Bike Expenses

I sold my car 5 1/2  months  ago and got a bike. Did it pay for itself? Jump to the last paragraph for the money shot.

One Time Bike Expenses:

  • $630 Bike
  • $80 locking skewers
  • $80 bike pump
  • $30 bike theft registration
  • $150 large backpack
  • $20 fancy bungie cords
  • $70 Shimano PD-A530 clipless SPD pedals (SM-SH56, silver – multiple release mode cleats)
  • $100  Keen Austin Pedal Bike Shoes
  • $40 bike stand
  • $60 nice front and rear lights for city riding
  • $40 bright headlight for dark roads

$1300 Total One Time Bike Capital Expenses


Ongoing Bike Expenses

Clipper Card

  • 5-12 $90
  • 6-12 $90
  • 7-12 $185 (daily summer school at College of Alameda)
  • 8-12 $117
  • 9-12 $45

$517 total Clipper Card train & bus fares in 4 months

  • $30 two flat tires fixed in 4 months
  • $400 eating 500 extra calories day for 4 months




4 Month (May 1-Oct 1) expenses while on a bike from above
$1300 + $517 + $30 + $400 = $2,247  / 4 months = $560/month.


Until I sold it, my car cost $610/month. Amortizing my capital expenses  over 4 the last months, the bike cost about the same ($560/month) as a car.

I haven’t figured in the bother of not having a car at the ready, having to occasionally rely on Megan to pick me up at the BART station, or the freedom of not worrying about maintenance.

In future months, the bike should cost:
$100/month transit expenses, or less as I slowly become able to ride longer distances.
$100/month extra food, I am eating a lot more while biking more!
$20/month misc expenses, a wild guess.


Curiously, I haven’t found good occasion to use my Zipcar membership at all in the year I’ve had it. I’m going to cancel my membership. Granted, I’ve gotten help from Megan and others with the occasional grocery store run.



Going forward, it looks like the bike will cost $220/month ($2640/year) where the car used to cost me $610/month. ($7,320/month), a savings of 64%, $390/month ($4680/year). Hmm! That’s not as much savings as I thought, but it’s good. Or I can think about it another way… I now have a $390/month travel slush fund to do with what I please!



  1. friscolex says:

    I dunno, I feel like I spend $0 for months at a time on my bike. I assume you’re factoring in higher gas prices now? Wouldn’t you have some Clipper expenses even if you still had the car? But I rarely use it on transit and you’re going farther…

    Remind me to teach you how to fix a flat, btw. It should be about $1-$8 per flat ($1 max. if you’re using your patch kit, $8 if you spring for a new tube, which I haven’t done in about 4-5 flats) Other random savings: Most services at most bike shops are 10% off with SFBC membership ($25 if you sign up in person), you get a free tube coupon when you valet your bike with the SFBC and other discounts when you bike some places… Arizmendi, for example, for when you need bread and you haven’t baked any :-)

    Great, now I can smell Arizmendi from my desk… :-)

  2. Brooke says:

    If you want to get really detaily about it, you can factor in saved medical costs down the road, from all the extra exercise.

  3. lee says:

    Alexis, my commute keeps having harder-to-bike bits in it. For instance, over the summer I had daily business in Alameda. Most days now I take BART to school (biking uphill to school at 8am? BLAH!) but I bike home (biking downhill in the afternoon/evening for the win!). And I’ve got a twice-a-week trip to Sausalito; right now it’s:
    * BART from home to Embarcadero
    * Ferry from Embarcadero to Sausalito
    * Bike 2 miles from Sausalito to office
    * Bike 2 miles from office to Sausalito
    * Ferry from Sausalito to Embarcadero
    * Bike 3 miles from Embarcadero to home

    I’m hoping to build up my endurance in the next few weeks to make it:
    Bike 14 miles from home to office
    Bike 14 miles from office to home
    For the win!


    I tried fixing a flat once. It was a dirty, struggly pain in the ass. Sure it’s doable but I made my choice between these 2 options:
    * $15 and it’s done
    * $4, carrying a kit and pump everywhere, yanking the wheel off while sitting on a random gravel ridden sidewalk, struggling with the tire iron things, futzing with a gross-dirty tube to find the hole, getting filthier than I want, spending 25 minutes.

    Maybe I’ll choose different as I get better at this but I feel like I made a good choice for me for now.

  4. lee says:

    Brooke, good point. But then instead of dying from COPD, I might get hit by a bus… ;-)

  5. lee says:

    PS, it’s great chatting with both of you :-)

  6. lee says:

    Ah, I already see some new upcoming expenses…. winter and the rainy season. Winter means more riding at night and my 1 watt Bicycle Planet light is only really good for city riding where I need to be seen. For me to see see a dark road, I need a lot more light, I have my eye on a $50 1000 lumen light with rechargeable batteries.

    And with the rainy season, I’ll probably want to put mudflaps on the bike. Any suggestions for either?

  7. lee says:

    Followup: I got a really good bike like in January for $50, it served me well all winter. I don’t use it in the city in the summer but winter is coming soon!

    My rear tire got a tear in the sidewall, giving me a flat. It blew out pretty dramatically, “PHHHHHHEEEEEWWWWWW!” when I hopped on outside my apartment one day. I had the tire replaced at Valencia Cyclery with a Continental Touring Plus 700 x 32 (same width) for $50. I hope the new tire does well! I googled around a bit and the Conti tire seems well rated.

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