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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Making some basic assumptions:

A typical male's daily calorie intake, 2000 calories;
typical cost of a days food $10.00;
Calories burned per hour, 500cal @ 10 mph pace;

so...the fuel cost to ride a bike is about twenty five cents per mile.

What have I overlooked, other than it's way more fun to ride a bike vs drive a car?
 

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abominable slowman
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$10 is kind of low for a day's food, especially these days. Is that the increase you're assuming a person needs because they commute and have to eat more?
You'd still eat even if you weren't riding, so you have to consider only the increment over what one would normally eat.

My commute is 27 mi round trip, I'd guess my increment of food spending because of the commute if $5. I think that's 18 cents per mile, not including added wear and tear on the bike.
 

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Bacon!
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I eat the same diet regardless so it real doesn't amount to any additional cost.
 

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Yo no fui.
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Big is relative
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I factor the value of my time into my commute. I like riding bikes. Bicycle commuting takes a total of 50 minutes longer than if I commute by car. In those 50 additional minutes, I get around 43 miles of riding a day. If I drove to work and rode when I got home, I would still want to ride but it would cost me around 2 hours away from family and other responsibilities. For me it comes down to the value of my time and bike commuting is time well spent.

I do eat more, but I stock my office with stuff like Odwalla bars, fruit, etc that I buy in the grocery store and haul to work.
 

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Yo no fui.
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I'm totally with Bigbill. I eat significantly more when I ride and my metabolism gets going. However, it's not that much of a marginal difference. Plus, I doubt me eating the leftovers costs more than gas/car wear and tear. I also get to incorporate my hobby into almost every day, which adds to quality of life.
 

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No Crybabies
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free

Trying very hard to lose weight, so the fuel is free. Not eating more than I would not riding.

Even so, riding 2 hours a day, at around 250 calories per hour, would be pretty cheap.
 

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Failboat Captian
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I go through cycles of eating more and not eating more. lately, I've actually been commuting more (haven't used gasoline to get to my office in 3 1/2 weeks, but did have to drive 300 miles r/t to Richmond for work last week) but have not been eating any more than normal. I have been eating the kid's leftovers after dinner, though, but we would otherwise throw that in the trash. There are times when I eat significantly more when I ride - a few months ago, I was on a 2-pack-a-day habit of M&Ms.

Oddly enough, I'm not seeing a change to my weight whether I eat more or not. I should weigh myself again to verify.
 

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abominable slowman
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I agree with the general sentiment that commuting by bike is more about quality of life than savings, probably for most people. I have a looooong commute at 43 mi each way. Occasionally (maybe once or twice a month on average, but more often this summer), I drive 30 and bike the last 13, then do it in reverse for about 27 total biking miles. Savings are minimal, if any at all, especially since it ends up being a long day and so I have to hire a dog walker for the afternoon. But it's a nice way to start the day and a nice way to end the day and as bigbill said, I'd ride anyway, so it's a bit of a time savings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree the physical and mental benefits outweigh the monetary cost, if any, of commuting by bike. I was just crunching numbers trying to justify getting a new commuter. I have been eyeing something like the Giant Transend or Specialized Globe City. It's a challenge explaining why my roadie doesn't work for riding to the market or to the gym.

It all started when I went looking at scooters and cheap used motorcycles, (the ship has sailed on cheap used motorcycles!) and my calculations show a 4-5 year break even point on a $2,000 dollar investment given the 5-6 months of commuting weather here in South Dakota. That got me thinking about the payback period on a $500-$700 bike, extra calories vs savings on gasoline. I figure about two years to break even, although it can be argued the health benefits could lower that payback to less than a week if you save just one doctor visit by staying in better health!

(the 500 calories per hour at 10 mph came from www.nutristrategy.com, I found it by googling 'cycling calories'. I have no idea if their numbers are any good or not, but it was a starting point for my calculations)
 

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Failboat Captian
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eyefly said:
It all started when I went looking at scooters and cheap used motorcycles, (the ship has sailed on cheap used motorcycles!) and my calculations show a 4-5 year break even point on a $2,000 dollar investment given the 5-6 months of commuting weather here in South Dakota. That got me thinking about the payback period on a $500-$700 bike, extra calories vs savings on gasoline. I figure about two years to break even, although it can be argued the health benefits could lower that payback to less than a week if you save just one doctor visit by staying in better health!
If you are going to do those calculations, you need to look at a lot more than the cost of fuel. You have to take the total operating cost. Assuming you'd keep the car and have to pay insurance (which may be able to be lowered by telling the ins co that you drive fewer miles per year), the operating cost of a car includes all the wear and tear and consumables. Think tires, brakes, oil changes, value when you go to trade it in or being able to keep it longer, etc. Right now, the standard gov't rate for reimbursement for using your own vehicle is $.505/mi. That's an average, so if you drive an SUV or pickup, it's probably higher, but if you drive a Civic, it's probably lower. So a 10 mile commute, 20 miles a day, is $10/day saved by not using your car. So 100 days of commuting would buy you a $1000 bike (there are approx 200 work days in a year if you take holidays and vacations, sick, etc off)
 

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abominable slowman
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I get it now...

eyefly said:
I agree the physical and mental benefits outweigh the monetary cost, if any, of commuting by bike. I was just crunching numbers trying to justify getting a new commuter. I have been eyeing something like the Giant Transend or Specialized Globe City. It's a challenge explaining why my roadie doesn't work for riding to the market or to the gym.
Aha! Well then I think you should not have posted a question about bike commuting costs. You should have cut to the chase and asked whether you should buy a new bike. Then the answer would have been quite easy...of course you should get a new bike. Just get the damn bike :p

It is an interesting discussion, actually, even if the results will have no impact on my riding decisions.
 

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No Crybabies
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ask a lawyer

llama31 said:
Aha! Well then I think you should not have posted a question about bike commuting costs. You should have cut to the chase and asked whether you should buy a new bike. Then the answer would have been quite easy...of course you should get a new bike. Just get the damn bike :p
You need ask a lawyer, as in:

"What's 2+2?"

Mathmatician: "4"
Engineer: "4.000"
Lawyer: "What do you want it to be?"
 

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I've found that I spend alot less when I commute because if I go out for lunch while at work my 20 mile commute back home is very lethargic. On days I commute in I find myself avoiding food so I can enjoy the ride home. While my intake might be a bit higher grocery bought/prepared food is much cheaper than what is available at or near my place of business.
 

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When I ride to work, I bring my lunch with me, which saves additional miles I would have spent in my car because I would have gone to get something for lunch. So not only do I save more fuel and wear and tear on car, I also reduce the cost of lunch.

I also take my morning shower at the gym when I ride to work, which saves on hot water, electricity (hair dryer!), and toiletries (my gym provides). So more savings there. I was paying for the gym membership before I got into cycling, so there is no additional cost to me for using it this way.

How long would it take those savings to cover my bike/gear/nutition costs?

Dunno. Don't care. It makes me happy.
 

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Fahrrad fahren
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I 'save' about eight bucks a day when I'm on the bike. But on Fridays I eat at Five Guys, and Spend one day's savings on lunch. That is about as far as I calculated things out.....
 
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