The Cost of Bike Commuting

I am currently in my third week of bike commuting and, sore tush aside, I am pretty happy with this experiment in frugality. I can make the 12 mile commute home in just about 45 minutes, which gets me home faster than riding the bus. In fact, I like to think of myself as racing the bus home. Up to a certain point we take the exact same track toward my home before it turns down a major street to connect on the freeway. In all my rides I have either “tied” the bus or beaten it to that point.1

The benefits are more than just time though. Instead of standing around on the bus waiting for a seat to open up I can now improve my overall fitness and increase my mental toughness. I am essentially trading standing up and not being able to do anything on a bus to being able to exercise on my bike. I think that that is a pretty good trade.

So right now I am two for three in terms of the things that I was thinking biking would do for me. The third, which is save money, has yet to fully materialize. The main reason for this is that I bought a bus pass for the month of August, effectively preventing me from realizing any savings this month. In fact, I have done nothing but spend more money to get my bike in shape for me to ride it. Here is the skinny on the money that I have spent so far:

  1. Bike – $160 US
  2. Helmet – Free2
  3. Biking Clothes – Free3
  4. Tires (2) – $31.18 US
  5. Tubes (3) – $10.57 US
  6. Pumps (2) – $26.88 US

All told I have spent $228.64 US on bike related expenses since I started this human powered transportation adventure. If I don’t spend another penny until my savings equal the amount invested it would take 4 months for me to start seeing a positive impact on my expenses. Once that is done I could spend up to $64 US a month on bike transportation and still be breaking even with the added time and exercise benefits. I probably won’t be spending $64 a month.

I don’t know how much I should be spending a month on stuff, but I have heard Jacob from Early Retirement Extreme recommend a $5 a month transportation budget in his post about how to retire early. If I could get by spending $5 a month on recurring bike related expenses (including bike maintenance in general) I would be pretty excited. I would be saving at least $708 a year at that rate – and that could turn into something big down the line in terms of future personal assets or world infrastructure.

But can I keep it up? I certainly hope so.

  1. By tied I mean that once I arrived after the bus got there, but it was still sitting at the stop because it had gotten there early and had to wait due to its schedule requirements. So even if I had ridden the bus I would only have been at the same place biking had gotten me without any of the beneficial exercise. []
  2. My brother had an old helmet that he gave me a few years ago. I look like a complete dork wearing it, but it fits and keeps my head safe – what more could a brother want? []
  3. I just wear normal clothes and since I already have these I consider this free []