I was just looking over the spreadsheet I use to track my bike expenses, and I was really struck by something in the data. This really puts the cost of a commuter bike in perspective (for me at least), with the caveat that a lot of the miles on the Kona Jake and the Surly Cross Check below have been on long recreational rides.
Here's my data (with the bikes in the order I bought them):
2007 GT Timberline
(first commuter, since given away)
Cost: $300 (new)
Cost per mile: $0.12
2008 Kona Jake
(commuter/cx racer/recreational distance rides, still in use)
Cost: $900 (new)
Cost per mile: $0.11
2008 Marin Muirwoods
(rain commuter, since sold)
Cost: $460 (new, $210 deducting resale price)
Cost per mile: $0.11 ($0.05 after resale)
1977 Gitane Gypsy Sport
(fixie project/commuter, since sold)
Cost: $200 (used, $100 deducting resale price)
Cost per mile: $0.26 ($0.13 after resale)
2009 Surly Cross Check
(commuter/recreational distance rides, still in use)
Cost: $800 (new frame + parts + some parts I already had)
Cost per mile: $0.25
1989 Specialized Rockhopper
(bike path cruiser/occaisional commuter, still in use)
Cost: $285 (including new wheels I built for this bike)
Cost per mile: $0.59
2008 Kona Major Jake
(cx racer, still in use
Cost: $900 (used)
Cost per mile: $3.22
1999 Kona Muni Mula
(mountain bike used as such, still in use)
Cost: $400 (used)
Cost per mile: $6.59
To be fair, I haven't had the Muni Mula long and it will end up with more miles than it has now. The Major Jake I use only for CX racing and it's got a full season of use and ought to be good for several more.
Two things jump out at me: (1) The commuters are ending up with a much lower cost per mile used than the other bikes, and (2) the cost per mile of the commuters doesn't seem to be very closely correlated with the initial cost of the bike. My hypothesis on this second point is that because I didn't enjoy riding some of the cheaper bikes as much, I didn't keep them as long or ride them as much.
On the surface, a used Rockhopper would seem to be a much cheaper commuter than a new Jake, but while I like that bike I just don't enjoy riding it as much as I do the Jake. Obviously the situation will vary depending on available budget, but I strongly suspect that this shows how N+1 syndrome keeps cheap bikes from being a bargain.
So I'm curious, how does this compare to everyone else's experience?