Author Topic: Should I buy a bike?  (Read 1830 times)

zachaloo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Should I buy a bike?
« on: April 05, 2018, 04:59:55 PM »
Hello fellow Mustachians!

The answer to the first question is probably an obvious 'yes', but let me explain my situation.

I use my car for all of my transportation. I drive a 2011 Kia Soul (paid for) that has been getting a little over 30 MPG since I started hypermiling a couple of weeks ago. My fuel spending is usually around $100/mo. All that is great, but I still want to get into that bike life.

I live only about 6 miles from my job, so under normal circumstances that is a reasonable distance to bike. However, the route to get to my work involves going through a tunnel or the opposite direction over a draw bridge. I live in New Orleans, so there are canals - large and small - everywhere. Worse, there are few bike lanes. My other frequent visit is my gf's house which is through another tunnel. The drawbridge is closed to pedestrians and cyclists.

I want a bike, but I am having a hard time justifying the ~$300 cost of a solid hybrid commuter bike. Plus, I'm a short dude so I will need a bike with a 15" frame - difficult to find secondhand around here without scouring every bike shop in town.

Your thoughts and experiences are appreciated!

Freedomin5

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3499
  • Location: China
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2018, 07:06:10 AM »
If you buy a bike, how long will it take you (how many times will you need to ride) to break even? I can probably figure it out with the numbers you provided but Iím too lazy.

Then ask yourself if itís doable, and if itís worth it to you.

Hirondelle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1598
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 07:24:46 AM »
First of all; good job of having a high MPG car and the willingness to bike.

6 miles is indeed a perfectly bikeable distance. I'm just trying to understand how exactly tunnels and draw bridges are a problem in this situation - as in, how are they worse than just not having bike lanes in general?

You mention you do ALL your transportation by car. I can hardly imagine that there's no other places to go than work and your girlfriend. How about grocery errands, shopping trips, visiting the city center, going to a gym, going to a park, visiting restaurants, friends and so on.

If you don't have a bike at all, how about getting a cheap used bike first for some smaller errands or an occasional trip to work. Also remember, the more people start biking, the more likely it is that biking lanes will appear! The roads are there because there's cars, if there's enough bikers there will be bike lanes.

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7197
  • Location: Norway
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 07:29:12 AM »
I live in an expensive country and maybe therefore I think 300 USD for a good bike is a very reasonable price. Go for it! And look around if there isn't a more bike-friendly route around those tunnels in some way or another. Maybe consider moving to more bike friendly area.

fatcow240

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Dallas
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2018, 07:40:08 AM »
I had some similar concerns on buying a bike and beginning cycling.  I bought a $150 bike at Walmart to test it out last year.  I don't recommend going that cheap on a bike, but it did get me started.  Many parts of my commute seemed daunting, and I never saw anyone biking.  Now I see people biking all the time, on streets, with no bike lanes.


I see the realistic worst case scenario is that you don't use it to commute, but have a new healthy weekend hobby.


Buy the bike.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 17212
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2018, 08:35:27 AM »
If you wait for someone to build you bike lanes, you'll never ever bike anywhere.  My commute to work is 11 miles each way.  Of that, there is about 100 ft of bike lanes.  :P  Learn to cycle safely in traffic.  This means taking the lane when necessary, using lights, reflectors, and wearing visible clothing, and always wearing a helmet.  Cycling on the sidewalk is not safe cycling.

To start with, get a cheap used bike (any bike) and start riding.  Ride it a lot.  After six to eight months of using it you'll have a much better idea what you like, and you should sell the cheap used bike.  You'll know what you want in a bike after riding for a while, so replace it with a decent mid range 4-600$ model that will last you for a very long time.

I ride my bike to work twice or three times a week.  I'll occasionally pick up groceries with my bike and go to the library every week on it.  This saves me about 50% in fuel costs, and I have to suspect a lot of wear and tear in general.  I've got a winter bike that cost me about 500$, and a summer bike that cost me about 800$.  Both of them have paid for themselves just in terms of fuel saved over the last five years.  When you factor in the exercise and general feeling of well-being, I'd say I'm way, way ahead.

Just Joe

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4423
  • Age: 125
  • Location: Just past the red barn on the left.
  • Here to learn.
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2018, 09:06:53 AM »
Yep - 7 miles each way and no bike lanes anywhere here. Do what GuitarStv said. Just ride. Get a good helmet and some blinky lights.

Folks have been good around here so far (very red state) not to crowd me or cut me off. I worried about that.

Also, the best route may not be the shortest route. I go a little out of my way so I can ride better streets (quieter, flatter, slower traffic, better intersections). Might add half a mile to my total one way distance.

Trying2bFrugal

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 134
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2018, 10:54:57 AM »
I have Prius for 8 mile ride to office in Michigan. I got my new 30 year old Bianchi road bike from thrift store for $30 (but was planned to spend atleast $200) and got it fixed with local mechanic for $50. I take the bike for short rides to friends house, near by stores and for pleasure riding along with my wife.
I am not yet in shape to commute to office in bike (after 2 mile ride I am tired) but building endurance slowly.

If you like to biking, just get it. Then all reasons you mentioned would fade away.

Dont do cost/break even things. In life, good things comes with a reasonable cost.
Just dont over do it.

robartsd

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3119
  • Location: Sacramento, CA
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2018, 11:41:47 AM »
Is the tunnel route under a body of water rather than over a draw bridge? (It's difficult for me to picture a commute where the only option is to go through a large hill or over a body of water.) Is there a safe place for pedestrians/cyclists in the tunnel? Some areas have free rides on buses at bridges where pedestrians/cyclists are prohibited. Learning to ride in traffic is a great cycling skill. I find very heavy motorist traffic makes cycling easier in many situations because the motorists are not able to travel as fast (sometimes slower than the cyclists).

J2

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2018, 07:47:53 PM »
Riding in traffic feels a little scary at first, but you quickly become comfortable. Just don't become too comfortable and start taking risks.

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2058
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2018, 10:42:04 AM »
Look around a bit before you commit to spending $$$ on a new bike.  In my area, perfectly serviceable 10 speeds can be had for $10 at garage sales.  Won't be the latest greatest, but is good enough for you to decide if you can live the lifestyle before committing to a larger purchase.  May even find it's good enough anyways...

zachaloo

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2018, 02:30:24 PM »
Is the tunnel route under a body of water rather than over a draw bridge? (It's difficult for me to picture a commute where the only option is to go through a large hill or over a body of water.) Is there a safe place for pedestrians/cyclists in the tunnel? Some areas have free rides on buses at bridges where pedestrians/cyclists are prohibited. Learning to ride in traffic is a great cycling skill. I find very heavy motorist traffic makes cycling easier in many situations because the motorists are not able to travel as fast (sometimes slower than the cyclists).

Both drawbridges and tunnels I have to deal with go over and under shipping channels that lead to the Mississippi River. Bikes and pedestrians are prohibited from the bridges. The tunnels technically have pedestrian/bike sections but they are a real pain to get through (lots of steps and you still have to walk close to traffic).

All that being said, I think I'm convinced that I should get one. I'll shop around a bit and just start getting used to cycling even on the "unfriendly" roads. There are alternate routes to work and other places, but each of them tack on at least an extra 3 miles, over a couple of high-rise bridges. Perhaps I will work up to it.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 17212
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Should I buy a bike?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2018, 06:23:17 PM »
Stairs are easy while carrying a bike once you figure out the right technique for shouldering.  Go through the main triangle, around the headtube, and grab your bars to keep everything in position.  You'll have both legs completely free of bumping into the bike, and one arm free for holding on to railings when it's slippery: