Monday 9 December 2013

Actual cycling expenditures prove how cheap cycling can be

Summary: Utility cycling can be very inexpensive and much cheaper than using a car or public transport. To prove this point, I regularly update this post to accurately track all of my personal cycling expenditures. Once you have the essentials (which in total have cost me $765), I estimate the required, yearly running costs can be less than $100/year.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by bici Clasica

1. The first table lists prior expenditures dating back to 2009 when I bought my first hybrid bike. It details the lessons learnt and why these expenditures are no longer required. It should be clear what type of expenses (and mistakes!) can readily be eliminated. Eliminating the mistakes and poor choices and doing my own maintenance saves me around $500/year.

2. The second table lists all expenditures for my essential equipment ($765 in total) plus any other equipment I have elected to buy and is in use. The links are to the actual products bought. If I was starting from scratch as a utility cyclist, this is the essential, value-for-money equipment I would need to obtain to make the most of cycling for transport. This table should be referred to along with the post: > Essential gear for cycling and what type to get

3. The third table lists yearly maintenance costs for my single speed bike. As you can see once robust versions of the right type of essential equipment are obtained, ongoing required bike costs are minimal. This is especially the case for single speed bikes which are very low maintenance and where the drivetrain lasts a lot longer. For my single speed bike, the yearly maintenance costs are around $100/year. I can do all yearly maintenance myself and will only need to use a bike shop to replace the bottom bracket (every 4-5 years).

Prior expenditures no longer required

ItemExpenditureCurrent Status
Puncture Kits$15 / yearNo longer required due to puncture-proof tyres
Tyre Liners$30No longer required due to puncture-proof tyres
Regular Services$100-150 / yearNo longer required due to using a low maintenance single speed bike and performing most maintenance myself. Only replacement/repair I can't do myself (e.g. bottom bracket) will be needed
New wheel$100Wheel fully-buckled due to being out of true from riding over bumps. Future wheel failure much less likely as current bike has stronger rims and I can true the wheels myself
Wheel Truing$36/yearNo longer required due to purchasing spoke adjuster to true wheels myself
Replaced Stolen Bike & Equipment$500New bike was stolen due to being locked up with a cable lock. Risk is now almost negligible as I always use a U lock.
Replaced Hybrid Bike$600 for Hybrid bikeBought a single speed bike to replace worn out first hybrid bike (24 speed) after 2.5 years. Quote on new Chain ring, Cassette and Chain was $150 (parts & labour)
Tubes$20 / yearNo longer required due to puncture-proof tyres
Cheap Bike Lights & Batteries$40 / yearTried various cheap bike lights which broke or are no longer in use. Decent USB-rechargeable bike lights now in use
Cheap U lock$15Cheap U lock failed to open after 6 months due to rust and grit. Now use Kryptonite U lock.
Insurance$115 / yearI've never had insurance and have always self-insured. If I did get limited insurance it would have cost at least $115/year via Bicycle Victoria membership.
Smartphone handlebar holder$8Bought one on ebay but it turned out to be too large and cumbersome for use.
Saddle Bag
X Tech saddle bag
$10Lasted from Sept 2010 to Mar 2014. Ultimately the zippers and fabric broke. Replaced with Topeak Aero Wedge Medium which seems more durable.
U Lock
Kryptonite Keeper 11S lock
$18Used from June 2012 to Mar 2014. Did not wear out but I replaced it with the Kryptolok Series 2 as the Keeper's cylinder seemed to be a point of weakness for theft attempts.
Annual Savings:~$500/ yearEliminating the mistakes and poor choices and doing my own maintenance saves me around $500/year. Most cyclists will save much more by eliminating these unnecessary costs.

Expenditures that were required (essential equipment plus optional in active use)

ItemExpenditureCurrent Status
Low Maintenance Utility Bike
- Fuji Declaration 2012
$380In use since July 2012
Bike Trailer$100In use since July 2012 (attached to old hybrid bike)
Floor Pump, Valve adapter
Tioga floor pump
$8In use since June 2011
Hand Pump
- Cell mini pumps
$7In use since June 2011
Chain Lubricant
- Pedros Go lube
Pedros ChainJ Wet Lube
$9 + $12In use since June 2011
Puncture Repair Kit
- Cell puncture kits
$10In use since June 2011
Multi Tool
- Cell multi tools
$10In use since June 2011
- Fiction Skate helmet
$26In use since July 2012
Saddle Bag
Topeak Aero Wedge Medium
$24Replaced original. In use since Mar 2014
Long-fingered gloves
- Cell Sport lightweight gloves
$10In use since June 2011
Single Speed Spanner
Tobe single speed spanner
$9In use since May 2012
USB Rechargeable Front Light
Moon Mask Front Light
$40In use since May 2012
USB Rechargeable Rear Light
Moon GEM 3.0 rear light
$28In use since May 2012
Spare Tubes
Xtech Tube 700 x 25/32C
$10 (for two)Spare since May 2012
U Lock
Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 + Krypto Flex cable
$52In use since Mar 2014
(Replaced Keeper 11S lock as its cylinder was a weakness)
Bicycle Computer
- Sigma Sport BC 1009
- Ventura 14 function
June 2012 - Nov 2014
In use since Mar 2015
Adjustable Bottle Cage
Topeak Modula Ex Cage
$10In use since June 2012
Rear Mudguard
- Zefal Swan mudguard
$20In use since June 2012
Spoke Wrench$8In use since Sept 2012
Car Bike Carrier
Bike Rider car bike carrier
$60In use since Feb 2013
Puncture-proof Tyres
- Schwalbe Marathon Plus
$75In use since April 2013
Puncture-resistant Tubes
- Schwalbe road tubes
$27In use since April 2013
Rain Jacket
- Route7 rain jacket
$35In use since July 2013
Replacement Brake Shoes
Shimano BR-1055
$13In use since Dec 2013
Smartphone Holder
- Finn handlebar holder
$20In use since Dec 2013
Chain Tool
Topeak Universal ChainTool
$11In use since Mar 2014
Comprehensive Tool Kit
Bike Hand: Tool Kit (YC-748)
$139In use since Dec 2014
Bike Repair Stand
Bike Hand: Bicycle Repair Stand
$99In use since Dec 2014
Shoe Covers
- Cycling Deal Shoe Cover
$3In use since Dec 2014
Frame Triangle Wedge Storage Bag
VENZO 600D Frame Bag
$11In use since Dec 2014
Total Cost of Essential Equipment:
Excludes Bike Trailer and Car Bike Carrier which aren't essential, duplicates like tubes and tools and OpEx costs like lubricant)
~$1,140 with tool kit and stand

My Fuji Declaration 2012 with main equipment attached

Single Speed Maintenance - Predicted Costs
- Below are my estimated maintenance costs for the single speed bike I ride. I do 3,500km - 4,000km a year. I do not need any yearly maintenance from a bike shop and do it all myself with the tools that have been bought. The yearly maintenance is minimal (~1-2 hours per month) and includes (in order of frequency):

- Pumping up the tyres
- Wiping the chain and gears of dirt
- Applying chain lubricant and then wiping the chain down
- Wiping and tightening brakes
- Tightening or adjusting the rear wheel bolts and chain tension
- Checking wheel "true" (alignment) and using the spoke wrench to fix if needed
- Replacing brake pads once every 1-2 years
- Replacing the chain every 4-5 years (will use tool kit)
- Replacing the brake cables every 4-5 years (will use tool kit)
- Replacing the bottom bracket every 4-5 years (will use tool kit)
- Replacing the chainring and freewheel cog every 8-10 years (will use tool kit)

ItemExpenditureCurrent Status
Brake Shoe replacement$13 / yearFront set replaced after 18 months
Chain Lubricant$10 / yearIn use since 2012
Chain Ring replacement$35 every 8-10 yearsOriginal since July 2012
Freewheel replacement$15 every 8-10 yearsOriginal since July 2012
Chain replacement$15 every 4-5 yearsOriginal since July 2012
Bottom Bracket replacement$20 every 4-5 years (inc service charge)Original since July 2012
Tyre replacement$75 every 4-5 yearsSchwalbe Marathon Plus in use since April 2013
Replacement of other essential equipment~$15 / yearOnly replaced Saddle Bag and U Lock so far.
My Annual Maintenance Costs:~$100 / yearIn 2014 my direct maintenance spend was $0

Further Info:
Mint Life: The True Cost of Bike Ownership

Commute By Bike: Long Term Maintenance

Velophile Australia: How to: Become an unimaginably frugal bike-riding superhero