Author Topic: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback  (Read 915 times)

jschroeds

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Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« on: July 03, 2018, 10:00:01 PM »
So I've been skulking around the forums trying to find second-hand advice with minimal luck, so I've created an account to ask for some Mustachian advice.

I'm a university student, studying to be a teacher, and therefore have a practicum placement this year that goes from September to May. Most of the time I'm only there 1 day a week, but in December and April I'm there for almost 5 weeks Monday to Friday.
Here's the kicker. I don't have a car (Yay! Environmentalism!) and the commute is 11.5km each way. Ha! You say. Easy! Public transit! Biking! Well the bus would take me about an hour each way, my bike 40 minutes, and a car 20. (Yes, I live in that kind of city).

The bike seems like a no brainer until you hear this part: I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. For the non-Canadian Mustachians, my city is jokingly referred to as Winterpeg. Winters are long, cold, and mostly dry, but snow-build up between November and April is often a couple of feet. Our roads are plowed quickly (I usually only have to take one day off from biking due to snowfall trippling the riding time), but I generally add an additional 10 minutes to every 20 minutes of cycling in winter. Now my bike commute is an hour each way.

I don't mind riding in the winter, I did it last year, but my commute was half the length. 30 minutes in -25º plus windchill is doable with proper clothing. 60 minutes is... long. Plus 2 hours a day commuting isn't particularly Mustachian.
I can't move, it's a one-year placement and my commute to work and university is excellent. (Plus, this is the last year I can live at home before I graduate, and my parents don't charge me rent).
Here's my dilemma – I'm not willing to spend an hour each way commuting, which rules out the bus and the pedal-powered bike.

Should I purchase an eBike?
I'm a little bit in love with this one: https://www.ternbicycles.com/us/bikes/471/gsd but it's not cheap (I could get it here: http://citruscycles.ca/tern-gsd-cargo-ebike) and I don't know how the small, fat tires would do in the snow. This past year I road a hybrid city bike (an old Giant Cypress) with 700ccx40 studded tires, and it was fine but I'm not sure how it would do with electric pedal assist. Should I get an electric fat bike? This one seems okay http://www.voltbike.ca/voltbike-yukon/voltbike-yukon-750-limited-2018.html, I like the upright seating and rear rack, but the cargo capacity isn't as great as I'd like nor are the reviews entirely positive. Or do I get a regular eBike like this one: https://www.electrabike.com/bikes/loft-go/loft-go-8i?g=stepthru and add studded tires? An upright riding position is essential to me, and I'd love lots of cargo space. Plus, because of cold weather, the battery had to be easy to remove.

Should I purchase a hatchback? (prices are CANADIAN, so translate accordingly)
Hands down my favourite is the Honda Fit, but they're not cheap where I am (we're talking over $12,000 for anything with under 100,000km unless you're really, really lucky). The Nissan Versa is okay, but anything before 2012 is out because I drove a 2011 and hated it, and 2012 was the redesign year (I know you can get used to anything, but it drives terribly and I HATE the gas pedal. I just... can't.). They run around $10,000. Mazda3's are available in that $9,000-$12,000 range as well, but I've seen some pretty poor reliability reports on certain years. Toyota Yaris' are practically unavailable, and when they do come up they're over $15,000. I'm not really willing to spend much more than $8,000, which really limits my options in my market.

Suggestions? Advice? I take the bus to university, and a combination of bike and bus to work (99% bike April to August barring major thunderstorms, but my bus pas is part of my tuition so I use that during the winter, due to a similar commute time and not having to deal with what becomes a terrible bike route once the snow falls). I can do most of my errands on my bike and I am part of a car co-op as well as able to borrow my parents vehicles sometimes.

Financially, I'm in okay shape. Outside of money set aside for my last year of tuition (yay! graduating next spring!) I have $6,300 with a robo-advisor as my 'stache and $6,000 set aside as a future fund/emergency fund/transportation expenses (will be up to $8,000 by the end of July/beginning of August, barring unforeseen circumstances, hence the budget. I'd rather not spend it all, but I will if it seems necessary).

I have no car experience, never having owned one, but my parents do have an excellent mechanic who charges very reasonably. I can do a good chunk of maintenance on my bike myself, but no clue on the electronics.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation, but I appreciate any input! Help a baby Mustachian out :)

dashuk

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Re: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 11:41:04 PM »
Is the bus option slow because you've got changes? Like into the centre first then a different bus out to destination? If so, could you cycle (within the manageable time for the temperature) to somewhere you can get the last bus maybe a bit further down the route and cut out a load of time?

(I have something a bit like this as a bad weather fallback, but I'm in the UK, so, you know, that's having 10cm of snow and just below freezing for a couple of days ;-))

BikeFanatic

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Re: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2018, 02:13:05 AM »
I Ebike all winter, for many years, but it takes longer and is alot of work just to get ready to leave, lights, clothing, change of clothing. I wonder if you could rent a car just for the winter months?

jschroeds

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Re: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2018, 10:43:59 PM »
Is the bus option slow because you've got changes? Like into the centre first then a different bus out to destination? If so, could you cycle (within the manageable time for the temperature) to somewhere you can get the last bus maybe a bit further down the route and cut out a load of time?

(I have something a bit like this as a bad weather fallback, but I'm in the UK, so, you know, that's having 10cm of snow and just below freezing for a couple of days ;-))
Sadly, it's one bus, just a fairly winding, cross-town route. There aren't any better options and bikes aren't exactly encouraged on the bus here. I could potentially get a folding bike and shave off maybe 10 minutes at one end, but it seems like a pretty big hassle for 10 minutes or less. Plus, dressing for bussing and dressing for cycling are two totally different ball games when it gets down to -20ºC.

I Ebike all winter, for many years, but it takes longer and is alot of work just to get ready to leave, lights, clothing, change of clothing. I wonder if you could rent a car just for the winter months?
I have actually thought about renting a car for December! It would probably cost me about $2,000, so much less than a lot of other options if I just need it that one month. And I could bus/bike for the one day a week I go for most of the rest of the year. Still might want an electric bike in April though – maybe I'm just a wimp in need of a face-punch, but 40+ minutes of biking each way takes a lot of time out of my day I'm probably going to need to spend lesson planning and marking. It's certainly a good option, and I should probably consider it more seriously. It does get some of that "you're throwing money away" nonsense that renting does when you talk about it with non-Mustachians though (it's not much more than car insurance for the year would cost me on a 5-8 year old hatchback here, which is just as much of a "waste").
That being said, I did bike last winter on a regular bike, so I know the drill in terms of getting ready etc. and it doesn't bother me too much. Just lamenting the length of ride, really. An hour each way of regular biking is a lot (giving extra time b/c snow), so to drop that down to under 40 minutes in winter would be lovely.

elliha

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Re: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2018, 02:38:50 AM »
I was going to suggest a rental for the worst part too. If you get a cheaper used car rental it is not that bad.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2018, 04:08:02 AM »
Are you handy with bicycle repairs? My husband changed his own mountain bike into a good quality e-bike for a fraction of the price a much less advanced e-bike costs.
You could also consider buying/renting a 4x4 ATV scooter.

When I was a student, I got a 4-days a week project a long distance away. I just took the train. Each way was: cycling 10 minutes + 3 x 30 minutes in different trains + 15 minutes cycling, it took 2 hours each way. I invested in a second el cheapo bicycle to park at the train station in the other city.  I left home at 6 AM and came back home at 6 PM. This was pretty tough, but doable for a part of the year. I could read on the trains.

If your commute on the bus is 1 hour each way, I would just accept that for those months.

jschroeds

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Re: Winter Commuting – eBike or Hatchback
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2018, 08:41:18 AM »
Thank you all for the advice. I think I'll probably ride my regular bike in the fall and the bus in the winter unless a much more inexpensive car turns up (my mom has a friend that might be getting rid of a very well taken care of 2001 Pontiac Bonneville, not pretty but very functional and would cost me very little). If I find my after-practicum commitments are causing too much conflict, I'll look into a short-term car rental. I appreciate the face-punches!