Author Topic: Convince me to bike  (Read 16950 times)

netskyblue

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Convince me to bike
« on: November 20, 2014, 10:05:11 AM »
Ok.  Convince me to bike.

I don't know where this craziness has come from, but after reading MMM's Electric Bike blog entry, it somehow niggled its way into my brain and I think maybe I *could* do this.  Convince me it's financially worthwhile, and that I can "man up" to the challenge (I'm a girl, but still…)

Here's my situation:

-No debt, working on building a 10k EF, then after that my goal is 50k for downpayment.  I have about 3k in savings now, I'm saving roughly $600/month.

-I own a 2011 Mini Cooper outright.  I do need to keep a car, I routinely travel to my parents' house (90 minutes away), my sister's house (45 minutes away) and my aunt's house (30 minutes away).  I love the Mini, and I'd hate to sell it for something I didn't like as much.

-MapQuest says my commute is around 2.6mi each way, estimating 11-ish minutes by bike.   (It also claims I can drive it in 5 minutes, but it takes a good 15, so I'm not sure how much to trust its estimates.)  The route is 25mph for the majority, 35mph for a small stretch, and is riddled with stoplights.

-In 2013, I spent $780 on gas, roughly $741 on insurance (my renter's insurance is bundled in, so I'm estimating what I think it costs if I don't count the renter's portion).  Thus far in 2014, I've spent $708.39 on gas, roughly $636 on insurance.

-I don't own a bike or any equipment yet.

-I'm a wimp.  I truly don't think I can manage biking when it's blizzarding, 11 below zero, pouring down rain, etc.


I know the HEALTH benefits of biking, and for the purposes of this discussion, I'm not all that interested.  I'm extremely healthy, fit, thin.  I know exercise is a benefit regardless, but it's not going to tip the scales in my decision.

Can I afford to buy a decent (electric?!) bike, and helmet, and whatever other equipment is needed, and suck it up and commute by bike to work enough times to make it "worth it?"

2ndTimer

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2014, 10:26:50 AM »
The argument I use on myself when I am deciding whether to drive or bike/walk somewhere is:  Would I rather put gas in the tank or cookies in the mouth? 

I am guessing, based on what you say about stop lights that you use at least 1/2 gallon of gas every commuting day.  So starting from there and assuming $3/gal gas (depends on where you live) each round trip bike ride would save you $1.50.  So biking on nice days for one year might save you $150.  That would be enough for a used bike and a new helmet.

I realize that these numbers won't be exactly right but it's a place to start.


enigmaT120

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2014, 10:31:02 AM »
That distance is pushing the lower limit of what I would bike.  I would probably walk it, it would be about a half hour each way (I'm a fast walker) and would have better health benefits than bicycling such a short distance.  And would cost nothing.  When I lived two miles from work I always walked, in two different cities.


Professor Ecks

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 10:36:40 AM »
I don't really have much to offer in regards to whether you should or shouldn't bike. However, I commenting to suggest you stop using MapQuest. Google Maps is the way to go. It has more customization options that are really useful, especially in situations like yours. In most cases you can optimize the route depending on if you are driving, cycling, walking, or taking public transportation. In my city (Kansas City) it also shows designated bike routes, bike lanes, and trails.

johnny847

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 10:39:12 AM »
Your commute is just 2.6 miles each way! You'd be pissing money away if you got an electric bike.

As you admit, you're a wimp. Well, I gotta say....just suck it up and bike. Even if you can't dress properly for the cold, it's only 11 minutes of you being cold. Though I will retract a facepunch for rain, because that would be hypocritical of me. And I've never dealt with snow on the ground either. But plenty of others on this forum bike commute longer distances in the snow.

You could probably buy a bike for under $100 on Craigslist. I got mine for $40. I also got a helmet for ~$20 at Target a year ago without even looking around for a good deal. For days without snow or ice on the ground, that's all you need.

You could start out slow. A day with no snow on the ground and no current precipitation. Honestly, getting yourself started is a big part of the challenge.


Or, as enigma said, you could just walk it. Would be a decent walk, but totally free.

Ziggurat

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 10:59:32 AM »
I'm an avid electric bike and (Canadian) winter biker, and I don't recommend either for you at first.  However, get a cheap used (non-electric) bike and ride it in nicer weather for a year at least, then see if you want to expand to harsher weather. It takes a while to learn how to dress properly for the cold.

You say that fitness isn't a factor for you, but I find that biking adds much to the mental health as well as physical.  Car commuting is like being in a cage, where biking is more free and relaxing, and helps decompress from work stress, if your route is not too busy with traffic.

For you, savings would not be that great, but you would be doing your bit for the environment and your sanity.

sol

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2014, 11:02:16 AM »
I think 2.6 miles is about the perfect distance for bike commuting, assuming there are no giant hills.  Any shorter and it's hardly worth it to bike instead of walk.  Too much longer and you start to get sweaty on your bike ride.   You're right in the sweet spot.

I wouldn't bother with an electric bike at that distance.  Even on a pedal bike, I'm guessing it won't take much longer than you currently spend driving.  Maybe 20 minutes?  An ebike isn't likely to reduce that time any, expecially if you have stoplights.

As for driving 2.6 miles to work, that's just ridiculous.  Why don't you just buy a plane ticket every day?  Talk about overkill.

You should be able to find a decent used bike on CL for $200 or less.  The IRS figures 54 cents per mile for gas plus wear and tear on your car, so by their valuation you'd be saving $2.80 every day that you bike and you'd only need to bike 72 times to break even, or about four months.  In other words, even if you don't bike in bad weather, a single summer of biking in good weather would more than pay for the cost of the bike.

Added bonuses of biking:
a few minutes of exercise in the morning improves your disposition in addition to your health.
you get to experience your town in a new way, not hidden inside a protective box.
you're not sending your gas money dollars directly to nations that openly support terrorism.
you have a backup option if your car ever breaks down.
you don't have to deal with city traffic headaches.
it has zero carbon footprint, so is good for the environment.
the IRS says you qualify for a $20/month transit subsidy from your employer.
you set a positive example for your coworkers, who will be amazed at your level of badassity.
bikes produce no noise or road wear, better for your city environment and infrastruture budget.
biking is fun.  You'll be happier, trust me.

Breaker

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2014, 11:07:09 AM »
There are a lot of reasons to bike it.  Remember that you will be saving wear and tear on your car so it should last you a few more years.  You can also check to see if your insurance gives discounts for driving less miles per year.

If you decide to buy an electric bike I'll bet you use it for more than just your commute.  If you hate using it you can sell it and recoup at least some of your money.  It's not an "all in" situation.

You might decide that you enjoy it so much that it becomes your preferred mode of transportation around town.  Especially in good weather.  I would equip it with all of the "bells and whistles" that help to make your ride enjoyable.  You will be inclined to use it more often.

Only you can decide if you can afford it but is sounds to me as if you are financially able. 

BTW, you didn't mention parking at work.  Do you have to pay for it or is it hard to find?




galliver

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2014, 11:21:12 AM »
-You don't have to bike in driving rain or 30 below temps. Feel free to only bike on nice days at first.
-It's exhilirating. Definitely wakes me up on my way home. Good for the mood. :)
-My commute is about 2.6 miles and takes about 15 mins. Maybe 20 when I'm lazy. If it takes you that long to drive, you aren't even losing time.
-If you get a used bike you can always sell it back at no loss.
-You don't need an electric bike. At least not while you're only doing the 2.6 mile ride.

Terrestrial

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2014, 11:22:37 AM »
Don't even bother with the expense of an electric bike for 2.5 mile commute.  Especially since you are already in shape, that's about as easy a bike ride as it gets.   I doubt in your circumstance it would even take you much longer than driving if at all, when I ride in low speed stop/go type routes I routinely keep passing the same cars and then having them pass me because the plethora of stoplights tend to even everybody out.  You are probably at a minimum within 10 minutes of being even time-wise.

Buy a beater bike on craigslist or a local neighborhood thrift store (we have one in my town that is bike specific and you can get a basic vintage roadbike for peanuts) and a cheap helmet.  You will be into it for less than a hundred bucks. 

How many working days are there in a year...250 or so?  That's about 1250 miles a year for your commute, and for lack of better option lets use the IRS rate for the true 'cost'...includes wear and tear, depreciation, gas, etc.  It's around fifty cents a mile give or take.  Thats $625 for your commute. 

If you could replace only half of your commuting days with biking, so that probably covers no rainy days or winter, that's about $300 right there.  After the first year you would cover the start up cost a few times over, ever year after that is just pure profit. 

On a side note while you dont need the 'health' benefit...I have found there is a mental benefit as well.  Biking is very relaxing way to commute for me and relieves alot of stress...it just makes you feel good, even if you get enough exercise elsewhere. 

The Architect

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2014, 11:31:10 AM »
As you admit, you're a wimp. Well, I gotta say....just suck it up and bike. Even if you can't dress properly for the cold, it's only 11 minutes of you being cold. Though I will retract a facepunch for rain, because that would be hypocritical of me. And I've never dealt with snow on the ground either. But plenty of others on this forum bike commute longer distances in the snow.

I'm in the same boat, but live where it rains, is super windy, or is one or more of the above and below freezing 270 days a year. I do bike during the summer though.

I'd say start in the summer (or in consistent nice weather) on a regular bike, leave 30 minutes before work and see how it goes. You'll probably find you can get there just as fast as if you took the car - my commute is very similar and I can do it in guaranteed 8 minutes on the bike or 3-15 minutes by car. The bike is more consistent because I can avoid lights more easily (different routing). It takes a few minutes on either end for me to clean up; in the heat I wear a t-shirt and shorts and change at work.

For the rain that is dissuading me, I'm hoping to acquire fenders, an actual commuter bike (instead of a mountain bike - blasted low gearing!), enough lights to look like a miniature sun, a reflective vest, and rain gear. All told, that'll be a few hundred dollars new; if I spring for a nicer new bike probably just under a grand. I figure the IRS $0.55/mi is a good number for commuting, so I'd save ~$2/ day by biking every day. $10/week, 50 weeks a year is a 2-year payoff for me if I buy all-new gear (and really high end - that'd be a Trek/Giant bike new from a bike store).

So an E-bike is totally unnecessary, but I'd also love to have one for those really nasty days when I don't want to ride. If you can find a good one for under $500, and it'll push you to ride daily, it'd probably be worth it. Especially if it's a real e/bike, where you'll need to pedal at least a little bit.

Annamal

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2014, 11:36:13 AM »

I walk that distance most mornings and evenings (mornings downhill, evening *very* uphill)

it's not just the physical health, it's the mental space I can clear out before and after work.

No bike needed (just a decent pair of shoes ) and you don't have to do it through a blizzard.

TRBeck

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2014, 11:37:07 AM »
I agree: suck it up.

For me, the bike is not a big deal commute-wise (similar distance commute as you). However, once I committed to using it for all trips within a 5-mile radius, my mindset and life changed completely. A cheap bike trailer from Craigslist meant grocery trips were done on the bike. Drugstore, Home Depot, Target, the gym: all by bicycle. I wound up buying less crap due to less frequent trips and better judgment about whether or not I needed a particular item (having to take it home in the bike trailer in freezing rain makes that 12-pack of seasonal craft beer a helluva lot less appealing - or more rewarding when you drink it :-) ). I got smarter about planning my life and made time-saving decisions in other areas to leave me time for getting to the grocery, the gym, etc., and found out I could be awfully efficient. I toughened up about weather stuff - not that it gets too bad where I live, but even still, I'd gotten soft in my thirties - and learned that layering and the body heat generated by cycling could get me through pretty nasty conditions. I also don't listen to inane radio during the commute, but instead have a few minutes to enjoy the outdoors and reduce my intake of bad music, mindless sports talk, etc.
Now, even when I wind up taking the car to the store (rarely), I have a bicycle trailer brain and fill my cart with far less stuff. I never stop at a convenience store for coffee or a granola bar. I keep my house warmer in summer and cooler in winter, because it just doesn't seem that bad compared to conditions during the commute. As I said, my mindset shifted. Along the way, although I was fit before, I learned to love cycling and am now looking into cyclocross events as a new challenge. I haven't saved a whole lot on gas - although we sold a second car, so insurance savings were huge - but I have still come out way ahead due to spending less in every other area of life.

Buy a bike. Your life will be better.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 11:40:23 AM by TRBeck »

gillstone

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2014, 11:40:13 AM »
In April I started biking a bike 2 mile commute on some ugly hills and I am absolutely hooked. 

I would say do a non-electric bike commute for 6 reasons:

1. It will pay for itself - actual gas mileage for in-city and cold engine is much lower than the EPA estimate.  My car gets a theoretical 18 so I should have been saving only a dollar a day, but after six months of riding I found that I was buying a quarter of the gas I used to so my rides were basically saving $3/day.    My payback for the new low-cost commuter bike from Nashbar, tools, panniers, helmet, winter gear, studded tires, maintenance etc is 18 months from point of purchase.  After that its like having free money every time you pedal.

2. You will find you aren't such a wimp.  I started out assuming I would only bike from April-October when above 40F and dry.  I'm now outfitted for winter and have absolutely loved riding, even (especially) when -12F and icy.  Get moving on it and you'll find that what you once thought was too hard or not fun is an absolute blast and totally worth the effort.

3. The distance is ideal.  2.6 miles is fantastic. It means that you will get in at about the same time you would with a car so you don't even have to get up earlier.  Also, the distance means you can ride in your work clothes and skip the funny pants and spandex stuff.

4. You will get hooked and wonder why you didn't start doing it earlier.

5. You can skip the gym.  15 minutes, twice a day for 5 days a week is a good workout to maintain shape and a much better investment than $90/mo in gym fees.  If you want a bigger workout, extend your route to match your needs.

6. Seriously, 2.6 miles really isn't that far.  It just seems far because you got used to sitting the entire duration of it.

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2014, 11:50:20 AM »
There's actually a gas station on my drive home.  I'll stop and get gas tonight after work, then tomorrow night after work, and see how much I spent on the driving in between (the only place I'll be going is work).  That will give me an actual number, and I can add up the dollars for myself, tally up the # of times I bike each month, and put that money into savings (once the bike cost is covered).

I live in the land of parking lots.  At work, I park 2 spaces away from the door.  No cost savings there.

Walking - the truth is, I'm a wimp and lazy.  However, I did break my femur really badly this year, and (according to the surgeon) "it doesn't always go as planned"   Apparently they did the best they could in getting the bones put together right, but now the leg is rotated inward, and I walk with a limp, and have constant hip pain.  But that's my cop-out answer; even if that weren't the case, I'm still a lazy wimp.

Starting in Spring/summer makes sense, but I kind of look at it like this - I'm motivated now.  If I CAN suck it up and bike through at least part of the winter, my odds of continuing seem higher to me, than if I started out in good weather and chickened out when it got cold.

Can anyone offer any advice on how to pick a bike?  Size, style, etc?  I haven't owned one since I was a kid, but I had a very bad rental experience in my adult years.  On a Greek island where no cars were allowed - major bruising in private areas!


johnny847

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #15 on: November 20, 2014, 12:09:49 PM »
There's actually a gas station on my drive home.  I'll stop and get gas tonight after work, then tomorrow night after work, and see how much I spent on the driving in between (the only place I'll be going is work).  That will give me an actual number, and I can add up the dollars for myself, tally up the # of times I bike each month, and put that money into savings (once the bike cost is covered).
But you're only factoring in gasoline costs of driving. The IRS considers the eventual maintenance you need to repair the wear and tear caused by driving. And allegedly, short drives are worse for your car than longer drives http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&story=car-talk-tips&subject=more

Weedy Acres

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #16 on: November 20, 2014, 12:29:11 PM »
It's ok to be not 100%.   I don't bike when it's <30* or >90* or if the roads are wet/icy (or if it's raining or snowing).  That can make it easier mentally than a 100% all-in commitment. 

I've been biking since Feb (2 mi to work, 2 mi to gym, some other in-town trips) and haven't yet found myself in the category that some do here, having fallen in love with the whole biking thing.  I don't like biking in super cold or heat, and it does take longer and I'm sometimes too impatient.  But I do really enjoy whizzing around when it's a gorgeous spring or fall day in the 60s.  That's perfect weather and is invigorating.

GuitarStv

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #17 on: November 20, 2014, 12:35:21 PM »
Do you want to stay a wimp forever, or become awesome?

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #18 on: November 20, 2014, 12:41:55 PM »
I do have an ulterior motive... my husband just got a new job really close, and he *does* have a bike, and used to really enjoy biking.  And he *does* need the exercise.  So maybe if I show him his wimpy wife is willing to commute by bike, he'll do it too.

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #19 on: November 20, 2014, 01:32:38 PM »
I don't really have much to offer in regards to whether you should or shouldn't bike. However, I commenting to suggest you stop using MapQuest. Google Maps is the way to go. It has more customization options that are really useful, especially in situations like yours. In most cases you can optimize the route depending on if you are driving, cycling, walking, or taking public transportation. In my city (Kansas City) it also shows designated bike routes, bike lanes, and trails.

OK, I checked on Google Maps, and it says my route is 3.2mi (19 min) by bike, or 2.8mi (7 min) by car.  Still, I don't think I've ever made it in <10, and even then, only while speeding!  Oddly, it doesn't even show the route I drive as being available by bike...not sure why.

FreeWheel

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #20 on: November 20, 2014, 01:36:08 PM »
You and your husband are very fortunate to live so close to your workplaces. I agree that an ebike is a waste/overkill for such a short trip. You’ll quickly find out it doesn’t take much to pedal for 15-20 minutes.

The biggest reason I started and continue to ride to work is because it is fun… and extremely satisfying. All the money I save is just icing on the cake.

You can start up even in the winter, just watch the weather reports and pick the best days. (check wind speed and direction too)

powersuitrecall

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2014, 01:36:58 PM »
My commute is only a little longer than yours would be, but not by much.  I live in Canada and bike all winter.  In the snow.  Even when it's -40.  Stop being a wussypants and do it :)

If you need to be convinced how much money you will save, I posted this in another thread ...

Because I bike, we don't need a second car.  As a result, we save about $4800 a year when you factor in gas, insurance, license/registration, maintenance, parking, depreciation and opportunity cost of initial purchase, etc.  Using the MMM technique of extrapolating that savings over a decade, it's worth an extra $71K in our pockets!!  And that's assuming for a used car.

Other side benefits of cycling
- you're going to get fit
- you're going to start enjoying the 11 minutes of fresh air every morning and evening
- you're not going to make many post-work impulse purchases
- you'll bring your lunch to work rather than driving out someplace to buy it
- you'll get a kickass parking spot at work (usually right beside the door).

FreeWheel

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2014, 01:38:28 PM »

OK, I checked on Google Maps, and it says my route is 3.2mi (19 min) by bike, or 2.8mi (7 min) by car.  Still, I don't think I've ever made it in <10, and even then, only while speeding!  Oddly, it doesn't even show the route I drive as being available by bike...not sure why.

Google maps chooses what they believe is the most favorable route by bike. A particular cyclist may or may not agree.

FreeWheel

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2014, 01:43:12 PM »
Other side benefits of cycling
- you're going to get fit
- you're going to start enjoying the 11 minutes of fresh air every morning and evening
- you're not going to make many post-work impulse purchases
- you'll bring your lunch to work rather than driving out someplace to buy it
- you'll get a kickass parking spot at work (usually right beside the door).

You forgot "everyone will consider you badass for actually getting to work under your own power" ...especially when it's cold or raining.

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2014, 01:59:13 PM »
OMG I just google mapped my husband's work address.  I knew it was close, but wow.  1.2 miles.  And he already has a bike.  Yeah, I'm going to tell him he HAS to bike it!

galliver

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #25 on: November 20, 2014, 02:43:07 PM »
OMG I just google mapped my husband's work address.  I knew it was close, but wow.  1.2 miles.  And he already has a bike.  Yeah, I'm going to tell him he HAS to bike it!
Honestly...I would walk. Less hassle.

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #26 on: November 20, 2014, 03:51:24 PM »
Well, poo.  I've been looking at my local bike shop's webpage to see what kind of bikes are out there, doing some reading about bike styles & features, and DARN IT ALL if I didn't see a beautiful bike... of course, it's $899.  *sigh*

http://bikeworldiowa.com/product/electra-amsterdam-fashion-3i-ladies-179978-1.htm

upright.  fully encased chain.  fenders.  Plus it's so pretty.  I so don't need to spend that much, though :(

whiskeyjack

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #27 on: November 20, 2014, 04:16:24 PM »
Can anyone offer any advice on how to pick a bike?  Size, style, etc?  I haven't owned one since I was a kid, but I had a very bad rental experience in my adult years.  On a Greek island where no cars were allowed - major bruising in private areas!

Style is up to you, but for comfort, and given the short distance I would say 'anything but a dropped handlebar road bike'.    You can try out a few bikes at a store to figure out the size that works for you, but I'd say buy one used on craigslist, then go back to the store and buy the cushiest, perfect-fit seat designed for women you can find.

gillstone

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #28 on: November 20, 2014, 04:18:45 PM »
Well, poo.  I've been looking at my local bike shop's webpage to see what kind of bikes are out there, doing some reading about bike styles & features, and DARN IT ALL if I didn't see a beautiful bike... of course, it's $899.  *sigh*

http://bikeworldiowa.com/product/electra-amsterdam-fashion-3i-ladies-179978-1.htm

upright.  fully encased chain.  fenders.  Plus it's so pretty.  I so don't need to spend that much, though :(

look at nashbar.com for their commuter bike for women.  Its half the price and has good components.  A few minutes online should give you the size of bike you need for your height.  Slap a couple of cheap fenders on and you're set!

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #29 on: November 20, 2014, 06:10:03 PM »
I went to the bike shop tonight, and had the salesman tell me all about different types of bikes.  I tried out a "hybrid" which I was not comfortable on, it had the straight handlebars, and a high bar in the middle, and I had to stand on my tippy tippy toes to even get on it.  He did say that type would be better for performance, because it has bigger wheels (and thus goes further with each pedal push), and because the wheels were thinner.

I was much more comfortable on the style he called a "cruiser" which sat more upright.  I sat on an Electra with "flat foot technology" which I guess means I could touch the ground from the seat.  I also sat on a trek verve 3 women's bike that had some kind of springs in the seat.  On that one, he told me I was a size 16. They were both more comfortable just to BE on.

I understood how he talked about gears, but I'm not at all sure what I need there.  Google maps says I have a 125ft elevation difference between the highest and lowest points on my route.  Driving home tonight, I didn't notice any especially big hills, but I'm sure a hill on a bike feels a lot bigger than a hill in a car!

I'm just a bit afraid to buy a bike without getting to sit in it, try it out.  I'm totally new to this, and I just don't know what all I like/don't like.


Edit:  These were the styles that I sat on and found comfortable:
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/city/recreation/verve/verve_3_wsd/

and well, shoot, I can't remember the other one exactly, but it was similar to this one:
http://bikeworldiowa.com/product/trek-pure-lowstep-womens-173689-1.htm


...if that helps with recommendations, at all.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 06:37:34 PM by netskyblue »

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #30 on: November 20, 2014, 08:03:28 PM »
Cruiser bikes feel good at first, but they aren't good for longer distances. Since you are biking such a short distance, it might work for you... and if it gets you biking, great!

I'm a tiny little thing and I love my hybrid. I used to have my seat set too low, but I finally realized that I don't have to be able to touch the ground. Really--look it up. I just come to a careful stop and hop off the seat while waiting at a stoplight. Then I get on the bike by rotating one pedal to forty-five degrees and pushing down hard on the pedal while hoisting myself into the seat, which is a far superior way to start a bike. (There are videos, but I couldn't readily find the one I watched.) That said, it took me years to develop confidence. I used to ride a 24" girls' bike so I could be closer to the ground!

You said you need to keep a car--do you and your husband have one car between you, or two? 'Cause two would be ridiculous!

I hope you do decide to get a bike. I think you'll come to enjoy it. We had snow on the ground last week and I had to take the car on my daily rounds (preschool, YMCA, etc.) and I was so unhappy! I could never find a good parking space, I spent half the morning buckling and unbuckling car seats (two kids in 5-point harnesses) and I wanted to be out in the sunshine, even if it WAS below freezing. I ordered a studded tire to try on my front wheel to hopefully be able to go out when the snow has been only partially cleared.

Good luck! Come back if you have more questions!

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #31 on: November 20, 2014, 08:14:36 PM »
Ooooh can I get some opinions on this craigslist bike?  http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4744361251.html

It looks similar to the verve 3 I sat on at the shop, though I'm guessing it's a "lower" model?

johnny847

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #32 on: November 20, 2014, 08:30:25 PM »
I tried out a "hybrid" which I was not comfortable on, it had the straight handlebars, and a high bar in the middle, and I had to stand on my tippy tippy toes to even get on it. 
Typically on a properly fitted road bike (admittedly not a hybrid), when you are sitting on the saddle you shouldn't really be able to put your foot on the ground. At a light, I always have to get off my saddle and straddle the bike.

Of course, a cruiser bike may be different.

sol

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #33 on: November 20, 2014, 09:34:22 PM »
Ooooh can I get some opinions on this craigslist bike?  http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4744361251.html

It looks similar to the verve 3 I sat on at the shop, though I'm guessing it's a "lower" model?

I don't think it's a lower model.  Bontrager saddle with matching grips, originally retailed for $490.

I think it's a 2009 model, and was generally reviewed very well.  $375 is still a lot of money to pay for a first bike, though.  I would normally recommend spending about half that, and this bike isn't worth that much.

Reviews:  http://www.trekbikes.com/powerreviews/powerreviews/product-reviews/Women-s-Specific-Design/Bike-Path/Trek/p/2009_1312601-7100-WSD.html

Blue book value is about $160 in excellent condition, so if they came down to even $200 and they let you take it for a test spin, and you feel good on it, I'd consider it at that price:  http://www.bicyclebluebook.com/searchlistingdetail.aspx?id=3033102

Definitely don't pay $375 for it.  Other than the price, it's a decent bike for your relatively level, short commute.  You'd be faster on a lighter bike, but if you need this sort of upright seating position to feel comfortable at first, then this model would work for you.  And it's cute.

tofuchampion

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #34 on: November 20, 2014, 09:48:12 PM »
Do you want to stay a wimp forever, or become awesome?

This.

You don't have to bike every day.  You don't need a fancy/expensive bike.  You can get a bike for less than $100 on craigslist, as others have mentioned.  Cruisers, in my experience, are clunky and heavy and a PITA to actually ride if your route isn't perfectly flat, but if the cute factor gets you out there, then go for it! 

I got a '72 Schwinn Varsity on craigslist for $120 and have been riding it for 3 years, commuting for 2 1/2, anywhere from 1.9 to 7 miles each way.  Older road bikes are awesome, inexpensive, and will last forever if properly taken care of.

Get a cheap bike and tell yourself you're going to bike one day a week to start.  Then do it.  Hell, ride it around the neighborhood over the weekend to get used to it ("it" being both the bike, and the idea of riding it).  Is there a park nearby with a bike trail, or some sort of greenway or something?  Go somewhere, ride 3 miles in an easy, controlled environment that's set up for biking.  You'll see that it's really not hard at all.

FWIW, I don't bike if it's less than 20 degrees (F), above 95, or pouring rain.  Or snowing, I guess, though it rarely snows where I live.  If I lived in a snowy place I'd adapt my bike and go for it.

The feeling of being a badass is one of the best parts of commuting by bike, if you ask me.  This stuff is NOT hard, but people think you're crazy and hard-core and all kind of silly things.  When I was doing 7 miles each way, in 20-25 degree weather, at 6 in the morning... it was an awesome ride, and I felt amazing.

Enough rambling!  Just bike.  You won't regret it.

Terrestrial

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #35 on: November 20, 2014, 11:25:07 PM »
I don't mean to sound mean, but you seem to care more about how the bike looks than using it?  Admittedly the bikes you have picked out are pretty snazzy looking.

Trust us, it may seem long but it's not.  For 2.5 miles you can ride virtually ANY bike that has two wheels and chain.  it really is that short a distance on a bike especially on relatively flat ground.  buy a beater/older bike on craigslist for around a hundred bucks (or less!), as long as it's the right size it will work for you.  use that for a while to make sure you will even really use the bike.  if you find you like biking, you will be able to sell the thing for about what you paid and then upgrade, and at that point you'll know what you like.

i'd look for stuff like this and the first one that took a hundred bucks or so, i'm sold.
http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4681017820.html
http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4724639968.html

galliver

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #36 on: November 20, 2014, 11:50:58 PM »
I don't mean to sound mean, but you seem to care more about how the bike looks than using it?  Admittedly the bikes you have picked out are pretty snazzy looking.

Trust us, it may seem long but it's not.  For 2.5 miles you can ride virtually ANY bike that has two wheels and chain.  it really is that short a distance on a bike especially on relatively flat ground.  buy a beater/older bike on craigslist for around a hundred bucks (or less!), as long as it's the right size it will work for you.  use that for a while to make sure you will even really use the bike.  if you find you like biking, you will be able to sell the thing for about what you paid and then upgrade, and at that point you'll know what you like.

i'd look for stuff like this and the first one that took a hundred bucks or so, i'm sold.
http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4681017820.html
http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4724639968.html
I'm going to respectfully disagree. Get something you like, that makes you feel good, and you'll be more motivated to use it. Not a blank check, try to find the cheapest way to get the bike you like, but you do, in the end, need to like it.

Terrestrial

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #37 on: November 20, 2014, 11:59:16 PM »
I don't mean to sound mean, but you seem to care more about how the bike looks than using it?  Admittedly the bikes you have picked out are pretty snazzy looking.

Trust us, it may seem long but it's not.  For 2.5 miles you can ride virtually ANY bike that has two wheels and chain.  it really is that short a distance on a bike especially on relatively flat ground.  buy a beater/older bike on craigslist for around a hundred bucks (or less!), as long as it's the right size it will work for you.  use that for a while to make sure you will even really use the bike.  if you find you like biking, you will be able to sell the thing for about what you paid and then upgrade, and at that point you'll know what you like.

i'd look for stuff like this and the first one that took a hundred bucks or so, i'm sold.
http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4681017820.html
http://desmoines.craigslist.org/bik/4724639968.html
I'm going to respectfully disagree. Get something you like, that makes you feel good, and you'll be more motivated to use it. Not a blank check, try to find the cheapest way to get the bike you like, but you do, in the end, need to like it.

while I do understand where you are coming from...having a BMW would really make me feel good and want to drive...but I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first car if someone doesn't even know if they like driving.  $400-800 like the bikes she is bringing up is a lot of money for something that may be used twice and then collect dust in a garage.

my suggestion was only that she make a small investment to confirm that she will actually like biking, at which point she can sell it for no real net expense and get whatever she does like.  exercise equipment of all kinds are notorious for overzealous people spending a lot of money on and then never using.  Check out all the virtually unused ellipticals and treadmills you can find on craigslist.

tofuchampion

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #38 on: November 21, 2014, 01:17:02 AM »
Check out all the virtually unused ellipticals and treadmills you can find on craigslist.

And bikes!  I've seen bikes that originally cost upwards of $1K, being sold on craigslist with less than 100 miles on them.  Buying something fancy doesn't guarantee it'll get used.  And you don't NEED to spend hundreds of dollars to get a really nice and nice-looking bike. 

mwulff

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #39 on: November 21, 2014, 01:34:29 AM »
Here is some input from somebody who lives in a bike-heavy country (we have the highest car-taxes in the world ;) ).

1. Cruiserbikes are nice and comfortable to ride, but they are not very power efficient. If the only thing you ever plan to do on your bike is ride to work then it might be good enough.

2. If you plan to do some shopping and other errands around town a more efficient bike might be better for you. Think lower weight and a more lowered sitting position.

3. Does your femur prevent you from using that leg to fully push on the pedal? If yes then you might see a need for an electric bike. As a bonus an electric bike will easily take you on a 7-8 mile shopping trip and happily carry home a trailer-full of goods.

4. Any bike can easily have its seat replaced, so if you feel that your seat is uncomfortable just replace it with a nice soft one, or put a seat-padding on it.

5. Bike height, if you can reach the ground while sitting in the seat then you can be sure that the bike is WAY to small for you. Optimally you need to be able to stretch your leg about 90% while pedalling to apply maximum power. It is normal to get out of the seat to stop at the lights.

If you want to dip your toes then my recommendation is a nice cheap used bike. For your commute the make and model is not that important. But consider cruiser vs. city-bike vs. electric and buy what you think will suit you best.

If the electric bike could make you drop your car usage further it can be worthwhile.


HenryDavid

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #40 on: November 21, 2014, 07:29:04 AM »
In the short term, bikes are free. A couple month's gas and parking will pay for a decent bike

In the long term, you literally get paid to bike. Here in Canada I've saved at least $200 /month on parking, the same on gas, and thousands a year on purchase and maintenance, for 25 years. Compound that. Biking is like a well paid part time job, except that it's fun.

Once in a while I drive if I have to take heavy stuff to work etc. and it's no fun at all, and costs me $10 to park. Crazy.

If you get going with bike commuting people will start looking at you enviously and say "I wish I could do what you do, you're fit, you're vigorous, you're laughing when you come in the door." But they can all do it. They just need to start.

ohioswimmer

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #41 on: November 21, 2014, 09:00:05 AM »
Biking/walking to work should sell itself if you give it a try.  I've been biking/walking to work for a year now* and I love it! 

My commute is shorter (less than a mile), but the previous comments are all right about your distance being in a a sweet spot.  I end of walking most of the time because its quicker and easier than dealing with a bike in my office building. 

Winter weather has not been a problem at all.  Summer rainstorms presented a few small problems, but those were easily solved.  I pay attention to the radar and leave work before the rain starts or stay until it ends.  And...  if there does not appear to be an end in sight, I use the local car share and zip home for $0.39 a minute.


*Disclaimer:  I drive to work at least twice a week.  My job requires me to attend meetings at sites in the suburbs.  It works out to be a pretty good deal though - I get reimbursed $0.56 per mile.  The reimbursement check ends up being higher than the total cost of owning the car each month (gas, insurance, routine maintenance). 

KCM5

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #42 on: November 21, 2014, 09:53:44 AM »
Okay, so bike evangelism has finally forced me to register.

Check out the Des Moines Bike Collective in the East Village for a cheap, serviceable bike. Unless you can borrow one from a friend? Or use your partner's bike? Craigslist is good, too, but you have to be patient. I scored a beautiful Gazelle Basic this summer, which seems to be the type of bike your looking for. It was originally sold by Ichi Bike, also in the East Village.

I just started biking full time in Des Moines in April. I'm planning on doing it through the winter and although I haven't done it yet, since this cold snap hasn't turned me off, I think I'm good to go. Seriously, be a bad ass and go for it.

galliver

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #43 on: November 21, 2014, 10:00:31 AM »
Check out all the virtually unused ellipticals and treadmills you can find on craigslist.

And bikes!  I've seen bikes that originally cost upwards of $1K, being sold on craigslist with less than 100 miles on them.  Buying something fancy doesn't guarantee it'll get used.  And you don't NEED to spend hundreds of dollars to get a really nice and nice-looking bike.
Gah. I didn't say spend 1k on a new shiny bike. I said my statement wasn't a blank check.

But when I had an ancient Schwinn Collegiate I inherited from a friend, I did not want to bike. Because I didn't like it. I wasn't comfortable. It probably could have used some fixing up and that was an obstacle. I started biking regularly when I sucked it up and got a bike I liked, even though I had a free one sitting around that worked.

What I'm saying is that having good tools affects enjoyment of the activity, and if the point is to get someone into biking, saying "get any old POS bike that's cheap" could be counterproductive. Liking it, even if it's used off craigslist, is important, too.

netskyblue

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #44 on: November 21, 2014, 10:25:09 AM »
Yes, call me shallow, but a pretty bike will affect my use of it.  Well, as long as it's comfortable, too.  I'm more likely to use, and take care of, something I LIKE than something I don't.

$300 spent on a bike that is used and taken care of is better, IMO than $150 spent on a bike that sits in the garage because it's ugly and/or uncomfortable to use.  And to some extent, the price will force me to use  it.  I'm less apt to "waste" $300.  I can afford more, but the $300 range is a price I feel comfortable with.  That's what I put into savings per paycheck.


Case in point, I take pains to keep my Mini looking nice, clean inside, well maintained.  I love that car.  Until it's death, I drove my Ex-husband's beat-up 10 or 11-year-old sportscar that I *HATED*.  (It was never intended to be my car, but I took it in the divorce because the other wasn't paid off, and I was totally broke when I left.)  Dumb thing was always trashed inside, I'd "forget" to get the oil changed, etc in some half-unconscious attempt to make the thing die and go away.  Because I wouldn't get a new car so long as I had a car that still ran.

gillstone

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #45 on: November 21, 2014, 01:34:30 PM »
Yes, call me shallow, but a pretty bike will affect my use of it.  Well, as long as it's comfortable, too.  I'm more likely to use, and take care of, something I LIKE than something I don't.

$300 spent on a bike that is used and taken care of is better, IMO than $150 spent on a bike that sits in the garage because it's ugly and/or uncomfortable to use.  And to some extent, the price will force me to use  it.  I'm less apt to "waste" $300.  I can afford more, but the $300 range is a price I feel comfortable with.  That's what I put into savings per paycheck.


Case in point, I take pains to keep my Mini looking nice, clean inside, well maintained.  I love that car.  Until it's death, I drove my Ex-husband's beat-up 10 or 11-year-old sportscar that I *HATED*.  (It was never intended to be my car, but I took it in the divorce because the other wasn't paid off, and I was totally broke when I left.)  Dumb thing was always trashed inside, I'd "forget" to get the oil changed, etc in some half-unconscious attempt to make the thing die and go away.  Because I wouldn't get a new car so long as I had a car that still ran.

As long as it's adequate to actually follow-through.  Part of my reason for biking in the cold is that I spent the cash on new studded tires so I better damn-well use them.  It may take a little longer to pay for itself, but as long as that nice bike is used it will pay for itself.

acroy

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #46 on: November 21, 2014, 01:41:26 PM »
Ok.  Convince me to bike.
-MapQuest says my commute is around 2.6mi each way, estimating 11-ish minutes by bike. 

-In 2013, I spent $780 on gas, roughly $741 on insurance

OK

Tell me why you're NOT biking

*slaps you with an innertube*

:)

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #47 on: November 21, 2014, 02:25:08 PM »
Get a bike that makes you feel happy and comfy and, yes, adorable when you get on it, then. If you want to take it up a notch in the future when you are more comfortable (ie, getting a hybrid bike), well, Craigslist will still be there! I think a lot of us have become so comfortable biking that we forget what it's like to get started.

mlejw6

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #48 on: November 21, 2014, 03:32:59 PM »
I just started biking to work this year. My commute is 7.5 miles one way, so way longer than yours. And, I've been doing okay biking twice a week. The thing that worried me the most was after daylight savings ended and having to bike in the dark (and cold). But, I got plenty of bright lights, a reflective vest, and found the perfect combination of clothes that keep me warm enough, but not too warm going up the (massive) hills I have to go up. This morning, I biked in and it was around 25 F. A runner told me I was hardcore for biking. (Yeah, but she was running, and I hate running!) Anyway, that made me feel pretty special.

I think my point is, if I can do it, you can certainly do it for a 2.6 mile commute. Good luck!

tofuchampion

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Re: Convince me to bike
« Reply #49 on: November 21, 2014, 04:49:50 PM »
Check out all the virtually unused ellipticals and treadmills you can find on craigslist.

And bikes!  I've seen bikes that originally cost upwards of $1K, being sold on craigslist with less than 100 miles on them.  Buying something fancy doesn't guarantee it'll get used.  And you don't NEED to spend hundreds of dollars to get a really nice and nice-looking bike.
Gah. I didn't say spend 1k on a new shiny bike.

...and I didn't say you did.  I said that it's not necessary to spend a ton of money on a bike, and that the OP can surely find one that she likes, but doesn't cost a fortune. 

My main point was that while buying something spiffy may provide a bit of initial motivation, it's not a guarantee.  People spend a ton on a bike and then don't ride it.  Therefore, a very nice, and nice-looking bike can be had without a huge upfront investment.

The choice is not between a piece of shit that barely works, and a brand-new super-fancy bike.  There is a lot in between, and imo, that's the best place to look.