## Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Bendo
Posts: 108
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:13 am

### Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

I came across this very handy calculator for working out how much it costs to run a car. In light of the fact that even a moderately-utilised, second car is going to cost around \$10,000.00 per year to run (slightly more or less in different states), doesn't it make sense to buy pretty close to your dream bike to commute on? Granted, it may take a while for you to work out what that bike is, but once you know... perhaps it's a bike so good that n+1 becomes n=1!

What are your thoughts? Do you have a bike for every set of conditions? Do you fly to work? Or do you sweat it out on an old beater that sucks the joy out of life? Would you ride to work more if you had a better bike? Did you have the chance for a nice bike but passed it up and you're now... happy with what you've got? full of regret?

What bike is that for you and do you own it yet? b

piledhigher
Posts: 319
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:10 am
Location: Kew, Victoria

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Bendo wrote:I came across this very handy calculator for working out how much it costs to run a car. In light of the fact that even a moderately-utilised, second car is going to cost around \$10,000.00 per year to run (slightly more or less in different states), doesn't it make sense to buy pretty close to your dream bike to commute on? Granted, it may take a while for you to work out what that bike is, but once you know... perhaps it's a bike so good that n+1 becomes n=1!

What are your thoughts? Do you have a bike for every set of conditions? Do you fly to work? Or do you sweat it out on an old beater that sucks the joy out of life? Would you ride to work more if you had a better bike? Did you have the chance for a nice bike but passed it up and you're now... happy with what you've got? full of regret?

What bike is that for you and do you own it yet? b

Commuting grinds the crap out of a bike, you'll have a wet day and do nothing before the next three days rides. I miss having a really flat commute where I could grind a \$20 fixed chain to death.

Now for me commuting is a chance to really wear out the hand me downs from the good bike. My bike is light enough and fast enough and I've got way too many partially used tyres, chains and cassettes. Every now and then I think about buying a new commuter then I knock the mud off, oil the chain and smash another 1000km on the bike I bought in 2004.

brumby33
Posts: 581
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:52 pm
Location: Beverly Hills NSW...Yeehaaaaa!!

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Good questions actually, I think many start out on old clappers or reasonable machines, everyone has different considerations on a commuter bike depending on the required distance but I think if someone is committed to the commute to work or perhaps to go just about anywhere I think the investment to buy a decent machine is a good idea, providing of course the provisions that are available at the other end.
Some buy old clappers just to leave at a rail station locked to a rail or fence/pole, then you wouldn't spend more than a couple of hundred but if you had good facilities at work and the bike will be safe, then to spend big dollars is not unreasonable.
Last year I bought a Vivente Patagonia, a Touring bike set up but it's a great commuter too, with Dyno hub and lights set up, mudguards and a solid feeling steel frame, it feels sturdy on the road but some may say too heavy, well so am I so I need something that will bare the weight with me and panniers. This steed cost me \$2,750 new plus an Ortleib handlebar bag and 2 front panniers for if I ever get the chance to go touring (already had the Ortleib rear panniers)..... so I don't see that as a huge amount for something I want to last me a long time and at work it's pretty secure with an onsite bike parking area as well as CCTV coverage of the area. But even though I only ride 4kms each way, it's a bike I enjoy using.....it ain't fast but neither am I
"ya gotta hold ya mouth right"

VWR Patagonia 2017
2003 Diamondback Sorrento Sport MTB

Cyclophiliac
Posts: 368
Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:48 am

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

I paid \$2400 for my Vivente World Randonneur tourer in late 2008, and it was the best purchase I ever made. Now, 9.5 years later, I've done about 120,000km on it, most of that for commuting.

brumby33
Posts: 581
Joined: Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:52 pm
Location: Beverly Hills NSW...Yeehaaaaa!!

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Cyclophiliac wrote:I paid \$2400 for my Vivente World Randonneur tourer in late 2008, and it was the best purchase I ever made. Now, 9.5 years later, I've done about 120,000km on it, most of that for commuting.

Was that a Rolhoff model you bought back then?
"ya gotta hold ya mouth right"

VWR Patagonia 2017
2003 Diamondback Sorrento Sport MTB

P!N20
Posts: 983
Joined: Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:50 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Bendo wrote:Do you have a bike for every set of conditions?

Yes. But where I live there are only two conditions: dry and wet.

Bendo wrote:Do you fly to work?

Absolutely, but I never leave the ground.

Bendo wrote:Or do you sweat it out on an old beater that sucks the joy out of life?

No such thing as a beater.

Bendo wrote:Would you ride to work more if you had a better bike?

No, I'd probably ride to work less if I had a better bike.

Bendo wrote:Did you have the chance for a nice bike but passed it up and you're now... happy with what you've got? full of regret

Passed up many nice bikes over the years, but very happy with what I've got.

bychosis
Posts: 5737
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:10 pm
Location: Lake Macquarie

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

I started commuting on a good quality (but somewhat old) dual sus MTB. Money was fairly tight and I hadn't re-caught the cycling bug. Not too long after I bought some slicks for it, but eventually got sick of changing them out for weekend rides. Since then I've upgraded and changed quite regularly and now have a fleet. Mostly cheaper rides I've serviced/rebuilt that do the job fine.

A couple of weeks ago I completed a full week of commuting on a different bike each day - just because. Each bike has a different purpose, but not really any dedicated commuter. Gives me the opportunity to mix up the route or speed.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.

Calvin27
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:45 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

I think the fundamental flaw is the assumption that we use and purchase bicycles for utility and take a purely economic rational decision making process.

The reality if new bikes are shinny and I'd go so far as to say half the value in a \$10k bike is you feeling happy when you look at it in the garage. or when it sits leaning against the bike stand as your riding crew drool over it while sipping coffee.

Also a \$10k commuter bike is going to get stolen quickly.
Fast light bike
Cushy dirt bike
Workhorse bike
No brakes bike
Ebike

andrewjcw
Posts: 197
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:56 pm
Location: Newcastle, NSW

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Wait what? How in the world does a car cost you \$10,000/yr to run?

CTP/Rego \$500
Comprehensive \$1,000
Yearly Service \$1,000
10,000km of fuel \$1,400

Sure if you're doing 30,000kms a year in a Landcruiser you could pump these numbers up a lot, but probably still less than \$10,000/year. If you're just getting to work though I think you're getting a 5-8 year old hatch and there's no way you'd be spending 10k a year on it.

I guess the 10k number comes from all the kids these days in their 20s getting \$30k new cars and the loans are factored in as a 'cost'? Please...

bychosis
Posts: 5737
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2012 1:10 pm
Location: Lake Macquarie

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

andrewjcw wrote:Wait what? How in the world does a car cost you \$10,000/yr to run?

CTP/Rego \$500
Comprehensive \$1,000
Yearly Service \$1,000
10,000km of fuel \$1,400

Sure if you're doing 30,000kms a year in a Landcruiser you could pump these numbers up a lot, but probably still less than \$10,000/year. If you're just getting to work though I think you're getting a 5-8 year old hatch and there's no way you'd be spending 10k a year on it.

I guess the 10k number comes from all the kids these days in their 20s getting \$30k new cars and the loans are factored in as a 'cost'? Please...

You are right, but missing depreciation and loan costs or opportunity costs of the cash you've got locked up in the vehcile. Out of interest I looked at the link to see if I could get a better cost on my own car but only found a bunch of average data per state. My situation is far from average, so the numbers will be very different.

Still, I'd rather ride my bike to work than drive even if the \$ didn't add up.
bychosis (bahy-koh-sis): A mental disorder of delusions indicating impaired contact with a reality of no bicycles.

RonK
Posts: 10384
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:08 pm
Location: If you need to know, ask me
Contact:

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

andrewjcw wrote:Wait what? How in the world does a car cost you \$10,000/yr to run?

Easy.

How much does your car really cost you?
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

andrewjcw
Posts: 197
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:56 pm
Location: Newcastle, NSW

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

RonK wrote:
andrewjcw wrote:Wait what? How in the world does a car cost you \$10,000/yr to run?

Easy.

How much does your car really cost you?

This assumes 15,000km/year which would be very impressive mileage for a commuter.

It also assumes someone buying a new car with a loan. If you're buying a new car on a loan I can only assume that's someone in a very secure financial situation that has no interest or concern regarding everyday life expenses, and would never be calculating the cost of their car or what commuting would save them.

RonK
Posts: 10384
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:08 pm
Location: If you need to know, ask me
Contact:

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

andrewjcw wrote:This assumes 15,000km/year which would be very impressive mileage for a commuter.

Nonetheless, 15000km per year is the average distance travelled by private cars.

andrewjcw wrote:It also assumes someone buying a new car with a loan. If you're buying a new car on a loan I can only assume that's someone in a very secure financial situation that has no interest or concern regarding everyday life expenses, and would never be calculating the cost of their car or what commuting would save them.

That would include the majority of car owners.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

andrewjcw
Posts: 197
Joined: Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:56 pm
Location: Newcastle, NSW

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

At any rate commuting makes a very solid argument to me just in the stress/fitness benefits and purely the money on fuel saved. For me it's not going to ever replace a car really, just save 5,000kms in that car a year. Even if I was saving \$10,000 a year by not using the car I wouldn't be rushing to spend that on a commuting bike. I got my bike for \$1,400 (marked down from \$1,900) and while I'm sure a \$5k bike would be nicer it would functionally almost identical really. Personally I'd be more likely to spend the money on five new/2nd hand \$2,000 bikes (track bike/different types of mtb/TT bike) rather than just dump it all on one. I just don't see the value you get past the mid range for bicycles.

RobertL
Posts: 736
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:08 pm
Location: Brisbane

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Commuting can be hard on your bike. I commuted on a couple of different bikes, but last year I bought a brand new Reid Osprey flat bar. I commute on it with panniers to carry my gear. I had to upgrade the rear wheel, but it still only cost me about \$650 all up.

My theory was that I will only be commuting by bike for another 5 or 6 years before I leave full-time employment. The commuting bike that I used was pretty old and a bit fragile, so I wanted to ease the strain on it. I wanted to buy a new bike, rather than second-hand, to avoid those sort of issues.

Finally, I wanted a fairly fast flat bar bike, rather than something more upright, and I wanted a 2x front chain ring. (I'm not a fan of the cheap triple chain rings fitted to most lower-level flat bar bikes.) The Osprey was about the cheapest out there, and it has 2x8 Shimano Claris.

There are better bikes out there, but it suits me just fine. I will keep it serviced and maintained and it should do everything that I want for several years.

Thoglette
Posts: 4377
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:01 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

RonK wrote:That would include the majority of car owners.

Even if you don't borrow the money "for the car" it means you've not paying down your other debts (e.g. mortgage for the lucky ones, student loans or debt repayment plan for the rest)

While my commuter started out as an old \$50 frame ('80s Vivente Randonneur) cobbled together with spares, the nature of commuting (as others have pointed out) and has lead to me to spend a bit more on actually new, quality parts: cables, chains, cassettes, brifters, tyres

But despite my largess it still only costs me about 0.10c per kilometer. If I paid someone for the labour (say six monthly) it'd barely double that.

Neverless, it's still money spent on commuting. Just like petrol and fares.
Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
"People are worthy of respect, ideas are not." Peter Ellerton, UQ

g-boaf
Posts: 10026
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:11 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Calvin27 wrote:I think the fundamental flaw is the assumption that we use and purchase bicycles for utility and take a purely economic rational decision making process.

The reality if new bikes are shinny and I'd go so far as to say half the value in a \$10k bike is you feeling happy when you look at it in the garage. or when it sits leaning against the bike stand as your riding crew drool over it while sipping coffee.

Also a \$10k commuter bike is going to get stolen quickly.

What I'm riding would have cost a fair amount of money, admittedly it has been upgraded over the years. Got it back in 2014 and I'm still riding it. I guess it has over 40,000km on it, maybe 45,000. I do commute on it because it is good fun to ride.

It has unfortunately gathered some scratches over the years where small stones have flung up and hit it. So it is no longer totally pristine but it is a very good bike - and very fast. It runs very smoothly too. I'm also not a very heavy rider so I don't put a lot of strain on it.

Thoglette
Posts: 4377
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:01 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Calvin27 wrote:I think the fundamental flaw is the assumption that we use and purchase bicycles for utility and take a purely economic rational decision making process.

That's a fundamental flaw in current (last 3 decades) economic theory. It fails to place individual "economic" behaviour within a social context. (Go read Karl Polanyi 1944 or the current arguements around the "33 theses").

I'm particularly amused by the related current "top value for money" commuter thread as it the question itself implies a common viewpoint on the value of money, never mind "value" (in consumption as well as economic value) itself.

That is, the difference between the "value" of coffee beans vs the value of drinking a coffee NOW; or the value of having a coffee with someone in a particular context (on holiday or for the first time in years)

I'll park the mouse now (as there's another 24,000 odd hideously boring words I could add ). A now old taster
. The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasies, Feelings, and Fun Morris B. Holbrook; Elizabeth C. Hirschman, The Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Sep., 1982), 132-140.
Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
"People are worthy of respect, ideas are not." Peter Ellerton, UQ

opik_bidin
Posts: 128
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:45 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

1st reason : theft
2nd reason : peace of mind
3rd reason : commuter bikes are there to be beaten and left out cold in harsh conditions.
4th reason and also my last : You need something that suits the commute, with ebikes now it may go to the 10,000s, but it will come down

the more expensive the bike, usually it comes with the requirement of more maintenance and care past a certain price point (2000-3000?)

queequeg
Posts: 5394
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:09 am

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

I went through all this in 2011, after destroying two hybrid bicycles by simply riding them. At the rate I was going, I was breaking one bike per year.
So, after I busted the second one in 2 years, I started looking at something higher up the food chain. It had to be comfortable to ride, it had to be quicker than the Hybrid, have disc brakes (because I ride all weather, and my rims were getting eaten by road crud), and it would have a rack for the panniers and mudguards.

I started looking at steel, but could find nothing that really met requirements. Then I found a Titanium bike that ticked just about all the boxes, and the bonus is that Titanium does not rust, and the bare metal means no paint chips, and the frame does not fatigue. It can still crack (as I have just found out), but it can be fixed.

So, all I up I think I spent \$4500 on the bike in 2011. I still have it. It has done almost 60,000km. It has had every component on it replaced now. I spend so much time on this bike that you want it to be a good bike, built to last. It developed a small crack in one of the welds late last year, which I only found when I stripped the bike to refinish it with new decals. Off it went to the USA for a warranty fix, and when it came back they had put it back through the finishing department and it was looking brand new again. So, I picked up a new fork, rebuilt my hubs onto new (wider) times and added some bladed spokes, then upgraded the brakes as well.

The great thing is that it does not look like a \$5000 bike, but I have a secure cage at work, and it's insured.

Running the economics of the situation, I didn't compare against a car. That was because I have not driven to work since the late 90's. Nope, my direct cost comparison was against the bus/train weekly ticket, which was a tad under \$3000 per year. Secondary cost savings came from being able to cancel the gym membership (\$800 a year). Additional non-economic savings came in the form of more time to spend on other things instead of being stuck in traffic on a bus, as the bike is quicker.

If comparing against a car, there is a massive cost to simply owning a car, even before you turn the ignition. I am going through this now because my car is 11.5 years old, and keeps having niggling electrical issues which because of parts availability is becoming a pain in the backside to resolve. If have to continue sinking money into it, I might as well sink money into a new car instead (or so the argument goes).
However, no matter you slice and dice the numbers, over a 5 year period, the fixed cost of the car to have it sit in my driveway is just under \$14,000p/a (I haven't included depreciation in that, that is just actual dollars out of my pocket). The annual cost of keeping my current car, which I own outright, is still around \$4000p/a, not including actually using it. That's just for it to sit in my driveway. Since I bought it with a 5 year loan 11.5 years ago, the avg cost p/a is still quite high.
The opportunity cost of the new car is diverting that \$14k p/a from other spending. If I can afford to divert funds from other stuff to a car, then diverting it to the mortgage instead means knocking another 2 or 3 years off and being completely debt free.
'11 Lynskey Cooper CX, '00 Hillbrick Steel Racing (Total Rebuild '10), '15 Cervelo S5

Bendo
Posts: 108
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:13 am

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

A great discussion and some really interesting opinions that I hadn't thought about. For instance, I never thought about a commuter bike as necessarily having to be left out in the rain or locked at a station. So that's a good argument for a not-too-fancy bike. But I don't think a commuter bike is necessarily a beater.

I suppose I must be lucky then that I can ride my bike to work and leave it there in a secure bike cage on the premises. This means that I can ride as fancy a bike as I want without fear. Fortunately for me I suppose, my apex bike is also my most practical bike.

Queequeg's post above is spot on.

singlespeedscott
Posts: 5362
Joined: Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:35 pm
Location: Elimbah, Queensland

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

We all have different requirements from our commuter bike but regardless of what it is it will have a hard life if your a true commuter. I would not be buying top of the line but as your going to spend a fair proportion of your cycling life on it you may as well make it something that is a pleasure to ride.

Over the last 20 years of cycle commuting I have worked out what is best for me. I like my commuter bikes to be fast and comfortable but I cant find any modern bikes that meet my requirements so my commuters are built form old second hand frames. For components I have worked out what is reliable, easily serviced, repaired or replaced. The components are second hand or NOS and where once top of the range but still considerably cheaper then modern stuff.

Thoglette
Posts: 4377
Joined: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:01 pm

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

singlespeedscott wrote:Over the last 20 years of cycle commuting I have worked out what is best for me. I like my commuter bikes to be fast and comfortable but I cant find any modern bikes that meet my requirements so my commuters are built form old second hand frames. For components I have worked out what is reliable, easily serviced, repaired or replaced. The components are second hand or NOS and where once top of the range but still considerably cheaper then modern stuff.

+1. But that stuff's now fifteen to twenty years old. These days the NOS is running out. Or worse, is "collectible". So I'm looking fondly at the SunXCD stuff (and Velo Orange and Compass and...)

The SunXCD derailleur looks a lot like the best stuff Shimano made, and in long cage too.

Stop handing them the stick! - Dave Moulton
"People are worthy of respect, ideas are not." Peter Ellerton, UQ

Bendo
Posts: 108
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2011 11:13 am

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

@thoglette You've probably already seen this, but you're not alone in trying to find new parts that echo the functionality and perhaps 'glamour' of something like a Huret Jubilee long-cage, or Suntour Cyclone GT.

May I present, the hand-filed Microshift R47 long-cage superlight. 226g. About \$1300AUD...Or to put it another way, less than 3 months' running costs of a car.

SheikYerbouti
Posts: 457
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:47 am

### Re: Why skimp on the price of your commuting bike?

Depends how secure the storage is at work, too.