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5 Mile commute.

Old 02-10-24, 01:25 PM
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5 Mile commute.

I have a lightly hilled 5 mile ride to work, 10 mile round trip. I am about to start cycling it for fitness and to save miles in the car. Do i need to worry much about the type of bike i get?I was born innthe 80s and I did BMX as a teenager..poorly, but i did it, that is all of my cycling expetience. am i over thinking such a short commute?

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Old 02-10-24, 01:55 PM
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Old 02-10-24, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
Where are YOU?
I am located in southern middle TN, USA.
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Old 02-10-24, 08:16 PM
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A 26" jump bike with a dropper post and reasonable gearing would probably be fine. A 26" jump bike with the saddle slammed down to the frame and a 30x16 drivetrain would get old quick.
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Old 02-10-24, 08:44 PM
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For a ten mile round trip commute, nearly any bike will do. If you find that the bike isn't well suited, you can replace it.

Commuting by bike is smarter than you think. It can have tremendously good effects on your health and happiness. Also, you will save more money than you expect.
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Old 02-10-24, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
Also, you will save more money than you expect.
Sadly, not my experience:

Bike stand
Tires
Tubes
Lights
Raincoat
Winter coat
Boots
Heavy socks
Thermal insoles
Rain pants
Grips
Pedals
Grease
Seats/saddles
Seatpost
Chains
Various chain lubes
Degreaser
Chain cleaning tools
Crank removal tool
Freewheel removal tool
Rear rack and hardware
New freewheel
Food
Reflective vest
Similar equipment for backup bike
Replacement rear derailleurs
Rim tape
Cleaning supplies
Multi-port USB charger to charge all the lights
Balaclava
Different weights of gloves
New wheels
Quick links
Replacement cables and housings
Spoke wrenches
Replacement nipples/washers
Wheel truing stand
Bottom bracket
Left side crank
Rear axles
Replacement spokes
Snow tires
Multitool
Lip balm
Medicine

Last edited by ScottCommutes; 02-10-24 at 09:09 PM. Reason: More items added
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Old 02-10-24, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Sadly, not my experience:

Bike stand - not needed
Tires - replace as needed
Tubes - one or two spares, replace as needed
Lights - Lots of option here. For 5 miles, regular replaceable battery light can do just fine.
Raincoat - 5 miles. Doesn't have to be anything special
Winter coat- 5 miles. Doesn't have to be anything special
Boots- 5 miles. Doesn't have to be anything special
Heavy socks- 5 miles. Doesn't have to be anything special
Thermal insoles - ?
Rain pants- 5 miles. Doesn't have to be anything special
Grips - not needed (provided with bike)
Pedals - not needed (provided with bike)
Grease
Seats/saddles - not needed (provided with bike)
Seatpost - not needed (provided with bike)
Chains - not needed (provided with bike)
Various chain lubes
Degreaser - not needed
Chain cleaning tools - not needed
Crank removal tool- not needed
Freewheel removal tool- not needed
Rear rack and hardware - perhaps
New freewheel - not needed (provided with bike)
Food - 5 miles?
Reflective vest
Similar equipment for backup bike - not needed
Replacement rear derailleurs - not needed
Rim tape - not needed (provided with bike)
Cleaning supplies - not needed
Multi-port USB charger to charge all the lights - Lots of option here. For 5 miles, regular replaceable battery light can do just fine.
Balaclava - not needed (5 miles in Tennessee)
Different weights of gloves - 5 miles?
New wheels - not needed
Quick links- not needed
Replacement cables and housings - when needed. not the first year
Spoke wrenches - not essential
Replacement nipples/washers - not needed
Wheel truing stand - not needed
Bottom bracket - not needed (provided with bike)
Left side crank - not needed (provided with bike)
Rear axles - not needed (provided with bike)
Replacement spokes - not needed
Snow tires - not needed (Tennessee)
Multitool
I commuted all year for 6 years in Boston and Ann Arbor without a car. Distances from 3 to 12 miles. Didn't have the "not needed" stuff except those items needed in true snow country that a resident of Tennessee can pass on. I practiced the basic guide to sailors - KISS. Keep It Simply, Stu...
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Old 02-10-24, 10:50 PM
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I just made the list above based on my experience. I do 19 miles each way every day in NJ for one and half years now. For a 5 mile commute, you will eventually need the bike stuff, but it will take you four times as long before you have to worry about it. I started with an older bike and wore out a lot of stuff.

There are also items you need to commute that didn't make my list because I already had them - my pump, lock, portable tire pump, basic tools, and backpack come to mind.

I also forgot some random, miscellaneous stuff from the list - a cable cutter, cable ends, brake pads, and a caliper.

I also installed aero bars on my circa 1990 mountain bike, but they were free.

​​​​​​Winter related needs will also obviously vary.
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Old 02-10-24, 11:26 PM
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What I like about a 5 mile ride to work is if I have bike trouble I can just walk it. I think you should also consider how much room you will have for storage and how safe the storage area will be. If you are going to store it out side when working ya might consider an old steel beater bike ta start.

If you have never done regular bicycle commuting take a step back and just do it a few times a week. That will give you time to set up a proper route and prove your gear and method of clean up when you get to work.

I commuted to work for several years. It took a while to get my gear and route stable. It was 15 miles to work but my route took me about 20 miles as I chose to go around heavy traffic. I was working at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio Texas. I found an old bike rack covered in weeds and started parking my bike there. With in 4 months the bike rack was completely cleaned up and at least 8 of us were commuting daily.

Another thing is that if you are ridding on a regular basis people get to know you. Or rather know your bike as they too are going to work. I once got a flat, rolled my tubular tire off the rim, and flipped into the thick grass of someones yard. I guy I never knew pulled up behind me and gave me a ride to work. I am thankful to this day...
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Old 02-10-24, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Sadly, not my experience:Bike stand - Tires - Tubes - Lights - Raincoat - Winter coat - Boots - Heavy socks - Thermal insoles - Rain pants - Grips - Pedals - Grease - Seats/saddles - Seatpost - Chains - Various chain lubes - Degreaser - Chain cleaning tools - Crank removal tool - Freewheel removal tool - Rear rack and hardware - New freewheel - Food - Reflective vest - Similar equipment for backup bike - Replacement rear derailleurs - Rim tape - Cleaning supplies - Multi-port USB charger to charge all the lights - Balaclava - Different weights of gloves - New wheels - Quick links - Replacement cables and housings - Spoke wrenches - Replacement nipples/washers - Wheel truing stand - Bottom bracket - Left side crank - Rear axles - Replacement spokes - Snow tires - Multitool - Lip balm - Medicine...
Well... Ya gotta admit, It's a nice list!

Love it!
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Old 02-10-24, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
A 26" jump bike with a dropper post and reasonable gearing would probably be fine. A 26" jump bike with the saddle slammed down to the frame and a 30x16 drivetrain would get old quick.
would the Giant STP 26 geared bike fit this bill? I was considering that bike for the gears and front brake amd seemingly higher seat post.
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Old 02-10-24, 11:51 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
What I like about a 5 mile ride to work is if I have bike trouble I can just walk it. I think you should also consider how much room you will have for storage and how safe the storage area will be. If you are going to store it out side when working ya might consider an old steel beater bike ta start.

If you have never done regular bicycle commuting take a step back and just do it a few times a week. That will give you time to set up a proper route and prove your gear and method of clean up when you get to work.

I commuted to work for several years. It took a while to get my gear and route stable. It was 15 miles to work but my route took me about 20 miles as I chose to go around heavy traffic. I was working at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio Texas. I found an old bike rack covered in weeds and started parking my bike there. With in 4 months the bike rack was completely cleaned up and at least 8 of us were commuting daily.

Another thing is that if you are ridding on a regular basis people get to know you. Or rather know your bike as they too are going to work. I once got a flat, rolled my tubular tire off the rim, and flipped into the thick grass of someones yard. I guy I never knew pulled up behind me and gave me a ride to work. I am thankful to this day...
I can store the bike inside at work if i would like, no one is going to mess with it around here either way though.
i figured the same about the walk if something goes wrong, or even if there is a hill that is too mich for me, doesnt take much extra time to hoof it for a minute and i leave an hour early already as it is. It takes me 12 minutes to do the commute in a car my normal route, i drove a few of the routes google suggested for cycleing(30 minite bike ride according to them) and it took 20 or so minites to do the drive so i seem to have plenty of time no matter what happens and worse comes to worse my wife is just a phone call and 5 minites away.
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Old 02-11-24, 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Sadly, not my experience:

Bike stand
Tires
Tubes
Lights
Raincoat
Winter coat
Boots
Heavy socks
Thermal insoles
Rain pants
Grips
Pedals
Grease
Seats/saddles
Seatpost
Chains
Various chain lubes
Degreaser
Chain cleaning tools
Crank removal tool
Freewheel removal tool
Rear rack and hardware
New freewheel
Food
Reflective vest
Similar equipment for backup bike
Replacement rear derailleurs
Rim tape
Cleaning supplies
Multi-port USB charger to charge all the lights
Balaclava
Different weights of gloves
New wheels
Quick links
Replacement cables and housings
Spoke wrenches
Replacement nipples/washers
Wheel truing stand
Bottom bracket
Left side crank
Rear axles
Replacement spokes
Snow tires
Multitool
Lip balm
Medicine
it is always possible to spend piles of money on anything, and almost always possible to do the same thing with a lot less money.

But also, I mean, let's count consistently: if you are going to include all those tools for bike maintenance on your list of expenses, then it is only fair to include the equivalent car tool in the cost of a car, right? So, if you include a truing stand into the costs of commuting 10 miles rt per day, we should definitely add the cost of buying one of those wheel balancing machines that the garage has to my car costs. And if you count a bike stand, let's also find out how much that lift in the garage costs. Also, you need to wear clothes while driving, too. And when I drive my car in the rain, I actually need a rain coat just like when I bike in the rain, because of getting in and out of the car in the rain.

And there are some costs here associated with cars but not bikes, at least for me: where I live, you are required to have a reflective vest in the car, but I actually don't use one for bike commuting.
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Old 02-11-24, 08:00 AM
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It's true that equipping yourself for cycling can get expensive. I admit it is for me because I'm not very rational with my bike spending. I love spending money on cycling, and I dislike spending it on cars. So I go a bit crazy. Not as crazy as before, but it does happen.

Years ago, when I lived and worked in the suburbs, I had a job that was 10 miles away, and it was slightly hilly. I drove every day. And I wondered how I could get exercise with my busy schedule. At the time I was not doing anything for exercise. Then I realized that I could replace my 30 minute drive (it was on local streets and roads) with a 60 minute bike ride. For a half-hour time cost, I could get a 60 minute workout. Comparing that with going to a gym, that's a big time savings. I couldn't cycle to work every day, but I was glad for the days when I could, especially since it was a nice, scenic route without much scary traffic.

I noticed I had to eat more than before, so the savings from fuel was less than I thought it would be, but that's OK.

The government lets you deduct 67 cents per mile. (This is 2024.) This is based on much more than fuel costs. It's more expensive to drive than we usually realize. I read an analysis this, and it turns out to be pretty accurate. Some people think that fuel is the only cost that is linearly proportional to distance traveled, but they're wrong. Repairs, tires, and car replacement are pretty much linear also. So every mile you don't drive is another 67 cents saved.

Plus there is the impact on the environment and safety. Every time you turn the key, you implicitly say, "I might injure or kill someone today."
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Old 02-11-24, 09:26 AM
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Five miles on a modest used road bike with smooth street tires at a moderate pace should take you about 25 minutes of riding each way, adding a few minutes for hills and traffic.

The same 5 miles on a used mountain bike with knobby tires, low gearing and energy-sapping suspension should take about 35-40 minutes each way.

I'm 62 and my current commute is 6 miles each way and it takes about 33 minutes (30 in, downhill...36 back, uphill). On my super-light aluminum & carbon road bike I average 28 minutes. On my big heavy, 90's MTB with studded snow tires it takes about 40 minutes, but with its summer smoothies and higher road gearing it averages about 36 minutes.

Recently, in 3-4 inches of fresh, heavy snow it took 48 minutes to get to work. And it took about 45 minutes on my horribly under-geared 16-inch folder (soon to be upgraded...I hope).

I have various routes, both streets and trails and a mix of both.

For 28-years I commuted 9 miles each way and it took 50% longer (about 45 minutes average).

I would say that if you are in reasonable shape, for a 5-mile commute, almost any bike would do, the only real variable being the amount of time you wish to spend riding.

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Old 02-11-24, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider
The government lets you deduct 67 cents per mile. (This is 2024.) This is based on much more than fuel costs. It's more expensive to drive than we usually realize. I read an analysis this, and it turns out to be pretty accurate. Some people think that fuel is the only cost that is linearly proportional to distance traveled, but they're wrong. Repairs, tires, and car replacement are pretty much linear also. So every mile you don't drive is another 67 cents saved.
Don't fool yourself, most of these fixed cost expenses are "saved" only if a bicycle replaces the ownership, use and frequent replacement of a new car used only for commuting purposes.

The IRS government "deduction" for reimbursement car expenses (67 cents per mile for business-related driving, 21 cents per mile for moving and medical purposes, 14 cents per mile for miles in the service of charitable organizations) is not applicable for commuting to and from home to work location, whether by bicycle, bus or car.

Also, assuming the government mileage rate (GSA or IRS) is calculated on a model similar to the AAA "driving cost" per mile figure, AAA Driving Costs it is based on variable costs related to actual miles driven such as fuel and maintenance for driving a new vehicle about 14 or15 thousand miles a year, and more importantly the fixed costs of replacing the vehicle every five years with a new vehicle with the associated depreciation loss and loan interest, as well as other fixed costs like insurance, taxes, and registration costs which accumulate whether the vehicle is driven "x" miles or is kept parked at home for all 5 years. The bulk of these expenses are the fixed costs of ownership, and mileage is of little relevance.

Very little of the automotive "deductible expenses" are applicable to the expenses of riding or owning a bicycle, especially one that will be only used for 10 miles a day of riding to/from home to work.

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Old 02-11-24, 09:56 AM
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I think a 5 mile commute is just right.
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Old 02-11-24, 10:09 AM
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I have commuted 5 miles one way, even on a small folding bike. In fact, the difference in time would only be an additional 5 to 10 minutes compared to riding a bigger road bike.

Any bike would be suitable for a 5-mile ride, whether it's a folding bike or road bike or a hybrid bike. However, I'd advise you to get a bigger road or a hybrid bike that rides sweetly, because you might discover a newfound love for cycling and find yourself wanting to ride 20 or even 30 miles instead of just 10 miles round trip. You never know.
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Old 02-11-24, 11:43 AM
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@I-Like-To-Bike, I know that way of looking at things, and I used to share it. But I've learned that almost everything is linear as I said before. The less you drive, the less frequently you need to replace it. So purchase price is related to number of miles driven. Insurance isn't quite as granular, but there are steps, so a little-used car costs less than a well-used car. Registration fees are not linear but they are not very significant compared with the other costs of driving.
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Old 02-11-24, 11:46 AM
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Just skip the snow rides and you don't need half that stuff. I never job commuted but a few times, but have two suitable roadsters. There were some years I rode 6.2 miles to lunch at DQ, when I was retired. Took about 33 minutes, 24 moving, often had a tailwind outbound. Those times were mostly with my Rohloff14. Hydro disc brakes are nuts on a commuter especially.

The perfect bike has a SA XL-RD3 and a dyno SA XL-FDD, both drum brakes that last at least 30,000 miles. ZERO worries in any weather needing ZERO adjustments. A 3 speed will easily last the same with a just an annual lube with the headset and maybe twice a year pedals lube. The GIs are 47/ 63/ 84 or so, shift at 10 mph, perfect for city stop/ go.
My 3 speed is a compromise because it's an old 1973 CCM with a narrow 90 mm fork and 1 piece crank. It has perfect 650B x 38 tires, Dyad rims and 2.3/ 2.0 spokes and locking nipples. Will NEVER break. These fenders are the BEST ever made.

My other new Simcoe bike now has a SA XL-RD5w which I chose a bit lower and much higher speed top end. I chucked most of the cheap alu parts it came with.
Still needs a narrower front fender and bottle mounts. Idiot city bike makers seem to think they only go 10 miles and don't need them. Pfffft. I beefed up the rack to carry anything I want.
I do century miles any time I feel like it. Sweptback bars are awesome, also on my tour bike. The mirror is used way more on highways/ freeways. All 3 bikes have my homemade nickel plated stems. Anything bare alu sucks with scratches and corrosion.
And obviously I do carry way more tools.



Here's the newest addons, chaincase and lights. My last fully enclosed chain on my tour bike went 4,000 miles before needing any cleaning or lube. Tires avg a penny a mile. Tools last forever, some of mine are re-sized and 100 years old. LOL. I have 6 or 8 tools I found on the highway and passed by just as many. I have bike parts that are 50/ 80 years old too. I have DIY metal stuff that was road kill. LOL. I wear tall steel toe rubber boots in rain and cold snow months, on or off the bike actually. The gas $ I save on an all day ride easily gives me free meals. Battery lights are nuts.

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Old 02-11-24, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
...I love spending money on cycling...
Yep... Me TOO! But don't get me wrong. I have to be selective, and being a cheap bastard I often will settle for ChiCom outlet specials and actually purchase tools at Harbor Freight. When ever I do find a good buy I post it here. And yes I do have more then a few failed and useless bicycle related components. But what the hell... Its fun, Fun, FUN...


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Old 02-11-24, 01:05 PM
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I forgot about chain lube in that long list of expenses. So "Various chain lubes" - 3 in1 Oil works just fine

And in fact, 3 in 1 was formulated for sewing machines, a use that I have forgotten (maybe locks?) and bicycle chains.

I use Tri-Flo, Finish Line wet (MTB) lube and a fancy synthetic stuff now but I commuted long ago on 3 in 1. Used often enough and kept clean enough, they all work.
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Old 02-11-24, 01:06 PM
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OP, I just read that you grew up in the 80s, and it seems you don't currently have any bikes stored or in your garage. Considering you are in your late 30s or early 40s, you are still quite young. If I were in your position, I wouldn't simply buy ANY random bike. Instead, I would invest in a quality road bike that offers a fun, smooth, and enjoyable riding experience, even if it's a used one. The idea would be to keep and ride the same bike well into your 80s, and maybe, 90s. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. With a mere $200-$300 investment, you can buy a decent used road or hybrid bike. Get a good bike that gives you fun and fulfilling bike-riding experience, rather than just ANY bike. Think long-term, and make that buying decision.
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Old 02-11-24, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider
@I-Like-To-Bike, I know that way of looking at things, and I used to share it. But I've learned that almost everything is linear as I said before. The less you drive, the less frequently you need to replace it. So purchase price is related to number of miles driven. Insurance isn't quite as granular, but there are steps, so a little-used car costs less than a well-used car. Registration fees are not linear but they are not very significant compared with the other costs of driving.
If the OP commutes on his bike 5 days/week for 52 weeks instead of driving the car he already owns, he will "save" the car expenses of driving 2600 miles. His savings will only be linear for fuel, tolls and parking fees and a minimal amount of additional maintenance/tire cost costs. There will be no significant savings on the biggest slice of owning a car, the fixed costs - depreciation, insurance and loan interest. Of course only a wastrel or someone without financial concerns would suffer the depreciation and loan expenses incurred by buying and replacing a new car every five years if it is only used to commute 2600 miles a year.

The bottom line is if the OP or anyone else wants to save real money by bike commuting or as a substitute for a motor vehicle, and not fool themselves, the bicycle needs to replace the ownership of a motor vehicle, or to a lesser degree as substitute for the use of public transportation. This of course assumes that the bicycle commuter will be comfortable not having the convenience of an available car or convenient public transportation options for commuting/transportation use when weather, family responsibilities or health status makes daily bicycling impractical and/or unpleasant.

I voluntarily bike commuted all year most of my working life including in Philadelphia, rural Illinois, Iowa and Oregon, and Heidelberg Germany. It was a great experience and immensely rewarding physically and mentally; The financial saving were minor and irrelevant.

I recommend using a bicycle for transportation for anyone who can make it work for them, just don't expect any big $ savings or imaginary tax deduction.

Last edited by I-Like-To-Bike; 02-11-24 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 02-11-24, 04:51 PM
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Strawbunyan Start with any bike you have - and over time you'll see what you prefer.
Similar goes for clothing and other equipment.
You can't know until you start - and when you start, for a 5-mile ride, you most probably won't need anything really special.

My 2c on commuting bikes, but also clothers and other stuff:
Commuting bicycle buying guide


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Very good points. I agree. With a few notes:

The savings probably depend on where one lives (and how much one earns).

Fuel prices (in my country they are quite high).
Parking fees (you need to pay parking when you are in my city in many places and that adds up pretty quickly).
Pays (in Serbia they are quite low, so a $50 save per month goes a long way for many people).
Health problems prevented by cycling can be very expensive in coutries without good medical care (my country no longer has good free health care, nor unlimited paid sick leave - we went all capitalist now...).
Congested stop-go traffic and short drives can increase wear and tear and car maintenance costs.

Having said that, I agree that the savings are surprisingly small when you account for everything (bike and car maintenance costs, taxes etc.), if the bike commuting doesn't allow you to not own a car or at least to not own a second/third car that you would otherwise. And that's without calculating any extra time spent on commutes (though in my city the traffic is gongested enough for the bike to be actually faster or at least just as fast).

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