and I'll find any excuse I can to do things by bike.
    But... You're still eating and paying for health insurance whether you ride or not. The questions are 1. Does the extra food you eat to ride cost more than the gas you buy (i.e. I burn about 120 calories a mile so I get three miles to the Snickers). 2. Does staying fit save or cost you money with health and life insurance? Not sure what the opposite of devil's advocate is, but I'm playing it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    ... You lot sound just like the myopic bean counters I used to have constant arguments with; they can't see past the annual balance sheet either.
    I took it as tongue-in-cheek when car payments or depreciation and other factors were not brought it. My car loses $2-3000 in value a year. Leveling off now, though. Worst in the first 6 months.

    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    If you are running a new car under warranty your maintenance costs are going to be very low
    But your depreciation, car payments or amortized cost if bought outright, are huge. Hence this thread is just having some fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    .. not sure how long people keep cars in the states but over 6 years you are highly likely to have one or two major repair jobs to do that are going blow $3000 for a bike out of the water.
    Varies all over the place. I have taken 5 cars from new to 8-10 years and 215,000 to 260,000 miles. The only repairs above $3000 corrected for inflation were body repairs caused by the other guy. You have to know when to fold them, and when to hold them. When to walk and when to run. Or bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    So you cannot look at maintenance costs on an annual basis - you have to look at it over a lifetime
    That returns us to the tongue in cheek aspect. I have put almost $600 dollars a year in tires on one car over 9 years. That is a lot of bike tires! The performance is worth it.

    So the point is that while a bike is cheaper overall, we spend a lot of time and money keeping them nice certainly as a percent of their cost or based on miles, and maybe overall if the car is new and trouble free, and maybe in total layout too. Now if one compared a $1500 car to a $1500 bicycle, you'd still have a large insurance bill with the car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Straz85 View Post
    Borrowed time for a headlight? In 16 years of driving, the only headlight related part I've ever had to replace other than halogen bulbs was a ballast for an HID, which was $60 on ebay and I replaced it myself in about 10 minutes. I'm curious what kind of car you have that you have to replace headlight parts so much and what parts keep breaking.
    The car is a gray-blue 2005 AWD Mercury Montego (Ford Five Hundred clone) that rises out of the pavement like a ghost.



    US spec, so no runtime lights. We use the lows all the time. Nine years and 215,000 and the HID bulb is ballast and bulb is a unit ($200). The clearance to install it requires a long thin arm and some disassembly to clear the way ($80 labor). So with the driver side down the passenger side is on borrowed time. In 46 years of driving, it is the first time I have run into this. Apparently they were not supposed to burn out before the car died a high mileage death. The dealership did not stock one in spite of all the models that have used that light since 2005 including the bigger Lincolns. However, compared to hitting some idiot broadside (who won't stop and look properly), it is cheap.

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    I'm sure that the ideal bicycle to minimize commuter cost would look very different than the bicycles I actually have. Anything fancier than a steel fixie with a thick paint job and one brake is probably going to be more expensive than a cheap, used compact car for ownership costs. (Of course, most people don't have cars optimized for commuting either). Most of us can't or aren't willing to live without a car, so commuting on the bicycle can't eliminate costs like taxes and insurance on the car. I have nothing but respect for my cousin and some close friends who live without cars.

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    In my experience, maintenance costs are all pretty much a wash. Same with motorcycle vs automobile commuting. Operating costs are where the differences come in.

    Bikes need maintenance more often than motorcycles, which need maintenance more often than cars. However, the costs associated with maintenance issues also increase exponentially between bikes, motorcycles, and cars.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    So you cannot look at maintenance costs on an annual basis - you have to look at it over a lifetime
    No, I'm pretty sure I can look at it on an annual basis. The OP wasn't intended to suggest that my annualized cost of ownership or simply my annualized maintenance cost was directly correlated to the expense I incur for biking. Only making a casual observation that I spent more last year on bike maintenance than car maintenance.

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    Brian I was being a little tongue in cheek comparing an oil production facility to a car or bike.
    I wasn't joking that you all sound like a bunch of bean counters though....
    I is a pet hate of mine when maintenance is seen as an isolated cost out of context

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    The disappointing thing for me at least, is since I can't really see myself going car free, I'll always have the fixed costs of a car that are the same whether I drive it 10 miles or 10000 miles a year. At least now that I'm getting into winter commuting, I can save the car being washed in salt daily to maybe weekly. Bike commuting probably costs me more money than it saves, I don't really keep track. But I enjoy it, it keeps me less fat, parking is easy to find, and its good for the environment. It makes a fun hobby to work on my bike and help my friend's fix theirs.

    The thing with people and all other animals is that we are very efficient at getting energy out of our food. So while you might burn X amount of calories per hour doing an activity, you are actually burning Y amount during that hour anyways. From what I've read your base metabolic rate (what you're burning just to live) can be anywhere from 50-100 calories per hour. So subtract that from your calorie counter says you burned biking and you'll see you're a very efficient machine. Yea I know, Mr Buzzkillington.

    P.S. The environmental benefit everyone seems to forget is the local air quality. In a city or suburban setting car exhaust can really put a damper on air quality, so every car that's parked is a benefit to you and your neighbors.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    No, I'm pretty sure I can look at it on an annual basis. The OP wasn't intended to suggest that my annualized cost of ownership or simply my annualized maintenance cost was directly correlated to the expense I incur for biking. Only making a casual observation that I spent more last year on bike maintenance than car maintenance.
    Hey no worries, I just found it amusing that you had calculated "operating costs" down to $0.05 per mile for your bike( strikes me as a little more than casual observation.....)
    I was merely saying that comparing annual maintenance costs between a car and a bike is not comparing operating costs.
    depreciation, tires, chains, brake pads etc are, perhaps some clothes - and a couple of extra potatoes per meal are pretty much it for operating costs of a commuter bike. You can't say the same for a car.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by KentheKona View Post
    The disappointing thing for me at least, is since I can't really see myself going car free, I'll always have the fixed costs of a car that are the same whether I drive it 10 miles or 10000 miles a year. At least now that I'm getting into winter commuting, I can save the car being washed in salt daily to maybe weekly. Bike commuting probably costs me more money than it saves, I don't really keep track. But I enjoy it, it keeps me less fat, parking is easy to find, and its good for the environment. It makes a fun hobby to work on my bike and help my friend's fix theirs.
    ^This. No way I've saved more than I spent. Sometimes just for curiosity sake I'll figure out about how much I saved so far this year and how much I've spent on bike maintenance, but if you still have to own a car, you're very unlikely to end up on top financially from bike commuting. If you bike anyway and use the same bike to commute on and just put more miles on it, that helps, but if you buy a dedicated commuter, like most of us have, there's almost no way. One thing to consider is if you are comfortable buying a cheaper car since you bike commute a lot, that helps. If you say "well, I don't commute to work everyday, so I will buy a used car for $10k instead of a new or low mileage car for $20-30k". Or if you buy cars a lot less often, maybe a new one every 6 or 7 years instead of every 4 years, you spend less on depreciation. You can also go with a low mileage insurance if you are driving less.

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    I agree can't look at just operating costs, gotta look at total cost of ownership. For me the annual insurance costs alone (with discount for good driving) is enough for me to buy a new bike every year. Add in fuel, that's another bike. Factor in depreciation, that's a few bikes. I guess we also need to factor in that if your biking you won't necessarily drive the distance with a car. A person will go to places that are closer.

    I being recently car free save monthly $85 on insurance, $100 on gas and $160 on depreciation. These are conservative estimates with a car that was paid for, and that is over $4100 a year. This figure does not include oil changes/maintenance. There is no way I'm going to spend that amount on bike repairs, and accessories.

  31. #31
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    here is a calculator to figure out the true cost


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    Car v. Bike Maintenance Costs

    Mmmmm one 10 speed chain and a rear derailer hanger for the bike. Think like $80

    Hit a pot hole and cracked my truck wheel and was $230.

    Fuel in my truck is $200-300 a month too if using every day.
    Fatbike, XC bike, Gravel Bike....

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    In total I expect to spend $400 to $500 per year on my commuter: couple of sets of tires (I run GP4000s which don't last long), one or two chains, lube, brake pads, cables and housings and approx $200 annualised cost or so towards a drivetrain replacement every 2 to 3 years.
    And that's how I get cheap (or free when working at the shop) replacement parts for my commuter! Thanks.

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    I spend around $100 last year on my commuter for a tire, a chain, a bottom bracket and cables. My car usually needs about $500 a year for repairs/replacements plus $3-400 every few years for tires. Since the bike actually replaces a second car, I'm coming out ahead.
    2009 Redline Conquest Pro, 2008 Trek Fuel Ex8
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    Yes I spent too much on bikes.

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    I asked about a low mileage discount for my auto insurance, but they told me I already had it. Has anyone tried using the using those plug in things progessive has for good driver discounts?

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    This thread is totally misleading. Of course if you have a car that you use to get around where you need to, a bike that you mostly use a toy luxury item when it suits you for exercise and fun is not strictly economical, compared to not owning a bike or bikes. But if you don't have a car, there is no contest, bike ownership and bike maintenance is far cheaper, even though alot of car related infrastructure expenses are hidden in taxes and the unfair notion of free parking passes costs on to all consumers irrespective of whether they own a motor vehicle or not.

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    Agreed you save money if a bike replaces a second car or replaces a single car all together like a few brave souls here. How far a person cycles and conditions is a big factor.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by KentheKona View Post
    Has anyone tried using the using those plug in things progessive has for good driver discounts?
    No. But they work as long as you are not a maniac behind the wheel. Disclaimer: my wife is a Progressive employee.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyFokker View Post
    This thread is totally misleading. Of course if you have a car that you use to get around where you need to, a bike that you mostly use a toy luxury item when it suits you for exercise and fun is not strictly economical, compared to not owning a bike or bikes. But if you don't have a car, there is no contest, bike ownership and bike maintenance is far cheaper, even though alot of car related infrastructure expenses are hidden in taxes and the unfair notion of free parking passes costs on to all consumers irrespective of whether they own a motor vehicle or not.
    I have never owned a car, and therefore I can own an Omega speedmaster instead Because owning and driving a car for one year cost the about the same.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by car bone View Post
    I have never owned a car, and therefore I can own an Omega speedmaster instead


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  41. #41
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    I felt that the speedmaster was good enough from a mechanical standpoint (I have the lemania derived manual wind movement) and like durablility, so there were only a few realistic choices. Zenith el primero was one, Jeager was another, but reading up for a year I realized there could be only one, the one I chose.

    A patek would be equivalent of having (and paying for everything) a panamera, m6, aston or similar, and those are out of my pricerange, and probably will be for quite some time.

    I'm probably getting a classic aston in like 10 years. I really like those. Not sure if I can afford it though. Having a car has never been a must for me, and I don't really give a f about them unless they are given to me for free. Anyone one got a 60ies aston for free for me??
    Cars are toys and/or hobby related activity to me.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    No. But they work as long as you are not a maniac behind the wheel. Disclaimer: my wife is a Progressive employee.
    They "ding" you for perfectly legal/safe things though, like accelerating quickly enough to pull onto a crowded road without making people slam on their brakes. Or getting on the brakes hard enough to not run a red light on a 50mph road. You really need to drive like an old lady and go below the speed limit and keep your car under 2000 RPMs. Pretty silly IMO.

  43. #43
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    I find it hard to believe that bicycle maintenance is more expensive than car maintenance. Just this year, I've had to pay thousands of dollars to fix both of my cars. On my van, I had replace the brake system, replace the brake pads and replace a broken side mirror. On my sedan car, I had to spend $400 just to get the service engine to turn off so that it would pass inspection. I also had to replace the brakes on that car, another $350. So, all in all, I've had to spend thousands this year to maintain my vehicles. As for biking, I recently bought a new Diamondback for $472...about the cost of one repair that I made this year.

    Also, Kipplingers has a chart which clearly demonstrates that it is cheaper to commute via bike than by car.

    How Much Can I Save Biking to Work?-Kiplinger

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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyFokker View Post
    This thread is totally misleading. Of course if you have a car that you use to get around where you need to, a bike that you mostly use a toy luxury item when it suits you for exercise and fun is not strictly economical, compared to not owning a bike or bikes. But if you don't have a car, there is no contest, bike ownership and bike maintenance is far cheaper, even though alot of car related infrastructure expenses are hidden in taxes and the unfair notion of free parking passes costs on to all consumers irrespective of whether they own a motor vehicle or not.
    Oh man, you caught me. Wait, nope, I was only talking about last year and not generalizing about all years or all people. Nevermind.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCTJ View Post

    Also, Kipplingers has a chart which clearly demonstrates that it is cheaper to commute via bike than by car.

    Haha, that's a good one. I'll be waiting for Kipplingers to bring that wheelbarrow full of money I'm "saving"
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyFokker View Post
    This thread is totally misleading. Of course if you have a car that you use to get around where you need to, a bike that you mostly use a toy luxury item when it suits you for exercise and fun is not strictly economical, compared to not owning a bike or bikes. But if you don't have a car, there is no contest, bike ownership and bike maintenance is far cheaper, even though alot of car related infrastructure expenses are hidden in taxes and the unfair notion of free parking passes costs on to all consumers irrespective of whether they own a motor vehicle or not.
    The discussion and more realistic point many of us are discussing is the person who can't give up their car and must keep and maintain an auto even though they may make 80% or more of their trips by bicycle.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by BCTJ View Post
    I find it hard to believe that bicycle maintenance is more expensive than car maintenance. Just this year, I've had to pay thousands of dollars to fix both of my cars. On my van, I had replace the brake system, replace the brake pads and replace a broken side mirror. On my sedan car, I had to spend $400 just to get the service engine to turn off so that it would pass inspection. I also had to replace the brakes on that car, another $350. So, all in all, I've had to spend thousands this year to maintain my vehicles. As for biking, I recently bought a new Diamondback for $472...about the cost of one repair that I made this year.

    Also, Kipplingers has a chart which clearly demonstrates that it is cheaper to commute via bike than by car.

    How Much Can I Save Biking to Work?-Kiplinger
    You're not understanding the discussion. Obviously it's cheaper to own a bike INSTEAD OF a car, but realistically most of us also need a car, so we still have to pay insurance, car payment, repairs, maintenance, etc. And most of us also don't ride really cheap bikes, and many of us have multiple bikes. That's because of most of us, this isn't a financial thing, we bike to work because we enjoy it and for the health benefits. Could we buy inexpensive used bikes, do everything as economically as possible, give up our cars and save a lot of money? Sure we could. But for most of us, that's not necessarily our main goal.

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    delete
    Last edited by RoyFokker; 09-02-2014 at 02:32 AM. Reason: delete

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    @Forster:
    No, you are totally wrong on this. I clicked on a thread entitled: "Car v. Bike Maintenance Costs" and thought I was gonna get a relevant discussion on the cost of car ownership versus bike ownership. I didn't, instead there were lots of busy-bodies talking about car + bike ownership and erroneously both equating and yet paradoxically trying to make separate, the bicycle they use a luxury toy for joy rides and only use to get places when they feel like it(which for most people is almost never) and comparing that to their car which they use to get where they need to get to in life and its associated costs and maintenance! Well, if you cannot get rid of a car(or think you cannot more precisely, because likely many would move to somewhere else for the offer of even $2,000 more salary per year...) you cannot make the comparison, case closed. Instead the type of comparison in terms of dollars that you can make is how much you could save if you abandon a frivolous hobby like sport bicycling and adopt much lower cost running as a cardio replacement.

    As someone who doesn't own a car, this thread is premised on faulty nonsense. You have to really do something stupid or extreme to make car ownership cheaper than a bicycle. Maybe you can entertain us next by trying to pit owning a home or renting an apartment(necessity) with the compared costs savings versus ultra-exclusive golfing excursions(hobby) and lament how the excursion could cost more than several months mortgage...

  50. #50
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    Oh Roy, you so sassy. thanks for keeping it real!

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    Get a rohloff, steel sprocket, ring and chain. Sp or son front hub and rim brakes on carbide coated rims with marathon xr tires.
    Your annual maintenace costs would be close to zero - you wouldnt even have to buy batteries for your lights
    That wouldn't be a cheap n crappy bike,as long as you are not bothered about speed, it would be virtually maintenace free. If you do a lot of miles commuting cost per mile even factoring in bike cost would be negligible

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    The thing is, I would guess many of you own ordinary cars, but fairly exotic bikes.

    Comparing the costs of maintenance on a high end road bike to the costs of maintenance on a Ferrari is a more realistic comparison.

    For really reliable utility cycling, get an old roadster. I once rebuilt a 1954 Rudge that had obviously done tens of thousands of miles. Because the chain ran through a fully enclosed chaincase with oilbath, none of the drivetrain had any appreciable wear. I cleaned the chain in white spirit, and it was still shiny steel. In fact, each link had "Made in England" stamped on it. I rebuilt the headset with new bearings, regreased the bottom bracket (which had a grease nipple, so never never needed to be taken apart), and it was ready again.

    The Sturmey AW is way more reliable than exotic hubs like Rolhoffs. They routinely manage 30,000 miles with no maintenance beyond the occasional drop of gear oil. And you don't get that stupid clockwork toy noise in all the low gears.

    Of course, the brakes are awful, and the stock gearing is too high (a new cog and chain can sort that, though). But for low maintenance, they are unbeatable. Cities like Oxford have had fleets of them running for decades, passed down from owner to owner.

  53. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyFokker View Post
    @Forster:
    No, you are totally wrong on this. I clicked on a thread entitled: "Car v. Bike Maintenance Costs" and thought I was gonna get a relevant discussion on the cost of car ownership versus bike ownership. I didn't, instead there were lots of busy-bodies talking about car + bike ownership and erroneously both equating and yet paradoxically trying to make separate, the bicycle they use a luxury toy for joy rides and only use to get places when they feel like it(which for most people is almost never) and comparing that to their car which they use to get where they need to get to in life and its associated costs and maintenance! Well, if you cannot get rid of a car(or think you cannot more precisely, because likely many would move to somewhere else for the offer of even $2,000 more salary per year...) you cannot make the comparison, case closed. Instead the type of comparison in terms of dollars that you can make is how much you could save if you abandon a frivolous hobby like sport bicycling and adopt much lower cost running as a cardio replacement.

    As someone who doesn't own a car, this thread is premised on faulty nonsense. You have to really do something stupid or extreme to make car ownership cheaper than a bicycle. Maybe you can entertain us next by trying to pit owning a home or renting an apartment(necessity) with the compared costs savings versus ultra-exclusive golfing excursions(hobby) and lament how the excursion could cost more than several months mortgage...
    I this point I don't see how I could talk you back to the original post and don't even care to try. The first post (I assume you read it before becoming totally disappointed in our inane and useless discussion) simply stated (accurately) that my bike expenses (sans gas) were lower last year than my bike expenses. They did not get that way by putting luxury level items on my luxury level bike, they got that way by me wearing out stuff on my commuter (forum topic) and spending less (last year) on my car. Since the first of the year, I have commuted to work (between 20 and 40 miles) as many days as possible (weather and schedule permitting. Since June I have racked up over 2000 miles of commuting and only 75 miles of recreational riding. So we're busy-bodies talking about luxury toys we use for fun trips, so what? I don't understand what upsets you except that some of our points of view don't closely align with yours. So you don't own a car, does that make my commuter bike use "extreme" or "stupid". I don't know. I don't take ultra-expensive vacations (took three days last year to camp and ate my meals from a grocery bag) and I don't golf or mortgage so I guess you'll have to entertain yourself.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdoesthehula View Post
    The thing is, I would guess many of you own ordinary cars, but fairly exotic bikes.

    Comparing the costs of maintenance on a high end road bike to the costs of maintenance on a Ferrari is a more realistic comparison.

    For really reliable utility cycling, get an old roadster. I once rebuilt a 1954 Rudge that had obviously done tens of thousands of miles. Because the chain ran through a fully enclosed chaincase with oilbath, none of the drivetrain had any appreciable wear. I cleaned the chain in white spirit, and it was still shiny steel. In fact, each link had "Made in England" stamped on it. I rebuilt the headset with new bearings, regreased the bottom bracket (which had a grease nipple, so never never needed to be taken apart), and it was ready again.

    The Sturmey AW is way more reliable than exotic hubs like Rolhoffs. They routinely manage 30,000 miles with no maintenance beyond the occasional drop of gear oil. And you don't get that stupid clockwork toy noise in all the low gears.

    Of course, the brakes are awful, and the stock gearing is too high (a new cog and chain can sort that, though). But for low maintenance, they are unbeatable. Cities like Oxford have had fleets of them running for decades, passed down from owner to owner.
    Well, I own a fairly plain car (99 GMC Suburban) and a fairly plain bike (2012 Surly Pugsley - apart from the tires, wheels, and bottom bracket, every other part can be found on any mountain bike). From January 1 2014 until today I have ridden my bike just about 7500 miles. I have personally driven my 'burban maybe 500 miles. Overall we've driven the 'burban 9000 miles.

    The cost of maintenance on these two vehicles is in no way comparable. I've spent well more on maintaining my bike than on my car. I've replaced bearings, chains, cassettes, and had to rebuild a wheel this year on my bike. I've changed the oil three times on my 'burban and replaced a water pump. Figure I spend 30 bucks on changing the oil (do it myself), that's 90 bucks, plus 70 for a new water pump - 160 on maintenance, plus my time in doing the work for the car. That's nearly one spring overhaul on the bike (chain - 30, cassette - 45, cables (brake) - 20, cables (shift) 20 - brake pads 20x2=40 total $155). I ride enough that I generally go through 4 chains a year, two cassettes, two sets of brake pads a year, and change the cables at least once a year. I also tend to go through peddles once a year or two, bottom bracket bearings once a year or more, chain rings every year or two (depending), and other sundry parts. I am hard on my bike and I ride it a lot in every possible weather condition - rain, snow, slush, sun, and the nasty, salty, wet time of year us in AK call breakup.

    I'm hard on my car, too. But all in all maintenance on the bike, because of the way I ride versus the way I use a car, is always going to be more for me, and for most of us here. We use our bikes more than we use our cars.

    That said, in the long run it still costs me less to bike than to drive. Fuel at 4 dollars per gallon is spendy. My burban has a 40 gallon tank and that 40 gallons will get me just a touch over 400 miles. That's 160 per week just in fuel. Driving 400 miles per week also would increase all maintenance costs as stuff would start to wear out faster. Then add in insurance and all the rest and, well, biking is still the better economic choice for me. I can buy a whole lot of quality food for 160 a week. It costs less to fuel me than it does to fuel my car.

    I would say that most commuters here are in a similar boat. Sure, some of us have super fancy bikes, but most of us are riding fairly standard fare. And if we do splurge for something like a Rolhoff because the maths work out that the initial outlay is offset by the reduced overall maintenance cost.

    Where was I going with this?

    Don't remember. Maybe it was simply that I like to ride my bike. Yeah. That's it. I like to ride my bike and something something something. Bike better than car. Car bad. Pugsley best bike ever. Watch me beat my chest and yell that my way is best way. Caveman like fire...

    Blah.

    I'm going for a ride.

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    I have a diesel Jetta and commute 90% of the time on a Trek 7.3fx. I think both vehicles are pretty utilitarian. I think the point is, the vast majority of my car expenses would exist if I drove 1 mile a year or 10,000 a year. So the question is, does biking save enough on operational costs to justify itself? I think its break even or loss a bit of money. If I wanted to be a miser and ride a crap bike with crap gear and hate my life, I could. But I don't think its worth it to cheap out on rain/winter gear, lights, etc just to save some cash.

    I think we've all been called cheap by others for not driving, but in reality we probably don't save much. I thoroughly enjoy bike commuting, I get upset when I can't do it for certain circumstances, but it probably isn't a monetary gain for me.

  56. #56
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    Our 10-year old Volvo had a big lead on my bikes for maintenance, until we replaced the timing belt, brakes, plugs etc last month.

    That bill gets a lot of chains and cogs.

    But trying to compare the total costs of driving with gas and everything gets into a pretty abstract calculation.... I know I can ride myself somewhere for much less food $$$ than gas $$$, but I can't carry too much with me, and certainly not other family members... although with the car there is a lot of stuff in the back that is dead weight that just burns gas even when all the seats are occupied.

    And I'm not factoring in the random things like the number of times we've had to replace busted windshields and headlights from rocks on the highway.

    Point is, car is needed by wife and kids, and I can't afford ANOTHER car to get to work, so I would be on the bus.

    In addition to an extra hour a day commuting, transit passes here are $120 a month and up.

    Game over. I could supply myself with carbon road bikes and tubular race tires with that budget. And have lots of time to glue them.
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    Interesting post. But:

    Quote Originally Posted by blockphi View Post
    2012 Surly Pugsley - apart from the tires, wheels, and bottom bracket, every other part can be found on any mountain bike)

    I would argue a Surly is still quite an exotic bike. It costs a lot of money; not much for an enthusiast, of course, but to a layperson it isn't cheap.

    Still, going back to my Rudge example, the costs for a major overhaul would be:

    Chain: £4
    Sturmey Archer cog: £3
    Shift cable: £3
    Brake cables: £6
    Bearings for headset, pedals and BB: £6

    That's all in British money. It would cost about the same in US dollars.

    Of course, the bottom bracket maintenance if the bike if it hadn't stood for ten years would have been a squirt of grease into the top of the shell. Same for the front hub, and a teaspoon of gear oil for the rear hub. And of course, the chain was always fine, because it constantly ran through a bath of oil.

    Still, you are right. Cycling is far, far better than driving. I don't cycle commute anymore, but I would if I didn't work from home.

    See you on the road. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forster View Post
    I this point I don't see how I could talk you back to the original post and don't even care to try. The first post (I assume you read it before becoming totally disappointed in our inane and useless discussion) simply stated (accurately) that my bike expenses (sans gas) were lower last year than my bike expenses. They did not get that way by putting luxury level items on my luxury level bike, they got that way by me wearing out stuff on my commuter (forum topic) and spending less (last year) on my car. Since the first of the year, I have commuted to work (between 20 and 40 miles) as many days as possible (weather and schedule permitting. Since June I have racked up over 2000 miles of commuting and only 75 miles of recreational riding. So we're busy-bodies talking about luxury toys we use for fun trips, so what? I don't understand what upsets you except that some of our points of view don't closely align with yours. So you don't own a car, does that make my commuter bike use "extreme" or "stupid". I don't know. I don't take ultra-expensive vacations (took three days last year to camp and ate my meals from a grocery bag) and I don't golf or mortgage so I guess you'll have to entertain yourself.
    C'mon tongue in cheek or not you must have expected a little bit of controversy from your original post that bike "Operating Costs" are more than a car based upon annual credit card receipts.....:roll eyes:

    Added bonus that we got an outraged Copperfield style zealot wading in.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    C'mon tongue in cheek or not you must have expected a little bit of controversy from your original post that bike "Operating Costs" are more than a car based upon annual credit card receipts.....:roll eyes:

    Added bonus that we got an outraged Copperfield style zealot wading in.....
    Don't mind the naysayers or the "that's not me", only slightly perturbed at the "You cheated me out of the discussion I wanted" comments. We can all start the discussion we want, framed as we want to frame it. Don't like where some thread is going, start your own. Admittedly, last year is unusual by most standards (including my own) but that's why I posted the original question.

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    Interesting to think about the classification of the bikes we ride. I certainly wouldn't consider a Surly or my Trek exotic, but to some people spending $500-$1000 on a bike is seen as extreme. I guess some people would. If you're going to use a bike as a primary vehicle what is an acceptable amount to pay?

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    I think a commuter pays you back at about $.50/mile ridden (vice a car) and I think two years is a sufficient pay-back period. So for a 2K/year average commuter I like the >$2k price range although neither of my bikes approaches that price. My Paragon was picked-up used just north of a grand and my Fargo 2 was a 2013 closeout at $1399.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KentheKona View Post
    Interesting to think about the classification of the bikes we ride. I certainly wouldn't consider a Surly or my Trek exotic, but to some people spending $500-$1000 on a bike is seen as extreme. I guess some people would. If you're going to use a bike as a primary vehicle what is an acceptable amount to pay?
    However much you want, I suppose.

    If you compare the price of a bike to the weekly price of fuel for a car, they all pay for themselves in short order. An interesting paradox with bikes, though is the fact that the more expensive your bike becomes, generally the less useful it becomes as a primary vehicle. A really exotic road frame is not really sensible as an everyday bike, although some people manage quite well on them.

    I think bikes like your Surly are perfect for everyday use. But for most commuting, it's no better than a secondhand mountain bike.

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    I built my commuter on a handmade in canada chromag sakura frame. That way I didn't have to baby it, potholes and sidewalks, no problemo, snow and ice likewise. Also I am confident my 3kg of locks hanging in a bag under the saddle won't crack the frame anytime soon. Its a fairly useful primary vehicle, built tough and heavy. It also looks very low tech/old and low budget. That is good. I probably have the only sakura on the planet with a dropbar and rigid fork and fenders

    Heavy = good (with commuters).

    I don't think spending a grand on a bike is expensive. BUT it depends on age and where in the world you live in of course. I mean you can probably buy a ton of ak's in derkaderka-stan for a grand, but then everyone you know have to chip in, and a ton of ak's or a medium grade surly bike??

    If the bike has all the components you want, and exactly those you want then I think 10k is not that expensive, I mean hand picked stuff all of them, by you, for you to use. Hell yopu can even buy off the shelf bikes for over 10k today, where you choose nothing. wtf is that.

    And also, obviously it depends on if you are building a bike to last or to just sell it in 3 years. Personally I never buy anything I intend to sell at all. I buy things for me to "consume", resale value in not even on the list, since I personally wouldn't pay jack chit for a used bike at all. Although if a "highend" steel frame survived for a few years in a non racing enviroment, it might be worth like 200 or so.

    Maybe I plowed 5k into my sakura as it stands, but what is that when its gonna last for most likely 30 years. And at the very least 10. Anyone gonna convince me its cheaper per year to own a car?? Gas is 2€ a liter here, and so is diesel. **** even just having a parking space for a car cost more than my bad ass sakura and then I haven't actually driven the car a single ****ing meter!!! Nor payed for the car or the gas or the insurance.. Its fuking insane
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by car bone View Post
    I built my commuter on a handmade in canada chromag sakura frame. That way I didn't have to baby it, potholes and sidewalks, no problemo, snow and ice likewise. Also I am confident my 3kg of locks hanging in a bag under the saddle won't crack the frame anytime soon. Its a fairly useful primary vehicle, built tough and heavy. It also looks very low tech/old and low budget. That is good. I probably have the only sakura on the planet with a dropbar and rigid fork and fenders

    Heavy = good (with commuters).

    I don't think spending a grand on a bike is expensive. BUT it depends on age and where in the world you live in of course. I mean you can probably buy a ton of ak's in derkaderka-stan for a grand, but then everyone you know have to chip in, and a ton of ak's or a medium grade surly bike??

    If the bike has all the components you want, and exactly those you want then I think 10k is not that expensive, I mean hand picked stuff all of them, by you, for you to use. Hell yopu can even buy off the shelf bikes for over 10k today, where you choose nothing. wtf is that.

    And also, obviously it depends on if you are building a bike to last or to just sell it in 3 years. Personally I never buy anything I intend to sell at all. I buy things for me to "consume", resale value in not even on the list, since I personally wouldn't pay jack chit for a used bike at all. Although if a "highend" steel frame survived for a few years in a non racing enviroment, it might be worth like 200 or so.

    Maybe I plowed 5k into my sakura as it stands, but what is that when its gonna last for most likely 30 years. And at the very least 10. Anyone gonna convince me its cheaper per year to own a car?? Gas is 2€ a liter here, and so is diesel. **** even just having a parking space for a car cost more than my bad ass sakura and then I haven't actually driven the car a single ****ing meter!!! Nor payed for the car or the gas or the insurance.. Its fuking insane
    It's nice to have nice things. Personally, I wouldn't spend a lot on anything I was going to leave locked up in the centre of a town.

    This is one of my commuter. It's very, very comfortable.

    Since I took that photo, I have added a Magura front brake, because I like them. And got rid of the rack, because it made the bike wildly unstable if you added more than a bag of apples.



    The bike cost £40. The rack, mudguards and Magura brake were from my parts bin. Admittedly, I used to be a bike mechanic so have a better parts bin than most people, but even if you bought the parts new the bike would have cost less than £150.

    And really the extra bits haven't improved it that much. I would have had a perfectly functional bike when I bought it for the asking price.

    It's nice to have trick parts for your bike, but honestly? This is perfect for me. I like not having to worry about my bikes.

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    Car-free can save you $1 million


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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    In NYC you could spend that replacing stolen bikes in a year

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    Forster, your signature line says it all. If I wanted to/ could as a practical matter, get rid of my car, I could buy a new Bosanova/ LHT/ Rove etc every two to three months for what I spend in payments, insurance, fuel, parking, etc. This would not eliminate upgrade costs (fancy saddles and bags etc), but I could probably resell a two month old Surly/ Kona for at least half of purchase price.

    I love my car, my truck, and my bike. My bike has helped me lose 22 lbs in 9 weeks, reducing my risk of diabetes, heart disease and so on. Only my bike loves me in return. Even if the bike costs much more per mile, it is reducing long term cost of health care, and, it makes me smile when I ride.

  68. #68
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    "It is vastly cheaper than driving. Due to rising fuel costs and tire upkeep, the cost of owning a car increased nearly 2 percent in 2012 to $8,946, according to AAA. It costs just $308 per year to keep bikes in shape––nearly 30 times less than cars, according to the Sierra Club: "If American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $4 per gallon, total savings would be $7.3 billion a year."


    Read more: 13 Reasons You Should Bike To Work - Business Insider

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