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What Do You Mean “You Don’t Have a Bike”?!

Mustachianism has many facets.  It’s a lifestyle and a fake religion all in one. And it is packed with an unlimited number of deep and interesting nuances, which is why you and I still have something to talk about after 13 months of this blog’s existence and 224 published articles.

But if I had to strip it down as far as possible, down to just one single action, and I wasn’t allowed to talk about anything else, the choice would still be simple: “Ride a Bike”.

It’s a simple concept which expands to an infinite degree as you think about it more, which we’ll do in just a few paragraphs. But by understanding how important this core concept is, you’ll understand why I get so excited at moments like the one in the following story:

I was outside talking to one of my neighbors last week. We were making the usual small talk, discussing the beautiful weather we’ve had this spring, the minor hardships with keeping our lawns and gardens green in the absence of rain, and various other across-the-driveway filler chitchat.

Then the topic of gas prices came up. This girl was hoping that we would not see further increases in the price of gasoline this summer, since her budget was already stretched tight.

I expressed some appropriate fake sympathy, but emboldened by my secret life as Mr. Money Mustache, I decided to at least see how this unsuspecting person would respond to a taste of Mustachian advice.

This particular lady recently bought a V8-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, and she happens to work at a company that is exactly 0.5 miles from our street. Yet she drives to work – every single day.

“You know, I only have to buy gas every 2-3 months for my car, because I just bike everywhere. With your work less than a 5 minute bike ride from here, have you ever considered walking or biking?”

“Yeah! I’ve noticed how you guys always bike, and I think that’s pretty cool”, she said. “Yeah… I should really bike to work. It’s just that, you know, I don’t really have a working bike right now”.

I’ve had nearly the same conversation with many people in recent years, so I’ve learned to remained calm on the outside when I hear excuses like this. But inside I could only scream “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE A BIKE!?!?!?

The concept is so foreign to me because it is so illogical. How can anyone with sufficient mental capacity to pass a driver’s test, or indeed to dress themselves in the morning, not realize the folly of living a life that includes a working car, but no working bike?

Bikes are virtually free, and require no insurance, registration, license, parking spaces, or any other hassle. They are so easy to own, and so incredibly useful and beneficial, with absolutely no drawbacks whatsoever to ownership. And yet somehow, there are adults out there – millions of them, a majority of them in the US – who don’t even have a bike.

My neighbor is paying thousands of dollars a year to idle around town in a 300 horsepower truck that gets 12 miles per gallon in the city, even while her body is crying out for extra exercise that it is clearly not getting enough of.

Even crazier is that there are readers of this blog who are sort of on board with leading a more natural and rich lifestyle, and are interested in the idea of maybe trying a bit of  bicycling someday, but just haven’t gotten around to it because, you know, they don’t have a bike, or they have an old squeaky one with a broken gearshift or some flat tires. Or perhaps they have managed to convince themselves that their car-based lifestyle is justifiable, and maybe that bike fanaticism that Mr. Money Mustache displays can just be ignored and they’ll just follow the rest of his advice, while ignoring the bike parts.

It’s time for this silliness to come to an end. You must ride a bike. We all must. It’s not a weird fringe form of transportation that only people in Portland and Colorado do. It’s just simply the way we all get around for moderate intra-city distances.

The reason this rule is so hard and fast and set in stone, is that the bike secretly does more than just getting you around town. If it were as simple as multiplying your bike miles by 50 cents and saying “Therefore every twenty miles you bike saves you ten dollars of driving costs”, it would be a purely financial decision. Then you could weigh biking and driving against your other lifestyle choices and come up with a balance that still lets you save 50-75% of your income, ensuring financial independence at an early age. But no, biking is not just about the money.

Biking is also more than just a form of exercise. If you follow my advice and start biking around when convenient, you’ll find that you end up cycling for perhaps three hours a week.  You could say “that’s just the same as visiting the gym for three one-hour cardio workouts each week. If I do that, THEN will you get off my back about the biking?”

Nope, I still won’t get off your back, because it’s even MORE than the money and the exercise.

A bike-based lifestyle is an all-encompassing change for the better. It’s like rolling back the past hundred years of humanity’s clueless paving-over of the surface of the Earth, without having to sacrifice a single benefit of modernization. It’s like shedding all of the stress and responsibility of adulthood that have crusted over you and going back to being eight years old again.. without losing an ounce of that golden power and freedom that comes with being an adult.

A bike is really an automatic life balancing machine, passively creating harmony in your life better than even the bossiest life coach could hope to do. You’re automatically forced every day to venture just a tiny bit out of your Comfort and Wussiness Zone. Suddenly you are blessed with the opportunity to use your mind and actually strategize just a bit each time you venture out… “How will I dress for the weather?”… “what will I be carrying with me?”.. “what food and drink will I require for this journey?”.

With the tiny daily overhead of this planning, you become a more thoughtful person in general. The Edge of the Planner starts to creep into the other areas of your life: “I heard this new TV show is really good. Maybe I’ll relax and watch a few episodes… WAIT.. on second thought, maybe I’ll look at my to-do list and use this time for something ELSE! Aha.. I see I was supposed to look into re-financing my mortgage. I hate making those calls, but I’m going to do it. I’m a PLANNER now, no longer a passive observer of life.”

The challenge of biking also automatically limits the amount of time you spend uselessly circling the retail establishments of your town: “Do I really need to go out to the store to pick up that bottle of shampoo today? It’s a pretty long ride, and I’m going to need to go tomorrow to get bananas anyway. I’d better put it on tomorrow’s list. And I’d love to check out the shoe store someday, because I love just browsing through the shoes.. but that’s way on the other side of town. Surely there is something else I could do closer to home that is more valuable.”

All from just a 25 pound collection of aluminum and rubber you can lift with one arm. Becoming a regular cyclist really is that good – conduct your own interviews with bikers if you think I’m just making all of this up. They will agree – cycling is being Alive.

So when it comes down to the excuse of “I just don’t have a working bike right now”, you can see why I become so frustrated. Not biking because you don’t have a bike is like letting the excrement pile up on your bathroom floor because “I just haven’t flushed the toilet recently”. JUST GET A DAMNED BIKE!! IT’S SO EASY!!! It’s too important to let laziness prevent it from happening!

How to Buy a Bike:

This is an area where MMM readers will rightfully diverge, depending on their expertise and interest.

My own recommendation: the important part is not where you get the bike, or how much you pay for it, it is simply that you have a reliable, working bike at all times so you never miss out on any possible riding opportunities. The cost of even a moderately expensive bike is tiny compared to the benefits it will bring, which is why I think it’s fine for people to buy brand-new bikes from a local bike shop or from an online store like Nashbar or Performance bikes, if that will increase their chance of having a working bike sooner.

Cautious beginners don’t need to mess around trying to find values on Craigslist, and they definitely don’t need to buy a $20 bike at a garage sale, hoping to someday get it working well despite having no mechanical knowledge. These people need a instant gratification bike that will work reliably for long enough to get them hooked into the biking habit. This is a machine they will hopefully spend many hours riding every month, so it’s important that it works smoothly, comfortably, and does not fail at its job of getting them around.

As your skill with mechanical things and your interest and experience with bikes increases, so does the value of looking for used ones. Some retail stores like Play it Again Sports, and community sharing websites like Craigslist, can prove to be a gold mine in this area. And the best used bikes are often found by asking your most bicycle-savvy friend where they would get a used bike if they were shopping.

This guide by MMM reader Bakari Kafele provides a nice tutorial on how to shop for a used bike: http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/01/buying-bikes-from-craigslist.html

When shopping for a new bike these days, I use an even simpler algorithm:

I look for a bike in any of the overlapping categories “city”, “commuter”, “hybrid”, or “road”. I want something with a MSRP in the US of at least $500, indicating a reasonable level of component and frame quality. And at that point, I just sort by features and price.

Case study 1: My current “city bike”, a K2 Astral 3.0, was purchased new in 2008. It was an end-of-the-model closeout at Nashbar, so the price had dropped from $580 to $300. Yet the bike is lightweight, stiff, and solid as a rock. And with about 4000 km on the odometer so far (2486 miles), the distance from Los Angeles to Washington DC, it has needed virtually no maintenance at all – a few flat tube change-outs and regular chain lube. The benefits and cost savings provided by this bike over its four year lifespan to this point have been almost immeasurable – many times its purchase price already.

 

Case study 2: Mrs. Money Mustache is still riding her 2002 Schwinn Moab mountain bike.  This was near the top of the Schwinn line back in its day, as the components are thoroughly kickass and it is as light as a feather. She bought it at full retail price from REI at the time – almost $900. But the bike has now served her through years of commuting to work, dozens of harsh mountain bike trips in locations from the Rockies to the Pacific, towing our son around town in bike trailers for the past five years, riding to and from the Crossfit gym for the past two, while racking up over 5,000 miles on its odometer. How much maintenance has she required for this virtual bike ride from our home in Colorado to somewhere near the tip of South America? … once again, virtually zero. Chain lube and inner tubes. The odd twist of the gearshift cable adjuster knobs to keep the shifts aligned. She’s still rolling on the original set of cracked stock Michelin WildGripper knobby tires!

So the point is, while bike maintenance is fun and many bike shops provide free tune-ups for life, in reality you will find that a good bike does not demand too much from you. You simply hop on, and it rolls you quickly to your destination. One mile every six minutes for beginners, and a mile every three minutes once you  have a swift bike and more seasoned legs.  Factoring in the shortcuts, faster parking, and freedom from traffic jams, a bike is often faster than a car for getting around an urban or suburban area. Adding in additional considerations for cost, health, and the environment, it’s simply the only reasonable way to get around.

The final word: a short inspirational video on what it feels like to be part of the Bike Culture (click the expand button once it’s playing – there’s some beautiful photography in there):

How Bikes Make Cities Cool – Portland from Kona Bikes on Vimeo.

A few reasonable bike choices from today’s Nashbar and Performance Bike website:

Nashbar FB1 Flat Bar Road Bike

Mongoose Sabrosa 3×8 Commuter Bike

GT Transeo 4.0 Comfort Bike

2012 GT Zum City Bike — Performance Exclusive

* these are affiliate links, so this blog will benefit if you end up buying any of them. But it doesn’t affect the price to you, and don’t let it bias your decision – shop around and get the bike that’s right for you. Just get a bike!

Update: Here are 30 more reasons to heed Mr. Money Mustache’s advice and start cycling your ass off.

And finally, if you REALLY like people telling you over and over that you must ride a bike, here’s the Original MMM bicycle Article, and here’s the Biking to the Grocery Store one.

  • Acorn May 7, 2012, 12:43 pm

    Do you have bike friendly roads in your area? Do you ride on the sidewalks, or do you ride along with the traffic in the road? It seems so many parts of the US are not particularly bike-friendly and I’m wondering how safe cycling is in areas where drivers aren’t used to cyclists sharing the road.

    Reply
    • Paul F. May 7, 2012, 12:51 pm

      The safety of roads is mostly an excuse.

      I’ve ridden my bike on city streets as well as backroads in all parts of the US. If you’re careful, it’s safe. Wear a helmet, get lights and a rear view mirror and get out there. Clearly some places are more bike friendly than others, but I used to commute to work from Downtown Baltimore Md to Columbia Md all the time and it was easy to find a route that was fast and safe, even riding through the heart of the city.

      You should never ride your bike on the sidewalk. A bike is a vehicle and needs to obey the rules of the road.

      Reply
      • gestalt162 May 7, 2012, 1:15 pm

        I ride my bike on the sidewalk when going down suburban arterials, partly for safety, partly so drivers blazing by at 45+ MPH don’t get pissed off having to pass a 10 MPH biker. As a rule though, I usually stay on roads less than 2 lanes wide in each direction, or under 35 MPH.

        Reply
        • Grant May 7, 2012, 1:56 pm

          That’s less safe for sidewalk users, it’s less safe for you, and it’s illegal.

          If you don’t want someone passing you in the lane because it’s too narrow, pull your bike over to the middle of the lane. There, they can’t!

          Reply
          • Steff May 7, 2012, 2:12 pm

            Please, please, please don’t ride bikes on the footpath. I am blind, and it is TERRIFYING walking on the footpath and having a object bearing down on you at speed. Being hit by a cyclist hurts, especially when you didn’t even know they were there. It sucks that a lot of cities don’t have dedicated cycle lanes (In New Zealand our cyclists share a lane with buses, which seems like the most ludicrous idea to me) but, please, many people who use the sidewalk can’t actually see you or move out of the way in time.

            Reply
          • TLV May 7, 2012, 3:24 pm

            Whether it’s legal or not depends on where you are. In Washington state, for example, it’s legal at the state level (a cyclist on the sidewalk is considered a pedestrian), and most cities (Seattle: must ride in a “careful and prudent manner.” Bellevue: unless it would “unreasonably inconvenience pedestrians.”)

            That doesn’t make it always a good idea, and when I ride on the sidewalk I ride VERY slowly, but when the cars are backed up a half a mile on the road in front of my apartment complex and the double-wide sidewalks are completely clear, I take the sidewalk.

            Reply
          • Lynae May 7, 2012, 6:49 pm

            I am only just learning how to ride a bike right now. I can’t steer very well yet. So, I ride on the sidewalk. I ride pretty slowly and can stop if someone doesn’t move for me. If I’m on the street, I’m a hazard to both other drivers and other bicyclists. They assume that I actually know what I’m doing, because I’m, you know, an adult and not a little kid. Yes, it’s technically illegal, but IMHO it’s much safer than the alternative right now.

            Reply
            • Steve May 8, 2012, 10:07 am

              Please be careful. I’m not expecting bikes on sidewalks. When I pull up to an intersection, I’m looking to the right for right turning cars that cut into my lane. A bike coming on the sidewalk..or worse riding opposed to traffic and on the sidewalk is courting disaster.

              Reply
              • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 12:33 pm

                That is exactly why it is both illegal and dangerous – car drivers are not expecting something faster than a pedestrian at driveways and intersections.

                So, if you are going to ride on the sidewalk, you need to get off and walk across the street at every single intersection.

              • Lynae May 8, 2012, 3:27 pm

                I think it’s somewhat different because I’m in San Francisco and drivers are generally very cautious of pedestrian and bike traffic.

                That said, I usually walk across intersections anyway right now, because the city has installed those yellow bumping curb cuts, which are really hard to go over on a wobbly bike.

              • Debbie M May 8, 2012, 5:43 pm

                It’s safe if I’m careful? If by careful you mean pretend that I am invisible, and so always get off the road if there is any traffic at all and always assume that drivers won’t stop at stop signs and red lights, sure. (In other words, it’s not safe at all. Just like driving isn’t, only you have less armor.)

                If there is no bike lane, I ride on the sidewalk. On the rare occasion when I see a pedestrian I either move into the grass a couple feet from the sidewalk or, if that is not possible, I get off my bike well before approaching the pedestrian and walk my bike past the pedestrian. I assume cars cannot see me–drivers are only looking for other cars. I assume they are planning to do whatever would be most dangerous for me, no matter what they are signalling. I am not like normal cyclists who barely slow down for stop signs.

                (Bicycling on the sidewalk is legal in most of my city.)

              • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 6:30 pm

                Debbie – almost all novice riders are afraid of a car clipping them from behind by driving to close while the cyclist is in the street…
                However, the reality is that this is the LEAST common of all types of accidents. In fact, the majority of bike/car collisions are caused BECAUSE the cyclist was either riding the wrong way (against traffic) so that they could see the cars, or because they were on the sidewalk.

                You should NOT ride like you are invisible. That makes you actually harder to see. You should be as visible as possible – and in addition to wearing bright clothes and using bright lights in the daytime, it also means riding in the street as far to the LEFT of the right lane as you need.
                Do not hug the shoulder to give the cars more room, or be so close to parked cars that you can run into an opening door. Ride at least a couple feet from the curb or parked cars.

                Drivers WILL see you if you ride that way, even if they are not expecting you, because you will be right in front of their faces. Drivers will not deliberately run into you. If that means they have to slow down or change lanes, so be it; you have just as much right to the road as they do.

                Bike/car collisions happen at intersections and driveways, and the best way to avoid them is to go with the flow of traffic. I know it feels counter-intuitive and scary. You are not the first person to come to the conclusions you have. The statistics of bike accidents are conclusive: you are more likely to get hit by cars if you do not behave like a car.

      • ultrarunner May 7, 2012, 1:21 pm

        I agree with Paul, on all accounts. I’ve been a cyclist, on and off, since 1988, riding well over 100,000 miles in that time in likely one of the most bike-unfriendly places in the US (southern Indiana) and have *never* had a bike-car accident. Does it mean they don’t happen? No, of course not, but if you’re careful and anticipate the drivers’ actions well, it’s not much more likely than having a car-car accident.

        Don’t ride on the sidewalks. It’s illegal and it’s very dangerous. Cars aren’t looking for cyclists on sidewalks… it’s a great way to get t-boned by some kid pulling out of McDonald’s while texting his girlfriend.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 1:55 pm

          I too have ridden in many cities throughout the US and Canada over the years.

          In every city, there were plenty of people who said “I’d never ride a bike here, because it’s too bicycle-undfriendly”. And in every city, there were also plenty of cyclists, who said “I don’t know what those wussies are talking about – this place is GREAT for biking!

          The bottom line is: does the city have any asphalt, concrete, packed dirt, or gravel surfaces? If so, then it’s a good place to ride a bike.

          However, I don’t know why people are so against riding on sidewalks in a pinch! Sure, I’ll ride on the road if it has sufficient width, or a bike lane, or low enough traffic. If not, I’ll try to stay away from that road altogether. But in some RARE cases, I find the sidewalk is better – I can stay far from the cars, and there are usually no pedestrians for miles around since these are blighted suburban stripmall sprawl areas.

          In that case, I can ride on the sidewalk, but I just treat each and every curb cut (driveway to a business) as a death zone where cars could shoot through in either direction at any moment. I don’t assume anyone will see me and slow down, so I do all the watching out for both of us.

          But in an area with big-box stores, these curb cuts can be VERY widely spaced, like every 1/2 mile.. so you have huge stretches of nice, quiet, abandoned sidewalk. Given a choice between that and a 45MPH road with no shoulder, I’ll take the sidewalk with glee.

          And, it should be obvious that you don’t give a shit about what’s legal, only about what is safe!

          Reply
          • Stavros May 7, 2012, 2:12 pm

            Not to mention that in suburban America these sidewalks are virtually ALWAYS empty.. I yell at people in downtown Ann Arbor that ride their bikes on the sidewalk, but there are always people on them. In the sidewalk in front of the mega-Walmart? Never a soul.

            Reply
            • Stashette May 7, 2012, 3:12 pm

              Yeah, it depends on the type of road and type of sidewalk. They’ve started putting “sidepaths” along the streets in my town, which are extra wide sidewalks to allow for bikes and pedestrians both. They’re considered to be part of our bicycle routes, so I ride on them if they aren’t too busy.

              Reply
            • JP May 8, 2012, 12:11 pm

              Downtown A2 is crawling with people, and they have plenty of bike lanes if I remember correctly.

              P.S. Ever seen Bra Man?

              Reply
          • Emmers May 8, 2012, 7:33 am

            Yeah, I ride on the sidewalk sometimes, but I always dismount to cross intersections, and I yield to pedestrians. That’s the best way to be, IMO.

            Reply
          • GagaHonk June 18, 2013, 4:48 pm

            MMM, thanks for this refreshing response to all the sidewalk hating in the earlier comments. By the way, thanks to your great blog I finally started riding my bike on errands a couple weeks ago, and it was outstanding. My first completed bike errand was four miles from my house, and it was 90 degrees outside and sunny (here in Houston, TX), but I loved it.

            Reply
      • Greg April 15, 2013, 10:42 am

        I’ve been hit 3 times, and knocked into traffic once by a road crew member…so no it’s not an excuse. Many drivers are assholes that think the bike takes too much space and they don’t want to give you the six inches required to clear your pedals and handlebars. I live in the Dallas metroplex and it is NOT safe to ride your bike there. The times I’ve been “bumped” I can say only one was unintentional and that was because they were too busy texting or some crap. I was knocked into traffic by a construction crew member that decided it would be funny to shove a warning barrel in my line of ride. My bike has been replaced twice and I’m tired of it. Next time, if I ever get back in that seat I will be taking a goddamn pry-bar with me, so help me if you hit me I will destroy your car then your face.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache April 15, 2013, 12:48 pm

          Wow, sounds like a brutal place to live! I too might carry a weapon in that situation (or more likely move to civilization), but I wouldn’t give up biking.

          In Colorado, we passed a law called “three feet to pass” – the cars need to give the bikes at least three feet of clearance. If it’s not there, you don’t pass. If you do, you can get serious fines and cyclists and other drivers are welcome to phone in your plate number. As a cyclist, I do my part to stay as far right as I can to make those three feet available. It works well, and more of us are biking in this state every day.

          Reply
        • Aaron June 17, 2013, 3:03 pm

          I understand your concern. I have a definite paranoia about biking around heavier traffic. I don’t spend too much time in the countryside, and so I can often find secondary roads to use.
          But readers and especially MrMoneyMustache should keep in mind that fatality rates for car drivers/passengers are much higher than for cyclists. That’s even taking into account the huge difference in numbers.
          Auto deaths are the highest cause of death/injury in the United States at almost 40,000 per year

          Reply
      • Miss Growing Green October 29, 2013, 7:41 am

        Paul,

        I agree that the safety of roads is mostly an excuse… just wanted to point out though, that in some places if the safety is an issue you *can* ride on the sidewalks. Where I live you are allowed to ride on the sidewalks as long as you give the pedestrian right-of-way.

        Reply
      • frugalnacho March 20, 2014, 2:55 pm

        That’s crazy talk. There are hardly any bike lanes in my area (suburbs of detroit). I will NEVER ride my bike in the busy streets with no bike lane while a perfectly good sidewalk is virtually unpopulated.

        Reply
    • Josh Patel May 7, 2012, 2:34 pm

      Not to mention, in Texas we hit 100F+ regularly.

      Reply
      • Matt May 7, 2012, 4:29 pm

        Yeah, this is a big reason my wife doesn’t ride to/from work. We both live ~5 miles from our offices. I have a shower at my office and the dress code is very casual, but she would have to shower and change into her dress/heels. This would be doable if her office had a shower, but alas it does not. 5 miles in 100F+ heat generates A LOT of sweat and odor!

        Any suggestions?

        Reply
        • Tanner May 7, 2012, 4:51 pm

          I think someone else might of mentioned this in the comments, but you don’t have to shower after a bike ride to work. Smell comes from bacteria. If you shower before you ride, especially a short 5 miles you won’t develop a smell from your sweat.

          I rode 21 miles one way in 100+ degree whether in PHX (granted it’s not as humid) and would get by fine with a quick rinse in the sink. One thing I did do was wash my hair in the sink, but Generally I don,t think this would be necessary for a 5 mile ride. Just bring a change of clothes and cool off for 5 minutes in the bathroom have a fan at your desk and you will be fine. Never had any complaints from office workers.

          Nashbar has a great bag for commuting to bring your work clothes in wrinkle free:

          http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/SearchDisplay?storeId=10053&catalogId=10052&langId=-1&cn1=&gast=commuter+pannier&URL=CatalogSearchResultView&searchTerm=commuter+pannier

          I used this and it worked like a champ. Also Nashbar has lots of 10% and 20% off days and or free shipping days. So you can wait a week and usually get an even better deal.

          Reply
          • Lynae May 7, 2012, 6:50 pm

            If you use an effective deodorant, you won’t smell anyway….

            Reply
            • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 12:40 pm

              I have found that hand sanitizer works better than any deodorant

              Reply
              • Jessa May 1, 2014, 12:04 pm

                Hand sanitizer would burn, because many women shave their underarms.

        • Danielle May 7, 2012, 5:58 pm

          Why, this phenomenon has been extensively written about & commented about on my favorite biking site, bikecommuters.com! Miriam has even coined a few lady-specific bike-commuting grooming phrases.

          http://www.bikecommuters.com/2011/02/07/guest-article-dispelling/

          Reply
        • poko May 8, 2012, 5:57 pm

          I, too, live in Texas, and bike throughout the summer. Generally, in the morning, it’s not 100 degrees yet, more like 75/80? So, once it gets into the thick of summer, I just try to leave a little earlier to beat as much of the heat as possible. (Lets me leave the office earlier as well!)

          I ride in shorts and a tank top and then change into work clothes once at the office. Though, I work in a more casual office, so I’m not putting on heels.

          On the ride home, I change back into my shorts/tank, but it doesn’t really matter that it’s climbed to 100+ degrees at this point, because I’m just going home.

          Reply
        • Danielle May 19, 2012, 9:50 am

          I bike to work in the heat and bring my dress/heels. I keep a towel and soap there, and take a moment to clean up before starting work. Sometimes I feel a little gross later in the day, around 2pm, but then I just go wash up again and I feel better.

          There are so many excuses we make for not biking. In the end, we might have to give up some comforts, but I know my day will be good if my conscience is clean and my heart is thumping from a good bike ride to work. :-)

          Reply
    • Teresa May 7, 2012, 9:11 pm

      Do you ask “how safe is driving?”. Haven’t we all known someone who has been in a car accident or been in one ourselves? Biking may seem riskier because you are more exposed, but you are also able to maneuver quicker. The more people who bike, the more used to it drivers get and the safer it becomes!

      Though I must admit I currently live in the most bike friendly city in the country, and no it is not Portland, it’s Minneapolis.

      Reply
  • GP May 7, 2012, 12:49 pm

    Heh, I’m a bad moustachian – I don’t own a bike! In my defence though I don’t have a car either, being a big city boy I walk or take transit. Making sure when I bought a house that it was only three blocks from the grocery store was one of my better ideas. I keep meaning to pick up a bike every summer, maybe this will be the one when I do.

    Reply
    • Lilacorchid May 9, 2012, 7:07 am

      Me either. I walk nearly everywhere, including work. I am terrified of biking in this city.

      Reply
      • Willis Montgomery III March 6, 2013, 10:55 am

        Living in fear is not living.

        Reply
        • squashroll March 7, 2013, 6:17 pm

          “Riding a bike in the city is exciting; you know how you’re going to die, you just don’t know when!” –anon

          Reply
    • Giddings Plaza FI March 24, 2013, 11:14 am

      I don’t have a bike either. A bike was my main transit in college, even thought I was in wicked cold UW-Madison. I’ve never loved biking. But, I also want to save $ for FI, AND have a more sustainable approach to getting from Point A to Point B. So I donated my car and am now walking, bussing, and car sharing. I love it!

      Reply
  • rjack May 7, 2012, 12:55 pm

    I have a bike, but it is a Target Special. I ride it, but it is not a pleasure to ride.

    I plan on getting a good Trek hybrid bike as soon as I (semi-) retire and sell my car. I can’t wait. :)

    Reply
    • Mark May 7, 2012, 2:32 pm

      Don’t wait!!! I’ve got two bikes that were over $400 each. I’ve done the math and they’ve both paid for themselves twice over even counting fancy equipment upgrades I got before finding Mustachianism.
      Having a bike you love to ride will pay for itself, trust me. I’ve gone from occasionally riding my bike to work, to always riding to work, to putting my car insurance on hold and biking everywhere with plans of selling my car. I don’t live in what would be considered a “bike friendly” city. I live in a place that I have to go 5 miles one way to get to work and 10 miles to get to downtown to hang out with friends. None of that matters because I love to ride! I put nearly 150 miles per week on my bike, riding just for commuting and transportation (not training or racing) and I absolutely love it.

      Reply
    • rjack July 7, 2012, 6:32 pm

      Update: I (semi-)retired a little over a week ago and I ordered a Trek 7.3 FX in silver. I rented a Trek 7.2 FX to test feel and fit and it was a SWEET ride!

      Reply
  • Andre (SF) Nader May 7, 2012, 12:58 pm

    I will definitely be buying a bike in a few months when I move within biking distance nearly everything.

    It still hurts me on the inside the sticker price of the new bikes though. Why is a new bike ok, but a new car not? Again if we look at it purely from a financial decision, wouldn’t a used bike prove a good choice?

    Reply
    • Brett May 7, 2012, 1:06 pm

      Bicycles are sized, which makes used buying more tricky. When you buy new, you have the opportunity for a professional, at a local bike store, to size you and allow you to try a few bikes out before committing.

      Used is a great way to buy a bike, but I would not recommend doing so without proper research. If you have any cyclist friends, maybe have them tag along to help you.

      Reply
      • Lynae May 7, 2012, 6:52 pm

        If you buy used, you can still try them out. I bought the exact 1960s Schwinn I’ve always wanted for $75 on Craigslist. I told the dude in advance that I’m really short and a lot of bikes are too big for me, and he was fine with me trying it out before buying.

        Reply
      • Ben May 8, 2012, 6:00 am

        Bike sizing is 90% based on the height of the seat tube compared to your inseam. Straddle the bike in front of the seat, and you should be able to put your feet flat on the ground without… you know. If it’s a step-through bike it’s not quite as easy, and some other women’s bike geometries like Mrs. MM’s mountain bike require you to compare with the height of the frame further up instead of right where the top tube and seat tube meet. In these cases if you’re not sure, just take it for a ride.

        The idea of perfect, professional fitting for a bike applies mainly to competitive athletes. If you just need a $500 hybrid for riding around town the height of the bike is usually all you need to worry about, and the rest is reasonably adjustable.

        And who am I? I work for a company that rents bikes to tourists and they can fit people to their range of bike sizes by just asking them how tall each rider is. This stuff is not that difficult.

        Reply
        • John Lein February 22, 2013, 9:53 am

          This bike sizing method used to be the standard when all bikes had horizontal top tubes. The only reason these days to check the straddle clearance is to be sure it’s not too high, especially for actual off-roading on a mountain bike. Definitely don’t go by that to size the bike though.

          The top tube length is what matters. You can raise and lower your seat for the optimal leg fit (it matters – go to almost but not quite full extension to save your joints and be more efficient). The top tube length affects your posture and riding position, so it’s important to get it right. You can easily find fitting charts online that give you a starting point. For a one-hour tourist ride this will not matter much, and asking for a person’s height gets you close enough. If you’re serious about biking then take the time to find the right fit.

          As an example of how important this can be, let me share my friend’s story. He rides many miles on a road bike weekly, but is not a competitive athlete. He had a shooting pain develop in his shoulder and couldn’t ride any more. He went into the cycle shop and paid for a professional fitting. The pro took the same bike, and over a course of several hours changed shoe insoles, cleat position, seat height, seat, and handlebars. It wasn’t cheap, but it instantly fixed the problem. Most people won’t need this level of help, but it’s an example of why fit is worth spending time on.

          Reply
    • Gypsy Geek May 7, 2012, 1:07 pm

      Because a new bike costs $500, whereas a new car costs $15,000. And a new car has a limited life, whereas a well maintained bike can last almost indefinitely. Plus new bikes are sexy :).

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 1:58 pm

        Exactly! Cars are expensive enough that when you spend 20 hours or more shopping around for a good used one, you still end up getting “paid” $100 or more per hour for your effort. More than you earn at your day job.

        Bikes are cheap enough that you’re better off ensuring you have quality, reliability, and fun-to-ride factor, even if you have to slide significantly up the price scale to get it. You INCREASE your wealth while riding them, and the difference between a low quality and a high quality bike is only a few hours’ pay.

        Reply
        • turboseize March 20, 2013, 7:21 am

          Sorry, but I have to disagree. A new bike can be far more costly than a used car.
          Of course, you do not need a 3000€+ bike, unless you’re a professional athlete. But there is always a temptation to good material… ;-)

          Even with more reasonably priced bikes, buying used can save a lot of money. Last year, I bought the wife a bike as a birthday present. I wanted an aluminium frame to save weight (I don’t mind carrying the bike up- or downstairs into the storage room in the basement, but for a girl this is a little bit more difficult), and good quality components. This would normally cost around 400-600€. I kept my eyes open and let my aquaintances know that I was “on the hunt”, and some weeks later a guy working in a bike shop mailed me he might have something.
          Turns out a customer had traded in a commuter bike. Aluminium frame by a well-known brand, Shimano Alivio components (ok, not THAT good, but ok), adjustable front suspension, Schwalbe Marathon tires, freshly serviced with new chain and gears for 160€.
          What could you want more?

          I would definitely say buying used rocks.

          Reply
        • Bikerbill April 28, 2013, 3:34 am

          I’ve been seriously riding for 40 years. A $500.00 bike in the early 70’s was an expensive high-end bike. Today, top quality wheels cost between $600 and $1000.00. But to your point, taking the cost of the bike and accessories, tap water over high octane and managing the girth of your ass, the bike will give you higher returns. However, if you’ve grown up being a couch spud and have the physical infrastructure of linguine, tolerating the discomfort of riding is daunting. Moving from a 4000 lb. vehicle to a 20 lb. bike is humbling, which in itself is antithetic for the “Me Generation”. In any event, whether the driving force is money or a fat ass, the bike is a sweet deal.

          Reply
    • JP May 7, 2012, 8:15 pm

      One way to get a used bike but still benefit from having a professional fit you and answer your questions is to find a bike shop that specializes in fixing up and selling used bikes. I don’t know how common they are, but I live in a city of just over 100,000 people, and we have a fantastic shop that sells used bikes in perfect condition for $350-$450.

      Reply
  • October MacBain May 7, 2012, 12:58 pm

    Excellent subject! My partner, at 45 years old, only learned how to ride a bike this Spring. She’s still kind of wobbly, but she’s doing it! We are now going out on increasingly long rides together to build up stamina so we can both bike to work.

    I am very proud of her.

    I can’t wait for her to read this post. I know she’ll be grinning ear to ear.

    Reply
    • Leo May 7, 2012, 1:29 pm

      There is hope for me, after all! I don’t know how to ride a bike :-(

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:03 pm

        That is a good point! I shouldn’t assume that everyone automatically knows how to ride already. You can learn by just walking yourself around in a flat parking lot on one, butt on the seat, feet on the ground, going around in circles and figure eights. My son picked up bike balance like this in a single day last year. It only gets better from there.

        When I first met Mrs. Money Mustache, she was a wobbly cyclist as well. I remember looking back at her on our first short, leisurely bike ride through a park, and seeing her collapsed on a grassy hillside, laughing at her inability to ride a bike more than one mile. She was 20 at the time.

        Many years later, she can rock a steep boulder-strewn trail in the mountains, and ride 40 miles on the open road without undue tiredness.

        Reply
        • Kathy P. May 7, 2012, 6:59 pm

          I haven’t been on a bike in probably 40 years. Is it true that once you know how to ride, you never really forget? Or would it be like when I was seven (with no training wheels) all over again?

          Reply
          • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 8:42 pm

            We tested this theory with my mom a few years ago – she claimed she wouldn’t be able to do it, but she ended up doing great.

            Reply
          • GregK May 8, 2012, 8:25 am

            We just bought a bike for my girlfriend last night. She hasn’t been on a bike in at least 10 years (not quite 40, but still long enough to forget how to do just about anything else you had to learn). She hopped on, and took off with no trouble at all. She’s still a bit wobbly, and has trouble maneuvering tight spaces at low speed (like getting past the car in the driveway), but 100% capable of biking around town!

            Reply
          • Evan Lynch February 17, 2013, 7:03 pm

            Kathy, I tested this out a few years ago when I bought myself a (then) new bike. I hadn’t ridden a bike in over ten years so I was wondering if it would come back. I even posted on a bike community before hand asking if it would and everyone told me it would.

            Unfortunately, for me, this proved not to be the case. However, it felt like it wouldn’t take more than a couple days to get back into the swing of things.

            So I think the answer of whether or not it’ll come right back isn’t yes, or no, but it depends. It depends on how good at riding you were when you stopped. When I stopped riding, I was fairly young, and hadn’t quite gotten good enough for it to become muscle memory.

            I was quite disappointed to discover that I had knee problems that are keeping me from relearning shortly after I had bought the bike though. So I can’t tell you how long it takes to come back because my bike is still sitting in the basement collecting dust. I’m rather sad about that.

            Reply
            • turboseize February 18, 2013, 6:19 am

              Biking actually is one of the most knee-friendly physical activities.
              Knee problems while biking are almost always related to one of the two following reasons:
              a) wrong saddle hight – most people’s saddles are way to low, or
              b) improper placement of the foot on the pedal.

              If you get these right and still have problems, you might want to try out lower gears.

              Reply
              • Evan Lynch February 18, 2013, 2:38 pm

                Technically, I’ve got both knee problems and ankle problems and I think the ankle problems are what’s really preventing me from biking for now. It’s not the biking itself that’s problematical so much as the process of relearning how to bike. I kept falling on my foot when I last tried, which was aggravating my ankle problem.

                I would love to bike however, so if you know of a way to learn to bike without having a period of falling while you’re getting the hang of it, I’d love to give it a shot. I suppose I should try the lowering the seat method that was suggested to me a while ago.

        • jj April 22, 2013, 3:59 pm

          Do you have any advice for bikes ideal for wobbly newcomers? Preferably very short wobbly newcomers who have to deal with a hill. I would like to bike, I really would, but I’m just short of 5’1″ and I frankly have never been on a bike where I feel secure and stable… much less where I could figure out the gearing to ride up the hill to/from my house. I’d even consider a trike (despite the dork factor) if I could find one that fit my legs.

          Reply
          • Bakari April 22, 2013, 4:36 pm

            Reply
          • turboseize April 23, 2013, 3:42 am

            The badass answer: just go faster. :-)

            Bicycles (and motorcycles) are stabilised by the centrifugal forces in the weels. The faster you go, the more stable it get’s.

            Going uphill you have three possibilities:
            1. low gearing
            2. riding out of saddle (faster, but requires more effort)
            3. get stronger ;-)

            Conclusion: any right-sized bike, adjusted to your size and proportions, equipped with proper gearing, will do.

            If you feel wobbly, just ride more. Biking, like everything, is just a matter of practice.

            Reply
            • Pranav Pandit August 14, 2013, 9:12 am

              Nobody really knows what precisely keeps a bike from falling. It is not centrifugal force, because a person reduced the wheel size to around 6-7 inches (dia) and added counterspinning wheels to cancel the angular momentum and the bike still was running. The gyro effect and the caster effect are a factor, but they are not the only ones, and not even the most important ones.

              The important ones seem to be the minute feedback system that a complex machine like the human body tends to have. It is an interesting world.

              Reply
          • Aaron June 17, 2013, 3:05 pm

            try a folding bike. They are great for short riders and the smaller size makes it easier for small people to carry them around

            Reply
      • Mike May 7, 2012, 4:31 pm

        Get yourself a long, very gently sloped hill and practice riding down the hill with both feet off the pedals and close to the ground. You can use your feet to keep your balance and as brakes while you get the hang of steering the bicycle. After you get the hang of steering and balance you can start getting used to using the brakes, then you can move on to pedaling.

        Done this way, the chances of crashing and injuring yourself are small.

        Reply
      • Fangs May 7, 2012, 5:03 pm

        You can do it Leo! It’s difficult as an adult–you’re battling internal shame + fear–but it’s fulfilling! Once you get a bike (or borrow one), put the seat down to where you can put your feet down and you are flatfooted on the ground. And then mess around. I scooted for several days, working on balance. I found great advice on the web and the best was “do one step until the fear leaves.” I would go out four and five times a day on the weekend and just scoot around on the bike.

        Reply
        • Hanah May 7, 2012, 7:30 pm

          Some cities now have adult learn-to-ride classes. Google it – maybe yours does too? Also seems like something a bike store or outdoor store might do.

          Reply
          • James May 27, 2012, 9:40 am

            Yes! Last summer, I decided that I wasn’t entering my 30s without learning how to ride a bike, so I signed up for a class at REI. It was the best $45 I think I’ve ever spent, and has easily paid for itself 100 times over, as I bike everywhere now. The class was all adults, and the instructor was certified by the League of American Cyclists. Since we were all adults just learning to ride, there was no shame – only a lot of cheering each other on and challenging each other.
            The actual technique was taking the pedals off of the bikes (which were provided by the class), lowering the seats all the way, and learning to “glide” across a slightly sloping parking lot they had roped off for us. We were encouraged to use our brakes when we got panicky instead of automatically putting our feet down. As our glides got longer, our seat heights got raised until they were at appropriate pedaling height. Once we could do two complete glides across the space at the correct seat height, the pedals went back on. Then we did another glide and once we got up to speed, turned and put our feet on the pedals. I got it on the second try, and after that, it just clicked and he taught me how to take off from a complete stop. Everyone in the class that day went home knowing how to ride, after only four hours! I went home and got myself a $75 mountain bike on craigslist, and have been riding ever since!

            Reply
      • Lynae May 7, 2012, 6:56 pm

        I just learned a few weeks ago! The trick is to find the PERFECT empty stretch of pavement that is ever so slightly inclined. And then just go down it over and over again. Possibly for multiple days. You might be able to practice longer and learn in one day…but I am not super in shape so I was pretty exhausted after 2 hours.

        Once I got a bike that was sized correctly for me, it took 3 days of about 2 hours worth of practice to get the balancing part down. I’m still working on steering and turns, though.

        Reply
  • Brett May 7, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Solid bicycle buying advice, MMM. The most important thing is to find a bicycle on which you are comfortable. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t ride.

    I too have co-workers that live within 2 miles of work and insist on driving their gas-guzzlers every day. The line of thinking is so foreign to me, as I used to commute 8.5 miles to work. And what a wonderful brain break that was!

    Reply
  • Gypsy Geek May 7, 2012, 1:03 pm

    What? Bikes have been nothing but a money pit for me :). I love riding bikes so much I became a competitive cyclist. Yeah, I ride everywhere, and thanks to MMM, I do all my own mechanic stuff. But now I have a $3000 dual purpose motorcycle that I use when I can’t (pedal)bike. And my disdain for cars has grown so much that I’m purchasing a welding kit just so I can make a bike rack for my motorbike, so I can go to races 300 miles away on my motorcycle, and camp. And I won’t even go into how much $$food$$ is required to bike a couple hundred miles a week :). I need some punches to the face.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:04 pm

      Haha, there’s another MMM reader who lives near me who also made a bike rack for his motorcycle. You get great looks of awe and respect from other drivers when you’re on the highway.

      Reply
      • Sarah May 10, 2012, 3:17 pm

        Ha – how about my friend who rode his mountain bike around 10 miles to the track with his track bike strapped to the rack of his mountain bike – and then raced. And then rode back home the same way.

        Reply
      • jet May 28, 2012, 3:14 am

        A bicycle rack for a motorcycle should not be unusual or strange…. the pro roadies have service motorbikes with 4 spare wheels on the rack on the back…. a whole bike can’t be that hard… and definitely not weird ;)

        Reply
  • Steve May 7, 2012, 1:04 pm

    I use my bike to ride to the train station, so I can catch the first train into Boston.

    The bike saves me $4/day parking fees, and provides me with a nice, seven minute, wake up ride. Moreover, if I choose to ride to the station near the local Y, then I can go to the gym on my way to the office or on my way home.

    Reply
  • lolconsumerism May 7, 2012, 1:09 pm

    I’ll supply two other links

    http://bicyclesafe.com/ – How to bike safe

    http://bicycleuniverse.info/transpo/energy.html – Answers the curious question of bicycling being greener than driving a vehicle

    I don’t own a bike either. Once I settle down in a new location I’ll probably start looking for one.

    Probably

    Reply
    • Mark May 7, 2012, 2:37 pm

      I’d like to add one as well

      Commute Orlando
      http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/animations/ – Lots of great articles, animations, and first person video of safe riding techniques. I’ve ridden in a bunch of major cities as well as done some long distance touring. This stuff is pretty universal.

      Reply
    • Tanner May 7, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Here is another good link. Urban Velo is a Bike Zine and they have great reviews on their blog of commuter bikes and accessories.

      http://urbanvelo.org/

      Reply
  • Quiet Contrary May 7, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Well, I feel very smug: I have 2 bikes. Here in Ireland, we’re the beneficiaries of a government-sponsored bike-to-work scheme (http://www.biketowork.ie/).
    Via my employer, I saved a few euro on the purchase of a new bike, and will pay off my new purchase between now and the end of the year.
    It’s an extremely popular scheme, and most workday morning Dublin is teeming with middle-aged and middle-aged cyclists weaving in and out of traffic.

    Reply
  • Nicole May 7, 2012, 1:17 pm

    I’ll throw in an endorsement of the Xootr kick scooter, for people who would like something “bike-esque” but don’t want a bike for whatever reason.

    The Xootr is zoned for sidewalks, gets around 8 mph, has similar exercise benefits to biking, and collapses in seconds into a 10-lb package you can carry into restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

    Also it’s super fun to ride. I’ve been taking it all over Los Angeles, which is not the world’s most bike-friendly city, and have had zero problems with it.

    Reply
  • David May 7, 2012, 1:20 pm

    Long time follower here, first time commenting from Holland.

    You’ve ain’t seen nothing yet regarding badassity on bicycles. This American guywas so amazed by our cycling culture he decided to dedicate an entire article to it, with lots of pictures: http://www.ski-epic.com/amsterdam_bicycles/ . This stuff is literally nothing special over here.

    A friend of mine was moving, and he decided to build a bike trailer to move his stuff. He even moved the washing machine on it. I don’t have pictures on it, sorry :).

    Just to say, love your blog, bicycling is awesome, but you Americans have got a lot to learn :).

    Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 5:26 pm

      Awesome!! I found this web site a while ago when I was researching how to carry multiple kids by bike. I thought to myself: “Well, what do they do in Holland?” and found this site.

      Yup, Americans have a lot to learn when it comes to biking…

      Reply
      • David May 8, 2012, 10:21 am

        Yeah, the only thing I don’t like about his comments (which are otherwise hilarious) is that he calls the position in the front for kids the suicide position. It’s not less safe than on the rear. One thing to really watch out for though is that the little guy won’t be able to accidently put his foot in between the spokes, because that will cause both him and you to be in considerable pain…

        Reply
        • poko May 8, 2012, 6:14 pm

          Yeah, I can attest to the foot in spokes thing — that happened to me as a kid. That was sprained ankle city!

          Man, now that I think about it, my dad was quite the badass — he would bike all over Moscow, and then when I came along he added seat for me onto the middle bar of his bike. I wonder if there are any pictures of that bike to share with you guys …

          Reply
      • jet May 28, 2012, 3:15 am

        Americans made Xtracycle! Two kids, no worries. Now they have a sidecar coming out. Much more affordable than Dutch boxbikes :)

        Reply
    • Mrs. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 5:35 pm

      This link is also very interesting. How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure: http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/10/20/how-the-dutch-got-their-cycling-infrastructure/

      Reply
    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple May 7, 2012, 6:57 pm

      That’s really cool. My MIL is from Denmark, and they have a similar bike culture. When I was visiting friends many years ago, they had one small car. The mom would bike her daughter 9 km to daycare every morning and 9 km home (before going/coming from work, by bike of course).

      Reply
  • slowth May 7, 2012, 1:21 pm

    I quit riding somewhere around the age of 12-13. MMM, thanks to your persuasion, I borrowed a bike from my brother in law and bought Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance. Seems I forgot how much fun it is to ride. Also, I’m just over 30, and during a trip to your neck of the woods I noticed I was woefully out of shape. It’s now fun to exercise, and I save money by not driving. It really makes sense. Thanks MMM.

    Reply
  • Lisa May 7, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Hello! I have just started to grow my moustache and this weekend, my husband has joined me in full force! First, thank you for your blog and for sharing your life experiences. Second, we bought a used 2 seater kiddie trailer LAST NIGHT from a woman on Craigslist. The 2 seater is for our 20 month old son and any of our groceries/park lunch/etc when we are out and about. My sister and law has NEVER touched the bike she won from her work so we asked if we could have it. Some dusting and a little fresh air to the tires and I have myself a brand new bike for FREE! I have always been ‘thrifty’ (say half moustache or maybe a small goatee, haha) but since reading your blog, you have inspired my husband and I to grow a full, man moustache!
    Thank you for your wise words each day !!

    Reply
    • Tom Armstrong May 8, 2012, 7:05 pm

      Like you, I have a kid trailer found via Craigslist ($50 for a Safety 1st brand that sold for $125-150 new), Never mind that we don’t have small children, this is the mustachian way to haul groceries, bulk pet food, or whatever (carpet cleaning machine rented from the grocery store…). We’ve used it numerous times to help with bike moves (family moves from one house to another, bunch of friends gather with bikes, trailers, etc to help).

      A few months later, my wife found a Burley Lite trailer made in the late 1990s at a thrift store for $25, and all it needed was air in the tires, fresh grease in the axle bearings, and some blinky lights for use in the night time, and it’s been as useful as the other. As I’m a bike shop guy, the axle bearing work was no trouble at all.

      For genuine badassity, I now also have a trailer from http://www.bikesatwork.com (although I bought mine second-hand), and can haul up to 400 pounds of stuff at a time if necessary–by bike (in a recent cleaning effort, we decided to get rid of the old computer towers, monitors, keyboards and such that had accumulated over the last ten or fifteen years of not being very mustachian, and I hauled them to a recycling place twelve miles from the house–all 230 pounds of that stuff, plus the bins and bungees I use to keep stuff from falling off the trailer).

      On bungee cords: Your local bike shop can probably get you IT-Clips, a nifty way to use bicycle inner tubes that are no longer repairable as adjustable-length elastic tie-downs. They can be configured as two-ended hook-type pieces or so that they can latch in a loop. The bike shop may even have some discarded tubes you can put to use this way.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 8, 2012, 8:29 pm

        Excellent story of hauling, Tom! I just posted a picture on Twitter today of my own bike trailer (Burley D’lite) packed with 120 pounds of construction supplies, as I did some work at a friend’s house a few blocks from home and didn’t feel right taking a motor vehicle such a distance.

        I’ve been thinking of getting in touch with the Bikes at Work trailers company, to see if they want to send me one of their beautiful trailers in exchange for some good publicity. But then again, it might be more Mustachian to create my own cargo trailer, using the older Nashbar trailer chassis I no longer use.

        Reply
  • Smurph May 7, 2012, 1:25 pm

    The timing on this article is almost perfect. I just bought a used bike off craigslist yesterday. I probably wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t been reading this blog. I still need to get some platform pedals for it because I don’t really want to buy special biking shoes though.

    Reply
  • Dan May 7, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Driving versus biking 0.5 miles to work has an essentially inconsequential effect on your budget and on the environment. What’s genuinely important is not taking long trips (especially not via aircraft) nor buying goods and foods that are flown by air.

    Even if your car gets only 15 MPG and even if gas costs $10 a gallon it’ll still cost you just seventy cents to drive versus bike. It’s inane to suggest someone can save much by avoiding a $0.70 expense that happens just 220 or so days a year.

    Reply
    • Grant May 7, 2012, 1:40 pm

      Your car won’t even do so well as 15 MPG on short trips. Count on 5-10mpg while the engine’s cold.

      MMM said in this post that he rides over 600 miles per year. At 10 mpg for those tiny short trips (being generous with these numbers), that’s 60 gallons of gas! At present prices that’s over $200 anywhere in the country. That’s not inane, that’s a ton of money.

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:10 pm

      Silly Dan.. it’s not the 0.5 miles to work that’s the problem (although hundreds of cold starts to the engine will drastically shorten the life of her vehicle as well and for this person, $1 or $2 per day would indeed make a big difference).

      The problem is that she therefore ALSO uses the jeep to do everything else. Get groceries. Pick up the kids from school 1 mile away. Pop over to Target to look at ribbons. Drive to the next city to see what’s on sale at Whole Foods. Accept a job that’s 20 miles from home. Most US drivers rack up 15,000 miles a year, mostly in these short trips. They spend far more on car transportation than they spend on food.

      Yet another hidden factor: depending on cars causes car-based cities to be created. Everything is spread out, separated by wide roads and parking lots. People then think they need cars just to get around these car-based cities. Every single car trip contributes to more money flowing into the car infrastructure. Every bike trip tilts the balance the opposite way.

      In my own city, we could easily repurpose 90% of the asphalt and parking lots for other uses, and still have plenty left for the necessary delivery trucks, plus public and private car transportation for those few who have special mobility needs who thus cannot ride bikes. It’s not gonna happen in reality, but it WOULD happen, within one year, if everyone in my city liked biking as much as I do.

      The beliefs of the people determine the physical infrastructure they choose to build for themselves.

      That’s why I’m saying that what’s genuinely important is that people start thinking of a bike as The Way To Get Around.

      Reply
      • Lynae May 7, 2012, 7:02 pm

        Also, she might not need to own that car if she biked to work.

        Right now my in-laws, who are almost the antithesis of Mustachians, have a household of 4 adults and own 4 cars. Two of them are leased. The driver of one of the leased cars lives 2 miles from work. For reasons unbeknownst to me, he doesn’t just walk there. They’re currently planning on getting a bike so they can get rid of that car.

        Reply
    • ultrarunner May 7, 2012, 3:51 pm

      Exactly Grand and MMM.

      A quote I recently saw on a billboard:
      “Short trips by bike make cents.”

      $200 a year in gas saved is $4000 you don’t need invested, making a 5% rate of return. Find a few more of those “essentially inconsequential effects on your budget” and they start to become consequential.

      Not to mention, if said neighbor starts riding the 0.5 miles to work, she may discover how easy it also is to (a)do her banking via bike, (b)pick up the groceries by bike, (c) dropoff and pick up the kids by bike, etc, etc… and soon you’re looking at over $200/month in *just gas* savings… at least in my case. April was $273 saved over driving all my miles and March was $254 saved. That, my friend, is REAL MONEY ™. (Plus it’s just damn fun to cruise around by bike!)

      Reply
  • Dan May 7, 2012, 1:34 pm

    PS for a distance of just half a mile, walking is probably easier and simpler (no helmet to wear, no locking and unlocking the bike in each location, etc).

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:31 pm

      A half mile walk is pleasant too, but I usually use my bike, even for 1/4 or 1/8 mile trips, when I’ve got a lot going on during the day.

      Reply
      • Gypsy Queen May 9, 2012, 11:45 pm

        Dear MMM,
        Can you elaborate on the cycling vs. walking?
        I am proud to say that I don’t have a bike, but I do have all your benefits from walking everywhere: work, market, doctor’s office, most friends whom I see on a daily basis, even the mall, in the few times that I need it, is within a walking distance. And carrying everything back is a nice dung-bell workout.
        Also: no helmet, no collision with cars, and not even 400$ to spend on the bike themselves.

        Could it be the old question of money Vs. time? I admit that cycling is faster, but I usually get everything I planned on time.

        Reply
  • Lea May 7, 2012, 1:36 pm

    You know what makes me sad? I can’t ride a bike. For most people, running is hard on their knees. For me, biking is hard on my knees. Something about the pedaling motion causes a lot of pain in my knees. I’ve had trainers at the gym watch me on a stationary bike to confirm that I’m putting the seat at the right height, and they told me I was doing everything right, so if it hurts, I just shouldn’t do it.

    Since I’ve never heard of anyone else with this problem, I’m convinced that there still must be SOMEthing wrong, but I have no idea what it could be. Maybe at some point I’ll just try again and see if the pain is still there.

    Reply
    • Dylan May 7, 2012, 1:47 pm

      You should try a recumbent bike then.

      Reply
      • Lea May 7, 2012, 2:17 pm

        I had to look that one up. I’ll see if I can find one to take for a test spin. Thanks for the recommendation!

        Reply
    • bethh May 7, 2012, 2:24 pm

      If you live in a town with a good bike shop, you might be able to get a fit analysis. When your feet are on the pedals at the 12 and 6 position, the leg with the lower foot should have your knee just about fully extended. When the pedals are in the 3 and 9 position, your knee for the front foot should be directly over the ball of your foot.

      A good bike shop can help you with this, and get get you dialed into the correct setup. It may cost you money (my fit cost 100 about 10 years ago) but it’s a worth investment.

      I assume you don’t wear shoes that clip into the pedal – if you do, that can be another factor that can be assessed and corrected. Good luck!

      Reply
      • Mason May 7, 2012, 10:57 pm

        Go to a bike fitter. It’s good advice. Disclaimer: I am a bike fitter.

        Reply
    • Heather May 8, 2012, 9:09 am

      You could try a kickbike. The motion is quite different from a bike. They are fun and nifty.

      Reply
    • Garrett May 14, 2012, 12:21 pm

      As others have alluded, the fore/aft position of your bike seat can affect your knees as can the position of your clipless pedals. A lot of people don’t like clipless pedals because you don’t have as much opportunity to shift your feet around naturally. It may be best to skip the clipless pedals if you have knee trouble.

      Also, make sure that you’re not trying to pedal in too high of a gear. Unless you are just going for a casual ride around the block, you should be spinning your feet at a pretty rapid rate (60-100 rpms per leg). If you are trying to go fast by shifting into a high gear and pedaling hard but slow, your knees will take a lot of strain.

      Reply
    • Qfactor February 23, 2013, 5:06 pm

      I’m used to a road bike, then I bought a bicycle with a mountain bike crank. My left knee hurt, on the point closest to the right knee, and it made bicycling not fun. I learned that Mtb cranks are 20 mm wider than road cranks, forcing my knees to be farther apart. I went to the bicycle shop and explained the problem and the owner said, “yup, you’re used to narrower Q factor”. He changed the crank to a road bike crank, and that solved my problem with my hurting knee.

      Reply
  • Dylan May 7, 2012, 1:44 pm

    I’ve been ride daily for the last 4 months. I was able to grab a great bike off of amazon for less than 200 but the price has gone up http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004GWP6CK/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i00. Outfitting it with a bike rack, bottle holder, some saddle bags, & lights set me back another 60 bucks.
    I will say that I have picked up a nasty wobble in the back tire that will need to be fixed but there is a bike co-opt here in Vegas as well as an amazing Transit center where you can join for 60 bucks a year and they will tune and store you bike for you as well as give you a place to shower. http://www.rtcsnv.com/cycling/bikecenter/index.cfm
    Seeing how the temperatures are about to go and stay over 100 this is vital.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:36 pm

      Cool looking bike!

      This may peg me as an old man, but I do NOT understand this trend with single speed and fixed-gear bikes! Gear ratios are the best invention ever, and use all 27 of mine frequently!

      Sure, people say “it forces you to work harder”. But I don’t buy it. I work as hard as I can, AND I use all the gears. It just means I get to go faster.

      I think the real reason singles are popular is something much dirtier: they’re considered “cool” or “in style”, just like brand-name clothing or Apple products. Therefore I try to avoid them*

      *except on my cruiser bike, which only has one gear. I wish it had more, but that’s just the way it came when I bought it off of a friend, so I live with it.

      Reply
      • Mark May 7, 2012, 2:46 pm

        Not everyone lives in Colorado MMM! Here in Florida, picking one gear ratio and sticking with it is no problem at all. Plus you don’t have to mess with all the deraillers and shifters so maintenance is a bit easier. Yes, I’ll admit I like to look cool but with no hills it’s extremely easy getting used to.
        I’ve ridden in places with hills on my single speed and while I didn’t absolutely hate it, I’m not sure I’d choose that for the long term.

        Reply
      • gooki May 7, 2012, 3:34 pm

        Single speed bikes are fantastic for commuting in flat cities.

        Do you remember the day when you were just a little’n and you got your first BMX? Riding a single speed is just like that buckets of fun, a bike you can throw around and not damage it. Any maintenance, is super simple, and the ride quality is suitably improved (all the mechanical components feel nice a tight), they’re light weight even with a steel frame.

        This is my daily bike:
        http://www.khsbicycles.com/06_urban_soul_12.htm

        I’m in the process of selling my other bikes as the revelation has come that I’ll never ride anything but a single speed bike around this city again.

        Get a good one – try it out and report back.

        Reply
      • Lynae May 7, 2012, 7:07 pm

        My bike that I’m learning on right now is a fixie. That’s partially because it was super cheap AND was otherwise exactly what I wanted, but mostly because I wanted something as simple and uncomplicated as possible. I live in San Francisco, but in a relatively flat part of town. When my skill level is to the point where I’m venturing outside my neighborhood and have to deal with real hills, I’ll probably switch it out for a multiple gear bike.

        The best part about this is that fixed gear bikes are SUPER popular in my area. I purchased it in the suburbs for about 1/3 of what it would sell for here, so I will probably be able to make a nice profit when I sell it.

        Reply
      • Grant May 8, 2012, 5:33 am

        I started riding a singlespeed mountain bike when my first daughter was born, and I wanted something low maintenance for about town and off road use (no time to look after it “properly”). Then I got addicted! I also have a VERY expensive dual suspension mountain bike that is not getting used much (but resale value is too low to warrant selling). It is the worlds greatest myth that a singlespeed is (excessively) tough to ride, and in fact just this past weekend I competed in a 100km off road race on my singlespeed:
        http://app.strava.com/activities/7951146

        For most applications, a singlespeed is perfectly adequate (and lower maintenance, and cheaper) than a geared bike. Caveats: you do need a certain amount of fitness, and gears are fairly essential when carrying a load… I have a geared bike for transporting the kids (1×9, ’cause I was too lazy to put on a front derailluer).

        Fixies on the other hand, belong on the the track.

        Full disclosure: I am addicted to bikes!

        Reply
      • James May 9, 2012, 10:31 am

        As the others have said, single speeds are simpler. I used to have a geared bike, but I recently switched to single speed because I’m lazy and wanted to do as little maintenance as possible. Gears are great to ride with (especially in hilly cities like mine), but a pain to adjust and clean.

        As for being cool, I’m 23 but wear old-man jeans from my local Goodwill, sport a dorky looking helmet, and cannot stand going to bars or partying. I’m about as lame as they get.

        Reply
      • James May 9, 2012, 11:32 am

        Oh and I’m not sure why you don’t buy the “it forces you to work harder” thing. If you work equally hard but move faster, then you’re putting the same level of effort in for a shorter amount of time (i.e., you’re not working as hard). That doesn’t mean single speeds are cooler or more badass, but it does mean they require more work.

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache May 9, 2012, 11:49 am

          You caught me there, James! A single-speed bike won’t change the equation of work = force x distance, but it may succeed at making you a less efficient bike rider, meaning you’d burn more calories getting somewhere.

          I guess I think of it as “I’ve got a limited number of hours in the day to spend biking, but sometimes I want to go as many places during those hours as possible. So I use gears to increase my speed”.

          The gears also allow things to happen that I’m just not strong or fast enough to do with a single speed. Pulling a 100 pound trailer up the very steep hills near my house, accelerating quickly with that trailer through an intersection to stay further from the cars, and occasionally speeding up to 30-40MPH on the downhills, both for fun and to get to faraway destinations such as other cities quickly.

          I do also my simple and lazy single speed cruiser though, for coasting the 10 blocks or so from my house to the restaurant district downtown. I guess we’re all happy with our bikes – that’s what really matters.

          Reply
          • GregK May 11, 2012, 2:26 pm

            Everything you ever wanted to know about fixed gear bikes, but were afraid to ask… plus what you did ask; why people would want them!

            http://sheldonbrown.com/fixed.html

            I don’t agree with this… but I do find it humorous (-:

            “I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five.
            Isn’t it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer?
            We are getting soft…As for me, give me a fixed gear!

            –Henri Desgrange, L’Équipe article of 1902″

            Reply
  • Marianna May 7, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Finally! I can feel superior about SOMETHING among all the commentors who have ‘stashed more dough than moi!

    My bike is a 44cm Redline 9-2-5, which I had painted purple. Its name is Wes Welker. I ride 2.3 miles each way to work every day, 12 months a year in Boston and I work in such a high density (read: ALL THE GRIDLOCK) area that it’s the ONLY way to go. Plus, my employer has limited access, covered bike cages! In 2.5 years of riding it, I think the only (necessary) costs have been several tubes, 1 set of tires, and 1 or 2 sets of brake pads.

    Reply
    • Mason May 7, 2012, 10:59 pm

      I have to know why you named a purple bike Wes Welker

      Reply
      • Marianna May 8, 2012, 11:33 am

        It is tiny and awesome and has a low center of gravity. It was also blue when I bought it.

        Reply
  • Tom May 7, 2012, 1:51 pm

    For readers in the Rochester, NY area, consider buying your bike from R Community Bikes: http://www.rcommunitybikes.net/

    This charity collects used bikes, repairs them with volunteer labor and gives them away to those who need them. In 2011 they gave away 2662 bikes!

    They sell some of the newer / more expensive models at very reasonable prices. My wife and I just bought ourselves bikes (a Trek and a Jamis) for $135 each. We like that we got a good deal, supported a great organization, and re-used old bikes versus adding to the amount of stuff in the world.

    If you don’t live in Western NY, maybe there’s a similar organization near you. If not, consider starting one. It seems like a great way to become more handy, help the less fortunate, and spread Mustachian ideals throughout the land.

    PS – Thought you all would get a kick out of this quote shown on the R Community Bikes website: “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” – H.G. Wells

    Reply
    • GregK May 8, 2012, 12:39 pm

      Buffalo, NY has a similar place called Green Options Buffalo.

      http://www.greenoptionsbuffalo.org

      They fix up and sell bicycles, not give them away. They also provide a workshop full of tools and expert mechanics to give advice and lend a hand here and there if you have an old (or new!) bike that needs some work.

      Reply
  • adam May 7, 2012, 1:54 pm

    I had been looking forward to riding my bike (a target special, beach cruiser) to work every now and then after we move, but my wife says it will be too dangerous. Its a 4 mile trip, 1 mile in the neighborhood, 3 miles on a 55mph 4 lane road with VERY heavy 18 wheeler and other traffic (I work by a container port).

    Someone on a motorcycle was killed in front of the gate like two weeks ago by an 18 wheeler, and I’ve been hit by one in my car before.

    Suggestions?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:52 pm

      Send us the approximate start and end cross-streets and we’ll use Google Maps to see if we can find you a safe route!

      Reply
  • John May 7, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Man is that statement not really true. Not free, requires somewhere to park and ways to prevent theft, hassles of gear upkeep.

    “Bikes are virtually free, and require no insurance, registration, license, parking spaces, or any other hassle.”

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:20 pm

      Didn’t say it was free. I said it was VIRTUALLY free (i.e., the cost is negligible compared to the benefits).
      You can park a bike anywhere – even hang it from the ceiling in if you live in a 40-square-foot closet.
      And as I noted in the article, there almost no “hassles of gear upkeep”. I have a bike, and I have me. We ride every day.
      This article is comparing the convenience of a bike, to the inconvenience of a car. What is the point you’re trying to make by coming here and questioning the validity of that assertion? Mr. Money Mustache MAD!!!

      Reply
      • Mike July 31, 2014, 1:45 pm

        Bicycles commonly do require a license though, including in your town of Longmont. It is free for you however, while some cities do have a charge for this. It is in your benefit to register your bicycle though, in case someone decides to borrow it without telling you and the police later collect it as an abandoned bicycle, they can the notify you to come pick it up from the impound lot.

        “Longmont Municipal Code requires Longmont residents who ride a bicycle on any street or public path set aside exclusively for bicycles, to obtain a bicycle license. Bicycle licenses can be obtained for any authorized bicycle retailer in Longmont or from the Longmont Police Department. The license must be adhered in a prominent place on the bicycle.”

        Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache July 31, 2014, 2:30 pm

          How bizarre! I had no idea this rule was on the books, and I’m pretty sure my fellow cyclists would be equally surprised as I’ve never seen one of these prominently displayed bicycle licenses.

          Ignorance is bliss. I think I’ll keep doing things Anarchy-style (especially since we have pretty minimal theft in the area).

          Reply
    • ultrarunner May 7, 2012, 4:28 pm

      That is some complainypants shit right there, John.

      As an XOM, MRO, COP, and BP shareholder, I applaud you… keep on driving. :)

      Reply
  • Dan G May 7, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Hmm, interesting timing. Today I pulled my bike out of the garage for the first time in 8 months. The last time I rode it resulted in a broken elbow (suffice it to say that I now agree with previous comments about riding on the sidewalk being dangerous.)

    I’ve been riding my scooter everywhere, and I’ve been feeling guilty about it. Sure, the scooter gets great mileage, but it still uses gas and is more expensive to maintain and repair than a bike. I could use it more sparingly.

    My ride today has forced me to consider buying a new bike. The steel-framed one that I own now is just too damned heavy for daily use. Thanks for the links, MMM. Time to do some shopping.

    Reply
  • B May 7, 2012, 2:11 pm

    After watching the Portland video I feel like a real turd for bringing my car to work today. Its only the third time in 2012 but I still feel stupid.

    The bike train was awesome!

    Reply
  • Geek May 7, 2012, 2:13 pm

    Any good very light (20lb, not 32lb) folding bikes out there? I’ve been looking.

    Reply
  • sideways8 May 7, 2012, 2:15 pm

    I’m still using the same bike my parents bought for me when I was about 14 years old. My sister backed over it at one point and bent the back wheel. I finally got it fixed this winter and am trying to convince myself to use it more! I always end up having fun so I just have to get off of my bum!

    Reply
  • $_gone_amok May 7, 2012, 2:17 pm

    At the risk of sounding like a hipster, I’d like to point out that a fixed gear or single speed bicycle requires almost zero maintenance. The simplicity of these singled geared bicycles could be an ideal choice for some people and is worth looking into.

    Reply
  • Steff May 7, 2012, 2:17 pm

    I’m not legally allowed to ride a bike on the road (not being able to see over the handlebars or read road signs and all :)), otherwise I’d be a staunch cyclist. I’m a walker, though, and a train rider (love trains – restore vintage steam locomotives as a hobby).

    When I was a kid, and my normal-eyed sister wanted to learn to ride a bike, my Dad decided there was no reason I couldn’t learn too, so he taught us both down at our local rugby grounds. I never managed to get the bike to remain upright for more than 10 meters and the one time I did, I rode from one end of the field to the other and crashed into the goal posts! That was the end of my flirtation with bike riding – I feel much safer with my feet on the ground :)

    Reply
    • Garrett May 14, 2012, 12:41 pm

      It’s too bad that you couldn’t ride an adult sized trike with a guide. I’m not sure it’d be worth it to go through the trouble but it could be a lot of fun and some of those trikes can hold a ton of stuff in the basket.

      I’ve seen articles and videos about visually impaired mountain bikers that ride hardcore trails with a guide and I’m thoroughly amazed by them. A quick google search turned up the site for this guy:
      http://www.rideblindracing.com/about.shtml

      He’s riding trails as a a visually impaired rider that I hope to one day ride as a fully sighted rider.

      Reply
    • Jen January 14, 2013, 8:52 pm

      I did an organized bike ride that was 225 miles along a rail-trail. There were two brothers riding a tandem recumbent, and the brother in the back was blind! The brother in front would steer, and describe the scenery to the blind brother. He would hold on to the bicycle as his brother guided him around camp. So, perhaps a tandem with a trusted friend/relative? Recumbents are probably easier than uprights, since there are fewer balance issues.

      Reply
  • RubeRad May 7, 2012, 2:32 pm

    Agree Agree Agree! The excuse with which I am maintaining my wussiness is that I live 25mi from work. I have a few times accomplished the commute by bike, but it’s 2hr each way, and that just takes too much life. I realize I need to move closer to work (or find a new job, but the former is a better option for me).

    Meanwhile, here’s my shortcut advice for buying a bike:

    Buy just about any mountain bike off your local Craigslist that is priced in the $100-$200 range.

    You pretty much can’t go wrong with that rule of thumb. With flat handlebars and a more upright riding position, mtn bikes are more comfortable for most riders than road, A front/fork shock/suspension will make it even comfier. Rear suspension is not necessary for any road riding, and not even for trail riding, unless the trails are littered with softball-sized rocks and roots.

    $100-$200 on craigslist translates to $400-$800 original value, and that’s a bike that is right in the sweet spot of (a) not crap that will fall apart with regular use, and (b) not super-fancy, engineered for the extreme demands of racing or really rough off-roading.

    Stay away from bargain brands (i.e. anything you can find at Walmart, Target, or Costco, with the exception of Schwinn or maybe Huffy). Look for names like Trek, Diamondback, Mongoose, Specialized, Giant, GT, probably some others that are slipping my mind.

    For maintenance, buy any $5-$10 patch kit (that includes tire levers) and keep it with the bike (get a seat-bag), and buy a $10-$25 pump you can keep attached to the frame. Learn to patch a flat tube. Practice at home, and you can ride any distance with confidence.

    If you’re ambitious, learn to adjust front and rear derailleurs on your own (required tools: screwdriver, fingers, eyeballs), learn to adjust your brakes (screwdriver, allen wrench), and maybe even learn to tighten spokes to true a slightly wobbly rim (special $5-$10 tool: spoke wrench). There are plenty of how-to videos on youtube for these kinds of things, that if you watch them, it will become instantly clear.

    One last piece of advice, don’t be like the typical american who buys a 4×4 SUV and never leaves the asphalt. Be realistic with yourself; are you really going to ride your “mountain” bike off-road? Or off of fairly smooth, dirt paths? If not, do yourself a favor, go to your local bike shop, and tell them you want a pair of “commuting” tires. Those knobby tires look aggressive and bitchin, but really they just slow you down. Just think if the road were that bumpy, would you rather ride on that or a smooth road?

    Don’t waste money having the bike shop “install” your new tires for you, take them home and put them on yourself, consider it practice for flat repair.

    Oh yeah, one more thing. If you really don’t want to deal with flats, pay under $20 for a pair of Mr. Tuffy tire liners, and go ahead and even have the bike shop “install” them for you. The up-front cost will be amortized over a lifetime of never getting a flat.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 2:38 pm

      Great tips Rube, thanks!

      Reply
      • RubeRad May 7, 2012, 2:50 pm

        Thx MMM for all you do for increasing badassity everywhere!

        I went and read the article you linked to, and that also has very good advice. Stuff I omitted like fit, helmets, clip-“less” pedals etc, as well as many of the same points, like no department/toy store bikes, and a target range of $100-200. Good stuff!

        Reply
        • ultrarunner May 7, 2012, 4:31 pm

          Hey Tulip…it’s not all or nothing… can you drive partway and ride the rest? I have a friend who has an insane commute (about 35 miles one-way, I think) and he drives about 20 to a park-n-ride then rides the last 15. That’s still a LOT of money saved over driving the full monty!

          Reply
          • RubeRad May 9, 2012, 9:21 am

            Yeah, I’ve thought about that; the problem is that I’m already at the limit of my tolerance for commuting in terms of time; it’s about 30-40 minutes each way just with a car. If I make that into a car/bike, then that becomes more like a full hour each way. And I don’t think the gas savings would really be all that significant.

            What I need to do, is to move to within an 8-mile radius of work, then I can bike every day, and simply replace my existing car time with a comparable amount of bike time.

            (Waah Waah Waah, I confess to wussypantsianism!)

            Reply
  • Jimbo May 7, 2012, 2:46 pm

    I’ve been trying to convince myself NOT to buy a folding bike… Because I have a bike. But it’s old, heavy, kinda crappy… So I would still enjoy it. The thing is I feel these folding bikes are so cool! and practical, as space is an issue at home and at work. For commuting, it would be great.

    But they are pretty expensive. Around here, it would be around 700-1000$. That’s a lot. I was thinking of waiting for end of season sales to buy it, using money I save this summer by biking…

    Aaaah, new bike smell…

    Reply
  • Matt May 7, 2012, 3:03 pm

    My wife and do not own bikes and wish that we had a more practical way to use them. We live outside of Houston and have at least a 45 min drive to our work if we leave the house by 5:30am it would be 1.5 hours if we left later. Where we live there are no shoulders and sidewalks are limitied to the subdivisions. The grocery store is within biking distance but the heavy traffic makes it difficult.

    On the upside we work at the same company and they pay each person in a carpool $5 everyday they ride together so that’s an extra $10/day in the bank,

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 4:28 pm

      You can almost definitely ride to the grocery store (send us the nearest cross streets and we’ll find a way!). As for getting to work, you should probably move or find a new job. A commute like that is probably costing you $60,000 or more every ten years, even when carpooling: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/06/the-true-cost-of-commuting/ .. and that’s BEFORE considering the value of your time!

      Reply
      • Matt May 7, 2012, 5:57 pm

        I’m probably being a big wuss with the biking to the grocery store but the jobs we have at our company are well worth it and the benefits are phenomenal, plus we really like it and get to spend time together at work :)

        So now we should look at relocation…We will have our house paid off in 2014 and will probably look into re-locating 2-3 years after that but I would not purchase a rental property in the surrounding neighborhoods much less a primary residence. Oh and as far as the commute, the distance is not so bad (20-25 miles), its the traffic. So for now we will carpool in the dodge caliber and collect the $2400/year they pay us to ride to work together until we can figure something out. I would like to move out of Texas to better non-flat landscape, climate and more bike friendly local but oil and gas tends to be in the most undesirable locations with a few exceptions here and there (crossing our fingers for that Norwegian assignment in a few years)

        Reply
        • Matt May 7, 2012, 6:07 pm

          *punches self in face* I just read your link

          I’m full of excuses today. Maybe we’ll start with trying to find a safe neighborhood…I’ll at least put some effort but if biking distance is not reasonably possible we could at least get closer than we are now…baby steps…and if possibly in biking distance we can start it during the winter months before we start in on the 110 degree summers. still spewing excuses … i just can’t help myself today

          Reply
  • bethh May 7, 2012, 3:11 pm

    So MMM I am curious: what do you do for hauling your purchases & carrying your lock(s)? Do you just backpack it? I have a road bike that I love but it’s not set up with racks to carry stuff and it’s a little bit of a drag wearing a backpack for any hauling, so I don’t use it for errands (but my ‘hood is extremely walkable for that).

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 4:25 pm

      My bike lock, I just hang on the handlebars or frame (it’s just a good long cable combination lock -> you can stretch it around tree trunks and there are no keys to lose!).

      For small trips, I carry stuff in a backpack. For bigger hauls, a bike trailer: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/20/mmm-challenge-try-getting-your-groceries-with-a-bike-trailer/

      Reply
      • bethh May 7, 2012, 5:51 pm

        Ah, that makes sense. I live in the Bay Area and have an irreplaceable bike (I had it custom made 8 years ago (for a surprisingly reasonable cost since I have a friend in the biz who helped get me discounted parts)) so I always use a U-lock and sometimes a cable as well. I HAVE adjusted to the fact that I’d rather use it and risk having it stolen than keep it securely at home!

        Reply
  • CptPoo May 7, 2012, 3:17 pm

    I know many mustachains are against scooters, but I have gotten an incredible amount of use out of mine. MMM said he had over 2,400 miles on his bike since 2008, but I have about 2,800 on my scooter since just last June.

    I live in a Mid-size city in central Indiana which has no shortage of space and sprawl. Land has always been cheap here so most of our city’s are incredibly spread out and in my own city, there often aren’t good ways to get everywhere without riding on roads with traffic going 40-50 mph. At my old apartment, my car path to campus was about 3 miles, but my bike path was almost 5 because of how far I had to go in order to only take less-traveled roads.

    My bike is fantastic for getting to classes and work as both are only about 3 miles away from my home. But I often make trips to other parts of the city, and some days I travel 40 miles or more running errands and other things. I love riding my bike the short distances, but longer distances are a struggle.

    In terms of cost, a scooter isn’t that much more than a bike. My $600 scooter goes through about 2 gallons of gas a month, and I have only spent about $50 maintaining it the first year (including oil changes). I know the cost of maintenance will most likely rise as it gets older, but I am also using this as a chance to learn small engine maintenance since I will be doing all of the work myself.

    Having both has been fantastic, and I have even purchased a second scooter for my wife. She is not nearly as enthusiastic about bike riding as myself (this is a work in progress ;p) so when compared to traveling by car, both of us riding our scooters is still about a 70%-80% reduction in cost.

    I’m thinking my next “car” is going to be the Auto-Moto: http://www.theautomoto.com/

    Reply
  • Alice May 7, 2012, 3:21 pm

    Okay, I know I’ll get blasted for this but living in AZ, 4-6 months of the year we are over 100 degrees and it is just too hot to go out period, not just biking. Sort of like not going biking when its bitter cold in other places.That said, my bike has been taunting me in the garage every time I get in the car. Today I’ll see if I can take a spin around the block. Oh, I don’t have a helmet either. Excuses, excuses, shame on me!

    Reply
    • Tanner May 7, 2012, 4:13 pm

      Phoenix is a terrific place for biking! Excellent infrastructure of bike lanes especially in the burbs. When it gets hot just bring extra water to stay hydrated and dress in breathable clothes. I ride year round here and love it! I keep a fan at my desk and I cool off in 5 to 10 minutes.

      Phoenix also has some great bike co ops where you can buy a helmet cheap or get help with repairs: bike saviours in tempe and rusty spoke in Phoenix.

      Also a single speed is geat in Phoenix because it is so flat, but I do use my road bike with gears for longer rides.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 4:40 pm

        Great to hear some Bike Badassity coming out of Phoenix, Tanner!

        I have an invention that could help with hot desert cycling as well: anything that can spray water on your face while riding. The amount of energy sucked up by the evaporating water is enormous, so it cools you down quickly. Even when I do long rides here in the hottest days of the Colorado summer (100F at 7% humidity), I sometimes alternate between drinking cool water, and dumping it onto my head. Even better would be to try throwing a standard spray bottle into one of my water bottle cages! Of course, in humid climates this idea is mostly useless.. but evaporation in the desert is quite amazing.

        I remember hopping out of a pool in Alice Springs, Australia when the temperature was over 40C. I was freezing cold for a few minutes until my skin dried, then I was instantly searing hot until I returned to the pool.

        Reply
      • poko May 8, 2012, 8:19 pm

        The other thing about biking in hot places is that you get better acclimated to the heat. I live in Austin, and we had near record 100+ degree days last summer. Biking daily (along with roller skating 3x/week in a non-air conditioned warehouse) really increased my heat tolerance. So much so that 85 degrees seemed downright cold when the fall arrived!

        Reply
  • mike crosby May 7, 2012, 3:25 pm

    MMM, feel free to delete this comment. I’m not sure of proper etiquette concerning adding links to a comment, especially when it’s to a video I created.

    Nevertheless, here’s a video I made of my new Honda scooter a few weeks ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Gm1yuKjWJ4&list=UUhBv9TlUwqv31F1VqSICGPg&index=1&feature=plcp

    Reply
  • Glenn May 7, 2012, 3:28 pm

    NY City cyclist here and agree wholeheartedly with this core concept of cycling as a main form of transportation. I became hooked pretty quickly as soon as I started, but it did take a bit of time before I began to actually commute to work on the bike. Perhaps negotiating NYC traffic put me off at first or I just liked the competitive training rides in the parks. Don’t know, but when I did start riding to work, lots of changes happened, in line with what you write about. A smile would come across my face as I hit the peak of the Brooklyn Bridge every day. Nothing better than the sight from up there at 8:00 am. What a great way to start a stressful day. And the stress relief at the end of the day when hopping on the bike…so great.

    Lots of people of course think I’m crazy to ride as much as I do. Crazy happy is all.

    One thing to consider: the best bike for newbies is a bike they will stay with and actually like to ride, so it is very important to choose well. Ride lots of bikes and get sized up and fitted correctly before you buy. I’ve seen so many people take up cycling and quickly drop it due to poor purchase. And nothing’s more anti-Mustachian than buying something that gets no use.

    My tendencies are toward lightweight road bikes, especially if distance is a factor. Plenty of great used ones on ebay and Craigslist (in urban areas). My commute is 12 miles each way, and I can’t imaging doing it on my mountain bike. It’s just to heavy, thick and slow…hell, it’s made for off road cycling, duh. With almost no elevation to worry about either, I ride single speed for absolute simplicity and ease of maintenance.

    Just get a bike y’all.

    Reply
  • Joe May 7, 2012, 4:16 pm

    This BY FAR the best MMM post of all time! Thank you so much for writing it!

    Reply
  • Kristina May 7, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Any creative ideas of what to do with very full teenage back packs on a bike ride?

    Reply
  • Becky May 7, 2012, 4:38 pm

    I can’t ride a bike. I fall. (I even had professional lessons. Inner ear problem.). So aside from that and being hugely pregnant, it sounds like a good idea. Good thing I like walking.

    Reply
    • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple May 7, 2012, 7:04 pm

      I don’t fall, but I’m with you on the hugely pregnant. I can’t wait to start up again, but that won’t be until October most likely.

      Reply
      • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 9:00 pm

        Around here, we have the concept of “pregnancy bikes”, where during the biggest belly times from 6-9 months, the ladies switch to a very laid-back cruiser bike with huge handlebars, and preferably a glossy glitter pink color scheme. It’s a nice way to announce to the world to look out for you and give you extra space!

        Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 1:38 pm

      They make tricycles for adults.
      Once you are no longer pregnant, that would take care of the falling issue.

      Reply
  • Lucas Smith May 7, 2012, 5:15 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts on bikes. I just finally broke down and got rid of my trusty bike of 18 years (bought it used for $100 when I was 11 in 1994). It was probably the best $100 I will ever spend due to its use and many of the factors you cited about it helping shape me and my life.

    My trusty Schwinn Woodlands bike needed two new tires and tubes (sidewalk pinch flats), new brakes, and was taking on lots of rust from the Hawaiian climate its time had finally come. 18 years of good service and 1000s of miles riding all over warren county (PA), off roading, back and forth to highschool, around college (when my knee wasn’t in some form of brace), commuting to work in DC, and catching the boat to work in Hawaii is pretty good for a bike. It is just sad to see it go as this bike has enabled me to go places for most of my life. Some parts (seat, pedals, lights, bike rack, pump, etc. . ) of the bike were salvaged and made their way onto my wifes old but newer bike (which was an old bike from my family as well) as it has held up better here in Hawaii (more aluminum parts).

    Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 1:43 pm

      Extensive rust can possibly be dangerous, as if it goes far enough, the frame can break unexpectedly.

      But for future reference, brake pads, tubes, and tires are all normal maintenance items. They cost much less than a new bike to replace.
      That would be like replacing a car because it needs an oil change.

      Reply
  • Dan May 7, 2012, 5:41 pm

    Walking…FTW.

    For most of my errands, I don’t save time by taking a bike…locking it, rain, etc., so I just use the walk + bus.

    Reply
  • Cin C. May 7, 2012, 5:43 pm

    I agree, Walking FTW. My excuse: I don’t ride a bike because I hate riding them. I hated it when I was eight and I hate it now. I’ve never felt comfortable going over 4 mph without metal encasing me. But then I’ve never had a license and don’t drive either. My primary mode of transportation is my feet or the bus. I have no problem walking 45 minutes to an hour to work and back, so maybe it evens out?

    Reply
    • gooki May 7, 2012, 6:44 pm

      Nothing wrong with walking. I find it even more leisurely and relaxing than cycling.

      Reply
      • Tina May 8, 2012, 5:47 am

        Ditto. For round trips of up to 4km or so, I walk – dragging my kids and older dogs with me. No equipment necessary.

        Reply
  • Brian May 7, 2012, 6:03 pm

    I have biked to work for about 7 years now. A few tips that haven’t been covered.
    * Wear bright neon. I can’t fathom why anyone would hop on a bike without being slathered in the color. Ikea sells a safety vest for $5 http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/50200916/. $30 high viz bike jerseys at performance bike is a more expensive alternative.
    * Invest in a good tail light. The Portland Design Works Danger Zone Tail Light, on Amazon for less than $30, is a cheap way of prolonging your expected life.
    * Ride like you were invisible. By assuming that you are invisible, you are essentially minimizing the possibility of getting hit when it’s someone else’s fault. By wearing bright green, you are minimizing the chance of getting hit when you do something dumb. I was a safety engineer at Boeing for 4 years. In safety engineering terms, this requires TWO FAILURES for something bad to happen: for you to do something dumb and for the driver to not see you and react when you do something dumb. Granted, when you do something really dumb, you could get killed no matter what you are doing. Every few years, we all have brain farts. I had one a few weeks ago. I broke my ride like i’m invisible rule and made a right turn at a red light that I shouldn’t have made. My hi viz gear probably kept me from getting hit since the driver reacted to my dumb move.
    * Along with my “no single failure” advice, don’t solely rely on a single taillight. I have a reflective vest that I wear on my backpack if my batteries die mid trip. Redundancy, my friends, will keep you alive.

    Reply
    • Dee May 8, 2012, 4:04 am

      Thank you, Brian, for the tips and the reassurance that it is expected human conduct that we will mess up and do something dumb on occasion. After reading this post last night, I went out for a bike ride. I wound up doing something dumb (unsafe lane change, where designated bicycle lane shifted from the right of the road to one lane over — I was just following the lane (but did signal my lane change) rather than actually assessing whether I could change lanes at that time, and, in fact, there was a car coming and a close call for a collision). It is reassuring to get a reminder that these things do happen (not just to me) on occasion.

      Reply
      • Brian May 8, 2012, 7:02 am

        Glad to hear that you didn’t get killed. It is very important to acknowledge that we all make mistakes as humans. They are inevitable. The problem is that when we make a mistake while driving, we ding our fender. When we make a mistake while biking, we die.

        I don’t think I elaborated sufficiently on the ride like you’re invisible comment. I mean, ride like you are invisible. Don’t assume that cars can see you until you are absolutely certain that they do. For example, if you are cruising down a residential road and you see a car backing out of a driveway, you absolutely can’t assume that they see you. I will slow down and stop if I don’t make certain eye contact with a driver. That act has probably saved my life in my 25 year life of biking.

        Unlike many hard core bikers, I see no shame in sidewalk biking. In my 7 years of commuting, I think I have come across a total of about 5 pedestrians on non-residential sidewalks. I’m willing to piss off one pedestrian a year to preserve my life. Nobody walks in non-residential sidewalks! Even given a decent bike lane, I will ride on the sidewalk if there is a busy road. Again, by riding on a bike lane, you are assuming that people see you. I don’t like to entrust my lives to a bunch of texting teenagers speeding down on me at 50mph on a 35mph road. With that said, if you ride on the sidewalk, you have to be awfully careful about intersections. If you treat intersections as you would while you are a pedestrian, you’ll be fine. If you blow through intersections like you have the right of way, you’ll get killed.

        Your biggest asset while riding a bike is an undistracted, alert mind and a feeling that you alone are solely responsible for your safety.

        Reply
  • Nephi May 7, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Ever since I got married the beginning of last month, I’ve been riding my bike the 3 miles to my work, and everywhere else that is within that distance and doesn’t require more storage than our new bike trailer will provide. At first I was riding my bike on the street like I’m supposed to but I have found that unless there is a shoulder on the road or an actual bike lane there are tons of drivers who honk their horns and yell at me. So on those streets I ride on the sidewalk. There happens to be a Gold’s Gym across the street from where I work, so I use their bike rack. Ironically, nobody else does. At most there has only been two bikes other than mine, but the parking lot is full of cars. I don’t personally enjoy the morning commute, but it’s actually better than it was driving my parents car before I was married. I warm up much faster by bike and I don’t have to worry about falling asleep at the wheel in the morning. My wife and I are looking at buying a tandem bike, and I was wondering if anyone on here has experience with them? I’m wondering how practical they are compared to a regular bike.

    Reply
  • Tev May 7, 2012, 6:27 pm

    Does anybody have any thoughts regarding the overall safety of the actual city? I just took a new job only 6 miles from my house, but it is in the center of Reading, PA (ranked #6 in crime in the US for cities of its size.) My sister has been punched in the face on her bike before (luckily nothing worse.) I already make sure my car doors are locked every time I enter the city limits.. I’m just not sure about being out on a bike. I don’t even like walking the 1 block from my parking lot to my building! I’m not worried about the sweat or the roads, pretty much just my personal safety. My little car gets good gas mileage so a month of commuting is only 1 tank of gas (and I have a small tank heh so never more than $30.) Maybe for my safety $30 a month is OK? Or maybe I am just not Mustachian level badass yet…

    Reply
    • Stubbily mustahe May 8, 2012, 7:30 am

      It seems pretty tough to get jumped on a bike if you are aware of your surroundings, at least not more likely than getting carjacked. As someone who lives in a city with crime one thing I would suggest is investing in one of those hi security u locks instead of chain or combination ones. I learned that lesson two stolen bikes later where someone cut te chains… If you are really paranoid I’ve had friends who carry tazers/pepper spray/knives/guns in cities but that seems like overkill unless you work nights.

      Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 1:54 pm

      Depending on your state, you might get away with this:
      http://www.gpscheap.com/images/Product/medium/71146.jpg

      If not, a less extreme, and universally legal version would be this:
      http://personalsavers.com/blog/?p=228

      Reply
  • Michelle May 7, 2012, 6:50 pm

    Just wanted to add that I think its important for kids to have a good quality bike as well. On two separate occasions I’ve seen the pedals snap off those cheap Walmart kids bikes, and since those bikes aren’t really meant to be fixed they just end up in a land fill. A quality bike also makes learning to ride easier and more fun. My 5 year-old regularly does 5-10 mile rides with me on his little 16 inch Specialized. It’s light, can take a beating, is easy to repair, and could probably get passed around Craig’s List for years and years before getting thrown away.

    Reply
  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple May 7, 2012, 6:51 pm

    I miss riding my bike. It’s not only the money savings and the exercise, it’s also the relaxation. My husband feels it too.

    For some reason, biking 10 miles (45-50 min to work) is just a lot more relaxing than driving and going to the gym on the side. I can just chill out, think, get fresh air.

    My bike is a Schwinn, that was probably $300 when I bought it in 1998. Not all of the gears work anymore, but I still have 7 of the 21 (if I shift out of the highest gear on the other set, I might not be able to shift back). I’ve paid a little extra for slick tires (it’s a hybrid with mountain bike tires). But I’ve never ever gotten a flat.

    As far as safety goes, it really depends on where you live. I made a recommendation to a coworker who moved here and lives near me. I gave him the 3 options and told him that I just took surface streets. He tested them all and went with my option (going through the University at the wrong time and you are surrounded by kids doodling along on their cell phones).

    But I’d have to say that if I were living in rural PA (my home town), there are very few places I’d be willing to ride my bike to work. There are a lot of nice, rural roads where people drive too fast (but there aren’t a lot of cars), but not a lot of them can get you from point A to point B. Those are mostly 2 lane roads with 55 mph speed limit and no berm.

    Reply
    • Philip May 8, 2012, 7:48 pm

      You might want to get your bike serviced at a bike shop. That sounds a like a cheap fix.

      I have a rule of thumb on bike repair:

      An oil change on a car is the same cost as minor service on a bike.
      Minor service on a car is the same cost as major service on a bike.
      Major service on a car is the same cost as a new bike–perhaps a very nice bike.

      Reply
  • Joe @ Retire By 40 May 7, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Excuse me while I go inflate my bike’s tires. *shamefully walk off*
    We walk and talk public transportation mostly. Biking doesn’t work for me, but I’ll head out tomorrow for an easy ride around the neighborhood.

    Reply
  • blindsquirrel May 7, 2012, 7:31 pm

    I live in the semi sticks outside of a large Ohio city and have a 25 mile commute. I drive a 98 Geo Metro 3cyl and average about 52 mpg per tank. (better drivers do much better than this) Gas, oil, parts and insurance, and depreciation do not add up to anywhere near 50 cents a mile. If you include acquisition costs of $1127,(that includes tax and first year plates) insurance, gas, oil, and parts over the last 11094 miles I have driven, I am at 22 cents a mile since I got the Clown Car. The purchase price contribution will drop greatly with time. If you exclude the acquisition cost I am at about 13 cents a mile, the car would sell for more than I paid for it in 2 days on CL, if you count appreciation in the vehicle I am probably below 10 cents a mile. If gas hits $5 a gallon I can more than double my money. Maybe when I am an advanced rider I will try a commute as I bought a bike off CL this past weekend and have been riding it the to lose some weight. Enjoy riding the bike for fun, but I am not into commuting. Just my 2 cents and if you want to save some cash driving, check out ecomodder.com

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 8:55 pm

      Yup, you’ve definitely mastered the art of low-cost driving. But you still need to work on that biking. Even if driving were free, or even if I got PAID to do it, I’d still bike.

      Reply
      • blindsquirrel May 8, 2012, 3:18 pm

        You are very correct and I am restarting my biking due to your inspiring blog. Sound pretty f in corny but very true!

        Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 1:57 pm

      You might want to take a look at the latest blog post on ecomodder ;)

      Reply
  • Hanah May 7, 2012, 7:50 pm

    I’m a pretty serious urban cyclist, and I’ve recently been in the market for a new bike, so here’s my take on a buying guide. It’s a bit different from Rube’s, so you may like to compare and contrast.
    1. Second MMM’s $500 MSRP if you’re buying new. That will get you a good bike with solid components that will last for years with little or no maintenance. It also excludes anything from Walmart or other non-specialty store (which are low-quality and you will pay for again and again in repairs). Paying more will just buy you unnecessary gimicks (suspension – not necessary, one more thing to break; disc brakes, not necessary for urban riding).
    1.a) Used is an option if you’re really tight on cash, but this is a case where it may be better to get exactly what you want and pay a bit more for it. If you don’t have the right bike (see point 2), you will not want to ride it often.
    2. For urban cycling, choose a hybrid or commuter. These bikes have a comfortable, efficient, fairly upright geometry for city riding. You probably want 8-21 gears (the higher number if your city is on a major hill). If your city is flat as a pancake, you could have a 3-speed cruiser. Single-speed bikes or “fixies” are trendy now, but most people will be happiest with at least a few gears. Regular (derailleur) gears are fine; if you want to splash out a bit more, hub gears are pretty much indestructible.
    3. Accessories:
    a) Baskets or panniers (these attach to a rear rack). This is what you will carry your stuff to work on. SO MUCH BETTER THAN A BACKPACK.Trust me. If you’re single, they will also do the trick for all your groceries. If you have a family, you may want a trailer.
    b) Fenders. Nuff said. Buy the kind that come almost half way around your wheel (on the back).
    c) Air Zound compressed air horn. ‘Cause drivers can’t hear your little bell. Cost: $20; increase in safety, priceless.
    d) Lock. You bought a $500 bike, now buy a u-lock. Pay $50 if you live in a low-theft city, $100 in a high-theft city. Just do it. Otherwise you will lose your bike and be bitter about it and it will turn you off cycling. Use the mount that comes with it to attach it to your bike, then you don’t have to worry about it weighing 5lbs.
    e) Lights. Others have talked about this. Use them.
    f) Eventually, buy a pair of cycling rain pants. Suddenly, cycling in the rain becomes no big deal.
    g) Winter: if you live somewhere where it will go below around 20F, you may want a face mask (e.g. http://www.rei.com/product/801665/rei-performance-headliner). Plus, you get to look like a cycling ninja.
    4. Folding bikes are a good option if you have to take your bike on a subway or train. Having ridden one quite a lot, you sacrifice some practicality and stability.
    Happy riding!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 8:53 pm

      Great advice – but after reading it, I feel quite lucky to live in a city where even a $15 U-lock would be gross overkill.. let alone a $50 or $100 one!

      I don’t even lock my bike up at home or for short trips into the store. I do lock it up downtown and especially when it visits areas near universities. But one of the benefits of living in a city where the thieves aren’t bikers, is that nobody wants to steal your bike. Oddly enough, I had to deal with frequent bike theft problems when I lived in Canada. Here in the Boulder area, nothing.

      Reply
      • ANGULO May 8, 2012, 9:39 pm

        Here in Miami.if you live near the filthy Miami River,you can see cargo
        vessels loaded with mounds and mounds of bicycles on their way to Haiti…I can almost guarantee that most of those bikes are not donated
        but rather…appropiated.
        When my nephew was a kid living down here,twice in less than a year
        he was mugged at the park and his bicycle taken from him by groups
        of thugs. We didn’t even live in “Da Hood” per se but close to it(The Allapatah neighborhood)
        Just in the last 2 weeks we’ve had 2 fatalities in the news of bike riders getting run over
        Miami is extremely bike-unfriendly.

        Reply
        • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 10:28 pm

          Miami has on average about 500 car accident deaths each year (or about 10 per week) – they just don’t get in the news.

          http://www.city-data.com/county/Miami-Dade_County-FL.html

          http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/node/497/39

          So while it way be true that biking on Miami streets is dangerous, its also incredibly dangerous to drive.

          The news shows things that are interesting, and common things aren’t interesting. Anything you see reported, there is a pretty good chance it is a rare event.

          Reply
        • Mr. Money Mustache May 8, 2012, 11:02 pm

          You’re missing the point. Miami is even more car-unfriendly than it is bike-unfriendly. There’s no such thing as a US city where a car is a better choice than a bike. The only problem is the negative attitudes and ridiculous laundry list of excuses everyone keeps coming up with. They’re all BULLSHIT!!!

          There are dozens or hundreds of people who read this blog, who live in Miami, who bike everywhere. Many of them don’t even own cars.

          THEY have figured it out. So it MUST be possible. Instead of making excuses about why they must all be crazy, let’s LEARN FROM THEM instead!

          That’s the lesson of this blog – learn from people who have succeeded at various things, rather than shooting down their ideas.

          P.S. – the filthy Miami River and a horrible city that is entirely bicycle-unfriendly throughout. Wanna see a picture? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Miami_Riverwalk.jpg

          Reply
    • Grant May 8, 2012, 6:01 am

      I always found if I wore a raincoat/pants I got just as wet from sweat as if I didn’t wear that stuff in the rain. Fenders are the answer!

      Reply
    • kiwano May 8, 2012, 8:46 am

      > “Paying more will just buy you unnecessary gimicks (suspension – not necessary, one more thing to break; disc brakes, not necessary for urban riding).”

      Amen, especially on the disc brakes for urban riding. Disc brakes stop working properly when discs get warped, and urban riding provides way too many brake-warping opportunities for disc brakes to even approach being a good idea. Basically, if the bike is ever parked where there are a lot of people doing people-type things, they’ll hit the discs in the process, and ruin the brakes.

      > “Air Zound compressed air horn. ‘Cause drivers can’t hear your little bell. Cost: $20; increase in safety, priceless.”

      Though yelling “Hey asshole!” is free. (To be fair, I have both a bell and a compressed air horn on my bike. The bell is a brass bell (many bells are aluminum, and don’t make any sound at all in the rain) with a metal spring on the striker (strikers that count on the elasticity of plastic to bring the striker to the bell don’t work in the cold), and is something that I ring frequently as a sort of “Hi motorist, just a head’s up that I’m here, so please don’t open your door/pull out in front of me/etc.”, and I save the horn to mean “Hey asshole! Everyone else manages to hear my bell and not be a dick. Maybe you should pay attention to your surroundings while operating heavy machinery in a crowded area, like a halfway-responsible fucking idiot?”

      Reply
      • fwttg May 8, 2012, 5:30 pm

        I think disc brakes have their place. My commute involves a long hill in a wet climate. Perhaps it’s my age but a few years ago I started getting uncomfortable flying down that hill in the dark hoping to be able to stop if the light changed or I had to avoid a car so I picked up a bike with disc brakes from Craigslist.

        It’s made all the difference in the world. The disc brakes are consistent wet or dry and I can let loose again. In dry weather it’s back to the wonderful old bike with U-brakes!

        Also, Bakari, thanks for the pepper spray link. Perhaps my age again but a good kick used to be the answer when dogs came at me. Now I’m not so comfortable doing that and have been looking for exactly that pepper spray set up.

        Reply
  • Chris May 7, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Way to bring things back to the center with a simple concept like bike riding. The wife and I have been substituting 1 or 2 trips into town with bike rides lately and have even attached a dog-walker so my pup can come along too.

    I think the ‘stache is on to something here. Something so simple as bike riding does have several layers of implications-saves fossil fuel, less pollution, easier on the wallet and great health benefits.

    The last thing I’ve noticed, since begining to ride a bike again, is that it forces you to be “in the moment.” I’m more aware of the weather, the air, the birds, other people, my thoughts, my fitness level and how noisy, loud and hauling azz fast, cars are.

    Reply
  • LMHB May 7, 2012, 8:19 pm

    Ah, but why would I bike when I can walk? There is nowhere right now that I can get to by bike that I wouldn’t rather walk to, even if it takes 2 hours instead of 20 minutes. Any love for those of us who prefer to hoof it?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 7, 2012, 8:48 pm

      That’s great if you have mastered your life and your time to such a degree that you never need the extra speed afforded by a bike. Maybe in a few more decades I will be so calm!

      Then again, nah, I’ll still love my bike, because ZOOM! Speed and wind in your eyes is fun!

      Reply
  • MacGyverIt May 7, 2012, 8:36 pm

    Last Saturday I took my first bike ride in many years (for physical ailment reasons) and I had forgotten what joy biking brought to me! YAY!! The bike I have was given to me in 2007 and it’s a little too tall for my liking but I’m going to keep at it in the hopes it’ll grow on me/I don’t have to buy something else. I will say, I recently bought the Kryptonite bike lock and all though reputable it’s a pain to use and if there is no bike stand available, folks may want to consider instead of/in addition to purchasing a traditional chain so you’ve got a little more room to hook up to a pole/piller/etc. I’m less than two miles from a grocery store which I’ve never frequented b/c they are pricer but I’m considering the idea so I can avoid driving and the dreaded finding-a-space-in-the-crowded-parking-lot scenario. Maybe I’ll ride over there this weekend just to make notes on their prices compared to my other grocery options.

    Reply
  • Philip May 7, 2012, 8:42 pm

    Great article. It’s doesn’t taking much cycling to do yourself some good. Don’t worry about the cycling you can’t do. Do what you can and it will grow from there. Just keep asking yourself why you need the car and you’ll bike more. Even when I’m not willing to ride to work, I can ride to the grocer, to go to the drug store, to go to the liquor store, to get a haircut, to go church, to get takeout, to visit a friend. If it’s under a mile I just use the bike.

    Need to carry stuff all the time? Get a basket. If that’s not enough capacity consider a cargo bike: https://www.google.com/search?q=cargo+bike I have one. It’s all I ride now.

    Reply
  • Johonn May 7, 2012, 8:44 pm

    I don’t think anyone’s mentioned this yet. There is another great option for self-powered transport: the Footbike (or other similar creations).
    http://www.footbikeusa.com/pages/the-footbike.php
    These are great for several reasons: much less mechanical stuff to worry about, just wheels and a frame, you can get a more full-body workout by using one, etc. You can go close to 20 mph, because it’s got bigger wheels than a traditional scooter, and it’s got bike brakes, instead of those step-brakes you get with traditional scooters.
    They’re available on Amazon – they used to be around $120-150 for the basic model, but unfortunately now they’re up around $300 for some reason. At any rate, I think these are great alternatives if you’re looking for a bit more full-body exercise or just a change from biking!

    Also, I’ve finally caught up to the current posts! I started reading this blog back in September. My new wife and I are planning to put many of these tips into practice.
    Now that I’ve caught up, I want to add a picture with a mustache by my comments, but I can’t figure out where to do that…? I even made a profile in the forums, and uploaded a picture there, but that didn’t change anything on the blog… Anyone want to give me a hint?

    Reply
    • Emmers May 8, 2012, 8:16 am

      Reply
    • kris May 9, 2012, 12:34 am

      I think people use this http://en.gravatar.com/

      Reply
      • Johonn May 19, 2012, 8:57 am

        Ahh thanks. I hadn’t gone there because I assumed it was just a site that allowed you to edit an avatar for yourself :P
        Made an account, let’s see if it works.

        Reply
    • Moses May 9, 2012, 7:32 am

      Johonn,
      It took us over an hour to figure out why our website hits were blowing off of the charts. Then to read through this blog to figure out why. Thanks for the props! Yes, we did have a $150 Footbike for a while. That was our ‘investor- request- department- store- special’. Thankfully we are sold out of those and have gone back to our ‘bike quality’ pro-models. Many of you have never seen a Footbike, of which there is a method to that madness. People love to discover, and discovering a Footbike under your own will is a fantastic way to learn about footbiking. If you want to the full tour, visit the world association site at iksaworld.com. The one minute tour is that the Footbike was born as a low-impact running machine, now it is something different to everyone. Dog Mushers, Cross-Trainers, Cyclists, Rehabilitation, and fun and fitness Crazy Folks. Don’t like the bike seat, Footbike. Like to walk too, Footbike. Again thanks for the props. Anyone visiting mrmoneymustache will receive a handsome mustache discount if they mention this website when then contact us at moses at footbikeusa dot com. Just Kick It!

      Reply
  • jenny May 7, 2012, 9:08 pm

    I am a former portlander and I don’t think bikes make it cooler. I think great urban growth, consideration of pedestrians and excellent public transit do. it just so happens a lot of places that encourage biking discourage car transit and also encourage public transit.

    That said I don’t know how to ride a bike, and almost nowhere teaches adults to do so. I find it weird that indie hip bike shops will teach people how to do all these things on bikes but not how to ACTUALLY RIDE ONE. If you want to change the world with bike riding, teach people! :)

    Reply
    • Lynae May 7, 2012, 11:45 pm

      Jenny, I just learned how to ride a bike, and honestly, you don’t need anyone to teach you. The best way to do it is to just get on it and keep trying over and over! Once you figure out how to balance, it does help to have someone hold onto the back while you get started, since starting’s the hardest part…but it’s not necessary. I’d be happy to give you some more advice if you need it!

      People just assume that all adults know how to learn.

      Reply
      • Tundra May 8, 2012, 12:10 am

        I too learned to bike only a few years ago and love riding to work -only two miles each way but sometimes have encounters with wildlife or inebriated people. An accident kept me from riding for a year, now I am back again. Always make eye contact with right and left turning vehicles, and wear a neon vest or jacket. You can learn how to bike and it is absolutely worth it!

        Reply
    • Fangs May 8, 2012, 5:04 pm

      Hi, Jenny, I just learned at age 45 how to ride. October has been my inspiration and I found a lot of great videos and advice on the web. Just be prepared to mess around. I scooted around for a day or two, learning balancing, all in 10-15 minutes stretches, 5-6 times a day. (I started on a weekend). You can do this–I’m still wobbly but I can ride :)

      Reply
  • Hanne van Essen May 7, 2012, 11:58 pm

    I am from the Netherlands, so the advice: Get a bike! is for me and most people in my country not really necesary. We all have them! Using them always is another matter, and because of this blog I have been taking the bike to the supermarket a lot more lately. Good for my 4-year old as well, he bikes with me and we both like that.
    When riding the bike in the city with my kids, I usually try to figure out the safest path in advance, because they all don’t pay that much attention to other traffic yet. Only one way to learn though, ride with them and point out the dangerous situations.
    But of course we have the luxury of many bike-paths. Here is a youtube film I came across about ‘how the Dutch got their cyclepaths’. Interesting!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuBdf9jYj7o

    Reply
  • Huck May 8, 2012, 12:00 am

    A couple other bicycling benefits that I enjoy:

    1) the social aspect – I routinely see neighbors outside their house as I ride through the ‘hood to and from work and its great to shout out “hey, good morning Clay!”. I also like saying hi to the other bike riders as several of us gather at an intersection waiting for a light to turn green…you just can’t be social like that when you are in a car.

    2) being one with your surroundings – ok that sounds corny, but feeling the weather on your skin, knowing the subtle rise and fall of the landscape, smelling all the smells (man made, natural, good, and bad), seeing the wildlife…it just makes you feel more alive!

    A motivating factor for me is my kids. I grew up just thinking you drove everywhere because that is what my parents did, so adopting the cycling lifestyle took (er…is taking) some work and effort. But I want my kids to grow up believing that riding your bike is just what you are supposed to do…that its natural and normal. I’m a long way from car free, but I continually try to find ways to do more riding and less driving.

    Reply
  • elai May 8, 2012, 1:59 am

    Do you have a bike computer that you leave on all of your bikes?

    Reply
  • Ann May 8, 2012, 3:54 am

    This post really struck a chord and pushed me out of my lurk comfort zone on this badass blog… I’ve been biking to work for over a year now. My husband and I share a car, but then I realized how much the switch to biking could save. At work I get reimbursed for half the cost of a monthly public transportation pass (23 euros out of 46), whether I take public transit or not. By not buying the monthly pass, and usually being able to get through 2 months of occasional metro/bus use on a 10-trip pass (12 euros), I’m saving 40 euros per month (480 euros per year) by biking! So one year of biking essentially covered all of my start up costs (bike, helmet, reflective vest, lights, lock, etc.), and hopefully regular maintenance will take care of the rest. It’s a great way to wake up in the morning and I love coasting home at the end of the day. And if it rains? Nothing beats a cup of tea on arrival at work or a hot shower at home. Great post, MMM!

    Reply
  • Osprey May 8, 2012, 6:55 am

    I would love to ride a bike to run errands. Whenever I talk about it people make jokes about “petrol power” or say I would get mugged/raped/worse. We do live in a high-crime country and my family & friends have suffered through hijacking and armed robberies, so I’d hate for them to worry every time I’m out. However, there are plenty of people walking around in my neighbourhood so I think the fears are unfounded. Dilemma or wussypants excuse? :(

    Reply
    • Oelsen May 8, 2012, 8:02 am

      Nobody can attack you If you drive fast enough. And If they do, they could also stop you in a car. But by cycling around, if you do not have those globally recognizable regalia of richness (iPod, fancy cloths, carbon framed bicycle etc.), you display a net loss to a potential robber. Robbing someone has to be efficient enough. Someone driving a car has for sure some money. Someone driving a bicycle with groceries has spent it already. But this depends for sure on the local Veblen goods. If owning a reasonably fast bicycle is a upper class sign, you lost.

      Reply
      • Osprey May 8, 2012, 3:56 pm

        Thanks for the advice. I always try to be inconspicuous although it’s difficult where I live, given my race and gender. No fancy goods though; I even wear a gross cap and carry an old old cellphone. :)

        Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 2:04 pm

      You said it yourself “my family & friends have suffered through hijacking”
      In other words: a car does not make you safe.

      Reply
    • Osprey May 8, 2012, 3:50 pm

      Um. Thanks guys for the advice. I’m more concerned about making my family and friends worry (being selfish) than my actual safety. Small point but I wasn’t clear: hijackings included bicycles and motorbikes, as well as a few incidents with cars. I’m pretty much blase about that kind of thing by now but, you know, my mother isn’t.
      Anyone have experience like this? Maybe lady joggers or something? I should probably post in the forum…

      Reply
      • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 4:38 pm

        Handlebar mounted pepper spray.

        There are all sort of different mounting options for attaching small cylindrical things to handlebars, and that can be a can of Mark 5 pepper spray just as easily as a flashlight.
        When I was a security guard, I carried Fox brand – never had to use it myself, but have heard good things about it. They even make a carrier specifically meant for bikes.

        That would not only provide some actual self-defense, but also tangible evidence for mom that you are aware of the risks, and taking steps to mitigate them.

        Maybe some Brazillian jui-jitsu lessons too – its a martial art that is focused more on self-defense than art and style, and which was specifically so a smaller/weaker person could defend against a large attacker.

        And lastly, program your phone with the local police emergency number, because a cell phone often doesn’t call the nearest department when you dial 911.

        Let mom know what your doing and why, and remind her that people get carjacked in cars sometimes too, so that doesn’t guarantee your safety anyway.

        Reply
        • Osprey May 8, 2012, 11:03 pm

          Actually that’s a pretty good idea. I’m going to dust off my old bicycle and give it a go. I have decided that other people’s fear is not my problem anyway (but pepper spray would help, and I have some for my bag already!)

          Reply
  • Jeff May 8, 2012, 7:59 am

    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that next week is national bike to work week. This should be a Mustachian challenge.

    Reply
  • kiwano May 8, 2012, 8:55 am

    I can already hear the complainypants moaning…

    …but it’s not safe to ride on the road:

    Nonsense: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/index.shtml

    …but my bike is broken, and mechanics are expensive:

    Then fix it yourself: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/

    …but I can’t find the repair information I need on that link there:

    Ok, try this one: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help

    …but I live in a city and it’ll get stolen:

    Then lock it up well: http://www.streetfilms.org/hal-grades-your-bike-locking/
    http://www.streetfilms.org/hal-and-kerri-grade-your-bike-locking/
    http://www.streetfilms.org/hal-grades-your-bike-locking-3-the-final-warning/

    Reply
    • Povilas July 17, 2014, 4:44 am

      I tried to read some links about locking bikes. It’s all nonsense – if you really follow newest techs in locking “industry”, you’ll learn quit quickly that thieves learn how to unlock/cut them quite fast. There is NO RELIABLE LOCK and there will never be one. And yes, I’m talking about those locks, which alone cost at least quarter of a bike.

      The stealing is so often, that it’s real concern in Europe. To be specific, I’m Lithuanian (Eastern Europe), who moved to London recently. Both places are terrible. I agree some bikes are lost for stupidity and not knowing which lock is good, which bad or how and where to lock bikes.

      But bikes disappears even from in home depots (where is shared bike area for all the flat owners/renters), which has CCTV. The police will say that face is not visible enough or even it it is, what they will do? It’s just a bike (just in case you are wondering they were locked correctly and you need a code just to enter the building, another lock to enter bikes shed).

      One solution is to buy the least expensive locking stuff, which will allow you to get insurance. Depending on bike/insurance company. Insurance cost will always be the same as bike price in 7 to 10 years. Add the expensive locks, for at least 70$ (trying to convert 50£). Also, any gadget you have, like odometer, lights – don’t forget to take them with you – means you need to carry a bag for everything on your bike. That’s just nonsense.

      Well, that’s not so much money. What concerns me more is to think constantly if you’ll find your bike after work/shopping/visiting friend and so on. Where to lock it, to carry it to 4th or 5th floor to your friends place and so on (in Lithuania there is no lift usually if building is only 5 floor tall (ground floor here is 1).

      The solution for me was to drive my ~12 year old bike, which I acquired in school. Added the lock, which costs the same as the bike. If the bike would get stolen I wouldn’t really care and because the bike is in such a bad shape, no one would steal it anyway – of course, there isn’t much pleasure driving the peace of crap, but it’s still much better than car :)

      Reply
  • KMW May 8, 2012, 9:23 am

    I highly recommend any cyclist, even if you’ve been cycling for years. take free courses from the League of American Bicyclists. Check with your local bike coalition to see if they occur in your area. I took their beginner class on road cycling and couldn’t believe how much I learned, even after cycling for 20 years. Every bicyclist and every driver should take these courses! You will learn exactly how to ride in traffic, when to take the lane, when not to, tips for avoiding accidents, etc. Incredible resource.

    Reply
  • Jan May 8, 2012, 10:15 am

    Terrific article. I loved biking and walking when I lived in the city, and I had no car for 7 years. Now I live in in a remote part of MN, 40 miles from town. I work from home, so that makes it less of an impact, but my guy drives in for work 3-4 days a week. I know, that’s a killer. BUT, it occurred to me that when I’m in town 1x a week, I can park the car and bike/walk in between stores, the library etc. At least it would be something. Otherwise, we probably would have to move… not out of the question someday.

    Reply
  • Mike Long May 8, 2012, 10:23 am

    I’m struggling so much with this one.

    I was recently diagnosed with encephalomalacia – which is a thinning of brain tissue from an accident I had many years ago.

    Essentially, it’s brain damage.

    Fortunately, I came out of it mostly unscathed. But I also know that I have a greatly reduced “margin of error” should I ever have another head injury (like…you know….if I were to be hit while riding a bicycle and hit my head).

    Oddly enough as I think about it, I’m probably safest on my motorcycle (a 13 year old 1-cylinder BMW). Bicycle helmets aren’t nearly as protective if my head should hit the pavement, and the force of an air bag in a car hitting me in the head isn’t ideal either.

    What do you guys think? Am I over worrying about this? While nearby Davis, CA is a bicyclers paradise, I’m in Sacramento, which has a horrible reputation for bicycle safety.

    I’m trying to balance living my life without fear, and living smart, with the simple reality that another shot to the head could leave my family having to care for me for the rest of my life.

    I’d love to hear some thoughts…thanks! :)

    Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 2:11 pm

      I wear a full face style bicycle helmet, the kind used by downhill mountainbike racers, when I ride in traffic.

      Less heavy and hot than a full motorcycle helmet, but much more protection than a standard bicycle helmet.

      Unless you never ride your motorcycle (or drive your car) faster than you would ride a bike (~20mph, maybe ~35 on a steep downhill) it is unlikely that you are safer on one – the only thing which determines impact force is rate of deceleration, and the single largest factor of that is initial rate of speed.

      Use lots of very bright lights front and rear and bright clothing and helmet (even in the daytime), and ride predictably and legally, and you will be much less likely to get hit

      Reply
      • TheGooch August 30, 2013, 6:11 am

        Biking is good where it practical. You should always choose the best tool for the job, and I can see where many people could overlook biking when it’s a good option.

        It definitely is not a catch all. Where the ride is short, and it isn’t too hot outside where you’ll show up at your destination in an unpresentable state, or you aren’t transporting a large number of people( think ski trip, concert, pick up soccer/league Soccer game ), or things ( moving, new purchase of large item ) and so one. Biking will definitely get you some places at a low cost, but it has it’s ups and downs, just like anything else.

        Reply
  • Matt May 8, 2012, 11:41 am

    I don’t own and haven’t ridden a bike in probably 10 years or so. However, I rode bikes often in college and before that. Anyway, I always had trouble with the gear systems getting out of whack. It seemed like there was no gear where the chain didn’t make a grinding sound. And eventually, I would be unable to shift into one or more gears. The gearshift levers themselves never felt precise. Maybe I always had overly cheap bikes, but my wife bought a nicer bike around eight years ago that had the same symptoms (at least we think it was nicer, it was certainly expensive). MMM implies he’s never had to work on the gears of his bike, and he rides way more than my wife or I ever did.

    Also: just out of curiosity, why don’t they make solid rubber bike tires? It sounds like flats are fairly rare, but wouldn’t a solid tire make flats a non-issue?

    Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Either you had cheap shifters, or they weren’t adjusted right.

      Most have a little barrel you can turn, either at the shifter or at the derailleur (or both) that makes tiny tweeks to the position of the derailleur.

      http://www.axiomgear.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC5642.jpg
      or
      http://bobobox.net/~bobo/ars/barrel-adjuster.jpg

      If you are looking at used bikes, you could go for friction shifters. They don’t snap into place at all, so if the chain is slightly off, you just slightly move the shifter until it is quiet. Also, if you are replacing a new bikes shifters, they still make friction shifters, and they are the cheapest option.

      Solid rubber tires would be extremely heavy, and weight in the wheels is the worst place. Also the ride would be very bumpy. Instead, they make tires lined with kevar – the same stuff bullet resistant vests are made of – which get few if any flats as long as you keep them pumped up.

      Reply
      • turboseize March 21, 2013, 2:29 am

        I cannot praise the Schwalbe Marathon tire family highly enough. Those are THE tires to go for if you don’t like flats. They have drawbacks, most notably their weight, which makes them less than ideal for using in a race – but they are extremely tough. They also need relatively high pressures, which means a slightly bumpy ride (the sidewalls will crack if the tire is driven underinflated), but at least the pressure will help with rolling resistance on tarmac. ;-)

        I had the original marathon on my everyday bike during my teenage days in the 90s, and the bike being my primary mode of transportation I took it nearly everywhere. On holydays my parents used to do extensive tours up to 180km per day… on bike. We drove mostly asphalt, but also a lot of gravel roads. My parents, my brother and I all used Marathons on our everyday bikes. During two and a half decades and lots of thousands of kilometres, we only had two flats in the entire family. (screws penetrating the sidewalls). To put this into perspective: On my racebike, I used to have a flat every few weeks (grandfather handed me down some of his ultra-light silk racing tires when he stopped cycling at age 80. After I replaced the racing tires with much heavier conti grand prix, this got slightly better).
        I assume the newer versions of the Marathon should not be worse than the old ones. Schwalbe claims not even a drawing clip can penetrate the tire, and I’m inclined to believe that.

        Reply
  • crazyworld May 8, 2012, 11:49 am

    Great concept in theory….but i’m still not quite sold due to the time factor…my work, home, grocery store & child’s school are all quite close to each other and I have a long ago paid off 12 year old Altima to take me around – never gives me any problems, though I have not taken great pains in upkeep & maintenance. I find I am always running short of time – a bike would just mean a litle more time taken out of my day. I do have a $100 Target special bike, that I ride, but only for fun or some minimal exercise.
    I also see how most drivers treat cyclists and really rather not be on the receiving end of that!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 8, 2012, 6:22 pm

      Ahh, but how much time do you spend working out for your exercise each week? It had better be at least a couple of hours, otherwise you’re not treating yourself right and you need to make emergency lifestyle changes anyway. And you can subtract the cycling directly from the “Cardio” portion of your workout budget. Therefore, cycling for errands takes ZERO time!

      Reply
      • Crazyworld May 8, 2012, 8:19 pm

        I knew you were going to say that! I do one hour of cardio, 2 hours of strength and walking the dog 2-3 times a day. Not giving up the cardio- i do zumba and i love it. Bike riding will not help much with upper body strength. I need to do more, but then this is all i have time for right now…

        Reply
  • Brett Lister May 8, 2012, 12:02 pm

    I went out and bought a Specialized hybrid bicycle towards the end of last year to begin commuting to work. So far I’ve put about 270 miles on the thing. It’s about an 8 mile trip each direction. For me, the best part of biking in to work is the ride home. I’m able to take 30ish minutes to myself, get some fresh air outdoors, and decompress from the work day. By the time I get home to the wife I’m in a great mood!

    Reply
  • Amy May 8, 2012, 12:35 pm

    MMM, I know you don’t buy frivolous things but these have your name all over them:

    http://www.paper-source.com/cgi-bin/paper/item/Moustache-Beer-Mugs/3303_019/440441.html

    Reply
  • Brian May 8, 2012, 12:41 pm

    Well this just happened and happens about once a year here:

    http://www.nems360.com/view/full_story/18485937/article-Doctor-killed-riding-bike-on-Natchez-Trace?

    But at just once a year, the statistics are really on my side, even in podunk Mississippi, of safely traveling 3.3 miles from my apartment to work on my Specialized bike (fire engine red baby!).

    After reading some of the comments above, though, I think I probably will add a light hi-viz rain jacket to my morning routine. My biggest fear are the people texting and checking Facebook while driving to work. I need to be way more visible for those people.

    Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 2:21 pm

      Get an extra bright headlight and taillight, and use them in the daytime.

      I have noticed when I am driving that the few cyclists who do this are in fact more noticeable, so now I always do it when I ride

      Reply
  • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 1:31 pm

    What amazing timing!?

    Did you even know when you wrote this that May is National Bike Month and that Bike to Work Day is next week (or is 2 days in the SF Bay Area)??

    I wrote a blog post for the car efficiency website ecomodder just today.
    http://ecomodder.com/blog/infinity-miles-per-gallon/

    After I read this I went back and added a link back to here.

    p.s. thanks for the link to my buying guide.

    Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 14, 2012, 7:10 pm

      Ok, well, my editor never told me why he took it down, but he finally put it back up.

      For those who tried to follow this link and got a 404 error, try it now:

      [url]http://ecomodder.com/blog/infinity-miles-per-gallon[/url]

      Reply
  • Holly May 8, 2012, 5:36 pm

    I commute 1 hour each way via car. On the weekends I use my car to run all my errands and save time–time that I give up during the week in my commute. Could I bike–sure, but not on most of the roads around here. And, my errands include many pick up items. So, I use one trip to do all my errands on a Saturday.

    Time to get off your high bike and understand, riding a bike isn’t possible for everyone.

    Reply
    • Lynae May 8, 2012, 6:06 pm

      Holly, if read the comments, you’d see that most people have found solutions to the problems you seem to have with biking. Although there are definitely places where biking is very difficult, I personally find it hard to believe that there is nowhere on your 1 hour commute where you could bike. If you drove partway with your bike in the trunk or on a rack, and biked the rest of the way, you would still save money. I personally think a 1-hour commute is insane in the first place–it might be very financially worthwhile to get a job closer to home, or move closer to your job.

      You can also get a bike trailer or a big basket so you could use your bike on your errands. I also kinda have to wonder why you couldn’t do all those errands on your way to or from work, thus saving the need to go out again with your car on the weekends.

      Obviously, I don’t know you, so apologies if you’ve already tried all these things and thought about it a lot, and found they weren’t feasible for you. Your comment just came off as very defensive, which led me to believe you had not, in fact, really thought about this.

      Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 8, 2012, 6:14 pm

      Nope.. when I see comments like this I can see it’s time to make even MORE posts about biking!

      Riding a bike is more than just “possible” for everyone with an able body … it’s MANDATORY!!!

      Reply
      • Wesley May 9, 2012, 9:28 am

        Hey Freddie Mercury! We get it already! You just love your bicycle.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_Zt4ZgARro

        Ha! Just kidding. I enjoyed the article, but couldn’t resist.

        Reply
        • kris May 9, 2012, 9:38 am

          Nice, I have never seen the vid for that song. Although I am surprised youtube allows it lol.

          Reply
      • PawPrint May 9, 2012, 9:00 pm

        Thank you for clarifying with the phrase “for everyone with an able body.” Some of us really cannot ride a bike for physical reasons.

        Reply
    • Bakari Kafele May 8, 2012, 6:35 pm

      You aren’t saving time. You have to do some form of physical activity or exercise anyway. When you are driving a car, all you are doing is getting from point A to point B.
      When you ride, you are getting from point A to point B AND getting the exercise that you need to get anyway.

      AND you are saving money, which directly translates to needing fewer overtime hours or working less sick or vacation days, or retiring a few years earlier, all of which means you end up getting more free time BECAUSE you choose to bike.

      Reply
  • Saving mom May 8, 2012, 7:03 pm

    I have been inspired by this website and have started using my bike to run errands. Some more successful than others. I attempted to take my son to preschool via bike today and after 35 minutes I had to turn around and head back. I took the safe bike trail without realizing the winding trail added a couple miles to the trip. We weren’t going to make it on time!

    Reply

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Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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