My friend Rob is a genius, but he just doesn’t get it. He can’t imagine paying $2000 for a bike. “My first car cost less than that!” Rob exclaimed. I’m sure he’s not alone in this mindset, but I’m not sure it’s at all logical.
Not too many people “need” a $2000+ bike, but not many people “need” a $20,000 car either. Yet many more people seem to be okay with buying a car that is way more than they need or can afford in order to provide transportation that they could get from a really nice bike for a tenth of the cost—or a merely usable bike for 2% of the cost.
Let’s say Rob’s first car cost him $500. Compared to a $2000 bike, it seems he got a whole lot more for his money—and indeed he did. His $500 car came with HUGE operating costs. Most of us don’t stop to consider this, but according to AAA, the average cost of operating an automobile in 2009 was 15.42 cents per mile. With a 10,000 mile yearly average, that’s $1542 PER YEAR! That operating cost doesn’t include much of the expense of car ownership—just tires, gas and maintenance. Ownership costs—including insurance, license, registration, taxes, depreciation and finance charges—on average in the US, add a staggering (brace yourself) $5783 PER YEAR!! At 10,000 miles per year AAA estimates a car costs an average of $7067 per year!!! How many cars do you own? Many individuals and families own more than one car. How many $2000 bikes can you afford each year if you eliminate one car from your life?
Yes, a bike requires maintenance—and there again is a point of contention. Folks riding bikes that cost them $200 or less have a hard time justifying sinking more than 25% of that cost into their bike each year for a tuneup. But Rob likely spent over 100% of his purchase price for maintenance of his first car—EACH YEAR!
Then there’s the fact that most people have never experienced a bike that costs more than $300. They consider the ride of their sub $250 bike and think, “why pay so much money to replace something I already have that’s so uncomfortable to use?” I detect yet another error in logic. A $2000 bike of recent vintage is an amazing vehicle, truly a joy to ride. If you are considering losing a car, and commuting by bike you could buy BOTH a Breezer Villager AND an Uptown 8, two really nice commuter bikes, and still be under $2000!
Oh and did I mention what kind of fuel a bike requires to operate? If you deduct the cost of a health club membership from your yearly bicycle cost of ownership, I think you’ll find that a bicycle costs less than zero dollars per year to operate.