68 comments

Get Rich With… Bikes

Hey there.. welcome to the first edition of the new “Get Rich With…” series. In these articles, we’ll analyze a bunch of ideas, both new and old, to see what kind of impact they can have on your life. (Hint: the impact will probably be a huge positive one, since these are all of my favorite moneymaking ideas). And this edition is about the good ol’ fashioned Bicycle.

The bike will probably turn out to be the best thing ever invented for humankind. It is taking us a while to realize this, but I think more people are coming around with each generation. You see, bikes were invented before they were truly needed, when the world was sparsely populated. When cars came along, they seemed like an improvement on bikes, bringing us great speed without any effort at all! Unfortunately, as a side effect they destroyed the whole fuckin’ world.. and made most of us dangerously obese too. With a new understanding of these side effects, the bike seems like an increasingly appealing alternative.

The fundamental reason for the Bike’s status as the Greatest Invention of All Time is its unique combination of simplicity, efficiency, and incredibly good health benefits. Interestingly enough, those are the opposite of a car’s attributes. The Bike is simple with just a few moving parts, simple enough for most people to maintain entirely on their own without paying a mechanic.

It is efficient in many ways: bikes weigh only 20-30 pounds but they can carry ten times their weight in rider and cargo. They convert a slow human with a walking speed of 3.5MPH into one of the fastest creatures on land, with an easy cruise of 15MPH and a top speed of over 40MPH on level ground and 50+ downhill for athletic people. And the side effects are incredible.. vigorous biking can consume 1000 calories per hour, meaning you can burn off an entire pound of fat in one big 3 hour ride. This kind of exertion pretty much fixes up all the rest of your body for free too, clearing your arteries, polishing your kidneys and teeth, and giving you clean stylish hair and a better sense of humour, all after the first ride.

But another side effect is that bikes are good for your wealth. Let’s start with the bare minimum: any mileage you put on your bike instead of your car saves you about 50 cents per mile in gas, depreciation, and wear and maintenance. From this savings alone, doing a couple of bike errands per day (4 miles) in place of car errands will add up to $10,752 over ten years.

But the benefits are greater than that, of course. Once you get into bicycling, it may grow on you. You may be able to go without a car, or you might find, like me, that having an expensive car is no longer useful as a status symbol to you. This would allow you to keep a less expensive car (saving another $30,000+ over ten years). You might find that biking around becomes a source of leisure as well as transportation. This would displace other more expensive leisure activities. Driving to the stadium to watch a monster truck rally with the family ($100) could be replaced by biking along the creek path and wading around in the waterfalls ($0). Replacing even $10 per week of paid leisure with free biking would net you another $7680.

Then there are incalculable things like health and productivity. But we are bold enough to calculate them here. By riding to work instead of driving, you are boosting your mood and your mental focus. This allows you to work smarter and longer. It also makes you better looking. These factors will allow you to earn at least an average of 5% more than your unfit counterparts would after various raises and job switches kick in. For a worker at the $50,000 annual level, this is a $2500/year boost ($37,500 after ten years). Then there is the reduction of doctor visits and prescription drugs which will benefit you when you are older. This is a large future sum, but let’s set estimate the net present value to be about $500/year ($7500 over ten). And we haven’t even gotten into the effect of greater health on your overall enjoyment of life.

I’ve been a bike evangelist since childhood, but only recently did I discover the way to make your bike even MORE POWERFUL – with a BIKE TRAILER! In 2007 when my son was old enough to start riding around with me, I bought a trailer like this one* from the online bike store called Nashbar. This revolutionized my biking life, because suddenly my wife and I could get the little lad to most of the close parts of town with no car! When you leave the kid behind, these trailers can also carry a massive $150 load of groceries, or even a bunch of stuff from Home Depot like a few cans of paint and some light fixtures. I’ve put over 1000 miles on this trailer since I bought it, meaning it has saved over $500 in car costs alone.

The final issue to address is the “But I can’t ride a bike in my city/climate/physical condition/age” excuse that 99% of people over 12 in this country seem to cough up.
The answer is, in 99% of these cases: WRONG! Amsterdam is chilly and rainy, and this is how the bike scene looks there. In Hamilton, Canada, I rode year-round to get to McMaster University, through a dense downtown area in snow up to a foot deep. It was awesome. In Asia, the streets are packed with 90-year-old-ladies zooming along on cruisers with panniers full of chickens and such. If you are too heavy to look good on a bike right now, start biking and you soon will not be. JUST GET THE BIKE and you will see.

So, if you grow a big Money Mustache today and go out and get yourself a good city commuting bike – try one of these – then here’s what you will have in ten years:

- reduced mileage: $10,752
- less expensive cars: $30,000
- cheaper leisure: $7680
- increased income: $37,500
- reduced medical: $7500
Total: $93,432

That’s in only TEN YEARS!! A pretty good return on the investment in that $299 commuter bike from Nashbar, eh??

Footnotes:
* – Except I got my bike trailer on sale for about $80.. check your local Craigslist too

** Note – all multi-year figures are scaled to assume a 7% growth of the savings, if you had invested them instead of spending them on cars. But this effect is fairly small over 10 years. It gets bigger the longer you bike.

  • Dr Z May 27, 2011, 1:37 pm

    Great article and Excellent website! I have just started reading your blog but have been reading FI blogs for several years now, and yours is one of the best that I have seen. If this blog was a stock I would invest all the money I save riding a bike!!

    Reply
  • DP October 15, 2011, 8:41 pm

    Great stuff. I actually do ride my bike to work most days, but I’m still not 100% — I’ll drive when it’s raining, for example.

    But I’m totally open to going for it; I was just wondering what the more hard-core bikers do when work requires professional attire. Take all your suits to work and leave them there, then change on arrival? Or ride to work in the suit (seems like that’s what they do in Holland).

    Also, where I live now it’s a totally flat ride to work (and desert climate), but I may move to a city with hills and 99% humidity all summer long. Again, I want to bike 100% if possible, but if I tried riding in that kind of weather I would arrive soaking wet. What do the hard-core bikers do in that kind of scenario (again factoring in professional attire at work)?

    Reply
    • Nicolas Igersheim December 21, 2011, 10:03 am

      I bike to work in France, where I am supposed to be attired in suit + tie.
      Since my commute exceeds 20 minutes and I usually build up a sweat after that lapse of time, I keep suit and ties at work and take one clean shirt with me every morning. Of course, when I ride my pedelec, I can ride in the suit since the effort is near nill

      Very nice blog by the way

      Wishing you a fair wind in your back!

      Reply
  • Alex T October 18, 2011, 9:47 am

    As DP said, but with Ottawa winter climate.

    How do you protect your bike from salt and corrosion? What kind of bike equipment (tires) do you use?

    What kind of clothing and gear would you wear in winter riding as well, and where would you get it?

    Reply
    • BC March 6, 2013, 10:01 pm

      A little late but maybe someone else has the same question and will find it helpful: I would just start googling things like, “winter bike commuting” which will help you find sites like this one: http://www.icebike.org When I moved back to the US carless a few years ago, and got my first “real” job, my parents wanted to buy me a nice watch. I asked for studded bike tires for my winter commute instead. They also make bike lights that are as bright as car headlights, etc. As for salt and other de-icers on the road, wash and rinse your bike regularly. They get on your car too and it’s a lot cheaper to repair the bike corrosion than replace the rotors and pads on your car (trust me I know, I live on a mountain pass). I also made cheap but nearly waterproof Panniers out of rectangular 5 gallon buckets (also easy to google). Cheap, durable, and effective for carrying that extra change of clothes; I got to be known as “Bucket Biker Becca” around my small town : ) Weird and proud of it.

      Reply
  • Andrew October 26, 2011, 8:41 am

    Great post. I bike down great bike trails and into DC a few times a week, and it saves me $8/day (the cost of riding the metro). All of your other benefits are also seen–I feel happier and healthier. And the crazy thing? I can actually get to work just as fast as when I take the metro, and faster than I could in a car. Bikes rock.

    For winter time I wear bike gloves, a neon jacket, a scarf, and honestly, I just put sweat pants over my bike shorts. Yes it may look dorky, but it keeps me warm! As long as the streets and paths are clear of snow and it’s not pouring rain, I’ll be biking.

    And I have saddle bags that fit my work clothes neatly folded inside. I shower and change at work. If I have to wear a suit, unfortunately, I am forced to metro in.

    Reply
  • Agent9 January 11, 2012, 5:16 pm

    What if I live in a city where it isn’t safe to ride a bike? Bikes are not allowed on sidewalks and there are no bike lanes. Basically bikes are supposed to compete with cars for road-space. Add notoriously bad drivers to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

    There was a flash mob movement that used to get 40 to 50 riders together to commandeer roads but that seems to have died down recently.

    Reply
    • MMM January 11, 2012, 7:17 pm

      From what I can tell, such a city DOES NOT EXIST IN THE UNITED STATES OR CANADA, except in the minds of non-bikers. As soon as you let go of this expensive illusion, you can start living a much better life. I’ve also heard people say this about every city I’ve ever lived in or visited with bikes – and of course it was never true.

      You don’t need a sidewalk or a bike lane to ride a bike. You don’t need a street with no other cars. Drivers are statistically very equal in skill in all regions of the country according to the Insurance Institute and NHTSA.

      You just need a bike, and the curiosity to poke around on Google Maps and in real life to find a safe route to get anywhere you need to go.

      Still, I would enjoy being proven wrong. If anyone can name an unbikeable city in the US, I’ll study it on the map and read about it on cycling discussion forums.

      If necessary, I will travel there myself, strap a camera to my head, and record myself biking between any two points in the entire city just to prove how easily it can be done.

      Reply
      • Agent9 January 11, 2012, 7:48 pm

        Thanks. I’ll take you up on that offer. I’ll email you the details through your contact form.

        Reply
      • CanuckExpat March 19, 2012, 9:28 am

        If it helps any, I can tell you about a city that statistically has the second worse drivers in the US (http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/DC-Baltimore-Have-Nations-Worst-Drivers-102133594.html), stifling heat/humidity in the summer, a reputation for crime, and generally bad roads (pot holes, etc.), and not much in the way of dedicated bike infrastructure. And believe it or not, you can (and I have) happily bike year round, get where you are going fast and safely, and get some scenery and exercise while having fun.

        Reply
      • Brian June 5, 2012, 3:31 am

        Agreed. And I can offer comments from bicycling in Bangkok for the last year (where I live). Most people think it’s crazy to ride a bicycle here because of the traffic. But, guess what? The poor people who have no other means of transportation do it all the time.

        This is a great web site. Thanks for writing it.

        Reply
  • KB January 29, 2012, 8:02 am

    What about us suckers that live in the suburbs? Commuting to work would be a 20 mile bike ride for me……on highways and narrow bridges. Wish I could! I could bike to a grocery store though…so I’ll have to think on that!

    Reply
  • JaneMD February 6, 2012, 11:21 am

    We’ll see if this prevents me from putting our foldable bike on Craigslist. My husband bought it three years ago and never used it. We live on a second floor apartment without a garage and I already bundle my car trips.

    However, I did think about it and have made a list of six places that don’t always get in my bundled trip because of their opening times. I will be willing to try using the bike for those places this spring. (9 months pregnant is not going to be the time to try.) I’ll update you in a few months about how this works out.

    Reply
  • Julia K. February 25, 2012, 10:15 am

    I’d like to bike my three-mile commute, but safety is a concern.

    Not only am I aware of the shocking costs of driving, I am also aware of the shocking dangers of driving. Car accidents are common and will often screw you up forever. If the news reported on car accidents and their consequences like they do on intentional violence, people would drive a whole lot less.

    Biking is an improvement on cars as far as cost, but I’m guessing not as far as health, when you factor in that the likelihood of getting injured is even greater than if you were in a car. My friends who bike in DC frequently report tumbles and even broken bones.

    So basically, I’m scared. I’d love to be proven wrong, though – do you have statistics, maybe?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 25, 2012, 12:47 pm

      Hey Julia – don’t worry! It is safe to start rolling on your bike right now. I’m collecting some statistics on this for a future article.

      For now, you should be aware that while biking deaths are slightly higher than car deaths per mile, they are drastically lower per hour. And even more importantly, the health benefits from biking regularly are so insanely large that they greatly outweigh the tiny increase in crash risks. You extend your absolute lifespan by 5-10 years, extend your healthy years of life by much more than that (by eliminating a decade of dementia/wheelchair/nursing home stuff). All at the expense of adding only a few more thousandths of a percent of a freak accident. It’s excellent math.

      I can add some anecdotal evidence to counter your friends’ anecdotal evidence too if you like: After 30 years of extremely frequent biking on public roads, year-round, in climates which include snowy winters, I have had zero injury-causing crashes caused by falling, and one collision with a car (entirely preventable and my own fault) where I broke an ankle. Total distance covered: somewhere over 30,000 miles. Total wealth gained compared to driving: somewhere over $150,000. Improvement in lifestyle and happiness: at least $10,000,000 worth.

      Reply
      • Julia K. February 29, 2012, 9:00 am

        I biked to work yesterday for the first time! The roads to work have fairly wide shoulders and are frequently biked, but I was still surprised at how safe I felt, much safer than my previous neighborhood.

        Driving to clients is sometimes part of my job, but I anticipate being able to bike to work about half the time. Thanks for the encouragement, MMM. :)

        Reply
        • Jay March 18, 2012, 10:50 pm

          Welcome, Julia, to the great world of bicycle commuting! I’ve biked to work for several years, and aside from financial benefits, there are also some very real physiological gains.

          First off, you’re going on a bike ride before work! It can be relaxing and a great way to clear your head, while waking up your muscles and getting your blood moving to start the day! Much better than sitting in a car in traffic.

          Secondly, you will want to start meandering on your way home. This is one of the best parts of owning a bicycle! Discover some different neighborhoods or markets, or challenge yourself to take a slightly different route home every day for a week. It’s fantastic, the things you start to see. Old parks, a footbridge, a funky antique shop, or a new café that just opened. You never know!

          I’ve also noticed that biking has indirectly affected my free time in a healthy way. I’ve found myself spending much more time outdoors, biking down to the park with some friends for frisbee or spikeball, rather than hanging out in front of the t.v.

          As a new biker, maneuvering the roads, potholes, signs, and signals can be pretty tricky. You see things in a very different light, and it can take some getting used to. My two recommendations are to get lights and a helmet. They’ve definitely come in handy for me. This is a very useful site, and the front page has some great illustrations of common car-bike collisions and how to avoid them. http://bicyclesafe.com/ Really good things to be aware of.

          Welcome, and enjoy your ride!

          Reply
      • Clemens September 6, 2012, 10:52 pm

        I really start liking your blog.

        Here’s one thought that is also behind the “Critical Mass” flash mob: The more people start riding their bikes on roads, the safer it will get for the individual biker as car drivers will get more aware of and more used to bikers. (Otherwise statistics would be horrible for Amsterdam, Stockholm and various other European cities), and the people responsible for road planning might actually start accounting for the needs of cyclists…

        Reply
  • SG February 28, 2012, 10:35 pm

    I really like most of everything this blog has to say, but this just gets under my skin: “Unfortunately, as a side effect they destroyed the whole fuckin’ world.. and made most of us dangerously obese too.” It really is getting old hearing people bashing cars and using them as a scapegoap for the sole reason behind global warming. Now people are blaming cars for their diabetes? Ugh. Have some accountability for your own actions, seriously. Cars are a great utility, source of fun, and more emissions friendly than ever. Be it electric or gas or both, they’ll be around forever in some capacity so we’d better figure out how to avoid letting them trick us into being morbidly obese. Disclaimer: I’m a gear head, my new car is a 1999 that cost about 6% of my annual salary when I bought it, and even though it’s February, the last time I went biking here, around metro Detroit, was less than a week ago.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache February 29, 2012, 8:50 am

      Whoa there bike friend, we might be more in agreement than you think!

      I also think cars are awesome, and fun, and useful, and I’m a car nut too. I even own a couple of cars myself. So it’s not the cars that are destroying the world – it’s our car culture.

      The tendency of people in the US to drive even the most ridiculously bikeable errands, and to voluntarily live 20+ miles away from work and then drive back and forth every day by car, and to drive big cars and trucks without really needing them. That leads to a ridiculous amount of pavement covering our cities, and that plus their emissions is the part that is destroying the world.

      As for the lack of physical fitness – you’re right again, it’s not the cars, it’s the car culture where people literally won’t get on a bike to save their own lives.

      I also agree with your comment: “we’d better figure out how to avoid letting them trick us into being morbidly obese”

      So what’s the solution? In my opinion, you’re looking at it right now. We don’t need to ban cars or create red tape.. we need a blog that gets people excited about biking again, so they’ll make that choice out of their own free will. One of the biggest reasons to do that is the fact that bike riding makes you surprisingly rich.

      Reply
  • Daniel March 11, 2012, 11:22 am

    If you can’t (or won’t) bike, don’t forget the bus! I’m living somewhere way too far to commute by bike (saving 100% on rent by living there, so the math works!) and I used to drive everywhere. I save $125 a month by driving only as far as the nearest park & ride (still too far to bike).

    When I move out on my own, I am either going to sell my car altogether or only use it when I visit my parents. I will bike, walk, or take the bus everywhere!

    Reply
  • GregK April 10, 2012, 3:19 pm

    Really awesome article. I’ve been reading this blog voraciously for the last few weeks, and just got around to reading this seminal work!

    I just acquired (for free) an old Royce Union road bike. It needs some TLC before I start commuting/errand running with it, so I’m taking it to a local not-for-profit bike workshop here in Buffalo, NY. I’m expecting my costs to restore the bike to come in somewhere between $50 and $100. The frame itself seems to be in great shape, so I expect to get many years of use out of it, despite its age!

    Reply
  • Emily D June 15, 2012, 7:50 am

    Just started reading your blog from the beginning, and I was inspired to ride my bike to work this morning! I have about a 9 mile ride each way, and usually I take the bus which works out to about the same amount of time spent commuting. But I felt so much more productive on the bike!

    And I found out that my job will actually PAY me to commute by bike to work. Sweet!

    Reply
  • Mariska September 11, 2012, 8:16 am

    As a Dutchie, I can say how things work in the Netherlands:

    - most people just cycle through the rain. Some have extra gear on (but mostly it gets sweaty on the inside). We get wet. So what? It’ll dry up. We even cycle when it’s snowy (in Scandivia you can get spikey tires). We just suck it up and adjust our speed to the weather. (which is why Dutch women do not like to wear skirts or high heels and don’t do anything fancy with their hair, saves money too!)

    - we leave our bikes outside when we do not have a garage. Everyday. This is why we ride second hand bikes.

    - Most Dutch people would have no problem cycling for 30 minutes to get somewhere on a daily basis. Per ride. I would say that lots of Dutch people cycle everyday about 1 hour to 2 hours a day for transportation (bringing children to school, cycle to work or train, groceryshopping, picking children up, getting them to soccer etc).

    When it’s what you’re used to, you don’t even think about it. You just do it.

    -

    Reply
    • InfoJunky September 19, 2012, 5:33 am

      Hi Mariska,

      You forgot to mention, and this will come as a shock to other world citizens, we have more bikes than inhabitants in this fair country.

      People also may like to know about the ‘therapeutic’ side of biking . You de-stress on the way home if you take the scenic route (it’s longer…so what ? ) saves a lot of time and aggravation with other people. It’s works for this biker.

      And the list goes on and on…

      Reply
  • hands2work September 16, 2012, 6:02 pm

    Oh My Dear MMM, I am so happy to report that after reading this post several weeks ago I did some research. I found the safe way to get to the closest shopping center that has a craft store and a grocery store as well as a bunch of fun restaurants. I got my sweetheart on board. Today we set off on our first adventure outside the neighborhood. We biked to the center and he sat outside in the shade to guard our bikes (no locks yet) while I went inside and bought some yarn for a baby afghan I’m making as a gift. Then we went to the grocery store and I waited outside with the bikes and picked up litter while he went in and bought a loaf of bread. Then we were headed back home when we noticed a bike shop. So we left both the bikes outside by the window while we went inside to price locks and other accessories. They had 3 bike trailers ranging in price from $350-$550. We went back out and biked home. Time spent? 1 hour. The weather was perfect, the company was wonderful and we had a great time. Once home I went online and checked craigslist for a trailer. Within half an hour we were on our way to pick up our used bike trailer for $50!!!! Now we can get more groceries or crafting supplies or pick up dinner! I also plan to use it to pick up litter in our neighborhood and on the nearby bike trail. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Reply
  • Nancy September 24, 2012, 1:00 am

    I live in chicago, and I have two kids, age 8 and 5. I find it very hard to imagine what biking looks like with them. We also live in a condo building with extremely l limited storage area. I know it sounds like Im making a lot of excuses, but I just dont see how it would work. Also, I have broken both of my arms biking (as a kid) and frankly, Have little confidence in staying uninjured, especially given weather/traffic conditions in my city.

    Reply
    • GTArea May 22, 2014, 4:58 am

      I live in Toronto with 3 kids. We live in a house, but no garage. We sold our cars a couple of years ago and replaced one of them with a bakfiet (no offense MMM, I hate trailers. We got a great deal on it.) The kids have their own bikes, but some trips, I give the kids a lift in the bakfiet. Groceries are done on the same bike. The 5 year old is a bit slow, so he tends to get a ride in my bike more often than not. We live in the suburbs, so we get some reactions but it’s been working well for us. The kids know the drill and we get a lot of talking in.

      Reply
  • hands2work September 24, 2012, 8:44 am

    We were able to find a cheap bike trailer on craigslist and made our first foray to the grocery store yesterday. VERY empowering. It made me so happy to save money, get exercise and be green while doing a normal errand!!!

    Reply
  • Matt F October 9, 2012, 2:27 pm

    I love the bike idea and have been trying to figure out how to do it here. Unfortunately, three people have been killed biking in the city I live in this year (whole metropolitan area has 600,000 so statistically pretty safe until you realize you only see about 1 bike a week here). Also, the road I would need to ride is 45 miles an hour speed limit, 6 lanes and has no shoulders or sidewalks. It is the only road that works because I have to cross an interstate. i know it is possible, but it sure looks like a dangerous way to save a few bucks. Any good suggestions?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 9, 2012, 2:45 pm

      How about linking us to a google map of the approximate start and end locations? It has helped other readers who wrote in with the same problem..

      Reply
      • Matt F October 13, 2012, 12:35 pm

        I searched quite a bit on google maps for some possible route alternates. I found a path through an industrial park (lots of european companies) that has a bike route and makes the commute a total of about 8.5 miles each way. I will have to ride on the sidewalk of a 45 mph 4 lane plus turn lane commuter road for about a mile (I will walk the bike across the interstate overpass on the sidewalk).

        In true MMM fashion (I am up to October 2011 in the archives now) I am getting a 20 yr old road bike from my dad (free) that just needs to be cleaned up/new tires etc.

        Road the route today to try it out, a little harrowing on the sidewalks but I hope that improves with practice.

        Love the blog so far, thanks for responding and giving me some encouragement to make it work. I live on the coast in South Carolina, so it may not be a year round thing (hurricanes and crazy summer humidity) but I figure every bit helps.

        Reply
    • Ian Turner June 16, 2013, 7:50 pm

      My only suggestion is to put the risks in perspective: Bicycling is healthy! It is good for you! The health risks of cycling, when you add them all up, do not even come to 1/10th of the health benefits of cycling. Studies put the benefits as high as 100:1.

      Reply
  • Joe C December 19, 2012, 5:40 pm

    When I lived in Florida for 9 months this year, I bought a cheap used bike on Craigslist and used it to explore all over this new area I found myself in! After a while, I even started riding it to work (~5 miles each way.)

    I couldn’t believe how amazing it was! Yes I had to wake up a little earlier and get home a little later, yes I had to pack extra clothes (thank God I was able to shower there), but it felt amazing! My co-workers couldn’t believe I had the willpower to do it 5 days a week. But these were also the same co-workers who had no problem paying $10-12/day for lunch out on the town. Talk about being plugged into the matrix!

    Now I am back in my hometown area of upstate NY, and living in a very rural area. I have 2 jobs, one of which is work-from-home, the other is only a half-mile away – an easy walk. So, no more biking, but managing to keep those gas costs WAY down :)

    Reply
  • Ole January 12, 2013, 12:31 pm

    Hi there,

    here in germany we have a lot of handmade high quality frames. 4000$+ are frequently met. I was wonderering if even those high-priced bikes fit into MMM-Conecepts? The problem is, that I need a custom frame because of my uncommon body proportions. They give you 15 year warranty on the frame and have best bike parts included (Rohloff gear shift, magura brakes, etc.) – although 4000$ are quite a lot. Low-maintanance and warranty worth the money? What do you think?

    Cheers!
    Ole

    Reply
    • Sar May 20, 2014, 12:00 pm

      Hey Ole. Not MMM (and late to reply), but here are a couple thoughts. I’m planning to buy a ~$1500 bike, because I want one whose which has a weight limit suitable for my obese body weight. I imagine I will have to change the handlebars for my short arms, too. Sometimes, you just have to buy what fits you (ask anyone with weird feet about that), and you will just have to accept a longer payback time. But in my opinion, for you it’s better to buy the bike that fits, rather than getting a repetitive strain injury, or having bike control problems. If you are comfortable on the bike, you will actually use it. If you buy a bike that doesn’t fit and you end up hurting every time you use it, it won’t be used.

      Reply
  • John February 13, 2013, 5:04 pm

    I felt funny about losing my desire to buy a BMW (which i’ve always wanted before) after bike commuting to work year round for the past three years now. I think this is the first blog that I’ve seen this mentioned. My wife and I became very close in getting one and have made arrangements with the salesperson, but, decided on the very last day that we are not the luxury-car driving type so we did not show up on the car dealership. Thank you. I’m not a complete outlier and its a normal feeling.

    Reply
  • Lexi March 27, 2013, 9:57 pm

    You are totally right on this: “The final issue to address is the “But I can’t ride a bike in my city/climate/physical condition/age” excuse that 99% of people over 12 in this country seem to cough up.”

    My grandparents are 84 and 90 and still regularly bicycle 50-100 miles every week!

    Reply
  • Kevin H April 9, 2013, 11:08 am

    Lots of inspiration on this blog!

    It’s time to rekindle taking a bike from my home to our dairy farm. Oh how lazy I’ve become, it’s less than 2km! I guess when you seem to stay naturally slim (for the time being) you find excuses not to.

    Then there’s the drive from my rural home to “downtown”, that’s roughly 15 km each way. No doubt a breeze for many, daunting for the “normals”. Even if I park just 5km uptown I can bypass the majority of idling at the traffic lights. Oh the things to think about.

    Bring on the constructive peer pressure. ;)

    Reply
  • Trisha April 12, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Hey, MMM, how do you keep your bike trailer from being stolen when you park it at a store or other public place? Is there a particular lock you like to use for the bike and trailer? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache April 12, 2013, 4:34 pm

      You can use any lock you like (cables work well), but where I live, people generally don’t steal stuff so I don’t lock mine up. Especially bike trailers: if you think of the profile of a thief, those aren’t usually the type of people who are interested in stealing such a thing.

      Reply
  • Rick Roberts May 1, 2013, 9:44 am

    I go by e-bike. It allows me to get where I need to go without getting so sweaty, and I am able to haul more (dogs, groceries, firewood, etc) in my trailers. I justify the extra expense of the e-bike because I don’t have a car (gas, insurance, maintenance). I bike year round. It’s awesome.

    Reply
    • Todd Carnes February 5, 2014, 3:18 pm

      What do you mean by “e-bike”?

      Reply
      • Csepei G August 8, 2014, 4:27 am

        An Electric bicycle, with an integrated electric motor and a rechargeable battery, with a usual 37 mile autonomy and maximum speed of 15-20 miles/h. For more details try Wikipedia ;-)

        Reply
  • Andrew May 20, 2013, 1:24 pm

    Agreed! Bikes are the secret to heath and happiness, just ask a Dane. More cycling inspiration can be found at:

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/

    http://www.copenhagencyclechic.com/

    Happy cycling!

    Reply
  • Margaret June 2, 2013, 7:10 am

    EEK! Just took my bike out today do to a test run riding to work. I live 3.3 miles from work and after reading this article decided to give riding a bike a try. Bought a good used bike on Craigslist a couple of weeks ago and took it out at 7am this morning. Okay, so it took me 22 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back. But man I can’t wait for my endurance to build up. I haven’t exercised in about 6 months nor ridden a bike in about 3 years. Lots of hilly roads and I had to actually stop and lay down in the grass about 5 minutes from my house cause I got so weak and lightheaded I couldn’t stand. Wow am I out of shape…and I was mostly on the 1st and 2nd gear.

    Will my lungs build up endurance too? Feels like my throat is burning…I normally have a hard time even walking outside in the winter too much because of this burning sensation. I am a wimp!

    Any help, suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
    • BC June 3, 2013, 10:51 pm

      Margaret, just keep at it and pace yourself! It will get easier. Make sure you are well fed and well hydrated before you go and bring a water bottle with you, that will help, but even in just a few weeks it will feel easier. They say it takes 21 days/reps to build a habit, if you give it 21 days, it will be a habit and you’ll be noticing it getting easier and easier. Good luck!

      Reply
    • David Post March 25, 2014, 10:16 am

      I found that it took me about a month to go from Zombie legs every morning at work to not even noticing it. One thing that helped me was to stop trying to push myself so hard every morning. I went from 18 minutes to 21 minutes on my commute, and now after nearly three months I can ride it in 15-18 minutes depending on the weather.

      Reply
  • Bike Hater (sorry!) June 18, 2013, 2:54 pm

    So… just started reading this blog a few days ago. I hate to say it but I absolutely hate biking. I wish I didn’t. I can barely do it and, even though I know I could physically learn how to do it (and have tried several times over the years), the thought of biking causes me immense anxiety. Yes, weird, I know.

    Alternative suggestions? I used to walk a lot and take local transportation. That’s all I can really think of in place of biking at this point.

    Reply
    • Fuzzhead August 7, 2013, 9:31 am

      You could try rollerblading! =D

      Reply
    • Sar May 20, 2014, 2:59 pm

      You could use a tricycle, a “bike car” (four wheeler like a Rhoades Car), some recumbents.

      Reply
  • Karl August 16, 2013, 2:42 am

    Another fantastic article. Although this is all common knowledge to me, it is so refreshing to read an article that is so correct! I sold my old car in late 2007 and haven’t owned a car since. I’ve been cycling since selling the car and made a conscientious choice to learn how to DIY bike maintenance and repairs and live a simple, low-cost, free and easy, bike-oriented life (e.g. close cycling distance to work and friends).

    On average I spend around $800-1000 AUD per year on bikes, equipment, clothing, repairs, bike tools etc. I prefer to either buy second hand from cycling-enthusiast forums, buy in group-buys and buy high quality gear that might cost a bit upfront but will be far more enjoyable and durable to use over the long haul instead of something cheap and nasty.

    I’ve had six bikes in as many years, three of them I restored, used for a while and eventually sold at a tidy profit. One was stolen, which was a good thing as it taught me a lesson as to how to correctly secure a bike when parking it in a public area (hint: It involves some rather heavy and expensive D-locks and cables, plus making your bike look unattractive to thieves).

    Now that my major bike purchases such as a new touring/commuting bike, clothing for all seasons and conditions, and tools has been taken care-of over the past few years I really only have to continue with normal maintenance and replacement of consumable parts (of which last longer if kept clean and maintained, saving money and potential hassles). My average yearly costs in the future will be in the order of $150-200 for the basics (replacement chain, replacement brake pads, replacement bar tape, oil, degreaser etc) to keep riding every single day of the week to wherever I might need to be. I’m saving around $30 a week alone by not using public transport, let alone what it would cost to own, run and maintain a car for daily commuting and transport.

    If you want to get your finances and health in order, plus reduce your pollution emissions at the same time, then I’d strongly recommend to start cycling instead of driving and to ‘think bike’.

    I know, it’s a shameless plug, but if anyone is interested in information, tips, product reviews and general advice for practical cycle commuting and cycle touring then have a look at my website: http://velophile.com.au

    Any questions or suggestions feel free to send me an email or leave a comment on the relevant article and I’ll see what I can do to help.

    adios

    Reply
  • Shawn Gossman October 14, 2013, 7:52 pm

    Great post! I too am proof that cycling saves you money and helps to make you rich. I loved reading your article so much that I decided to write a response blog post to it which I have linked in the website field. :) Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  • Frugal Zen October 15, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Many years ago we were gifted a bike trailer because the child it was bought for was now too big. It was missing an axle part and by the time we found a way to manufacturer the part (no longer available commercially) our youngest was also too big for it. Thankfully we’re terrible procrastinators and it sat unloved in our garage for several years. Now, rather than being the dope who’s selling it for $50 bucks on Craig’s List to some clever Moustachian, it will finally be put to good use. Moving kids around it just one small part of the life of a bike trailer – now that my eyes are wide open it’s really going to get a workout. I’m looking into ways to reinforce the floor so it can better distribute the weight of coolers. Grocery shopping in summer heat or freezing winter temperatures requires protecting the food. Lettuce doesn’t travel well here in January just as yogurt would spoil in July. I try to leave the grodery erand for last but with a 20-30 minute ride I still need to protect things in extreme weather.

    Reply
  • Dena Maddie January 3, 2014, 8:56 pm

    But I don’t have a working bike right now….

    JK. There’s actually a really cool bike share program in Austin called the Yellow Bike Program that teaches volunteers how to build a bike and in exchange for your time and hours you get to build your own bike from scratch. Talk about self sufficiency!

    I don’t think Ford or GM has the same program….

    Reply
  • Nigel February 20, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I used to live in Tokyo, and bikes are the way to get around the immediate neighborhood – everyone is on them, including little old ladies and cops. It is actually hard to find a place to park them near train stations. When we visit my wife’s family in Tokyo and go out somewhere on bikes with my 75 year old mother in law, I have to bust my ass to keep up with her.

    Reply
  • Bicycle Mama March 22, 2014, 7:46 pm

    Yep, couldn’t agree more! And aside from saving money, biking is just fun. Add to your list of reasons why the bike is the Greatest Invention of All Time that babies love riding around on a bike, too! It’s so much more fun than being stuck in a car seat. You can talk to your baby on the bike and the baby can look at everything. And you exercise even more because you drive around the extra weight of the baby! It’s a win/win situation for everyone.

    Reply
  • Simona Palen May 2, 2014, 5:23 pm

    I would love to bike, but due to my physical disability and related surgeries, I can no longer use a regular bicycle. But, I’ve been looking at some specialized bikes that don’t put stress on my hips and knees like the traditional bikes do, unfortunately they are in the range of $4K-$6K for the base models, from what I’ve seen (and I couldn’t get a used Trike due to necessary custom changes to accomodate my physical needs). Would it be worth investing this money in something that expensive? Or should I just focus on having an inexpensive, efficient vehicle instead?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 3, 2014, 3:07 pm

      That’s a pretty interesting question. I guess it depends on how much other outdoor stuff you already have in your life. A bike of that price would pay for itself (in terms of car miles displaced) if you rode it at least 2-3 miles a day on average. But the health, happiness, and mental benefits of cycling over car driving are many times larger than the financial benefits.

      Since biking around town is probably the core of my own health, I’d pay $100,000 for a bike if I had to, rather than being stuck with a car as my only transportation. But if you already feel you have a good life and get an hour of good walking or other outdoor stuff each day, the bike(trike) addition might not fit your own needs.

      Reply
      • Simona Palen May 8, 2014, 5:16 pm

        I’ve been thinking about what you said, and I don’t get enough excercise (I’m able to walk only very short distances). I feel this would empower my independence, and this would be a great addition to my life in many aspects. I will make this purchase, but only after I have the cash in hand, and after I am debt-free. I’m going to do it the “mustachian” way :)

        Reply
  • Marianne May 12, 2014, 3:40 pm

    I’m reading this blog from the beginning, but I still wanted to comment that I year-round commute on my bike in Whitehorse, Yukon. This past winter it happened that I was also pregnant and I can’t tell you how awesome riding in (sometimes super, super slowly) has been to my overall health and well being, physically and mentally. And also it was fun when I’d make it in on my bike on days when my fitter, un-pregnant co-worker didn’t bother cycling, haha. It’s possible to ride conservatively and safely in most conditions (I’m risk averse and want this baby to come safely on his own terms). I don’t ride in fresh snow or in windy winter conditions due to snow drifts because it is too much work and no fun, otherwise, I’m out there. Once I didn’t like the conditions halfway so I stopped and put my bike on the bus. I think the key is to start riding in spring and then just…don’t stop!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 12, 2014, 8:39 pm

      Yeah! Thanks for the inspiration, Marianne. There’s a certain MMM reader who lives in Southern California who insisted that one must quit all forms of cycling for the entire nine months of a pregnancy. Your tale sets things straight.

      Mrs. MM also rode a bike right up until the point where the giant kicking baby belly was getting in the way of her pedaling legs. Then she started riding again a month or two later when the little guy was out causing trouble in the real world. Then he started riding a bike (a little late, at age 5) and now is just about to hit 1000 miles on his “new” bike.

      Reply
      • Marianne May 12, 2014, 10:10 pm

        Thanks for your comment, lots of pregnant women ride all over, it’s always nice to hear of more. And Meh, it’s irritating when people comment on whether I ‘should’ be riding because it calls in to question my ability to assess my own risks and my own abilities, and also questions my commitment to a healthy pregnancy and baby! Duh, no one is more invested than me! I’m a little over 7 months pregnant now and looking for a comfort cruiser for upright riding, to accommodate the belly and take strain off my wrists. The sun is high, the riding is fair and it just feels really really good to move so freely.

        Reply
  • Tyler Fuller May 31, 2014, 1:01 am

    Classic post! I hadn’t even given 5 seconds of thought to bike commuting to work, since 2007 I’ve had a work vehicle with gas paid for. I quit that job and took a much more tolerable (some may say enjoyable) position working with the public (auto and residential glass), however I lost my company vehicle, and of course ran out and bought a car to commute with.

    Not going to lie, I love driving to and from work in my luxurious Acura RL instead of a optionless work truck, with all the options one could think of and leather…

    What is your opinion on commuting 16km each way, with hills? Is this a simple (why not, do it!) or am I being a bit too ambitious?

    I really like the idea of exercise while commuting, as I am also trying to lose weight… being a brand new Dad I don’t plan to go to the Gym after working 40 hours a week…

    Thoughts??

    Reply
    • Jonathan August 15, 2014, 10:22 am

      I’m a 50 lb overweight father of three who is trading in my daily commute riding in a paid off 15 year old car for a 14.5 mile each way bike ride instead.

      Half of my ride is on a bike trail which is pure bliss, and the other half alternates between a sidewalk along a busy city street and 45-55mph country roads with thin shoulders to ride on. Not so much fun.

      I rarely have time to exercise when I get home from work so it’s time to start fitting it into my commute. It was an hour and 8 minute ride in this morning, and I’m not sure exactly how my legs are going to get me home tonight, but I’m in a great mood at work and I know things will get easier as it develops into a habit.

      Reply
      • lizzie August 15, 2014, 1:24 pm

        That’s awesome—good for you! I’ve been riding to work for the past four years and I LOVE it, but I’m not nearly as badass—I only have a 4 mile commute and I don’t do winters. Like you, I get to work in a great mood and I have to keep myself from annoying other people by evangelizing about it. Keep up the great work!

        One thing I’ve been thinking of to mention to anyone who isn’t in a position to ride to work or just doesn’t want to make the change. You can still make a difference by being a considerate driver and by advocating for bicyclists, even if it’s just as simple as defending their right to use the road whenever you may happen to hear someone complaining about them being in the way. Where I live, I’ve noticed a big change in culture from when I used to ride regularly (back in my 20s) to now. It used to be so much scarier and unpleasant, but drivers have become much more courteous and conscious of bicyclists and it really makes a huge difference to me. Riding is so much more pleasurable now. So even if you’re not biking, you can make it easier for others to make that choice. Thanks to those of you who do that already!

        Reply

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