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Old 07-05-08, 09:27 AM   #1
cyclinfool
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Is biking cheaper than driving?

I was thinking yesterday (I know - it's about time...) as I had 5 hours sitting on the bike - is biking really cheaper than driving? So if I consume 900cal/hour at what really turns out to be 15 mph +/-average on a long trip am I really paying less for fuel? My wife's car gets about 28mpg so let's say it costs $2.50 for every 15 miles. Thats 2.5 nutrition bars or Guu shots or about 250 calories and at about $1/each - it seems I may been better off driving.

I know I am going to get a lot of comments on how to save money on bike food and thats what I am looking for. How can I reasonably carry 2000 cal of food on a hot day for several hours in only my jersey pockets and not need a backpack and do it for less than $5? For this exercise - Drinks don't count. Imagine if I asked this question 2 years ago with gas at $2/gal
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Old 07-05-08, 09:32 AM   #2
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Great thread! Sure to generate some interesting discussion. This is a question for our resident statistician if I ever heard one. Yoo-hoo, Tom!
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Old 07-05-08, 09:42 AM   #3
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Is the cost of driving only the fuel? What about tax, insurance, running costs, buying a space to store it, parking costs. What is a typical milleage cost from a company?
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Old 07-05-08, 09:47 AM   #4
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Is the cost of driving only the fuel? What about tax, insurance, running costs, buying a space to store it, parking costs. What is a typical milleage cost from a company?
IR-2007-192, Nov. 27, 2007

WASHINGTON The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2008 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

50.5 cents per mile for business miles driven;
19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and
14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.
The new rate for business miles compares to a rate of 48.5 cents per mile for 2007. The new rate for medical and moving purposes compares to 20 cents in 2007. The rate for miles driven in service of charitable organizations has remained the same.

The standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile; the standard rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs as determined by the same study. Runzheimer International, an independent contractor, conducted the study for the IRS.

The mileage rate for charitable miles is set by law.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle, for any vehicle used for hire or for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:49 AM   #5
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Is the cost of driving only the fuel? What about tax, insurance, running costs, buying a space to store it, parking costs. What is a typical milleage cost from a company?
Boy did you miss the point.

Is the cost of biking just the bike, what about tires every 3K miles (and they cost as much as tires for my car!), new chains, bike jerseys/gloves & shorts and asorted paraphalia! The question stands.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:16 AM   #6
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A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle, for any vehicle used for hire or for more than four vehicles used simultaneously

Stop that..........................its the weekend.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:28 AM   #7
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A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle, for any vehicle used for hire or for more than four vehicles used simultaneously

Stop that..........................its the weekend.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:29 AM   #8
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If you keep the rides shorter than 90 minutes which is true of typical commutes you don't need any food during the ride. I'm currently 15 lbs overweight which is 52,500 calories in my fat fuel tank. That will fuel 90 hours of riding for free.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:32 AM   #9
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Parts of a bike are much less than for a car. Secondly, you are really cranking at 900 calories per hour, I would think that would push you a lot faster than 15 MPH.

To compare a high end bike, with a low end car, you might not be off that much. But an adequate bike will last for years and years, so the depreciation might only be 50 bucks a year. Tires can be very cheap as well, 10 to 20 dollars - which is a lot cheaper than 4 at 100 dollars a piece (at least)

Chains, etc for an adequate bike are not that expensive. a brake job on a car is going to be nearly as much as an adequate bike - especially if you need rotors. Brakes on a bike are very cheap.

Insurance for the car per year BUYS the bike.

If you have a commuter bike - there is a lot of savings. And, you don't have to eat power bars, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are cheap, and provide lots of power.

You really have to compare apples to apples. Commuter bike to commuter car. Commuter fuel to commuter food. (my favorite, green coconuts - totally free, natures Gatoraid!)
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Old 07-05-08, 10:53 AM   #10
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Hmmm, sorta brings new meaning to the term "your mileage may vary"

I'm thinking gas is cheaper so you may want to drink the gas...no, no that won't due. You said drinks don't count. I'll just follow along and see what is added.
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Old 07-05-08, 11:02 AM   #11
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You don't eat when you drive?
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Old 07-05-08, 12:33 PM   #12
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Great thread! Sure to generate some interesting discussion. This is a question for our resident statistician if I ever heard one. Yoo-hoo, Tom!
My thoughts exactly, Tru!

Very interesting question indeed.
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Old 07-05-08, 12:41 PM   #13
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Guu shots? Nutrition bars? All overpriced/hyped stuff.
Bananas, apples, grapes, fig newtons . . . cheaper *real* food and does the same thing without the hype!
Have ridden many a century with water/real food.
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Old 07-05-08, 01:26 PM   #14
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I remember years ago thinking about how much running costs.

A pair of running shoes costs around $75.00 & up. They only last around 500 miles. That's 15 cents + per mile. I used to try to stretch them for more miles than that, but I easily ate up the difference in podiatrist charges.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:09 PM   #15
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Well I have good records on my cars. The 95 Camry I bought used, put 105,000 miles on it before it was totaled in accident, wound up costing me 10 cents per mile to drive. Add on 17 cents for gas per mile cost ($4/gal @ 24.17 mpg). So Camry would cost me $8.10 to travel my usual 30 mile bike loop. However I'm currently driving a Vibe with better mileage, but only 30,000 miles so far, so cost per mile is higher with less miles to reduce the purchase price. Like 59 cents plus gas at 14 cents, or 73 cents per mile to run. The 30 mile bike loop now runs $ 21.90. So far the $900 bike has over 3000 miles on it. Haven't bought any repair parts, but yes bike related clothing. Take a bottle of Crystal lite drink and a breakfast bar on 30 mile trip. Also stop at store around mile 25 for another drink. I'd guess the bike runs me just under $10 for all costs to do 30 miles. More then the old Camry, but less then half the current car. Although both bike and current car actually get cheaper per mile the longer I keep them. But now that I wrote this out I have to go back and factor in the finance charges (interest) on the Vibe.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:10 PM   #16
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If you are going on long recreational rides for fitness, it is hard to compare the cost per mile to driving, because you don't drive for fitness. It makes more sense to compare the cost of biking and driving for utility, eg. biking/driving to the store or work. In that case you don't need to carry expensive food - eat when you get home.

And in that case, the costs depends on what you ride and what you eat. Biking for utility requires that you consume 30-50 kcal/mile. So if you have a 10 mile round trip, that's something in the order of 400 kcal. You can get that by adding an extra helping of pasta to your dinner. You'd need about 150 gm dry pasta. At about $2.00/lb. (it's doubled since I first did this kind of calculation) that costs about $0.18. So the food that supports your biking costs as little as 2 cents per mile.

Of course if you add meat or caviar to your diet to fuel your biking that would be a lot more expensive.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:15 PM   #17
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As for the cost of the bike, if you wanted to do it inexpensively there are many ways to economize. Ride beaters, do your own maintenance, scavenge parts.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:35 PM   #18
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Here are some basic calculators
http://www.thebikegeek.com/tools/
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Old 07-05-08, 02:50 PM   #19
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A very reliable, older car that been nearly fully depreciated and needs only the occasional minor repair, and gets 30 mpg, cost about 25 cents a mile to drive. Not many cars run this cheaply. You are usually doing very well to get down to 35 cents a mile.

If you buy a new or almost new car, you won't be near these numbers. The depreciation alone can easily run 20-25 cents a mile.

And then there is car insurance, which most people don't factor in.

Thus a lot of people pay 45 to 60 cents a mile, and never realize it.

What does a bike cost per mile? That varies considerably. Some people commute to work on bikes that they purchased used for $100. They wear their work clothes and don't buy accessories. For them a bike can be amazingly inexpensive. Someone else might spend $2500 on a new bike, ride it for 600-800 miles a year, buy lots of fancy cycling clothes & gear. Their cost over 3-4 years could be more than $1/mile.
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Old 07-05-08, 03:05 PM   #20
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Take the cost of repairs out of a bike and a car and you are left with just the fuel and Depreciation. Depreciation and the bike wins hands down- but then there are the fuel costs. On a car there is no way to cut the fuel charge- you get so many miles to the gallon and it is at a fixed (Although that is increasing) price. Now on the bike rides- I still need fuel and I have noticed that the coffee at my cafe is going up and the Breakfast is getting smaller for the same price. I have a choice on the bike- I can find a cheaper cafe- or I can keep paying for quality. But there is no way I can do 50 miles on a Mc D.
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Old 07-05-08, 03:57 PM   #21
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When I started seriously commuting by bike last Fall, I was a bit suprised about how frequently I was starting to do basic maintenance stuff.

So I figured out the costs of commuting by bike, and I think I got to around 9 cents a mile. Chains, cassettes, chain lube, tires, tubes, cable replacements, etc. I am away from home home and dont have access to all the details of how I did the calculation, and since I am on vacation I am too lazy to recreate it now. Though bike parts are cheap, they really are kind of lightweight and do not last that many miles....e.g., a bike chain lasts only 2500 to 3000 miles, tires 3000 to 5000, etc....

Much cheaper than a car of course but riding a bike hard is not free.

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Old 07-05-08, 04:16 PM   #22
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I refuel when I get to work with a mug of coffee and a bagel with honey or a muffin. Seems a lot cheaper and more enjoyable than nutrition bars and shots of "Guu".... whatever that terrible sounding stuff is.

Just say "NO" to designer foods.......

And I love how everyone here in the 50+ forum can toss in some humor. I'm laughing my head off at the replies so far not to mention how the original post was worded....
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Old 07-05-08, 04:19 PM   #23
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Getting back to the basic question about cheaper food - I agree on peanut butter sandwiches, homemade trail mixes, real fruit, fruit newtons or other healthy homemade cookies with reduced sugar, nuts & dried fruit added.

I also have a question - are you a little skinny thing with a high need for calories? The only time I take food is if I'm going for over an hour and a half ride. (Then I take a PB & banana sandwich.) If you are on your bike for 5 hours at a time, are you training, doing utility riding, commuting or a combo of all 3?
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Old 07-05-08, 04:30 PM   #24
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I was thinking yesterday (I know - it's about time...) as I had 5 hours sitting on the bike - is biking really cheaper than driving?
So what kind of driving does this compare to? Certainly not commuting or errands. I don't know of many events where you sit in the car all day trying to drive at maximum speed. Are we talking a NASCAR race? A Cannonball Baker run? The Paris to Dakar rally?
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Old 07-05-08, 05:45 PM   #25
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You don't eat when you drive?

Perzackly!

Cycling costs me zilch! Over and above the cost of capital depreciation of the bike and assorted bike paraphernalia, and the 'running costs' of wear and tear on the thing. There's no such thing as a 'fuel cost' involved with cycling. I was gonna be eating and drinking anyway. I don't need anything different in the way of food in order for the cycling to become possible.

Yes, the snacks I have whilst cycling are different snacks to the ones I'll have when not cycling. That's just 'convenience' though. When cycling I carry snacks which are chosen because they are light and compact, without compromising the energy boost they give me. I'm not yet back to doing those 'four hours or more' rides yet, but when I am I won't be needing any extra food intake to do them. Four hours of riding doesn't require any more food intake than four hours of doing something else does. Hell, I burn up more energy sitting on my bum at the keyboard wrestlings with words when I'm writing!

My favourite 'riding snacks', by the way, are dried figs. Dried figs are yum!
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