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Below the Kiplinger calculator is a link that reads "See our methodology", which leads to this page: http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/bike/methodology.html

One thing they don't appear to be considering is that, by biking to work, you don't get out of all the costs of having a car.

At least give the kid a helmet.

Kipplinger seems to use $.45/ mile which is $.10 below the federal reimbursement rate.

Biking only really saves you money if it means you can get out of owning a car (or another car). So many of the costs of owning a car are fixed that there's very little savings from driving less. Also, if you have to pay to park and can park your bike for free that can be a big savings too.

@contrarian: The biggest part of the calculated savings in Kipplinger's calculation is from parking.

But I think that biking to work tends to reduce overall car use. In the four years before I bike commuted I averaged about 12,000 miles per year. In the four years after, I averaged 3,000 miles a year. My yearly commute only came to about 3,000 miles.

Being a bike commuter saves me more than $500/month on car costs (rough estimate for a lease or car payment, insurance and gas) and saves the gov't around $90/month. I'm not currently able to get the $20/month reimbursement from my agency, but I'm working on it.

Probably costs me a little more in food, though. I get damned hungry after I get home.

antibozo, thanks. I don't know how I missed that. Small print I suppose.

Even if you don't ditch the car, you can get big savings on insurance costs (as well as gas and parking) if you don't use it for commuting.

The IRS allows 23 c/mi for medical and moving, which I believe in meant to include the incremental costs of driving for one who owns a car. But they only let you deduct 14 c/mi for charity work. That sounds like gas and oil.

I wonder where they get the 10 cents per mile for the cost of cycling. It might be a good number, on average, but bikes vary widely in cost. On bike to work day you'll see everything from ancient "ten-speeds" or modern hybrids to expensive road bikes. Obviously, the costs of maintaining these bikes varies widely. I know I am about to install new chain and cogset, at total cost of about $100, on one bike (obviously, I am using what I consider mid-level stuff, not entry level, and I just put 2 new tires on my second bike. I certainly save money on parking. The biggest savings are no doubt that I am healthier than I would be if I drove instead of riding to work. And if I drove regularly, then the family might end up buying a third car since we have a teenager who drives. I certainly saved money in those years when we made do with one car because I rode to work.

I agree with Michael R. that for a rider who counts on using the bike day in and day out year round for significant distances, the maintenance, repair and equipment replacement costs are not insignificant.

Ever year I run through a minimum of 2 rotors, 3 tires, 1 1/2 cassette and chain swapouts. In addition, on average there will be one non-routine equipment replacement or repair during that year. Every so often you will need to replace the bike itself. Then there's clothing--if you need to change clothing, it's a bit irrelevant that it's cycling dedicated or not, because you're going to wear it out at the same rate. Some stuff like shoes, gloves and helmets are cycling specific.

For me, that all adds up to nearly a grand a year. But since I, too, have a driving teen, it also reduces the pressure to have another car.

@Crickey. Just to complete the equation, how many miles do you get for that "nearly a grand a year."

It's a considerable net savings, to be sure. But there is a "net" there and I'm guessing people consistently underestimate their expenditures relating to cycling.

I should hit 3k this year. From 2008-early 2012, there were enough empty spaces in the lots downtown that parking reliably cost $11/day, but that has risen to more like $15/day on average as real vacancy rates have dropped.

That's 3,000 miles.

And indeed, running the numbers my per-miles cost of biking is more like 30 cents, not the 10 cents they use.

Crickey7, you really go through 1-1/2 cassettes in 3000 miles? Maybe you should switch lubes.

FWIW, my costs (just for bike-related expenses) come to about $0.15/mile over about 3,300 miles in the last 12 months. Prolly only about half of that mileage is commuting, tho, and that number doesn't include a lot of gear i already have, e.g. clothing, panniers, etc.--it's primarily maintenance. Maybe later i can tot up things going back a few years to my last bike purchase to get a more complete number.

If you tack on the cost of food there's a much bigger hit. I spent about $5k on groceries in the last 12 months, and cycling is about a third of my calorie budget, so figure about $1,700 for food. (But again, only about half counts as commuting; the rest is for recreation/fitness and isn't replacing car travel at all.)

Rainy commutes like today probably have double or quadruple the cost per mile. My brakes and rim are just coated with aluminum dust, and my chain is squeeking like a mouse.

Performance rating aside, I wonder what the average Dutch/Danish commuter bike's parts life cycle is?

Chain guards anyone?

I'd like to see how the new carbon belt bikes with internal gear systems hold up. Probably 15% of my annual expense is drivetrain wear-related.

Crickey7, the company that makes most modern bicycle belt drive belts [Gates] also makes belt drives for 140-horsepower motorcycles that have a 25,000-mile service life, but I'd really be curious to hear from anyone that uses one.

If you ride on the unpaved part of the CCT, you can expect to get a lot of dirt and mud. The right side of most roads is pretty dirty too. You can't clean the drive every time you ride: mine is lucky if it gets cleaned once a week.

That said, I don't go through the drive train as fast as Crickey. Perhaps he really should change lube.

My understanding is that a belt drive is far more expensive and doesnt work with usual gears. A metal chain will get worn but you just replace it, probably for less cost.

I read once that they can make windshield wipers that will last almost for ever, but the cost is too high, and/or performance is poor, so its more efficient to just replace wiper blades.

Belt drives don't work with derailleurs, and require internal gearing of some kind. They also don't fit on regular frames because you can't break and reconnect belts as you can with chains. Instead, the drive-side chainstay has to either be elevated above the drive train, or have a gap in it. Yes, there are drawbacks, but for some applications, especially where a large range of gear ratios is not needed, there are some benefits as well--cleaner, no lubrication needed, longer lasting than a chain, no moving parts (a chain has hundreds).

Crickey7, you really go through 1-1/2 cassettes in 3000 miles? Maybe you should switch lubes.

Or if you don't want to clean your chain, get a ruler, and check for chain wear more often.


You can get a SRAM PC-951 for about $15 on Amazon. A cheap cassette will cost about $25, though a worn chain will also eat up your chainrings...

I probably (definitely) over-lubricate, though I also clean as often as I can. If you look at every source on drivetrain maintenance, though, they say you get 1-2,000 miles between chain replacements, and I find I can't replace the chain alone-I invariably get skipping if I don't also replace the cassette.

I haven't tried it but there's a school of thought that you should rotate through maybe 3 chains so that they all keep pretty close to the wear on the cassette. I think i'll try this starting with my next cassette change.

I've got close to 6000 miles on my current Shimano 105 10-speed cassette. That's 2 or 3 chains down, can't remember. No slip so far, but i think i'll be due for a new cassette in the not too distant future.

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