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  1. #1
    Senior Member nostalgic's Avatar
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    "Reliable" Transportation

    I have to admit, I'm biased toward being car-free vs. car-lite. This thought has probably been touched on before, but I was beginning to wonder what is the real difference in reliability between motored vehicles and bicycles?
    Society continues to assert that cars are more reliable because of their speed, but at the same time, people get into accidents every day (I don't know the statistic), batteries die, alternators quit working, fan belts break, etc.

    I guess most car-dependent people haven't stopped to consider that.

  2. #2
    Lost on the road of life
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    It's an issue of complexity. Cars have more working parts, thus, more things that could potentially break. A flat tire on a car usually requires a towtruck or a visit to a shop to get a new tire, and you usually have to buy two and have someone else install them.

    A flat tire on my bike can be fixed with two tools and about thirty minutes by me.

    There's also all those electronic systems for heating/cooling, stereo systems in cars, the trunk light and so on.

    How reliable is the speed of a car, anyway? Especially when you can't find parking. You have to store that car somewhere after you get there and if there's no where for it to go? Then how reliable is it? You'll still have to walk when you do find parking, maybe eight blocks away.

    Another personal anecdote: I've crashed my bike twice in sixteen years of riding. I crashed my car (minor dings really) five times in six years of driving.

  3. #3
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nostalgic View Post
    I guess most car-dependent people haven't stopped to consider that.
    I suspect that there is also a perceived motivation factor. In rain or inclement weather, they assume that a cyclist or bus rider might be more inclined to not show up at work as compared to the automobile driver who can presumably arrive quickly, safely and dry. That's the assumption at least.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    Don't forget most people bring their own personal biases into play. If they think riding a bicycle is exhausting for themselves, they may assume that eventually their employee will become too tired to bike to work.

    You'll also have to overcome any biases against past employees. Perhaps they hired someone previously that had a DUI, was forced to ride a bicycle, and rode a POS that they didn't oil the chain or maintain.

    Also bicycle mishaps are more injurious than car mishaps. Minor car problems don't cause injuries. A broken chain can throw you to the asphalt and skin a hole in the knee of your pants, and have you coming into work seeking the first aid kit.

    If you live somewhere where traffic jams are common you'll have an easy time I think winning the reliability argument. Just wait for the co-workers to all come in late (stuck in a big backup) while you are on time

  5. #5
    Senior Member Smallwheels's Avatar
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    I've never asked a prospective employer what they meant by reliable transportation. I just put the words together and they do apply to my bicycles.

    It is true that my bicycles break down way more often than any car I've ever owned. I get a flat tire at least once every two weeks. I just replaced my rear brake arms because those damn springs keep breaking on the V brakes. I just replaced the rear derailleur too. The shifter cable for it needs to be replaced right now. Though these problems don't cost anywhere near the amount a single car repair would cost, they do niggle at me on a weekly basis. The bicycles take up time to repair.

    I can change a rear flat tire in less than a twenty minutes without a quick release wheel. Bicycle tires cost so much more than car tires though. A cheap car tire can last forty-thousand miles or more. A quality bicycle tire like a Schwalbe might last five thousand miles for a $50.00 price tag.

    Cars are cheaper to operate when measured by the mile but they have an enormous up front cost. They're worth it for the people who must travel many thousands of miles per year. I've owned two quality recumbents. I calculated the miles I put on each of them and how much I spent per mile on their usage. It was nearly $2.00 per mile. My Dahon Smooth Hound has cost me about $1.97 per mile so far. That number drops with time but I don't use that one daily. Even if I did it wouldn't be very many miles out and back. It'll take a long time for that dollar per mile figure to come down. Thousand dollar bicycles are probably luxury purchases compared to $350.00 useful bicycles that can do the same thing more or less. Actually I think that bicycles in that range are more durable than the light weight ones. The parts are sturdier.
    Smallwheels

    Take my stuff, please. I have way too much. My current goal is to have all of my possessions fit onto a large bicycle trailer. Really.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamboopiper View Post
    Another personal anecdote: I've crashed my bike twice in sixteen years of riding. I crashed my car (minor dings really) five times in six years of driving.
    I've driven cars for about sixteen years and have never once crashed (or dinged) any of them. So personal anecdotes are not really all that useful.

    However, when it comes to the idea of "reliable transportation", all an employer wants or needs to know is are you going to be able to be at work, on time, on a consistent basis. If there is an additional need for you to have a car, whether it's for traveling to and from clients, or hauling any kind of equipment or otherwise, an employer will generally ask that in a much more specific fashion.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    I've never asked a prospective employer what they meant by reliable transportation. I just put the words together and they do apply to my bicycles.

    It is true that my bicycles break down way more often than any car I've ever owned. I get a flat tire at least once every two weeks. I just replaced my rear brake arms because those damn springs keep breaking on the V brakes. I just replaced the rear derailleur too. The shifter cable for it needs to be replaced right now. Though these problems don't cost anywhere near the amount a single car repair would cost, they do niggle at me on a weekly basis. The bicycles take up time to repair.

    I can change a rear flat tire in less than a twenty minutes without a quick release wheel. Bicycle tires cost so much more than car tires though. A cheap car tire can last forty-thousand miles or more. A quality bicycle tire like a Schwalbe might last five thousand miles for a $50.00 price tag.

    Cars are cheaper to operate when measured by the mile but they have an enormous up front cost. They're worth it for the people who must travel many thousands of miles per year. I've owned two quality recumbents. I calculated the miles I put on each of them and how much I spent per mile on their usage. It was nearly $2.00 per mile. My Dahon Smooth Hound has cost me about $1.97 per mile so far. That number drops with time but I don't use that one daily. Even if I did it wouldn't be very many miles out and back. It'll take a long time for that dollar per mile figure to come down. Thousand dollar bicycles are probably luxury purchases compared to $350.00 useful bicycles that can do the same thing more or less. Actually I think that bicycles in that range are more durable than the light weight ones. The parts are sturdier.
    Bikes can be expensive, but do they have to be? My daily rider for over 5 years was a Raleigh 3 speed that I paid $25 for, that bike is still hanging around, I just increased the value of it about tenfold by adding baskets and lights.

    It has been and still is a very dependable bike and dirt cheap to keep running, I buy inexpensive tires and get 3-5k miles out of set by rotating, that is a years worth of riding. I do try to watch where I am riding to keep out of the trash along the roads that causes flats, but they do occur. I can fix a flat in under 15 minutes if motivated.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  8. #8
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    I've never asked a prospective employer what they meant by reliable transportation. I just put the words together and they do apply to my bicycles.

    It is true that my bicycles break down way more often than any car I've ever owned. I get a flat tire at least once every two weeks. I just replaced my rear brake arms because those damn springs keep breaking on the V brakes. I just replaced the rear derailleur too. The shifter cable for it needs to be replaced right now. Though these problems don't cost anywhere near the amount a single car repair would cost, they do niggle at me on a weekly basis. The bicycles take up time to repair.

    I can change a rear flat tire in less than a twenty minutes without a quick release wheel. Bicycle tires cost so much more than car tires though. A cheap car tire can last forty-thousand miles or more. A quality bicycle tire like a Schwalbe might last five thousand miles for a $50.00 price tag.

    Cars are cheaper to operate when measured by the mile but they have an enormous up front cost. They're worth it for the people who must travel many thousands of miles per year. I've owned two quality recumbents. I calculated the miles I put on each of them and how much I spent per mile on their usage. It was nearly $2.00 per mile. My Dahon Smooth Hound has cost me about $1.97 per mile so far. That number drops with time but I don't use that one daily. Even if I did it wouldn't be very many miles out and back. It'll take a long time for that dollar per mile figure to come down. Thousand dollar bicycles are probably luxury purchases compared to $350.00 useful bicycles that can do the same thing more or less. Actually I think that bicycles in that range are more durable than the light weight ones. The parts are sturdier.
    Your experiences are not typical. In fact, they're incomprehensible. You shoulldn't be getting flat tires every couple weeks. Every couple years is more like it. I don't calculate bike expenses on a per mile basis, but it can't be anywhere near $2/mile! If they were, I would be spending $20,000 a year on my bike, and that would be a sizable portion of my income. You're the first person I've known to say that a bike costs more to maintain than a car. There is something very wrong with either your math or your wrenching abilities.


    EDIT: I ride my bike about 5,000 miles a year, so I should have said $10,000 instead of $20,000. I guess my math skills aren't so hot either!
    Last edited by Roody; 10-05-10 at 10:09 AM.


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  9. #9
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    I've never asked a prospective employer what they meant by reliable transportation. I just put the words together and they do apply to my bicycles.

    It is true that my bicycles break down way more often than any car I've ever owned. I get a flat tire at least once every two weeks. I just replaced my rear brake arms because those damn springs keep breaking on the V brakes. I just replaced the rear derailleur too. The shifter cable for it needs to be replaced right now. Though these problems don't cost anywhere near the amount a single car repair would cost, they do niggle at me on a weekly basis. The bicycles take up time to repair.

    I can change a rear flat tire in less than a twenty minutes without a quick release wheel. Bicycle tires cost so much more than car tires though. A cheap car tire can last forty-thousand miles or more. A quality bicycle tire like a Schwalbe might last five thousand miles for a $50.00 price tag.

    Cars are cheaper to operate when measured by the mile but they have an enormous up front cost. They're worth it for the people who must travel many thousands of miles per year. I've owned two quality recumbents. I calculated the miles I put on each of them and how much I spent per mile on their usage. It was nearly $2.00 per mile. My Dahon Smooth Hound has cost me about $1.97 per mile so far. That number drops with time but I don't use that one daily. Even if I did it wouldn't be very many miles out and back. It'll take a long time for that dollar per mile figure to come down. Thousand dollar bicycles are probably luxury purchases compared to $350.00 useful bicycles that can do the same thing more or less. Actually I think that bicycles in that range are more durable than the light weight ones. The parts are sturdier.
    I think bicycles are way more reliable and inexpensive to operate than cars. I ride my bicycle about 3500 miles a year, and I've had one flat tire in the last four years. Tires on bikes actually last longer than the rims. (Maybe it's because you have small wheels?) Except for bottom brackets and wheel rebuilds, I can do all the work on the bike myself (unless I don't really feel like it). Some components, like cassettes, are expensive to replace, but still way less expensive than car parts.

    I spend about $300-$500/year to maintain and/or upgrade my bike. Last year I bought a used Volvo, in decent shape, for $1900. Since I bought it, I've spent at least another $3000 on gas, fees, insurance and "routine" maintenance. (I drove it a lot more at first than I do now....) I have to take it to a mechanic to fix it, since I don't know anything about cars, and have to trust that I'm not being robbed while I wait a day or two for the repair to be completed. For in-town trips, the bike is usually about as fast as driving, faster if you factor in time spent looking for a parking space. So, in general, the car is actually kind of a pain in the ass compared to the bike in addition to being more expensive and no more reliable.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  10. #10
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    In approximately 9 years total riding experience, I have never had my bicycle refuse to start. I have had cars refuse to start more times than I care to remember.

    I agree with Roody, you shouldn't be getting flats every couple of weeks. I rode my Ross for about six years replaced the derailleurs exactly 0 times. I had to replace the cables a couple of times, ditto brake pads, tires & chain.

    I am currently working on my third winter with my current issue bike, with the OEM crankset, I swapped out the OEM cassette for one with a lower low. I am planning on replacing the complete driveline in the spring for a cost of ~$150.
    Just for comparison, to replace the ball joints on my truck would have been about $800, except that I had let the salesman talk me into the extended warranty, so it only wound up costing me $180.
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  11. #11
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by xtrajack View Post
    I have never had my bicycle refuse to start.
    Darn! You stole my line!

    I've had an unusual year this year with flats. I've had three, in 159 commutes to date. I attribute this to my new work location deep in the heart a da 'hood. There's a lot more broken glass around on this commute.

    After my third winter, I had to replace the middle chainring ($42) along with the cassette (also $42). I have to replace the chain ($21) twice a year, front disc brake pads every spring ($20) and rear ones every other year. I replace shift cables every spring, about $10 each including housing, ferrules, ends and donuts.

    This past spring I also replaced my three-season tires ($38 each) after 8,000 miles or so on the old ones. My winter tires ($45 each) are entering their fifth season, and appear to have at least five more to go.

    Entering my fifth winter I can say none of my bikes have ever left me in a lurch. The worst thing that's happened on the road was I snapped a chain. I knew it was on its way out. I was trying to get through to the end of March on it, and it let go in the beginning of March. Not the bike's fault. My fault. I just installed my spare master link, and continued on my way.

    In the absolute worst-case scenario, (all four bikes refuse to start) I live and work on bus lines.
    Last edited by tsl; 10-04-10 at 06:27 PM.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member zeppinger's Avatar
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    I think it should also be pointed out that quality bicycle commuter components, such as schwalbe tires, cat eye lights, and SKS fenders are only so expensive because there is very little demand for them. If the current transportation situation were reversed then bicycles parts would be extremely cheap and car parts would be expensive due to low demand. This is especially true when it comes to commuter gear rather than racing gear. I can buy tiny 23c racer tires for less than half the price of a good pair of gator skins! The more bike commuters there are the less the parts will cost.

  13. #13
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Bike are a little more fragile than cars. Components are lighter and require more attention than most auto parts.

    However, you can achieve great reliability by 1) having a backup bike and 2) learning a few wrenching skills. You can have a backup car, but it's expensive. You can certainly wrench on cars, but parts and tools are exorbitant.

    As Aaron pointed point, your ride doesn't need to cost a lot. You can do an awful lot of cycling for $50 a month, which includes the capital cost of the bike.

    Try that with a car!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Smallwheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Your experiences are not typical. In fact, they're incomprehensible. You shoulldn't be getting flat tires every couple weeks. Every couple years is more like it. I don't calculate bike expenses on a per mile basis, but it can't be anywhere near $2/mile! If they were, I would be spending $20,000 a year on my bike, and that would be a sizable portion of my income. You're the first person I've known to say that a bike costs more to maintain than a car. There is something very wrong with either your math or your wrenching abilities.
    My flat tires are caused by tiny bits of glass, nails, and bits of wire from steel belted tires. My tire has kevlar in it and still those things get through. Talk to mountain bikers who ride where there are thorns. They'll tell you about flats.

    If I've got a $1000.00 bicycle that has only 400 miles on it. So far it has cost me $2.50 per mile to use it. In time that cost per mile will drop. Two of my recumbents had low mileage on them when they were sold. I had to buy them without test rides because there were no dealers in my state. When I sold them for what I could get, their cost per mile was very high.

    I've got another bicycle with an estimated $1400.00 into it. It has about 1680 miles on it. That means it has cost me 83¢ per mile. If I ever keep a bicycle for a long time those dollars per mile figures will eventually be low. If I ever buy an inexpensive bicycle or even a used one from the Goodwill store the expenses will start very low.

    What would it cost to ride a bicycle 200,000 miles? Tires alone would be $4000.00 at $50.00 per tire lasting 5000 miles. Quality tubes would be $400.00. How often would wheels need to be replaced from the rims wearing out from bumps and brake pads? It would be an interesting exercise to find out. A bicycle mechanic who knows how long parts usually last and the prices of things probably could do it.

    It might be cheaper to buy a new $400.00 bicycle every ten thousand miles than to pay for many things to be rebuilt and replaced.
    Last edited by Smallwheels; 10-04-10 at 10:34 PM.
    Smallwheels

    Take my stuff, please. I have way too much. My current goal is to have all of my possessions fit onto a large bicycle trailer. Really.

  15. #15
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    I've got another bicycle with an estimated $1400.00 into it. It has about 1680 miles on it. That means it has cost me 83¢ per mile. If I ever keep a bicycle for a long time those dollars per mile figures will eventually be low. If I ever buy an inexpensive bicycle or even a used one from the Goodwill store the expenses will start very low.
    I bought a steel bike 6 years ago and have about 15000 miles on it. I've had very little maintenance on it. Figure it cost me about 5 - 7 cents a mile for capital cost and repairs.

    Likewise I bought an 27 year old Fuji and have about 3000 miles on it. Costs thus far are about the same.

    If you keep those bikes and don't spend needlessly, you'll see a great cost savings.

  16. #16
    Mixte Power! Arrowana's Avatar
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    My first good bike was a Schwinn Traveler I got for $5. I crashed once and got new bar tape for $15. $20, and I used it for 600 miles. 3.3¢ per mile. Then I sold it for $65, so I guess it was actually -7.5¢ per mile.

    Riding a bicycle doesn't have to be expensive.

  17. #17
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    i bought my cheap schwinn semi-road bike (hybrid) at target for $250. A few fenders $25, rack $25, lights $15, cheap wireless computer ($20 i think). A spare tube $8, cheap patch kit with tire levers ($5), Dry Lube $10, Multitool ($25), random odds and ends ($15).

    All in all I've put in just about $400 on a bike that's easy to maintain, has decent stock parts, and will save me about $1000 this year in insurance costs. I also am planning to bike year round so I might spend $200 on winter bike gear that will be good for years.

    Ive been in a few spills already, had one tube go flat and learned to change a tube on the fly (took a while but I figured it out), and hauled quite a bit of stuff back and forth. I've logged about 850 miles in just about 7 months. When I drove I rarely did more than 4000 miles a year.
    Public transport is now $1.55 a token. At $3.10 a day round trip I'd be spending more time commuting (walking, waiting, more walking, repeat) and I would have spent $450.00 commuting this year.

    Bikes are easy to do basic maintenance on, they provide exercise while getting you to places faster than a public bus can, they dont require insurance or registration fees, licensing, parking or speeding tickets. Tons of pollutants in cars, tons of germs in public transport,
    All in all, its easily the most affordable transportation these days, especially if you get a cheap bike and don't mind doing basic maintenance every few weeks.


    I do have a driver's license, and sometimes I do wish I had a car, especially in the cold and wet winter days. Once I'm pedaling all that disappears and I'm glad to be on my bike.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    On my bike, I go through at least one set of tires a year, sometimes more. Don't ask how many flats I get because I have my share of them. I wear out a set of brake pads a year and sometimes two sets in a year. I've owned my bike since 2006 and in that time, I've worn out the saddle, the chain a couple of times and the pedals. I also had the frame break for reasons I don't understand. Fortunately, it had a lifetime warranty. But I've also put more than 22,000 kilometres on that bike just over four years. I expect things are going to go wrong from time to time.

    The up side is none of the repairs on my bike have been all that pricey. I'll bring it to the bike shop once a year for a good servicing and other than that, I do most of my own work. Most of what's going to happen will be relatively minor. And when things go wrong, the bill will be far less than I'd pay to have the same level of maintenance done to a car.
    Life is good.

  19. #19
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Here is the old bike I used for years until I upgraded to a new mountain bike set up for city riding. The second bike is my current city bike, however it doesn't see much use at the moment. FWIW the second bike is worth around $1000 with the upgrades, the last repair on my truck cost more than that and it is still less than 2 months of average automobile costs. The black Raleigh was used from 1982-1987 exclusively and was ridden around 6,000 miles a year on average. Costs were minimal a new set of tires every nine months, a new chain every 3rd year and brake blocks and cables when needed. I just replaced the gear cable on it this year, the one that came of was the OEM cable.

    Aaron

    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  20. #20
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    If I've got a $1000.00 bicycle that has only 400 miles on it. So far it has cost me $2.50 per mile to use it. In time that cost per mile will drop. Two of my recumbents had low mileage on them when they were sold. I had to buy them without test rides because there were no dealers in my state. When I sold them for what I could get, their cost per mile was very high.

    I've got another bicycle with an estimated $1400.00 into it. It has about 1680 miles on it. That means it has cost me 83¢ per mile. If I ever keep a bicycle for a long time those dollars per mile figures will eventually be low. If I ever buy an inexpensive bicycle or even a used one from the Goodwill store the expenses will start very low.
    This is not a very useful or logical way to calculate depreciation of your bikes. It would be better to divide the net value of the bike by the projected number of years of service. For example, let's say your $1000 bike will last 10 years, and its salvage value at the end of 10 years is about $100. The net cost of the bike is $900. Divide that by 10 years, and you have $90 per year of depreciation.

    If you ride 5,000 miles a year, that is less than two cents a mile.

    I'm far from being an accountant, but this seems like a much more meaningful way to determine depreciation costs, rather than your ever changing figures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depreciation
    Last edited by Roody; 10-05-10 at 10:37 AM.


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  21. #21
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    This is not a very useful or logical way to calculate depreciation of your bikes. It would be better to divide the net value of the bike by the projected number of years of service. For example, let's say your $1000 bike will last 10 years, and its salvage value at the end of 10 years is about $100. The net cost of the bike is $900. Divide that by 10 years, and you have $90 per year of depreciation.

    If you ride 5,000 miles a year, that is less than two cents a mile.

    I'm far from being an accountant, but this seems like a much more meaningful way to determine depreciation costs, rather than your ever changing figures.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depreciation
    That's only part of the story.

    In addition to depreciation costs, there are the costs of maintenance and service for a bike. Calculate how much you spend on parts and service for the bike. Your tires and brakes will wear out often. Your chain will need replacement. Eventually, your bottom bracket will go. And if you ride the bike long enough, you'll be dealing with all sorts of other repairs and replacements.

    Even if you do most of the work yourself, you'll probably end up taking the bike to the shop for some of the more involved repair work. That also comes at a price.
    Life is good.

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    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    My flat tires are caused by tiny bits of glass, nails, and bits of wire from steel belted tires. My tire has kevlar in it and still those things get through. Talk to mountain bikers who ride where there are thorns. They'll tell you about flats.
    Usually debris that causes flats is swept (by passing traffic) to the edges of the road - ride further out from the edges and you'll get less flats. If you are riding far out and still getting that many flats - wow your roads are really crappy!

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    Quote Originally Posted by crazybikerchick View Post
    If you live somewhere where traffic jams are common you'll have an easy time I think winning the reliability argument. Just wait for the co-workers to all come in late (stuck in a big backup) while you are on time
    I live just outside DC, but work in the city. My ride takes me about 25 minutes (depends how hard I'm trying that day). Driving takes me about 20 minutes (without much traffic, with traffic can take as much as 45), plus another 5 to find parking and walk in. Add to that, I don't live in the same zone as my office, and D.C. restricts most out-of-zone parkers to only 2 hours of parking. So, every 2 hours I spend about 15 minutes moving my car (technically I am not allowed to just move my car, I am supposed to leave the zone after 2 hours or pay for a garage, but as long as you go to another block they won't ticket you).

    Obviously, biking saves me time.

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    Lost on the road of life
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
    Cars are cheaper to operate when measured by the mile but they have an enormous up front cost. They're worth it for the people who must travel many thousands of miles per year. I've owned two quality recumbents. I calculated the miles I put on each of them and how much I spent per mile on their usage. It was nearly $2.00 per mile. My Dahon Smooth Hound has cost me about $1.97 per mile so far. That number drops with time but I don't use that one daily. Even if I did it wouldn't be very many miles out and back. It'll take a long time for that dollar per mile figure to come down. Thousand dollar bicycles are probably luxury purchases compared to $350.00 useful bicycles that can do the same thing more or less. Actually I think that bicycles in that range are more durable than the light weight ones. The parts are sturdier.
    I, too, think there is something very off here. I bought a bike five years ago off of craigslist for $40. I just had my first flat ever two weeks ago. The only money I put into it was adding panniers, basket, etc. Rubber cement cost me $4, and a repair kit cost me $3. So a $1.97 a mile? Are you riding on many toll rolls or something. I really can't figure this out. It costs me nothing to operate my bike, and I was homeless for a while with no income whatsoever for about 8 months and I could still ride miles and miles.

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    My primary reason for being car-light is not financial, but just looking at things briefly:

    I own two bikes which I consider transportation bikes, total cost between them was about $7000, between them I put an additional $500 a year in misc parts, maintenance etc. Between those two bikes I put on about 5000 miles per year.

    My wife owns one car - the new cost was ~$30,000, she puts about 8,000 miles per year on it, and it currently has about 90,000 miles on it. Her maintenance costs are currently running about $3000 per year.

    From a financial standpoint, I think that it would be hard to argue that the car is less expensive, even though I ride what many people consider to be crazy-expensive bikes.

    This is before we even begin to look at fuel, insurance, registration fees etc.

    In terms of reliability - my wifes car has been in the shop about a half dozen times in the past year (oil changes, brakes, tie-rod end replacement, battery, motor mount replacement etc). She uses her bike for transportation when the car is in the shop. I have not had a single day when both of my bikes have been out of commission, so I would say that from a reliability standpoint, the bike option wins hands down.

    I'm not even sure why there is a debate here - a bicycle beats a car as a transportation choice in pretty much every way except for speed on long commutes - and I choose to live close enough to work that there is no speed penalty paid for cycling rather than driving.

    For me however, one of the most comforting things about the bicycle is that I understand it. I can do almost any repair on the bike myself, and can diagnose any mechanical problem on the bike myself. With the car - it begins to make a strange sound, you bring it in to a mechanic who tells you that it needs X, Y and Z, and that it will cost $800 - the work is done, and I can't see what was changed. With my bicycles, I have never brought the bike to a mechanic not knowing what the problem was, and when I pick up the bike, it is easy to see if what needed to be done has indeed been done. Who has paid $1000 to have a timing belt replaced - could you have told the difference before and after the repair?

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