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Cycling: Cost per Mile

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Cycling: Cost per Mile

Old 11-30-18, 12:40 PM
  #51  
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RubeRad, this Miyata is my short commute bike and has about 10,000 miles on it. I was working at a Miyata dealer at that time and got a stinking deal on it. $225. Way lower than wholesale. About 2 cents a mile. The original tires are long gone, but the subsequent replacements have all been free to me. Benefits of working for low wages at a bike shop is the inside deals that come your way once in a while. Chain and freewheel have each been replaced 3 times at an additional 45 dollars. Still has original components outside of the chain, freewheel, tires, and saddle. Make it 2.5 cents per mile over all these years. Not bad. Can only get better than that if the bike had been free!

Have another 85 Miyata that I use for long commutes and touring. That bike was given to me as New Old Stock. So far the only expense has been tape, saddle and tires. It is good to be frugal and know how to live that way.
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Old 11-30-18, 01:06 PM
  #52  
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This will be an interesting exercise, although TiHabanero may have me beat with that nice original purchase price.

As you can see to the right, I ride a 1992 Specialized Stumpjumper FS. I used to have a road bike, but I traded it for a bike stand a long time ago.

Original purchase price, ~$800. I swapped out the stem, seatpost and its QR (~$50?). Did a sex-week bike tour on road and dirt, so I added a rear rack ($40?) that I still use, and panniers $(~$80).

All told, I doubt I have spent more than $2000 on the thing over the years between tuneups, tires, chains and general maintenance, etc., and have probably ridden close to 20000 miles on it since 1992. So, I'm gonna say around $0.10/mile.

And now I get a $50 bonus for commuting every month, so that offsets it even more!
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Old 11-30-18, 01:13 PM
  #53  
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For me, this would need to have an adaptation for how technical or slow something is. Cost per hour might be more universally applicable. Right now my cost is 5$ per mile which doesn't represent the truth of the roi.

My cost per hour is 3$. Since some of my rides are short and extremely technical/slow and most are not overly fast on the trails I ride, this measurement makes more sense. In a 9 month period.
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Old 11-30-18, 01:20 PM
  #54  
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I've spent about $370 total on my fixed gear commuting bike, including purchase new, couple of sets of tires, chain etc, since December 2015. With a bit under 10,000 miles the cost is about 3.7 cents per mile.

Last edited by wphamilton; 11-30-18 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 11-30-18, 01:24 PM
  #55  
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For my most-used bike the initial capital cost per mile is about one quarter of a cent. Maintenance items (mainly tires, chains, and cassettes) increase that by about 2 cents. But the main cost is for fuel which I estimate to be about 5 cents/mile based on current grocery prices.
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Old 11-30-18, 01:35 PM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
For my most-used bike the initial capital cost per mile is about one quarter of a cent. Maintenance items (mainly tires, chains, and cassettes) increase that by about 2 cents. But the main cost is for fuel which I estimate to be about 5 cents/mile based on current grocery prices.
I actually just got done calculating and posting the food cost myself, but erased it because I wasn't that confident of a couple of my estimations. I came to around 6 or 7 cents. But what do I eat *extra* for those calories, vs just an apportionment of what I eat total, not necessarily the same thing. More junk food and snacks I expect.
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Old 11-30-18, 01:57 PM
  #57  
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Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
For me, this would need to have an adaptation for how technical or slow something is. Cost per hour might be more universally applicable. Right now my cost is 5$ per mile which doesn't represent the truth of the roi.

My cost per hour is 3$. Since some of my rides are short and extremely technical/slow and most are not overly fast on the trails I ride, this measurement makes more sense. In a 9 month period.
Interesting notion; MTB riding amortizes cost per mile slower than road riding (because MTB has a lower mph than road riding), but if you switch to a cost per hour metric, MTB vs road are make more comparable. Plus that way you can look at it in terms of how much did your cycling enjoyment/entertainment cost (vs something more like how much did your cycling utility cost)
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Old 11-30-18, 02:01 PM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by prathmann
For my most-used bike the initial capital cost per mile is about one quarter of a cent. Maintenance items (mainly tires, chains, and cassettes) increase that by about 2 cents. But the main cost is for fuel which I estimate to be about 5 cents/mile based on current grocery prices.
Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
I actually just got done calculating and posting the food cost myself, but erased it because I wasn't that confident of a couple of my estimations. I came to around 6 or 7 cents. But what do I eat *extra* for those calories, vs just an apportionment of what I eat total, not necessarily the same thing. More junk food and snacks I expect.
Interesting, I hadn't considered the cost of fuel. This is problematic, because as wphamilton notes, it's the marginal cost of fuel that makes more sense, and for clydes, they often have 0 or negative marginal cost, because fuel burned by cycling is a beneficial contribution to a goal of weight loss -- vs maybe a competitive cyclist (or any cyclist not needing/wanting to lose weight) who would need to eat more to support the calories burned.
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Old 11-30-18, 03:51 PM
  #59  
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Interesting, I hadn't considered the cost of fuel. This is problematic, because as wphamilton notes, it's the marginal cost of fuel that makes more sense, and for clydes, they often have 0 or negative marginal cost, because fuel burned by cycling is a beneficial contribution to a goal of weight loss -- vs maybe a competitive cyclist (or any cyclist not needing/wanting to lose weight) who would need to eat more to support the calories burned.
I suspect Mr Prathmann took his weight loss/gain into account, for myself there was little change during the period. I don't think you can sustainably lose fat as quickly as you burn it (calories) cycling so there has to be an additional cost of some kind, even though in the larger scheme you might come out ahead long term.

What's striking to me is that the cost of fuel can be as much, or 2 or 3 times as much, as the cost of equipment and maintenance.
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Old 11-30-18, 04:16 PM
  #60  
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There was a time when I resumed commuting by bike after not having done it for several years. For the first few months, I noticed that my increased appetite increased my food costs by more than the savings in fuel for my car, so I was not saving money. We have an incentive to use fossil fuels because the costs are distorted. A gallon of gas has something like 31,000 calories, and it only costs about as much as a loaf of bread which has, what, I don't know, maybe 1,000 calories. We get gas cheap because we are borrowing from both our ancestors and descendants, and there are probably industrial subsidies, too.
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Old 11-30-18, 04:34 PM
  #61  
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In my stable ATM ATM:

My Ti roadie has 20,000+ miles on it. So it is $0.25/mile or so between purchase and upgrades

My Ti gravel grinder bike built last year is already at 5,000 miles on it and counting. It currently is around $1USD/mile and dropping.

Roadie long-since has paid itself off simply in not paying for car parking. My gravel grinder will break even simply on car-parking charges in 14 months.
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Old 11-30-18, 06:09 PM
  #62  
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On my commute home, without calculator or any records, I tried to come up with a ballpark estimate in my head. Let's say a chain lasts 3000 miles, and within that period the bike also needs new tires and brake pads. Add to that various unpredictable repairs, and I think $300 per 3000 miles is a pretty generous budget. The bike was built up from used parts that I doubt cost more than $300 all told, 20 years ago, and I've probably been riding it 1000 miles a year. So that's 10 cents per mile in maintenance and 15 cents per mile in amortization, or 25 cents per mile all told.

Amusingly, the car has roughly the same amortization cost per mile, since we buy inexpensive cars and drive them into the ground. Thinking further, 8000 miles per year, 30 miles per gallon is 267 gallons, at 3 bucks a gallon is $800 in gas, or 10 cents per mile. Then there's maintenance, plates, and insurance. It would not shock me if driving an economy car into the ground still costs 40 or 50 cents per mile, and that pretty much nobody is profiting from the mileage deduction on their taxes.

I realize that I'm being fast and loose by referring to "amortization" in dollars per mile rather than dollars per year, but I never claimed to be a CPA.
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Old 11-30-18, 09:03 PM
  #63  
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Wow. I don't know if you're joking,
To be clear about MY clothes closet, I was joshing.

But let's find out if Indy is all talk, no Ralpha.

Actually I don't really care how much wowie-zowie expensive so-called "technical bicycle kit he, Timothy H or other cycling clothes horses own or wear.

Smug boasting and showing off about having more expensive tastes or the wherewithal to buy it is another story.
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Old 12-01-18, 07:22 PM
  #64  
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Hmmm, let's see ... I burn about 50 calories per mile, so about 1000 calories per 20 mile ride. A good greasy 1000-calorie cheeseburger costs about $5, so that's $5 per 20 miles. Damn that fuel cost is higher than most cars. Maybe I should rethink this commuting thing.
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Old 12-01-18, 09:17 PM
  #65  
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Not sure ... My KHS cost me $10 in 2001, I've spent maybe $36 on tires and tubes (I had a couple spare tires and tubes when I bought it)
A rear rack ... No ... I dug down to find an electrical conduit to pay for that ... Maybe $55 in upgrades, $24 for brake pads ...
I've put an average of roughly 4,000 miles a year on it ... so call it 68,000 miles ... with an investment of roughly $125 ...
My calculator says $0.0018 a mile.

(Of course after the new chain, cables, grips, and a couple other minor things, the cost per mile might go up a whole penny a mile. )
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Old 12-01-18, 09:34 PM
  #66  
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So you get like 20,000 miles out of a tire? And a chain lasts what, thirty or forty thousand? Neat. Somebody get me a ticket to this alternate universe.
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Old 12-02-18, 01:40 AM
  #67  
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
So you get like 20,000 miles out of a tire? And a chain lasts what, thirty or forty thousand? Neat. Somebody get me a ticket to this alternate universe.
I never said the chain didn't need replaced a long time ago. As far as I can remember, this will be the first chain I've put on. I don't remember if I replaced the chain when I upgraded from six in back to seven.
Tires ... I've gotten maybe 15,000 miles before they were worn past the cord and into the tube.
Before that, I swapped the tires off my boss's bikes, with permission, of course.

BTW, car and truck tires last 60,000 and more miles. (Heck, in 1972 I put a set of used Mitchelin tires on the 1960 Olds I was driving. I found out later they had almost 200,000 miles on them, and they still had enough tread to pass the state safety inspection!)
Why can't they come up with (or use) a rubber compound that will let a daRn bicycle tire last 30,000 miles or more?!
Some bicycle tires cost more than auto tires, yet last a fraction of the miles. 'Tain't fair.
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Old 12-02-18, 02:56 AM
  #68  
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I've done a few capital upgrades lately which are hard to track (or I don't want to track).

But, thinking of core consumables:
Chain, Cassette, Brake pads, Tires, Tubes, perhaps some grease, bearings, cones, etc... it probably adds up to about 10¢ per mile. Hmmm... in the last 20,000 miles, I've pulled spokes through at least one rim. Broke a few spokes. Not a lot of other damage, although my bike trailers have had some heavy wear.

Oh, had some lights stolen. One headlight wore out. Stopped using disposable lights. Had a couple of lights fall off.

Cycling clothing and cycling shoes? It does take a beating.

Now, one thing... I do some long distance "commutes". So, say I'm headed off for a 150 to 200 mile ride. It is displacing driving a car. Even at 40 MPG, 200 miles would take 5 gallons or about $15 worth of gas. As a cyclist, however, I'm hitting maybe an excess of 3000 calories, and am eating anything in sight. I'm likely eating an excess of at least $10 of extra food for that 200 mile ride. So... say 5¢ per mile in excess food intake.

I'm not sure how that corresponds to day to day riding, but perhaps it shouldn't be ignored (although I might have to think of very expensive diet food if I didn't ride).

Whew!!! This all keeps adding up.
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Old 12-02-18, 03:25 AM
  #69  
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I wouldn’t attempt to pretend I’m saving money by riding. I also own a twin turbo F150 and a travel trailer, and I’d have a more expensive bike if I could justify it.

Until this year we had a free gym at my place of employment and I couldn’t claim I was avoiding gym membership by riding. Now as we downsize in Sac, they are offering us a so-called “deal” of $20/mo at a strip mall gym four miles from work - so now I’m “saving” $20/mo.
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Old 12-02-18, 04:43 AM
  #70  
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You know, perhaps one should also look at the costs of NOT RIDING.

I spend almost nothing on health care, to the point where too much health insurance is a major problem.

Thinking of family history, my father was doing a fair amount of bike commuting from about age 30 to 40 (about 16 miles each way). Then a few things changed, and I think he dropped way back with riding at around age 40.

By age 50, he had started getting arthroscopic knee surgeries, was taking regular doses of Voltaren (Diclofenac), and was rapidly headed towards bilateral knee replacement in his late 50's.

Oh, and my parents bought horses when he was in his 50's to help keep active outdoors as a response to bad knees. Talk about MONEY PITS!!!

In my 40's, I also started getting bad knees. But, now by my 50's, I'm up to a LOT of miles on my bike. I had always ridden some, but I've gone from about 1000 to 2000 miles a year (or less), up to 6000 to 8000 miles.

The knees feel at least 10 years younger. The heart feels 10 years younger.

I struggle with the weight a little bit, but cycling also helps control my weight (which is also better for the knees, heart, & etc).

It is hard to say what the future will bring, but if I can avoid knee replacement, that will be a savings of perhaps $100,000. Plus all other associated costs of long-term treatment.

With some luck, I could well get into the negative cost per mile of riding my bike!!! That is, if I don't get smashed by a non-cyclist.
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Old 12-02-18, 08:24 AM
  #71  
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When I graduated from college in 1992 my roommate gave me his schwinn cruiser. I bought a rack and pannier that probably cost a hundred bucks, and cheap lights over the years maybe another hundred bucks. Still has the original tires and chain. I've serviced the bearings a few times but never replaced the balls, so I've got around $200 in cost since 1992. My commuting has been highly variable over the years, but my back-of-the-napkin math estimate is around 7,000 miles on the bike which puts me around 3¢/mile. Rough estimate of total cost of cycling/total miles ridden over the last 10 years is the 50-60¢/mile range, but that includes clothing, food, lodging, travel & event fees. Even a few thousand dollars a year on cycling is so much cheaper than most other hobbies. Heck, my wife's gym membership is $2,500/year.
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Old 12-02-18, 08:43 AM
  #72  
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I tried to calculate many years ago and gave up. Besides the bike, there is all the side stuff like helmet, lock, racks, any cycling specific parts, maintenance, and on and on and on that must be figured in to get a cost per mile.

By the way, this was back in the 80s so I've forgotten my preliminary numbers and it was way more than I thought it would be. All of those little bike parts and add-ons really add up. Don't tell your SO.
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Old 12-02-18, 09:08 AM
  #73  
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7000 miles on a bike I spent 1800 on originally, then later added 400 wheels, a few sets of tires, a couple pairs of shoes, a couple pedal sets, chains, brake pads, shift cable, headlight replaced, cassette replaced... several kit sets... all told I'm about 3500 into the sport, so $0.50/mile.

Recently purchased a used hybrid for 500, added a used Tubus Cargo Evo, and about $60 in other parts, for a total of around 625 That one is quite new to me so fewer than 250 miles. So I'm still around $3/mile on it. That will improve as the snow clears out.

On the other hand I've lost 33 pounds this year riding about 2900 miles. Some of that has been commuting... around 200 miles of it, so that saved me 50 in gas and wear and tear on my car. But the health benefit if sustained will add a few years (all other things being equal) to my life, which will cost me more since I'll need groceries and housing for those additional years... But I'm happy to spend that money.
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Old 12-02-18, 10:00 AM
  #74  
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Cost? 9 bikes, some bought new, others traded, 2 in a raffle( thanks Dirt Rag) one free curbside. How about great BP, good looking legs( she mentions once in a while) small( ish) belly and a happy outlook on life? Biking makes me smile, is a great refresh on the challenges in life and makes me a better person. It is my sport, hobby and therapy. Cost? Priceless. Never gave it a thought for actual $$ spent. So many other things to concern myself with.
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Old 12-02-18, 11:58 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
That's OK, feel free to drop an inaccurate $/mile ratio (like I did in the OP)
I’ve been retired since 2012. I bicycle commuted year round the last 10 years in Iowa on a 7 speed (Sachs IGH) city bike I bought at a German Dept. store for 268DM (approx. $135). I replaced the saddle with a Brooks B-66 which I had already, but would have cost about $100 to buy new (and well worth it.), I previously modified the bike while in Germany with different handlebars and seat post which probably cost around 40DM ($20) total. Bell and mirror cost $30. I bought no bicycle specific clothes. I commuted an estimated 50,000 miles on that bike during that time. I spent almost zero time doing any maintenance or clean up of the bicycle other than replacing the chain about once a year/5000 miles and periodic tightening/replacing spokes on the rear wheel. Rode it to and from work no matter how cold, or bad the salt was on the winter roads.

Estimated bicycle related expenses over those 10 years; all costs are approximations:
$200 on different lighting setups with perhaps an additional $50 on rechargeable batteries.
$100 on bicycle basket and rack replacements.
$90 for chain replacement every 5000 miles.
$20 on spokes.
$40 for bottom bracket overhaul at the LBS.
$100 for an IGH maintenance by Yellow Jersey Bicycle Store after about 35,000 miles.
$500 for 13 tires; replaced front tire about every 15,000 miles, rear tire every 5,000. Schwalbe Marathons (not Marathon Plus) 622-47mm cost about $30-$40 each.
$100 for bicycle specific tools such as patch kits, chain breaker etc. All other tools such as wrenches, screw drivers, vise, I bought previously and are available regardless of bicycle ownership/use.

I am sure I spent money on other stuff and doo-dads but the costs were too insignificant to remember or consider.

I don’t consider food as only fuel or an expense of bicycle riding, nor do I consider mealtime as dispassionately as if I were just gassing up a car. In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who gets so little enjoyment from their intake of food and drink. I consider any extra food and drink required due to bicycle riding as a benefit and the $ expense as insignificant for such a benefit.

New cost
135
100
20
30
Total $285

commuting expenses
200
100
90
20
40
100
500
100
Total $1150

$1435.00 divided by 50,000 miles = $0.0297/mile

Note: I used this bicycle almost daily in retirement while riding around town, until last year when the rear wheel IGH shifting started to get strange, the bottom bracket was acting up and the bike was looking pretty rough overall Some minor work would get it rolling but I just decided I didn't feel like doing it. As money has never been an issue for when or if I ride a bike, I just retired it to my garage and bought a new 8speed IGH Motobecane from Bikes Direct.




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