Forum home Road cycling forum Campaign

Why does it cost so much to keep riding???

bike_the_planetbike_the_planet Posts: 260
edited August 2007 in Campaign
Running a bike's much cheaper than running a car, right? But when you do a proper comparison is it really cheaper?

I reckon my bike costs me about 8 cents per km. That's based on replacing chain, block and rims every 10,000 kms, chainrings every 20,000 kms, tyres every 6,000 kms, brake pads every 3,000kms, etc etc.

OK, so what about a car?

According to the RAC here in Oz, the total cost per week (assuming an annual mileage of 15,000kms) is around $140 for a Toyota Corolla 1.8L 4-door hatch.

But that also includes fuel, depreciation and all legal costs (insurance, rego etc).

Take that out of the equation and they reckon a per week costs of about $6 for servicing, repairs and tyres. This does depend on the car, so let's be generous and make it $20 per week. At 15,000 kms per year that works out at just under 300 kms per week. For tyres, servicing and repairs, that works out at about 7 cents per km.

That's still less than the bike!

This was brought home to me the other day when I bought some new brake-pads - $15 for two wafers of a fancy rubber polymer

So enjoy your ride - it's likely as not costing you more per km in real terms than your car is!!!

So why is cycling such a rip-off???
BTP,

Perth, WA
«1

Posts

  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    Well I imagine bike parts could be made to last as long as car parts, but they would be much heavier than they are now. Everyone wants light bikes that are nice to ride, so bits wear out.

    It's not really possible to take insurance, tax, fuel and depreciation out of the equation anyway so the whole argument is a bit pointless.

    Neil
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • It's not really possible to take insurance, tax, fuel and depreciation out of the equation anyway so the whole argument is a bit pointless.

    Sure, you can't drive a car without petrol and insurance. But that doesn't make the argument entirely pointless
    Everyone wants light bikes that are nice to ride, so bits wear out.

    For racing/fast road - agreed - that's fair enough. But I also want a day-to-day bike for transport that lasts and doesn't cost a silly amount of money to run. I'm happy to have heavier, cheaper, longer-lasting components. Where do I get them instead of this namby-pamby ligtweight carbon stuff that burns my credit card???!!!
    [/quote]
    BTP,

    Perth, WA
  • AndyGatesAndyGates Posts: 8,467
    You're having trouble finding a cheap heavy bike?

    Get a three-speed. FFS, the billion peasants in India and China ain't spending that much on their everyday bikes, are they?

    You choose to buy something with high maintenance costs, you choose to do the maintenance on time (rather than waiting for it to fail). Bikes are like lingerie: the more you spend, the less you get, but it's lovely and made from special stuff.
    Wanted: Penny farthing. Please PM me!
    Advice for kilted riders: top-tubes are cold.
  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    AndyGates wrote:
    You're having trouble finding a cheap heavy bike?

    Get a three-speed. FFS, the billion peasants in India and China ain't spending that much on their everyday bikes, are they?

    You choose to buy something with high maintenance costs, you choose to do the maintenance on time (rather than waiting for it to fail). Bikes are like lingerie: the more you spend, the less you get, but it's lovely and made from special stuff.

    Yes, I was thinking that too. Around Cambridge I see loads of ancient bikes with hub gears and fully enclosed chaincases - I'd be surprised if many of them have anything spent on them from year to year.

    None of my own bikes are designed for minimum running costs - if they were my primary means of transport I'd think a little bit differently.

    Neil
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • OffTheBackAdamOffTheBackAdam Posts: 1,869
    Do it in terms of £/person/mile and it'd probably be a lot more cost effective to use the car!
    Not having bought any bike bits for some time (Yep, fat-censored here hasn't even ridden one for months! :oops: ) I don't know what the prices are!
    Economies of scale doubtless kick in, plus competition as well, how many firms make brake pads for said Toymotor?
    Remember that you are an Englishman and thus have won first prize in the lottery of life.
  • mba007mba007 Posts: 95
    A few months ago I rescued my MTB from the garage and started riding again, with the aim of getting fit, riding long distances, performing my own maintenance with the right tools, and generally enjoying myself. Being a bit of a bean-counter I put £1 in a pot for every 10km cycled. At the moment I'm way out of pocket, having bought new tyres, anti-numbing shorts, other cycle gear, lights, tools as needed, track pump, etc, etc... all necessary stuff to be safe on a mechanically sound fun-to-ride hardtail.

    I'm hoping that the 'capital' spend is going to diminish to the point where I'm putting more money in than I'm spending. I need to ride at least 6000km to break even :shock: which, at my current weekly average, will take me 40 weeks. I was hoping to build up funds to buy a new bike in a year-or-two's time, but I don't think that is possible on £1 per 10km!
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    I can't believe that the annual costs for cycling come anywhere near the running costs for a car! I got rid of my car 10 years ago (petrol was around 45-50p a litre) and it cost me about 2 500 pounds a year with the car paid off. I don't spend anything like that cycling - even in my first year when I had to buy all the gear: bike, helmet, lights, clothing etc.. The car insurance alone was 350 pounds, which is close to what I spend annually on my bike, and as a legal requirement just has to be classed as a running cost IMO.

    In fact the money I saved over 2 years enabled me to take 3 months off work to cycle across Canada. That included a new bike, camping gear (I had none),flights and spending money.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • Even when you ignore the cost of fuel etc for a car (and I think the comparison's silly if you do), riding bike still gets you fitness and health benefits versus sitting in a tin coffin turning into a cholesterol-clogged lump of lard.
    John Stevenson
  • meenaghmanmeenaghman Posts: 345
    I notice also that you compare a pretty much bog standard car with a top of the range bike.. Should you not be looking at the costs to run a Ferrari or Porsche ?
  • CrapaudCrapaud Posts: 2,483
    If you compare a bottom of the range car, say 5000 pounds, and a top of the range bike, say 5000 pounds, and exclude insurance etc. Then to make them go a litre of petrol will cost ~ 95p and 2 apples and 2 bananas (from Asda) cost ~ 78p. The bike will travel further than the car - bike wins.
    A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject - Churchill
  • NoodleyNoodley Posts: 1,725
    i reckon if you didn't factor in the cost of fuel (which would result in the car going nowhere by mechanical propulsion) then you'd be a lot fitter. Just think of the health benefits of pushing the car everywhere. :wink:
  • overmarsovermars Posts: 430
    AndyGates wrote:
    Bikes are like lingerie: the more you spend, the less you get, but it's lovely and made from special stuff.

    :twisted:
  • So why is cycling such a rip-off???

    The comparison I have made is for servicing and does not include fuel, and it's not a silly one. A bicycle is still a simple device compared to a modern car, and servicing should be correspondingly cheaper. My comparison sought to highlight the cost of spares as much as anything else.

    There are two big, regular running costs with cycling - drive component replacement and brakes/wheel rim replacement.

    My 1980s Dawes Galaxy had alum rims, a triple chainset and a 5-speed block and was light yet very durable. I was able to make it go and stop quite easily. Elegant simplicity - the joy of cycling.

    Prior to gear 'indexing', a block and chain would last 20,000 kms + . Sure, the gear change wasn't instant but with a little technique it soon became easy. Secondly, rims had thicker walls and softer brake blocks. As brake blocks were cheap, regular replacement wasn't a large cost burden at all, and rim wear was minimal.

    Component manufacturers such as Shimano woke up to this fact. The indexing (click shift) system they introduced in the late 80s simply involved reducing the height of the teeth on the cassette cogs. This made shifting possible using an indexed lever with finger-tip pressure, but at the same time meant that the block and chain wear was far more significant, hence the much reduced life span. They also introduced brake blocks of harder materials. Slightly better stopping, more expensive blocks, excessive rim wear. An all round win for manufacturers anxious to further improver their turnover.

    Contrary to poupular opinion, older bikes were still nice to ride and easy/cheap maintain.

    I realise one can't turn the clock back, but I still maintain that bike components are designed more for market turnover than for durability.

    And that price puts alot of would-be cyclists off.

    Cheers
    BTP,

    Perth, WA
  • AndyGatesAndyGates Posts: 8,467
    You're devaluing bike mechanics: what makes a bike mechanic worth less than a car mechanic? Servicing costs include paying the guy in the greasy overall a decent wage.

    And while I don't disagree that short-life components are an evil rip, they DO ride a hell of a lot better - seriously, I have a cheapo Sora mech that shifts so much better than my 1980s Campag Record it's untrue.

    Also, most bikes are only ridden for about 2000 miles in their lifetimes. That makes your complaint akin to the one that iphone users have about their batteries: the average user will not wear out those parts in the average device's lifetime.

    I've worked in bike shops. The cost of maintenance does not put people off from cycling - that's the cost of bikes. People are dumb and expect a bike to cost the same as a night's drinking. After all, "it's only a bike".
    Wanted: Penny farthing. Please PM me!
    Advice for kilted riders: top-tubes are cold.
  • jedsterjedster Posts: 1,717
    I was thinking of something similar

    My main bike is mid-market - aluminium/carbon forks/105, with all the extras about £900.

    Next to it in the garage is a (fairly low-end) honda powered rotary lawnmower - £450. That's probably mid-market too.

    Just looking at the two, it seems superficially that there is a more engineering/manufacturing in the mower than the bike but the pricing does not reflect that.

    It may just be that there's more labour hours (less automation) in assembling the bike.

    I do have a suspicion that bike stuff is high margin though (£25 for a 105 chainring? just look at the thing).

    J
  • SmeggersSmeggers Posts: 1,019
    jedster wrote:
    I was thinking of something similar

    My main bike is mid-market - aluminium/carbon forks/105, with all the extras about £900.

    Next to it in the garage is a (fairly low-end) honda powered rotary lawnmower - £450. That's probably mid-market too.

    Just looking at the two, it seems superficially that there is a more engineering/manufacturing in the mower than the bike but the pricing does not reflect that.

    It may just be that there's more labour hours (less automation) in assembling the bike.

    I do have a suspicion that bike stuff is high margin though (£25 for a 105 chainring? just look at the thing).

    J

    Several issues there...

    1) Since when does the price of something have anything to do with its cost to build?
    2) Its about what you are prepared to pay. If someone conceives an ally / carbon dream machine to be worth £900, then thats what it will be.
    3) I should imagine there are a lot more Honda Powered £450 lawn mowers made than £900 ally / carbon dream machines. Economies of scale are therefore involved.

    The more observant of you will notice that point 3 contradicts point 1. :?
    <font size="1">Hickory Dickory Dock,
    A baby elephant ran up the clock,
    The clock is being repaired</font id="size1">
  • Top Tip:
    Worried that your bicycle might not be that much cheaper to run than your car?
    Simply buy a phenomenally expensive car with poor reliability and high running costs and marvel at the pounds saved by using your bike.
    :D
    Wheelies ARE cool.

    Zaskar X
  • AndyGatesAndyGates Posts: 8,467
    Top tip indeed!

    Here's another thought: my mower is made from lunchbox plastic and stamped steel, my bike is heat-treated fancy alloys and elf jism. Materials make a difference. If you want a bike made from stamped steel it'll be cheap - and it'll be 'kin horrible to ride.
    Wanted: Penny farthing. Please PM me!
    Advice for kilted riders: top-tubes are cold.
  • AndyGates wrote:
    You're devaluing bike mechanics: what makes a bike mechanic worth less than a car mechanic?

    No I'm not. If you read my post carefully you would see that I haven't made any value judgement with regard to bicycle mechanics at all. I didn't even mention bike mechanics! Get your facts right!

    What I did say was that, given the reduced complexity of bike parts compared to those of cars, then one would expect those simpler parts to be cheaper.. My comparison further favoured bikes because I compared the cost of servicing a car with the cost of buying spare parts only for a bike. And it still came up as expensive!

    And contrary to popular opinion, older bikes were comfortable and easier to ride. And cost alot less to run than newer ones.
    BTP,

    Perth, WA
  • Methinks that the problem here is more to do with being conned into the "upgrade" mindset.

    Going from human powered transport to the internal combustion engine for a moment, about twenty years ago ex world motorcycling champion Kenny Roberts once said that "sport bikes today are better than anybody you could find to ride them" and also that sports bikes of the day were better than race bikes had been only ten years before. Now applying a parallell to our sphere you could well say that your £900 bike is better than the bikes that were under the top pros ten or twenty years ago. Indeed you could say that the your bike is better than you actually need.

    To summarise: While it is a natural human instinct to want a better bike (or car, or television, etc. etc.) than you actually need, it's no good complaining about the running costs after you succumb to that instinct. Don't complain about the cost of a 105 chainring, buy a cheaper chainring.

    To summarise the summary: Caveat Emptor.

    Being a little less grumpy I would say that if you want something that's cheap to run then you're probably better off wearing something with touring/MTB parts rather than road parts.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • 4crosser4crosser Posts: 26
    Methinks that the problem here is more to do with being conned into the "upgrade" mindset.

    .
    And there you have it.

    Personally, I don't throw out old parts for this reason. I bought a Saracen Scarab from Halfords last week, with a view to turning it into my dream extreme trail rig. But the brakes are s***. Saving the bars, stem, brakes, wheels, saddle and tyres from my old GT Chucker therefore was a good move. :)
  • KaipaithKaipaith Posts: 44
    I wonder... if you take fuel, depreciation and all legal costs out of the equation, in the long run would owning your own private jet work out cheaper per km?
  • 4crosser4crosser Posts: 26
    Kaipaith wrote:
    I wonder... if you take fuel, depreciation and all legal costs out of the equation, in the long run would owning your own private jet work out cheaper per km?
    :lol:
  • I realy don't understand why there are posts on here which ar hapy to discount insurance etc. with a car you need petrol, you ned insurance and you need maintanence.

    A friend had a problem with the stering wheel on her Vauxhal Astra (mid range 4dor hatchback for those in fairer climbs) it cost her over £500 you can get a nic commuting bike for that.

    By the way, I don't drive. I have to use public transport or the bike.
    Try moving house and just general trips. They may be more expensive. but try living without one for a while and you'll go crazy.

    Adding the cost of transport to and from places makes for a more realistic comparison.
    http://twitter.com/mgalex
    www.ogmorevalleywheelers.co.uk

    10TT 24:36 25TT: 57:59 50TT: 2:08:11, 100TT: 4:30:05 12hr 204.... unfinished business
  • Most people seriously underestimate the cost of car ownership. According to the RAC, the average car costs about £5,500 a year to run.

    It's also interesting to compare the cost of cycling with that of public transport. I used to pay almost £90 per month for a zones 1-2 travelcard.I recently bought a new bike for £200, but plus mudguards, rack, lighting, panniers bits n bobs etc and a child trailer from eBay, I've spent about £540, which conveniently works out at paying for itself in about six months. I guess the actual figure will be closer seven months as I do still occasionally have to use public transport.
  • passoutpassout Posts: 4,425
    I used to live in Japan: I had a 3 speed shopper that I rode five days a week (about 6 miles per day in total) for over 3 years. I also used to go out clubbing on it and frequently left it chained up in the city centre overnight(s). I never did 'anything' to it, except cable ajustment on two or three occasions. I never even oiled the chain. It's performance was consistent and it's the most reliable bike I've owned. The basket was handy too (I'm not kidding).

    I reckon these bikes are fit for purpose and OK to ride - as long as you don't wear your cycling gear, you just look stupid then. You can also cycle to the shops, pub etc and not worry about it getting knicked. Any body who lives in a town or city should have one of these bikes. They're cheap (save your money for your proper bikes) and actually encourage you to cycle more - why bother with taxis?
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • A good reason for owning a home made fixer/ss or something like a Charge Plug. It's officially a pub bike.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • All right for getting to the pub, but if you're staying for any length of time you'll still need to find alternative arrangements to get home, surely?
  • A good reason for owning a home made fixer/ss or something like a Charge Plug. It's officially a pub bike.

    Obviously I meant the Charge Stove, not the plug. Oops. The Stove is a pub bike. The plug is an urban poseur's bike.
    "Swearing, it turns out, is big and clever" - Jarvis Cocker
  • Most people seriously underestimate the cost of car ownership. According to the RAC, the average car costs about £5,500 a year to run.

    Crikey!
    Mine costs me less than half that. :shock:
    Wheelies ARE cool.

    Zaskar X
Sign In or Register to comment.