Cost of a Commuter Bike

My Commuter On A Trip To Nashville

I am considering a new bike for my commute and that made me wonder about the cost of my current commuter. The basic bike is a mid 90’s steel all rigid mountain bike. These are sturdy bikes, fairly agile, and the fat tires absorb the bumps found on most streets. My bike is a Trek Mountain Trail bought on Craig’s list for $75. I spent much more than that on basic upgrades. In fact it totaled $232 to get the basic riding the way I wanted it. This included a set of Shimano combination brake levers and shifters. This set can be switched from cantilever to V-brake mode. With cables and housing they were $35 which is great value for an upgrade. I got some Planet Bike fenders ($40) and switched to Tektro long reach v-brakes($24). I found some handle bars with a little more sweep and rise for only $13 and switched to ergonomic grips ($9). I picked up a saddle ($35) and BMX pedals from Animal ($16). Lastly I switched to city tires, Serfas Drifter ($60), but kept them in the 2 inch range.

So that gives me a nice riding bike with improved shutting and braking. The next need is to carry stuff. I added a Topeak Explorer ($25) rear rack, a small front rack ($18) and lucked out with a pair of Novara waterproof panniers ($100) when they were closing them out. I pack my office stuff (computer, etc.) in one and clothes, tools, and spare tubes in the other. When needed I can bungee a box to the top of the rear rack or to the front rack.

Lastly I needed to be seen and see. So I added lights. Lots of lights. $205 worth of lights. On the front I have a MagicShine 900 lumen ($100) headlight and a Planet Bike Blaze 1W headlight ($46). On the back is a Planet Bike Super Flash ($29) and a Cateye Reflex rear light ($30).

This gives me a grand total of $655 for my commuter bike. That is not cheap but it is not bad either. I save at least $50 a month in gas and around a $100 a year on maintenance (mostly tires, brakes pads and cables). That leaves $500 a year in gas savings which takes a little over a year to pay for itself in gas savings.

Of course there are other benefits of cycling, but the gas savings are the easiest to quantify. What is it worth to lose a few pounds, get in better shape, smell the fresh air, arrive at work energized and reduce air pollution.
By the way, I added links to many of the products so  you can see what I am talking about, but I bought most things at a local bike shop.

Thanks for reading and try to pedal to work.