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Gear Costs

Old 06-06-12, 09:59 AM
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Gear Costs

I was curious about cost issues so I decided to add up what my gear cost and what it would cost if I had not splurged on as many higher end items. I figure that it makes sense to not count items most of us probably own like clothing or consumable stuff like soap and sunscreen. On my minimalist ultralight gear list the remaining items came out to just over $1000. Going more basic on a few items would drastically reduce the count to something like $375.

That does not include, bike, pump, rack, and tools/spares.

I have not added up the stuff on my more heavily loaded gear lists from earlier trips, but think they would be somewhere between the two numbers I listed, because I had more stuff along, but it was all lower priced items.

If anyone is curious what specific items the counts included they are listed in my ultralight article under "Ultralight on a Budget" section, along with some details about the items.

Anyone else have numbers to share?
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Old 06-06-12, 12:30 PM
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I just upgraded my commuter bike for touring. I went for quality and value, meaning not necessarily the lightest, but highly regarded equipment that should last for years.

Ortlieb panniers f/r - $300 Touringstore
Thermarest pad - $80 using REI check and coupon
Snow Peak stove kit - $65 using REI coupon
REI Quarterdome T2 tent - $175 using REI coupon
OMM Sherpa front rack - $125
Wheels - $300 Universal (Handspun)

Total $1,045. Sure adds up fast.

Already had everything else like sleeping bag, bike, rear rack, fenders and tools.
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Old 06-06-12, 12:56 PM
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I have all my expenses tracked in Quicken, including camping equipment, bike-specific costs for repairs, and general accessories.

I don't wanna look.
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Old 06-06-12, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I was curious about cost issues so I decided to add up what my gear cost and what it would cost if I had not splurged on as many higher end items. I figure that it makes sense to not count items most of us probably own like clothing or consumable stuff like soap and sunscreen. On my minimalist ultralight gear list the remaining items came out to just over $1000. Going more basic on a few items would drastically reduce the count to something like $375.

That does not include, bike, pump, rack, and tools/spares.

I have not added up the stuff on my more heavily loaded gear lists from earlier trips, but think they would be somewhere between the two numbers I listed, because I had more stuff along, but it was all lower priced items.

If anyone is curious what specific items the counts included they are listed in my ultralight article under "Ultralight on a Budget" section, along with some details about the items.

Anyone else have numbers to share?
Why not clothing?!? There can be so much weight being shed because most of the time, people pack their normal clothes like jeans, normal fleeces, normal down jacket etc which are downright heavy compared to performance clothing. You can save quite a bit of weight in a small package by packing clothes made with modern fabrics in a compression sack. They are not cheap though. Things like merino wool which does not stink like a skunk when worn often and keep warm even when wet -- I am a fan of Ice Breaker stuff, soft shell hiking pants with fleece or microdot backing which is a lot lighter than jeans and wind resistant, high performance fleece and down jacket. I usually buy them on sale or factory seconds. Retail alone can easily be $200 to $300 alone on the down jacket that keeps you toasty warm but packs to a size of a fist! Thankgod, I managed to score a Mountain Wear down jacket that my friend had been raving about for like $80 (regular $300) from REI after discounts and coupons. If I were to buy retail of all my high performance ultralight clothings, the bill would top $3000 +. Mine worked out to be around $1500, but I wouldn't mind wanting more. My camp gear stuff which is a decade old already since my last refresh was worth $1000; where most of the upgrade was done during the dot.com bust where business were going bankrupt with overfilled inventory. I scored a new North Face Slick Rock then for like $80 and was one of the top ultralight tent at the time and was so happy that I did.

It's wise for everyone to make up a list of camping inventory you currently have and know their physical weight. That way, you can target those items that weigh the most and then when light weight stuff goes on sale, you buy it.
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Old 06-06-12, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificcyclist
Why not clothing?!?
I absolutely include clothing in the packing list and spend a good bit of effort planning what to take. Where I did not include it was in the cost listing. I bought very little clothing specifically for touring (except rain gear which I did include).

FWIW, I hate wool for touring. I am old enough to have lived with wool insulation layers for many years of whitewater boating and was delighted when synthetic stuff made it unnecessary. In recent years I again tried wool and found that I am still not a fan. I have not found it odor free and it seems to hold more water and dry slower. I'll stick with tech fabrics.

My clothing list for my next trip is:
Bike shorts - 1 pair Pearl Attack Izumi Ultrasensor
Tights - Cheap ones with no chamois
Jersey - 1 short sleeved
Warm shirt - Immersion Research
Tee shirt - UA Heat Gear
Bike hat
Cap - Take a Novara Thermal Tech Beanie since my UA one proved uncomfortable
Rain jacket - Stoic Wraith
Rain pants- Ultralight Sierra designs
Running shorts - Nike DriFit
Bike Shoes
Ultra light trail runners.

That list is fine for overnight lows a good bit below freezing. I sometimes take a down vest, but last trip even though the lows were in the teens I nver used it for anything but a pillow. So I am not taking it this time
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Old 06-06-12, 05:00 PM
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I must admit, I haven't kept a record of my spending on touring stuff. We've just invested in two Thorn Club Tours, new Altura panniers, and not so recently, new Exped mats. Machka also has bought a down sleeping bag. And we won't even enter the realms of computers and cameras. And there is all the other stuff we have accumulated in trial-and-error over the years including cooking and eating sets, clothing, cycling shoes... the list goes on.

Let's just say that $5,000 might be a starting point.

HOWEVER, the stuff we have is durable and has a life expectancy of many years. So, what is the true cost? Maybe you have to divide it by the time it's used (cost per day touring) or mileage (cost per mile). Using those metrics might present a more reasonable answer.

For example, my old Fuji Touring has done around 54,000km. It cost me $1200 or thereabouts new. That's 2.2 cents a kilometre. I probably spent around 600 days of touring on it (and I admit to including randonnees in that because I consider those events as "fast touring"). That's $2 a day. Except for the distance metric, the bike's other uses are included, which might dilute the cost factor even further.

My down sleeping bag has been used on probably 500 nights -- it cost me around $180 (on clearance special) so that's 36 cents a night.

When you line those costs up against air travel to get to a start point or from a finish point, or food on a tour, or running a motor vehicle daily, the costs do pale somewhat.

Actually, using that logic, using our bicycles is enabling us to do our upcoming 8-month round-the-world trip. Using land transport of any other sort would have made the cost prohibitive for our budget.

And pacificcyclist's last point about buying stuff on sale is key. There is nothing more expensive than "panic buying". And being able to settle for good quality used is another handy buying tactic.
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Old 06-06-12, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
In recent years I again tried wool and found that I am still not a fan. I have not found it odor free and it seems to hold more water and dry slower. I'll stick with tech fabrics.
I am actually able to come out of the closet on this one, so to speak, thanks to what you've said here. I am not a total fan of wool. I find my sweat is held by the fabric and the thin weaves for jerseys and thermal wear haven't actually been warm enough. I should note, however, I have worn thick wool pullovers/jumpers for workwear and find them excellent.

By comparison, I think polypro for cycling and camping is the bee's knees. It wicks away my sweat and remains soft and warm.
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Old 06-06-12, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Let's just say that $5,000 might be a starting point.
I was more interested in what the total kit taken on a single tour costs.

I would guess that if I included all my gear that could possibly be used on tour my total might approach $5000 too. My count includes only the stuff that is on my current packing list though. I own a ton of stuff that has been used in the past, is used by friends and family members, or is used for other activities.

I was trying to price only the articles needed to tour so the prices would give some idea of what the cost of outfitting from scratch would be. I figure that someone could self supported tour with a very light load with either list, if they already own a bike.

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Old 06-06-12, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
I am actually able to come out of the closet on this one, so to speak, thanks to what you've said here. I am not a total fan of wool. I find my sweat is held by the fabric and the thin weaves for jerseys and thermal wear haven't actually been warm enough. I should note, however, I have worn thick wool pullovers/jumpers for workwear and find them excellent.

By comparison, I think polypro for cycling and camping is the bee's knees. It wicks away my sweat and remains soft and warm.
Good to hear, sometimes I feel like I am the only one who doesn't think wool is magical for touring.
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Old 06-06-12, 06:38 PM
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I probably don't want to know... I have stuff that is over 30 years old that I still use and I have brand new stuff that has never been used. If I actually inventoried it I probably would have to sell some of it. I know for a fact that I have at least 5 stoves... (not that I carry all of them at the same time) I actually own two complete sets of panniers. One set of Lone Peak and one set of Ortliebs Classic Rollers, plus 3 or 4 handle bar bags. I guess you could say I am an equipment *****. And that doesn't count the commuter stuff that could probably double for touring.

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Old 06-06-12, 06:54 PM
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Oh boy! Don't start talking about collecting stuff like panniers and bags. They're starting to get like coat hangers -- breeding in the closet without me knowing!!

But this is another factor that probably needs to be factored in... and it is evident in staehpj1's CGOAB articles -- that there is a degree of experimentation in finding the gear that actually suits one's needs. If you look at the cost of your total gear inventory versus the cost of what you actually take on a tour, there is likely to be a substantial difference, at least for experienced touring cyclists.

And there is the indulgence factor. I like Carradice bags so am collecting the various models as the opportunity arises. They all have their uses in the various forms of touring I do, but they aren't necessarily necessary.
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Old 06-06-12, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Good to hear, sometimes I feel like I am the only one who doesn't think wool is magical for touring.
I'm now in a position where I'm torn.

I have used merino wool on previous tours (and also other rides) and found it cold. Through Rowan's suggestion, I discovered polypro. The first few polypro tops I got weren't very nice, but the ones I've purchased recently are beautiful. They are soft, warm, and comfortable on and off the bicycle.

So for our upcoming tour, I had almost settled on bringing two polypro long-sleeved tops (and maybe a very light bamboo top). But at my farewell at work yesterday, I was presented with a lovely red merino wool top. It's beautiful ... but as I said, I find merino wool cold.

Now, with my coworkers potentially "watching" our tour, I need to decide ... do I go with my original plan, or do I change out one of the polypros for this beautiful red merino wool top.
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Old 06-06-12, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I absolutely include clothing in the packing list and spend a good bit of effort planning what to take. Where I did not include it was in the cost listing. I bought very little clothing specifically for touring (except rain gear which I did include).

FWIW, I hate wool for touring. I am old enough to have lived with wool insulation layers for many years of whitewater boating and was delighted when synthetic stuff made it unnecessary. In recent years I again tried wool and found that I am still not a fan. I have not found it odor free and it seems to hold more water and dry slower. I'll stick with tech fabrics.

My clothing list for my next trip is:
Bike shorts - 1 pair Pearl Attack Izumi Ultrasensor
Tights - Cheap ones with no chamois
Jersey - 1 short sleeved
Warm shirt - Immersion Research
Tee shirt - UA Heat Gear
Bike hat
Cap - Take a Novara Thermal Tech Beanie since my UA one proved uncomfortable
Rain jacket - Stoic Wraith
Rain pants- Ultralight Sierra designs
Running shorts - Nike DriFit
Bike Shoes
Ultra light trail runners.

That list is fine for overnight lows a good bit below freezing. I sometimes take a down vest, but last trip even though the lows were in the teens I nver used it for anything but a pillow. So I am not taking it this time
Mine is similar to yours for an overnighter. I know wool is a preference thing. I grew up with wool as well; my old man made me wear it during our long hikes or runs in the mountains together when I was younger then to keep me warm. I wear wool as an insulator layer not a base layer.
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Old 06-06-12, 09:19 PM
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Essentially all of our non-specific bike gear was purchased for other sports. Mountaineering, backpacking, back country skiing, and canoeing all use the same camping gear as bike touring. We tend to buy the best we can afford as our equipment gets hard use, sometime in situations where it is really important for things to work. Our kids say "we don't need to go to REI, we just get what we need out of our parents garage". Our 2 car garage (there has never been a car in it) is known by family and friends as the "gear storage unit" I would not want to know the cumulative cost of our outdoor gear , but it is what we do and I consider it money well spent.

The same tent,Therm-a-Rest, stove, cooking pots, dishes, utensils, and often the same sleeping bags we use on bike tours.


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Old 06-06-12, 10:33 PM
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Here is the bike loaded with all the gear. With the bike, clothing and accessories included, it probably approaches $5K.

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Old 06-07-12, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Oh boy! Don't start talking about collecting stuff like panniers and bags. They're starting to get like coat hangers -- breeding in the closet without me knowing!!

But this is another factor that probably needs to be factored in... and it is evident in staehpj1's CGOAB articles -- that there is a degree of experimentation in finding the gear that actually suits one's needs. If you look at the cost of your total gear inventory versus the cost of what you actually take on a tour, there is likely to be a substantial difference, at least for experienced touring cyclists.

And there is the indulgence factor. I like Carradice bags so am collecting the various models as the opportunity arises. They all have their uses in the various forms of touring I do, but they aren't necessarily necessary.
I forgot about those...I consider them a necessity.

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Old 06-07-12, 04:38 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
I was more interested in what the total kit taken on a single tour costs.

I was trying to price only the articles needed to tour so the prices would give some idea of what the cost of outfitting from scratch would be. I figure that someone could self supported tour with a very light load with either list, if they already own a bike.
A valiant effort, Pete. It would be helpful to know, especially for somebody considering getting into the hobby, but it`s so tough to nail down a cost that I can`t forsee the results being of any real use. Just the same, I`ll be watching with interest...
until I get bored, probably somewhere around the bottom of the second page

I dug through the memory banks and the only things I can come up with that I bought specifically because I wanted to use them bike touring AND will be going with me on my next tour (in just a few days, so I`m already packed) total up to US$520 to the best of my feeble memory. That cost includes tools and materials in some cases, rather than finished products. However, I`ve spent a lot of money on stuff initially or normally used for touring that won`t go with me this trip. For instance, I`m taking my small panniers this time and leaving the bigger ones behind, taking my old pup tent (not included in touring cost because I bought it long before I had intentions of bike touring) and leaving the schnazzy high Dollar tent at home (as usual).

Originally Posted by Rowan
But this is another factor that probably needs to be factored in... and it is evident in staehpj1's CGOAB articles -- that there is a degree of experimentation in finding the gear that actually suits one's needs. If you look at the cost of your total gear inventory versus the cost of what you actually take on a tour, there is likely to be a substantial difference, at least for experienced touring cyclists.
Exactly! Aside from redundant equipment for different conditions, no amount of anal researching for each and every purchase will prevent buying the wrong item from time to time, so IMO, the cost of all the experimenting is just as important as the cost of what we`re using at the moment.

Originally Posted by wahoonc
I probably don't want to know... I have stuff that is over 30 years old that I still use and I have brand new stuff that has never been used. If I actually inventoried it I probably would have to sell some of it.
Ha! Tell me about it! I have dust growing on brand new stuff too, but even more stuff that I bought, tried, didn`t like, and still have it even though I`ll never use it again.

EDIT: I didn`t count the price of my bike here, even though the bike I`ll be taking on my upcomming trip was purchased primarilly for touring. Add in $1600 US for anybody counting in bike prices. This will be a maiden voyage for the new bike- the bike I`ve done most of my touring on to date was bought one piece at a time and was my commuter before touring got added to its job description.

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Old 06-07-12, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
For example, my old Fuji Touring has done around 54,000km. It cost me $1200 or thereabouts new. That's 2.2 cents a kilometre. I probably spent around 600 days of touring on it (and I admit to including randonnees in that because I consider those events as "fast touring"). That's $2 a day. Except for the distance metric, the bike's other uses are included, which might dilute the cost factor even further.
You should probably also consider the costs of the wearable parts (chains, cassettes, cables), upgrades and replacements to see how much it really costs. Any ideas, how much $ you've been investing in it per year? Nowadays just two chains and a cassette (mid end parts) for every 5000km cost about 50-60 euros or 60-80 USD. 70 bucks times 11 + initial costs will make roughly 2000$ (that's for 54000km, nice mileage by the way). Throw there the money spent for tubes, the tires the seats, handlebar tapes and the cost factor will be at least twice as high as the price for the new bike alone.

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Old 06-07-12, 05:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mikhalit
You should probably also consider the costs of the wearable parts (chains, cassettes, cables), upgrades and replacements to see how much it really costs. Any ideas, how much $ you've been investing in it per year? Nowadays just two chains and a cassette (mid end parts) for every 5000km cost about 50-60 euros or 60-80 USD. 70 bucks time 11 will make roughly 2000$ (the original costs + usage for 54000km, nice mileage by the way). Throw there the money spent for tubes, the tires the seats, handlebar tapes and the cost factor will be at least twice as high.
Yes, after posting I thought I should have accounted for that. I could amortise the cost for wearable items out with the commuting and training rides I did on that bike.

But you are right. And no, I couldn't tell you the costs of those consumables over more than a decade, although your estimates, converted to dollars, would be in the ballpark. That would mean a cost of 4.4 cents a kilometre ($1200 bike cost + $1200 consumables over 54,000km), or $4 a day.
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Old 06-07-12, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mikhalit
You should probably also consider the costs of the wearable parts (chains, cassettes, cables), upgrades and replacements to see how much it really costs. Any ideas, how much $ you've been investing in it per year? Nowadays just two chains and a cassette (mid end parts) for every 5000km cost about 50-60 euros or 60-80 USD. 70 bucks times 11 + initial costs will make roughly 2000$ (that's for 54000km, nice mileage by the way). Throw there the money spent for tubes, the tires the seats, handlebar tapes and the cost factor will be at least twice as high as the price for the new bike alone.
I did some calculations once on what my bikes cost per mile when you factor in all that stuff and was kind of surprised how expensive it was. I don't recall the number. I think it was bad enough that I blocked it.

Maybe OT, but I did a similar calculation for running and found it to not be cheap either. The cost per mile for shoes is shockingly high if you buy decent shoes and replace them when the midsole starts to break down. It got better when I stopped road running and started trail running, but when I was on the road it was something like $0.30 per mile.
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Old 06-07-12, 06:26 AM
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I agree, the costs tend to be higher than one imagines... I did this sort of calculation recently too, and then looked how expensive are the derailleurs vs IGH, to see if i can cut the costs somehow and the results provided quite some thoughts on this topic.

I don't want to highjack the thread (no debates on IGH vs direct drivetrain please), but here is at least one sink where the money goes for many of us... (it's based on the assumption that every year one replaces cassette (or a single cog) and two chains. Not considering the replacement of worn IGH or derailleurs once in a while). Costs are given in Euros, values found in some popular online shops. I am surprised that I could buy quite some extra fancy gear if i sticked to IGH's instead of what i've been using till now. Crazy.

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Old 06-07-12, 06:49 AM
  #22  
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Or I could say with tongue partly in cheek that you can do fixed gear. There's a nice thick 1/8th chain, beefy cog and chainring, no cables, no shifters, stronger rear wheel... basically, install and forget. And yes, I've done it as a touring bike.
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Old 06-07-12, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Or I could say with tongue partly in cheek that you can do fixed gear. There's a nice thick 1/8th chain, beefy cog and chainring, no cables, no shifters, stronger rear wheel... basically, install and forget. And yes, I've done it as a touring bike.
That's the plan. As a sort of experiment though, not in order to save the money. If it will make me spend less time on the bike, i will ditch the idea.

PS. I actually meant that sometimes the idea of super cheap life on a bicycle turns to be more expensive than anticipated. It is still a pretty cheap mean of transportation of course.

Last edited by mikhalit; 06-07-12 at 07:16 AM.
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Old 06-07-12, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mikhalit
I agree, the costs tend to be higher than one imagines... I did this sort of calculation recently too, and then looked how expensive are the derailleurs vs IGH, to see if i can cut the costs somehow and the results provided quite some thoughts on this topic.

I don't want to highjack the thread (no debates on IGH vs direct drivetrain please), but here is at least one sink where the money goes for many of us... (it's based on the assumption that every year one replaces cassette (or a single cog) and two chains. Not considering the replacement of worn IGH or derailleurs once in a while). Costs are given in Euros, values found in some popular online shops. I am surprised that I could buy quite some extra fancy gear if i sticked to IGH's instead of what i've been using till now. Crazy.

Long been my contention...

FWIW I have a 40 year old Sturmey Archer AW hub that has seen some where well past 30,000 miles of use on the same bike. The only internal parts replaced have been the pawl springs, just because.

I have always put the initial cost of something low on my priority list, I look more at durability, servicing and suitability as primary criteria.

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Old 06-07-12, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Or I could say with tongue partly in cheek that you can do fixed gear. There's a nice thick 1/8th chain, beefy cog and chainring, no cables, no shifters, stronger rear wheel... basically, install and forget. And yes, I've done it as a touring bike.
Just remember to figure the bills from the orthopedic clinic
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