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Americans Work 3.84 Minutes Each Day To Pay For Their Bicycles 59

HeatherNormandale

Photo of Heather Normandale by Adam Thompson / RateMyVelo.com

After revealing that the average American works about 2 hours a day to pay for the cost of automobile ownership earlier this month, I was asked to participate in a radio interview for the Edmonton’s CJSR 88.5FM on Full English Breakfast with Peter Chapman to talk bicycles (listen to the full 13 minute segment here: [MP3 download]).

For fun, the show hosts Peter Chapman and Karly Coleman crunched the numbers and determined that they work 3.5 minutes each day to pay for their bikes.

To validate Peter and Karly’s numbers, I did the math myself using the following conservative assumptions:

  • Assume you will purchase a new sturdy bicycle every 5 years (although a solid city bicycle will easily last more than 30 years, let’s assume that it will only last you five years due to theft or other reasons).

  • Assume the bicycle will have no value at the end of its 5 year lifespan

  • Assume your bicycle costs $1,500 including taxes (assume this cost includes basket, pannier bag, lock, etc.)

  • Assume you will pay $50 a year to maintain this bike

  • Assume the average bicycle owner owns just one commuting bicycle

  • Assume the average American who makes $21.90 per hour will work 2,000 hours per year (40 hours/week * 50 working weeks) for an average salary of $43,800 per annum

Based on an annual average cost of $350 to own a sturdy, quality bicycle, the average American will work 15.98 hours a year to pay for their bicycle, which works out to be 0.063927 hours per day – or 3.84 minutes a day.

Thus, Peter and Karly’s numbers do indeed add up.

Furthermore, the average bicycle owner will likely spend far less than $1,500 when they buy a bicycle, but they will perhaps spend spend more on maintaining their bicycle each year (more on this in an upcoming article).

Now if we could only convince more people to take some bold measures and change how they view transportation so they would come to realization that 49% of all trips in the United States could easily be done by bicycle – since 49% of all trips are shorter than 3.1 miles (5km).

Although a bicycle isn’t going to be everything for everyone, it is a tool that can help most people get around for most of their trips. Demanding better infrastructure will help make these trips more comfortable, but the best way to create change is to get out there and start riding right now (here are some tips that I can offer from my experiences).

As obvious as it is, I still find it interesting to contrast how Americans will work about 2 hours a day to pay for their cars, but one only needs to work 3.84 minutes each day to pay for a quality commuter bicycle.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

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  • http://bikewords.blogspot.com Matt

    I only spent about $800 on my bike, and as I do all my own maintenance that is largely free (minus parts, but those generally aren’t much either). However, I find that what I do spend money on is clothing… since I bike year-round and live in a 4-season climate, it’s imperative to have clothes that work for my commute. I think $1750 over 5 years is probably pretty close to correct…

  • http://bikewords.blogspot.com/ Matt

    I only spent about $800 on my bike, and as I do all my own maintenance that is largely free (minus parts, but those generally aren’t much either). However, I find that what I do spend money on is clothing… since I bike year-round and live in a 4-season climate, it’s imperative to have clothes that work for my commute. I think $1750 over 5 years is probably pretty close to correct…

  • Ryan

    With my current commuter bike (http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodsterman/sets/72157623560486568/) I’m close to those numbers. However, I’d be curious to figure out how many minutes per day I worked to pay for my Trek 830 Antelope mountain bike that I commuted/toured on for 20 years. Bought it new in 1990 for $489.00, and rode it pretty much daily from then until August of 2009 when I bought my Surly Cross Check. I still ride it occasionally though, I use it as my beater bike. Who knows how much I spent on it over the years- lots of tires, brakes, and other parts and service- but still, I bet it would be a pretty nominal amount of time daily.

    Like Matt, I spend good money on good commuting clothes and gear too, but it’s worth it. I could get by with less too, but I’ve got the money and I like quality gear though, so why not? You can buy a lot of good cycling clothing and gear for the cost of a few car payments! On which note…

    I need to forward this post to my mom. After the recent post about how Americans work 2 hours of each day to pay for their cars, she and I figured out what she’s paying for her 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser. Keep in mind that she’s healthy, has a nice bike, and lives about 4 miles from her office.The payments, insurance, and (conservative estimates of) fuel and parking expenses came out to $6,910.00 per year!!! And that doesn’t include routine maintenance, replacement of wear parts (tires, wipers, etc.), so she’s definitely paying out upwards of $7,000.00 per year! My god the things I could do with an extra $7k in my pocket! Travel the world! Buy more bikes! Feed hungry families! Save for my son’s college fund! Save for an early retirement! Buy a tiny house! Or- oh, yeah… – drive a Toyota Land Cruiser…

  • Ryan

    With my current commuter bike (http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodsterman/sets/72157623560486568/) I’m close to those numbers. However, I’d be curious to figure out how many minutes per day I worked to pay for my Trek 830 Antelope mountain bike that I commuted/toured on for 20 years. Bought it new in 1990 for $489.00, and rode it pretty much daily from then until August of 2009 when I bought my Surly Cross Check. I still ride it occasionally though, I use it as my beater bike. Who knows how much I spent on it over the years- lots of tires, brakes, and other parts and service- but still, I bet it would be a pretty nominal amount of time daily.

    Like Matt, I spend good money on good commuting clothes and gear too, but it’s worth it. I could get by with less too, but I’ve got the money and I like quality gear though, so why not? You can buy a lot of good cycling clothing and gear for the cost of a few car payments! On which note…

    I need to forward this post to my mom. After the recent post about how Americans work 2 hours of each day to pay for their cars, she and I figured out what she’s paying for her 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser. Keep in mind that she’s healthy, has a nice bike, and lives about 4 miles from her office.The payments, insurance, and (conservative estimates of) fuel and parking expenses came out to $6,910.00 per year!!! And that doesn’t include routine maintenance, replacement of wear parts (tires, wipers, etc.), so she’s definitely paying out upwards of $7,000.00 per year! My god the things I could do with an extra $7k in my pocket! Travel the world! Buy more bikes! Feed hungry families! Save for my son’s college fund! Save for an early retirement! Buy a tiny house! Or- oh, yeah… – drive a Toyota Land Cruiser…

  • Ryan
  • dr2chase

    So, for some datapoints that are contrary in multiple different ways:

    I own four bikes. Initial cost for these four bikes was $0, $150, $200, and $2000+. The cheap bikes have each had money put into them for repairs/renovation, typically about $200 (good tires + good saddle).

    The regular commuter/errander/shopper, that is always ready to go in all conditions, is a Big Dummy with dynamo hub and chaincase, it gets about 2500 miles per year, and it probably costs around $150/year for maintenance — good snow tires are not cheap, last 2-3 years, and this last winter I rode for multi-mile stretches on hard ice. Poor initial choices leading to upgrades was probably the largest initial “maintenance” cost (got the first handlebars wrong, took me a while to catch on to the folding-bike pedals trick for cleats/not, the first internally geared hub was not sturdy enough, I tried an experiment with idler pulleys that didn’t really work).

    The $0 bike (Raleigh) was built somewhere near the end of WW2, so it has lasted much longer than 5 years. The $150 bike (Capo) dates to the 60s, I bought it in 1985, and recently gave it a makeover (saddle, wheels, stem, handlebars, rear derailer — but original front derailer and brakes, still. Neither of these bikes gets used anything like the Dummy — the Raleigh does for trips into Cambridge, where most bike thieves are unlikely to recognize anything of value except perhaps the seat, and the Capo is nice for fair-weather fun rides.

    The $200 bike is a mountain biking tandem (steel, Univega), bought somewhat on a whim, because I knew it was a good deal and it was unlikely to go wrong in ways I was unable to fix. It doesn’t get nearly enough use.

    I am spending less and less on bike-specific gear. Abandoning cleats has worked well — it simplifies the winter biking story, and I find that I ride more if I don’t need to change into funny shoes (in practice, in the summer, I ride in flip-flops, and have logged my fastest commutes in flip-flops, both coming and going. I’m old, and my limits are more aerobic than muscular, so this is not a complete surprise.) I do have a lot more wool in my wardrobe than I used to, but it’s not biking-only clothes, and I have some kick-ass winter gloves.

    All that said, I still own a car, though I am not sure what happens when this car craps out, if it ever craps out. Simply owning a car has some obnoxious costs; gasoline and maintenance scale pretty well with reduced mileage, but auto insurance does not, nor does space in the driveway. It was $3000 initially, I have owned it for 11 years, and whenever something necessary breaks, I pay to get it fixed (power steering, AC, and a reliable speedometer are not necessary; engine, brakes, suspension, and stereo are necessary). Nonetheless, I think the costs are well over $1000 per year (200 gallons of gasoline, plus liability insurance, no collision or comprehensive, together easily exceeds $1000). I expect that reduced parts availability will eventually be a factor, though the Honda Civic was a pretty popular car.

  • dr2chase

    So, for some datapoints that are contrary in multiple different ways:

    I own four bikes. Initial cost for these four bikes was $0, $150, $200, and $2000+. The cheap bikes have each had money put into them for repairs/renovation, typically about $200 (good tires + good saddle).

    The regular commuter/errander/shopper, that is always ready to go in all conditions, is a Big Dummy with dynamo hub and chaincase, it gets about 2500 miles per year, and it probably costs around $150/year for maintenance — good snow tires are not cheap, last 2-3 years, and this last winter I rode for multi-mile stretches on hard ice. Poor initial choices leading to upgrades was probably the largest initial “maintenance” cost (got the first handlebars wrong, took me a while to catch on to the folding-bike pedals trick for cleats/not, the first internally geared hub was not sturdy enough, I tried an experiment with idler pulleys that didn’t really work).

    The $0 bike (Raleigh) was built somewhere near the end of WW2, so it has lasted much longer than 5 years. The $150 bike (Capo) dates to the 60s, I bought it in 1985, and recently gave it a makeover (saddle, wheels, stem, handlebars, rear derailer — but original front derailer and brakes, still. Neither of these bikes gets used anything like the Dummy — the Raleigh does for trips into Cambridge, where most bike thieves are unlikely to recognize anything of value except perhaps the seat, and the Capo is nice for fair-weather fun rides.

    The $200 bike is a mountain biking tandem (steel, Univega), bought somewhat on a whim, because I knew it was a good deal and it was unlikely to go wrong in ways I was unable to fix. It doesn’t get nearly enough use.

    I am spending less and less on bike-specific gear. Abandoning cleats has worked well — it simplifies the winter biking story, and I find that I ride more if I don’t need to change into funny shoes (in practice, in the summer, I ride in flip-flops, and have logged my fastest commutes in flip-flops, both coming and going. I’m old, and my limits are more aerobic than muscular, so this is not a complete surprise.) I do have a lot more wool in my wardrobe than I used to, but it’s not biking-only clothes, and I have some kick-ass winter gloves.

    All that said, I still own a car, though I am not sure what happens when this car craps out, if it ever craps out. Simply owning a car has some obnoxious costs; gasoline and maintenance scale pretty well with reduced mileage, but auto insurance does not, nor does space in the driveway. It was $3000 initially, I have owned it for 11 years, and whenever something necessary breaks, I pay to get it fixed (power steering, AC, and a reliable speedometer are not necessary; engine, brakes, suspension, and stereo are necessary). Nonetheless, I think the costs are well over $1000 per year (200 gallons of gasoline, plus liability insurance, no collision or comprehensive, together easily exceeds $1000). I expect that reduced parts availability will eventually be a factor, though the Honda Civic was a pretty popular car.

  • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

    Interesting stats…thanks for posting them. Yes, I’d much rather be a guy who works to pay for my bikes than to work to pay off my vehicle.

    Darryl

  • http://twitter.com/lovingthebike Darryl

    Interesting stats…thanks for posting them. Yes, I’d much rather be a guy who works to pay for my bikes than to work to pay off my vehicle.

    Darryl

  • http://waterloobikes.ca/ Rob

    Thanks for posting, the stat is awesome :)

    Agree with the poster below that clothing adds to the cost for many northerners, many of us own multiple bikes (3 for me) … (not to mention many of us cycling commuters also own cars).

  • http://waterloobikes.ca/ Graham

    Thanks for posting, the stat is awesome :)

    Agree with the poster below that clothing adds to the cost for many northerners, many of us own multiple bikes (3 for me) … (not to mention many of us cycling commuters also own cars).

  • anon

    Good job with the radio interview!

  • anon

    Good job with the radio interview!

  • Micheal Blue

    Good point, James. It’s not about money for many people, though. If it were, people wouldn’t smoke and spend their money on weird stuff. Money is a motivator only for people on a tight budget or for Scrooges. Something has to “move” inside of the people so they are willing to try something new. I’m not sure what and how. Is it perhaps the thing that many people are expecting or wanting to be served? Just park your butt somewhere and other people or machines will do things for you. With biking you actually have to do something actively and physically. That it is so much fun can be discovered/experienced only after the activity is undertaken. Usually it’s the first step. Once the finger is offered, biking takes the whole hand :-)

  • Micheal Blue

    Good point, James. It’s not about money for many people, though. If it were, people wouldn’t smoke and spend their money on weird stuff. Money is a motivator only for people on a tight budget or for Scrooges. Something has to “move” inside of the people so they are willing to try something new. I’m not sure what and how. Is it perhaps the thing that many people are expecting or wanting to be served? Just park your butt somewhere and other people or machines will do things for you. With biking you actually have to do something actively and physically. That it is so much fun can be discovered/experienced only after the activity is undertaken. Usually it’s the first step. Once the finger is offered, biking takes the whole hand :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bike-Shop-Hub/100002035400218 Bike Shop Hub
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bike-Shop-Hub/100002035400218 Bike Shop Hub
  • Guest

    What’s the point of this stat? If we’re encouraging more people to ride bicycles, I think the last thing that anyone would have to argue against is the idea that bicycle costs are prohibitive. Cars cost more than bikes? No shit.

    Where does 49% come from? Distance alone? That’s the stat for evaluating the feasibility of bicycle trips?

    This is about filling redundant blog posts with smug crap so a bunch of aging hipsters can pat themselves on the back.

    • Alexian Conquest

      I’m always surprised to see how furious lazy people get when presented with the thoughtful, non-obligatory suggestion that they get off their butts every once in a while.

      • Guest

        I’m always surprised to see people leap to stupid conclusions. I ride every day, I just don’t feel the need to tell people in self-congratulatory blog posts.

        • Guest two

          I doubt you’re a biker. Your first comment seems to be from a stand point of an aging driver who is angry at the bikers who are “hogging your road”.

          Stop being an asshole.

  • Guest

    What’s the point of this stat? If we’re encouraging more people to ride bicycles, I think the last thing that anyone would have to argue against is the idea that bicycle costs are prohibitive. Cars cost more than bikes? No shit.

    Where does 49% come from? Distance alone? That’s the stat for evaluating the feasibility of bicycle trips?

    This is about filling redundant blog posts with smug crap so a bunch of aging hipsters can pat themselves on the back.

  • Alexian Conquest

    I’m always surprised to see how furious lazy people get when presented with the thoughtful, non-obligatory suggestion that they get off their butts every once in a while.

  • Guest

    I’m always surprised to see people leap to stupid conclusions. I ride every day, I just don’t feel the need to tell people in self-congratulatory blog posts.

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  • Wmass

    This is entirely inaccurate. It would ALSO be a safe assumption to assume that new tires will need to be purchased in the span of a year (already probably pushing the cost up to around 50 dollars in ‘maintenance’) Not to mention, tubes, brake pads, drivetrain (chain, chainrings, freewheel/cassette) which after a SOLID year of use would all need to be replaced.

    In addition to this- if you aren’t a mechanic you will be paying labor for all the work performed on the bike.

    This isn’t to say that it is still not a far more cost effective method of transportation, but the assumptions made are almost entirely out of the realm of possibility.

    • Nstefko

      This type of negative attitude is what deters people from even wanting to try making a positive change in their lives. 2 years ago I started making some big changes in my life and it started with finding employment closer to where I lived. Once I accomplished that I was able to sell my pickup truck. Since then I probably ride my bike at least once a day for a at least a couple miles. I’ve learned a lot about repairing and maintaining my bicycle too. With proper care all the parts you mentioned can last much much longer than one year.

      Try and keep an open mind :)

      • Aswhgfjksah

        Zing!

    • Hermanni

      So, you’re saying, that instead of 3.8 minutes, people would actually spend something like 6, perhaps even 7 minutes daily to pay their bike? That’s indeed an outrageous amount of time. Good point, sir.

    • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

      “the assumptions made are almost entirely out of the realm of possibility”

      Just because you seem to ride some kind of expensive racing bike that has a significant amount of maintenance every year, it doesn’t mean everyone else does.

      My $1,500 sturdy Dutch bike will easily go 5 years without any major repairs. All of the parts are internalized and I only need to take it in once a year for a $50 tune up. I ride it virtually every day of the year – including in the winter.

      But instead of spending $1,500 on a sturdy commuter bike requiring low maintenance, someone might spend $300 on a bike and replace it every two years and spend $150 a year repairing it. The total still comes out to less than the $1,750 over the course of 5 years.

      It might be healthy for you to stop looking at the world through such a narrow lens and have a more open mind that not everyone who uses a bicycle out there is just like you…

    • dattdeed

      a good set of tires lasts me at the very least 3 years and i ride over 4400 miles per year, chains should be replaced once every 3000 – 5000 miles and chain rings and cassettes should out last your tires.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5213185 Casey McLaughlin

      “…the assumptions made are almost entirely out of the realm of possibility.”

      You’re right. These estimates are too high.

      Since January, 2007, my bicycle has cost me $1,478 total, including $640 for its original purchase and subsequent maintenance/accessories. That’s approx $295 a year, or $24.33 a month.

      I ride to work four times a week, in addition to recreational trips on the weekends, and auxiliary trips on the side. A conservative estimate of my annual mileage would be 800 miles, but that’s probably way under.

      I’ve replaced the tires once, the chain once, the handlebar grips once, the brakes several times, and have had professional maintenance done 11 times since 2007.

      Contrast that $24.33 with my monthly cost of paying for and maintaining our 2010 Toyota Prius: $599.67.

    • Urban_Snowshoer

      I totally agree: brake cables and derailleurs are going to wear out sooner or later, could be as little as 1-2 years if you riding a lot. Furthermore, unless you’re going to buy a new bike every couple of years you’re going to have to replace the cassette and chain at some point (which is going to run a lot more than $50). If you need a major overhaul: e.g. replacing brake cables, derailleurs, chain, and cassette at the same, you could be looking at a $300-$400 repair bill, unless you’re skilled enough to do it yourself. My bike is my primary form of transporation, and I considering spending a couple of hundred bucks for bike shop repairs from time to time a cost of doing business, nonetheless $50 is a bit on the optimistic side.

      • http://www.theurbancountry.com James Schwartz

        As I have stated in previous comments, the numbers used certainly do not represent everybody’s situations. Many people spend far less than $1,500 on a bicycle. Thus, someone could buy a new $350 bike every year and the total would still come out to the same after 5 years.

        Or someone could spend $500 on a bike and then spend an average of $250 a year maintaining that bicycle. There are many ways to slice these numbers. This is just an average situation. I have friends who spend far less than $1,750 every 5 years, and I have friends who spend more.

  • Wmass

    This is entirely inaccurate. It would ALSO be a safe assumption to assume that new tires will need to be purchased in the span of a year (already probably pushing the cost up to around 50 dollars in ‘maintenance’) Not to mention, tubes, brake pads, drivetrain (chain, chainrings, freewheel/cassette) which after a SOLID year of use would all need to be replaced.

    In addition to this- if you aren’t a mechanic you will be paying labor for all the work performed on the bike.

    This isn’t to say that it is still not a far more cost effective method of transportation, but the assumptions made are almost entirely out of the realm of possibility.

  • Nstefko

    This type of negative attitude is what deters people from even wanting to try making a positive change in their lives. 2 years ago I started making some big changes in my life and it started with finding employment closer to where I lived. Once I accomplished that I was able to sell my pickup truck. Since then I probably ride my bike at least once a day for a at least a couple miles. I’ve learned a lot about repairing and maintaining my bicycle too. With proper care all the parts you mentioned can last much much longer than one year.

    Try and keep an open mind :)

  • Aswhgfjksah

    Zing!

  • Guest two

    I doubt you’re a biker. Your first comment seems to be from a stand point of an aging driver who is angry at the bikers who are “hogging your road”.

    Stop being an asshole.

  • Hermanni

    So, you’re saying, that instead of 3.8 minutes, people would actually spend something like 6, perhaps even 7 minutes daily to pay their bike? That’s indeed an outrageous amount of time. Good point, sir.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    “the assumptions made are almost entirely out of the realm of possibility”

    Just because you seem to ride some kind of expensive racing bike that has a significant amount of maintenance every year, it doesn’t mean everyone else does.

    My $1,500 sturdy Dutch bike will easily go 5 years without any major repairs. All of the parts are internalized and I only need to take it in once a year for a $50 tune up. I ride it virtually every day of the year – including in the winter.

    But instead of spending $1,500 on a sturdy commuter bike requiring low maintenance, someone might spend $300 on a bike and replace it every two years and spend $150 a year repairing it. The total still comes out to less than the $1,750 over the course of 5 years.

    It might be healthy for you to stop looking at the world through such a narrow lens and have a more open mind that not everyone who uses a bicycle out there is just like you…

  • dattdeed

    a good set of tires lasts me at the very least 3 years and i ride over 4400 miles per year, chains should be replaced once every 3000 – 5000 miles and chain rings and cassettes should out last your tires.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5213185 Casey McLaughlin

    “…the assumptions made are almost entirely out of the realm of possibility.”

    You’re right. These estimates are too high.

    Since January, 2007, my bicycle has cost me $1,478 total, including $640 for its original purchase and subsequent maintenance/accessories. That’s approx $295 a year, or $24.33 a month.

    I ride to work four times a week, in addition to recreational trips on the weekends, and auxiliary trips on the side. A conservative estimate of my annual mileage would be 800 miles, but that’s probably way under.

    I’ve replaced the tires once, the chain once, the handlebar grips once, the brakes several times, and have had professional maintenance done 11 times since 2007.

    Contrast that $24.33 with my monthly cost of paying for and maintaining our 2010 Toyota Prius: $599.67.

  • Peter

    The labor for bike maintenance is quite expensive, and few people know enough to do their own. Add in the cost of spare parts that a normal bike will need over a five year period, and a yearly maintenance cost of $300 to $500 is much more realistic.

    The worst part is that the more accurate calculation comes out to about 10 minutes a day! *No one* is going to tell their buddies that their bike costs ’3.84 minutes a day’ to maintain, but *many people* will remember and repeat the fact that bikes only cost *10* minutes a day. It’s a nice round number. If you want people to ride bikes more, accurate information that will spread easily from person to person is better than, “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

    • http://daddyridesbikes.blogspot.com/ Matt

      What on earth are you getting replaced to have a YEARLY cost of $300-$500?

      I’ve owned my commuter for about 4 years, and during that time I’ve replaced:
      - chain (2x) – $40
      - cassette – $30?
      - wheels – $150
      - tires (2x) – $60
      - handlebar (personal choice, not needed upgrade) – $50
      - brakes/cables (upgraded to discs when needed new pads) – $100
      - new seat (personal choice) – $50

      So all told I’m into it just shy of $500 in parts after 4 years – and about $150 of that was my choice, not a needed repair.

      Now, that doesn’t count routine maintenance (I do that myself – like many people I know!), but I’d need to have a total of $700-$1500 to meet your estimate. My estimate of what my maintenance would have cost at a shop is more like $50-60 per year… so about $250 tops.

      So yeah, I’d say even if I hadn’t done my own work, I’d only have spent $750 over 4 years… and of that, only $600 was truly necessary. Which comes out to about $150 a year. Considering the bike only cost $800 to begin with, I’m still well within the cost-to-operate umbrella set up by the OP.

  • Peter

    The labor for bike maintenance is quite expensive, and few people know enough to do their own. Add in the cost of spare parts that a normal bike will need over a five year period, and a yearly maintenance cost of $300 to $500 is much more realistic.

    The worst part is that the more accurate calculation comes out to about 10 minutes a day! *No one* is going to tell their buddies that their bike costs ’3.84 minutes a day’ to maintain, but *many people* will remember and repeat the fact that bikes only cost *10* minutes a day. It’s a nice round number. If you want people to ride bikes more, accurate information that will spread easily from person to person is better than, “lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

  • http://daddyridesbikes.blogspot.com/ Matt

    What on earth are you getting replaced to have a YEARLY cost of $300-$500?

    I’ve owned my commuter for about 4 years, and during that time I’ve replaced:
    - chain (2x) – $40
    - cassette – $30?
    - wheels – $150
    - tires (2x) – $60
    - handlebar (personal choice, not needed upgrade) – $50
    - brakes/cables (upgraded to discs when needed new pads) – $100
    - new seat (personal choice) – $50

    So all told I’m into it just shy of $500 in parts after 4 years – and about $150 of that was my choice, not a needed repair.

    Now, that doesn’t count routine maintenance (I do that myself – like many people I know!), but I’d need to have a total of $700-$1500 to meet your estimate. My estimate of what my maintenance would have cost at a shop is more like $50-60 per year… so about $250 tops.

    So yeah, I’d say even if I hadn’t done my own work, I’d only have spent $750 over 4 years… and of that, only $600 was truly necessary. Which comes out to about $150 a year. Considering the bike only cost $800 to begin with, I’m still well within the cost-to-operate umbrella set up by the OP.

  • TK

    Interesting numbers to think about. I’ve always been a car guy and own higher end vehicles, though I do not have loans on them they do depreciate plus insurance costs. Recently got an itch for cycling :) probably will not cycle to work, but getting to a store close by etc.

  • TK

    Interesting numbers to think about. I’ve always been a car guy and own higher end vehicles, though I do not have loans on them they do depreciate plus insurance costs. Recently got an itch for cycling :) probably will not cycle to work, but getting to a store close by etc.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    TK, if you do end up starting to use a bike for short trips, I’d love to hear about it and post an article on it if you are interested. I think that could be a great story… I’ve posted a couple stories of people who hadn’t even considered using a bike for local trips but loved it after they picked up a bike and started doing it.

    Here are a few articles I’ve posted in the past on this topic:
    http://www.theurbancountry.com/2010/12/dutch-cycle-chic-toronto-style.html

    http://www.theurbancountry.com/2011/09/rediscovering-bicycle-17-years-later.html

    http://www.theurbancountry.com/2010/10/australia-newcomer-cycle-chic-interview.html

  • TK

    Cool. I will keep you updated. Reading those stories certainly makes me want to do it even more.

  • http://twitter.com/CowYell Shawn Fox Wang

    you probably spend more than 3.84 min a day on facebook while getting paid. so the bicycle is actually free

  • http://twitter.com/CowYell Shawn Fox Wang

    you probably spend more than 3.84 min a day on facebook while getting paid. so the bicycle is actually free

  • Urban_Snowshoer

    I totally agree: brake cables and derailleurs are going to wear out sooner or later, could be as little as 1-2 years if you riding a lot. Furthermore, unless you’re going to buy a new bike every couple of years you’re going to have to replace the cassette and chain at some point (which is going to run a lot more than $50). If you need a major overhaul: e.g. brake cables, derailleurs, chain, and cassette at the same, you could be looking at a $300-$400 repair bill, unless you’re skilled enough to do it yourself.

  • http://www.theurbancountry.com/ James Schwartz

    As I have stated in previous comments, the numbers used certainly do not represent everybody’s situations. Many people spend far less than $1,500 on a bicycle. Thus, someone could buy a new $350 bike every year and the total would still come out to the same after 5 years.

    Or someone could spend $500 on a bike and then spend an average of $250 a year maintaining that bicycle. There are many ways to slice these numbers. This is just an average situation. I have friends who spend far less than $1,750 every 5 years, and I have friends who spend more.

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  • Steve

    $21.90 per hour?! Damn, I WISH I earned that much… Still, the point remains that a bike will generally be cheaper and more beneficial overall than a car.