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 market (updated August 2019):

Schwinn DSB women’s/step-through bike  (full-featured with aluminum frame plus disc brakes for $240!)

Schwinn discover hybrid (a great cozy city bike including fenders and rack, aluminum, $289)

Schwinn Vantage F2 (fast and light/aerodynamic sturdy ultracommuter bike with higher-range components, very similar to the Fortified bike that I ride, at a still-bargain $600)

* the last two affiliate links, so this blog will benefit if you end up buying 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.

  • 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.



          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.

        • 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

    • 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!

    • 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?”

      • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).
    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?

    • Emmers May 8, 2012, 8:16 am

    • kris May 9, 2012, 12:34 am

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

      • 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.

    • Moses May 9, 2012, 7:32 am

      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!

  • 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! :)

    • 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.

      • 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!

      • Amonymous February 5, 2017, 7:08 pm

        Hey, this doesn’t apply to bike-learning only — it applies to Life ;)

    • 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 :)

  • 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!


  • 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.

  • elai May 8, 2012, 1:59 am

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

  • 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!

  • 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? :(

    • 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.

      • 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. :)

    • 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.

    • 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…

      • 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.

        • 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!)

  • 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.

  • 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/

    • 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 :)

      • kiwano April 14, 2015, 11:50 am

        Apart from doing a thorough locking job when my bike’s in an area with a significant theft risk, I have another important trick up my sleeve for keeping my bike from getting stolen: lock it close to another bike that isn’t locked nearly half as well. As a bonus, my bike is generously plastered with faded, scratched, and other generally-worn-out stickers, so it looks kinda shitty (even though it’s actually quite a nice ride). It might a benefit of living in a place with less bike theft than Vilnius or London), but I feel pretty confident when I count on the local bike thieves to pass over what appears to be a piece of garbage, locked up like a fortress, when there are half a dozen shinier bikes right there, and none of them are locked particularly well.

        When thinking about bike theft, it’s easy to worry about making something aboslutely secure, but you don’t have to run faster than the bear.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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! :)

    • 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

      • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.


      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.

      • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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!

      • 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…

  • 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!

  • Amy May 8, 2012, 12:35 pm

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


  • Brian May 8, 2012, 12:41 pm

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


    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.

    • 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

  • 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.

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

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

    • 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:


  • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!!!

      • Wesley May 9, 2012, 9:28 am

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


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

        • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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!

  • JaneMD May 8, 2012, 7:50 pm

    Unfortunately, our big barrier is the ages of our children – 2 months and 1 year.I don’t know how young those baby trailers are rated for. We also live in an apartment without an elevator and I already have a difficult time lugging strollers up and down the stairs, let alone a bike. Besides, we hope to have more kids. I suspect their is a critical mass for child safety on bikes.

    HubbyJD has started riding his fold-up bike around the neighborhood, and we walk to the local grocery store now. I’ll discuss with Hubby about putting his clothes and lunch in a bike trailer, but if it costs him a dollar a day to drive to work, it will take him over a full year to pay off the trailer.(He could only theoretically bike to work 2 days a week because of taking the children to daycare on other days. A 2 mile round trip is like a dollar a day)

    Also, to the pregnant lady who posted earlier, how soon you get back on the bike – literally – is going to depend on how well you tolerate your delivery. There can be some tearing that will make a normal bike pretty painful. You may find yourself being off the bike for a few months.

    • Garrett May 14, 2012, 1:22 pm

      I think most people recommend that the infant be able to support their own head. When does that happen? Around 6 months? After that, they make infant sized bike helmets.

      I’ve seen photos of people carrying 3-4 kids on one bike. There are two options:
      1. a bakfiets/box bike: a Dutch-style bike with a large cargo box in front that can be outfitted with seat belts
      2. a long-tail bike: a cargo bike with an extended rear portion that can be outfitted with two child seats with an optional 3rd child seat on the front handle bars

  • Brian May 8, 2012, 9:08 pm

    This is a very good summation of Mustacianism. I own a ‘road’ bike, and although I walk the 20 minutes to work (I don’t find the time saved by riding would be worth the change of clothes necessary), I do bike to the tennis courts or store regularly.

    For those of you who don’t want to take the ‘bike trailer’ approach to bigger shopping trips, as MMM does, I suggest looking into Car Sharing. The Car Sharing Network (http://www.carsharing.net/) has some good information on North American and European cities that have car sharing programs.

    I live in Vancouver, BC and between biking, walking, public transit and car sharing I am able to live a healthy full life without the burden of owning a car.

    I used to think that owning a car was a right of passage into adulthood, but I fully believe now that car ownership is much more of a burden than a right of passage.

    • steve413 June 3, 2013, 11:46 pm

      you don’t need to ride fast enough to sweat on such a short ride. keep in mind, your goal is simply to get to work. You could do so in five minutes on the bike, or twenty minutes walking. Either is a great choice though.

    • Ben Alexander June 11, 2013, 8:23 am

      Racks/panniers are also a good option. They seem really expensive at first (like any quality bike thing), but when you think of a quality setup as a car replacement, you realize you can get top of the line stuff for the cost of a bad day at the brake/transmission/AC/whatever lottery.

  • Laura May 8, 2012, 9:12 pm

    Any tips for locking/securing bike when out and about, especially at commercial locations without bike racks?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 8, 2012, 10:55 pm

      Trees and lamp posts! Many of the stores in my area still haven’t caught on to the fact that they are operating in Mustache Town, USA, so they haven’t added racks yet. But they all have trees, street signs, posts, whatever. A chain or cable lock works great in this case.

      • Laura May 10, 2012, 9:12 am

        Any issues with ticketing when using lamp posts etc? In my college town with a bigger bike culture that was more aggressively enforced, but I haven’t seen many bikes at all since moving to my larger city.

        • Bakari Kafele May 10, 2012, 11:03 pm

          It depends on the city. In many cities it isn’t enforced because it isn’t illegal. I’m not sure how they could enforce that ticket anyway, since bikes don’t have license plates that could be traced back to the owner

  • Fawn May 8, 2012, 9:37 pm

    There have been times in my life where I did not own a car and walked, or biked all the time. At one point, my daily commute was 10 miles to work and 10 miles home via bike. I loved it.
    …but some times things change.

    I am a visiting nurse, I am required to have a car for employment. I drive about 250 miles for work per pay period. I have three teenagers still at home in about 15 activities. Sometimes I work a 12 hour day where I drive 100 miles between very rural areas and intercity areas and then cook a from scratch dinner and drive the teenage musicians around with their instruments (baritone sax or drum set.)

    I have a hybrid vehicle that gets decent gas milage. I am not ashamed to state in front of all you mustacians that this is my life right now.

    I dream of being car-free in 9 years….but for right now… I drive a car and I am OK with that.

  • Smitty May 9, 2012, 6:19 am

    Interesting statistics, helmet seems a good idea:


  • Jeff May 9, 2012, 10:21 am

    The idea of a bike making you more responsible is a very good point. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve driven 3 times as far as necessary because I couldn’t take 5 minutes to plan out my day ahead of time.

    Financially speaking, bicycling is not that great an option, mostly because the more realistic a bicycle commute is for you, the less helpful it ends up being financially. If you live half a mile from work, then a gas-guzzling 12 mpg SUV at $4/gallon gas only costs $1.60 per week to commute. If you work 50 weeks/year, that’s a savings of only $80/year – and that’s assuming you bike each and every day of the year regardless of the weather. If you buy one of those $300+ bikes, it will take 4 years for that bike to pay for itself. Now let’s assume you’re not a complete idiot and you buy any decent 4 cylinder car out there; now your commute costs $0.80/week, and it takes that bicycle 8 years to pay for itself. Don’t get me wrong. I think more people should bike to work for the other reasons mentioned, but a half mile commute is probably covered by the paltry interest earned in your savings account.

    • Jeff May 9, 2012, 10:32 am

      So what I mean to say is that your real savings comes from living close to work, not your choice of transportation. The guy above who is commuting an hour each way needs to move closer to work.

      • Matt May 9, 2012, 1:11 pm

        Jeff, I see your point, but Mr. Mustache addresses it up above- the cost of driving isn’t just the gas costs, the cost of driving has to include wear and tear on the vehicle, insurance, etc. The IRS uses a rate of $0.55/mile in order to calculate the cost of driving. Obviously in a 1/2 mile scenario the numbers are still small, but if you’re driving 5-10 miles that adds up pretty quickly.

      • Bakari Kafele May 9, 2012, 3:39 pm

        For most people, most of their driving is to and from work.

        When you bike to work regularly, you realize that it is possible to bike other places too. When you’ve done that a little while, it becomes much easier to simply not replace your car when it breaks down, or even to sell it.
        MMM address trailers in other articles, which takes care of moving stuff like groceries. If one takes a trip now and then, they can rent a car, and still come out WAY ahead of owning.

        But a person can only come to realize how easy it is to not own a car if they take the first step and start biking the 1/2 mile to work.

        At point it doesn’t just save them the 50 cents day (1/2 mile each way at the standard 50 cents per mile cost) it also saves you the THOUSANDS of dollars that you spend on buying, insuring, registering, and maintaining a car, whether you drive it to work or not.

    • Fangs May 9, 2012, 11:04 am

      If you live a half mile from work, why not walk?

      • cdub May 10, 2012, 12:34 pm

        Go ahead! I think it goes without saying that walking .5 miles to work would be fantastic. For those of us in the 5 to 10 mile range though, it is just too much time.

        • Fangs May 12, 2012, 6:29 pm

          I understand that. Jeff in his comment, however, was talking about driving even a gas guzzling SUV .5 miles to work instead of biking. I just can’t figure out why anyone would drive .5 miles to work unless they were really late or had a work trip.

  • Jared May 9, 2012, 11:55 am

    Looking for a few Suggestions: 1 how far is the average bike commute? I am starting a new job much closer to where I live but still a bit far (11 miles each way) I would like to bike to work at least a few times a week. With only a few stop lights between me and work how long do you think it would take? I plan to test it on a Saturday but I was hoping a few people may have ideas.

    2. Also I do bike often around town to go to places and one thing I hate is I get especially sweaty while riding, I do not mind it to much when I am just out riding for leisure however I am worried about being a sweaty mess when I arrive at work any suggestions?

    • Bakari Kafele May 9, 2012, 3:57 pm

      1) There are too many variables to answer your question.
      How fit are you?
      What kind of bike do you have?
      What do you have to bring?
      How many hills on your route?
      How many stop signs / stop lights?
      A reasonable range for biking 11 miles is anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

      2) If its not too cold, you aren’t too self-conscious, and your town isn’t too prudish, you could just ride shirtless. That keeps sweat to a minimum better than anything. I use hand sanitize in place of deodorant, which doesn’t stop you from sweating, but keeps the sweat from smelling (not by covering it up, like stick deodorant does, but by actually killing the bacteria that cause the stink). And try to show up a few minutes early, because it takes a little while to cool down once you stop riding. If necessary, a quick rinse and wipe with paper towels in the restroom should have you good to go.

      • Jared May 10, 2012, 8:23 am

        Thanks for the suggestions, I have another question you may know the answer to. Biking in my area is popular and I notice a lot of riders have those fancy racing shirts that are skin tight and usually brightly colored. Because I usually ride just for fun and leisure to go shopping or run errands I have seen no need to waste the money on a shirt like this. However I have thought about getting one if it helped with keeping me cool and catching sweat that way I could take it off leave it to dry wipe my self down a bit in the restroom and move on. Do they even help with this or do they just make you more aero dynamic and make you look like a Lance Armstrong wannabe?

        • Bakari Kafele May 10, 2012, 11:02 pm

          In theory they wick sweat better than cotton, but in practice I personally find that any synthetic holds stink more than cotton, so its about a wash. What is nice about cycling jerseys is they often have a nearly full length zipper, and pockets in the back for keys and wallet and stuff (esp good if you are wearing cycling shorts, which have no pockets)
          However, I only have some because they were given to me by the company when I worked as a bike messenger. If they aren’t free, I don’t think they are worth it, esp for commuting. Better to spend the money on a light weight water/wind resistant reflective jacket

          • orbix May 7, 2013, 12:43 pm

            Honestly, forget about aerodynamics and wicking to a certain extent here. I find that the real benefit of specialized cycling clothing actually comes in the comfort for longer rides, depending on the kind of bike you have.

            If you have a hybrid or a mountain bike, those are generally equipped with flat handlebars, meaning you’re riding in a relatively upright posture. In that case, you probably won’t see any real benefit to a cycling jersey, at least if your experience is like mine.

            Hybrid and mountain bikes in the low to moderate price range usually also have saddles (seats, for the non-cycling-lingo folks) that have a moderate amount of padding to them, because the manufacturers assume that most people riding this kind of bike aren’t going to wear bike shorts when riding. In these cases, again, you probably aren’t going to see any benefit from bike shorts either.

            All of that said, if you have a road bike (skinny tires, skinny & hard-as-a-rock saddle, drop bars, etc.), it’s a lot more likely that you’ll care about cycling clothing. Even a cushy road bike is going to feel brutal if you’re not wearing bike shorts. The skinny tires don’t absorb much of the shock from bumps, and the saddle is typically narrower and harder so as to avoid chafing against your legs/thighs/etc. over long rides. This is where bike shorts are great- they supply the padding in a way that doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) chafe.

            On a bike with drop bars, you’re leaning forward more, and a lot of shirts/jackets will ride up on your back because they’re cut to fit a person standing up or sitting in a chair, not leaning way forward. Cycling jerseys and jackets are designed to handle the lean, and tend to be extra-long in the back as a result. If you don’t want to spend the money, you can just look for cheap synthetic sport/exercise shirts that are relatively long.

            All in all, just go try your ride, and see if you have any of the issues I mentioned above, and think about buying a piece or two that will fix a problem you’re having. Don’t let the price tag on a full set of gear scare you off when you probably won’t need most of it.

  • turboseize May 9, 2012, 12:47 pm

    I strongly advocate this post for the “best-timing-ever”-award.

    Got up early today (04:50),had breakfast (oatmeal ;-) ) , left the v6 in the car port and took toff by bike instead. Approx 18km (half tarmac, half gravel or light offroad) took less than 50 minutes. Felt fresh and awake, even without my usual dose of caffeine, and got done more than usual…
    In the evening, biked back.
    Two cardio workouts a day and 10 Euros saved. Sometimes you just need that punch in the face.

  • Nick May 9, 2012, 8:35 pm

    Fantastic article! Reading your long ago post about the true cost of commuting inspired me to get a bike last year and start commuting to work. Haven’t bothered to do the math on how much money I’ve saved, but it’s substantial. Many thanks, and all the credit goes to you!

    Out of curiosity, how is it your commuter bike only has 2400 miles on it after 4 years time? With how often you bike, I’d have assumed you’d put that many on it every year! I only have a 4 mile commute to work (and I wuss out and drive once a week or so), and I’ve still put 1000 miles on my bike in the past 6 months alone. Do you have alternate bikes you use as well? Or do you just live THAT close to everywhere you need to go? =)

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 9, 2012, 9:15 pm

      That’s a good question, Nick! I WAS a little bit embarrassed when I noticed my commuter bike had only racked up 2400 miles in 4 years! A few explanations:

      – for the first year, I hadn’t yet learned that I should get all my groceries with a bike trailer. I was using a CAR, if you can believe it!
      – We spend about 10 weeks away on trips every year including most of the summer – I ride different bikes when possible on those trips – borrowed from friends or family members
      – I have separate road and mountain bikes that rack up miles separately when doing adventure/fitness riding.
      – I don’t have a job to commute to (this is the biggest factor I’m sure as that used to add 50 miles/week!)
      – my son’s school is only 0.8 miles from my house, and the library is only about 1.1
      – I don’t go shopping very often, so there aren’t as many errands to run

      -I’m a wimp and need to find ways to bike MORE!!

      • orbix May 7, 2013, 12:47 pm

        Bike more!

        I still remember how proud I was when I hit 2500 miles in just one year between commuting, riding with my wife for fun, and joining the occasional ~35 mile training ride at the bike shop up the road from my house…

        Looking forward to getting back into this once we get moved into a new house in the next month or so- we picked the new place with cycling practically everywhere as a key criteria on location. (We’re just a few miles down the road from you, actually- the new place is in Broomfield)

  • T-Lou May 9, 2012, 9:15 pm

    My bike was freedom as a kid – cycled everywhere then “grew up” and thought I had forgotten how to ride. Found myself in Beijing in approximately 1982, prior to all the motor vehicle traffic, renting bikes with friends amongst a sea of Chinese commuters on bicycles – thankfully they could tell we were dangerous foreigners and gave us wide berth – hundreds of bikes inches from each other then us with at least a 10 foot margin.

    Again years later with only the hour on a bike in China, I decided biking through the Rockies with a friend was a good idea. Bought a bike and with not more than a 5 minute test ride jumped on a train for Jasper Alberta. Rode through the Rockies and in 5 short days became fit – in a painful sort of way. Felt like throwing my bike on the train tracks rather than on the train by the end of the trip.

    But spent 3 years in University in the 90’s a very bike friendly City. 1 year I only had a bike for transport – would buy smaller amounts of groceries more often.

    Now I occasionally cycle to my office. Timely article as last Thursday I cycled both ways to work – 13 kms – about 40 minutes – each way for the first time this year. Still using the road bike I purchased years ago for my trip through the Rockies. Felt great – but not the next day as it caused neck strain – so today I finally got into see my chiropractor.

    I’m hoping to make some adjustments so that I’m not so extended over my bike as it does aggravate alignment issues I’ve struggled with most of my life. At age 50 it feels easier to just cycle occasionally for pleasure, but I would sure like to get back to serious commuting. Need to take on a more bad ass attitude as life feels awfully easy – translate – boring without some new challenge.

    For us middle agers there are lots of excuses out there. Had resolved to bike in tomorrow – until my daughter informed me she needs a ride in early for her volunteering. If I was Mr. or Mrs. MMM I’ld be offering to ride along side her – I can just imagine what she would think of that.

    My commitment this year is to fix my bars to ease the neck strain and cycle once per week, minimum.

    Thanks again for timely inspiration Mr. MMM.

  • Emily May 10, 2012, 9:26 am

    I’m too chicken to ride a bike to work. (Plus, i do not live in a bike culture- no bike racks, no place to put it). I’ve treated too many patients with spinal cord and brain injuries who were hit by cars on while on their bikes. (Motorcycles are kind of out for me too). Yes, I do treat people who are in cars who get hurt, but percentage-wise, I think it is a lot less and usually the injuries less devastating. Of course I may be treating the drivers a few years later in cardiac rehab when they have their heart attack, while all the bikers are going strong… you have to do what you feel comfortable with. Hopefully soon there will be fewer cars and more bikes on the road so that the rest of us feel safe enough to bike where we need to go.

    • cdub May 10, 2012, 12:43 pm

      You know what I am afraid of? Letting fear run my life…

      But seriously, I tackled your concerns, which I share, by just getting out there and doing it. The first thing I did was invite a couple of friends to leisurely ride with me toward my place of work on a Saturday. We meandered around and tried to figure out the best way to get there, we had lunch, some beers and meandered home.

      I live in a subdivision of Sacramento CA that is on par with any of the most bike unfriendly areas in the world. Some of our surface streets are four lanes each way and hardly any of the businesses have bicycle racks including where I work. I didn’t let this stop me, and ended up creating a route for my ride that is 80% Bike path, city park or light traffic.

      Just do it… Overcome your fears and excuses and just do it.

      • orbix May 7, 2013, 12:49 pm

        Amen. I had the same concerns about commuting in Indianapolis when I first started, but you just have to give it a shot. Pick a longer route that keeps you out of most of the traffic at first, and then adjust it as you become more comfortable on busier roads.

        Also, the more you bike, the faster you will be, and I can tell you from experience that it’s a lot less scary to be on a road with traffic when you’re going 20mph than when you’re going 12.

    • steve413 June 3, 2013, 11:57 pm

      all are tragic, and, this makes me uncomforable to say, but many of those people were doing unadvisable stuff on their bikes.

      Read Effective Cycling if you haven’t, to understand what is and isn’t dangerous on the roadways.

      The concept taught there is “vehicular cycling” or acting as if you are operating a vehicle like all the others on the road, and not operating under special “bike rules,” most of which actually put you at higher risk of being struck by a motor vehicle.

      concepts such as sub-lane placement, look-before-merging and look-before changing sub-lane position are crucial for really effective operation of a bike on public roadways with other vehicles following the traffic rules.

      small example: riding a bike across a pedestrian crosswalk, even with the walk signal, is dangerous. Because you can’t back up on a bike, and you travel easily 3 times faster than walking traffic. That means you will be in front of a motor vehicle before they see you, because they are basically only looking in front of them and slightly to the side….fine to detect slow moving walkers moving at five feet per second but inadequate to detect a bicyclist moving at say 15 feet per second.

      Crosswalks are death traps for cyclists.

  • kris May 12, 2012, 1:27 pm

    Here is a video of how bikes were made in the 1940s http://vimeo.com/39401575

  • Bakari Kafele May 12, 2012, 6:47 pm

    Someone on the ecomodder.com forum suggested that biking doesn’t necessarily save money compared to biking (because of the increased food costs), so I cranked some specific numbers:

    MMM has already done most of the math for us.

    Lets say 6 mile commute. Average sized human, going about 12mph, for 30 min is about 250 calories.
    250 calories (in the form of food made from home) should cost about 38 cents

    Driving a reasonably efficient car, considering only per mile costs, is about 17 cents per mile
    Which is just over a dollar for the 6 miles.

    So, that makes biking over 60% cheaper per mile, even if you don’t factor in the exercise (no, it doesn’t take the place of strength training, but it does take the place of aerobic which everyone needs to do anyway), or the fixed costs of buying and insuring a car.

  • Rik May 15, 2012, 3:23 am


    I got this web adress from my dear friend Johan Z. (Utrecht, Netherlands).
    After reading the first posts of Mr. Mustache I decided I must have a bike right now!

    After searching Graigslist-type websites I bought 2 splendid bikes for only 500 euro toegether:
    – a racingbike (including all Shimano 105 stuff!!!) (250 euro)
    – a hybridbike of a famous Dutch brand (250 euro)

    Both bikes ride very good, no strange sounds or tics whatever.


    Buy yourself a bicycle bag (30 euro) which can be attached to the back of the bike very easily. At the store you detach the bag within 1 second, enter the store, fill the bag, pay for your stuff, attach the bag to your bike within 1 second again, and bike home with your hands “free”.

    So, now you can transport your groceries very easily!!! You can even put your raincoat in the bag, for just in case.


  • Anthony from France May 15, 2012, 5:56 am

    Concerning the “dangers” of cycling. Think about it this way: Each person who takes their bicycle is one less person driving a car – which reduces the danger on the roads. So every time you take your bicycle, the road is a tiny bit more safe thanks to you.

    For those concerned with sweat and having to shower, i strongly recommend an electrically assisted bicycle: the initial investment may be superior, but it is still way cheaper than any car on the market.

    I personally thank every one of you who goes out and takes their bike instead of your car: thanks for cleaner air, less wasted fossil fuels, better health and a brighter future for our children.

    All that just by riding a bicycle.

  • Ms Life May 17, 2012, 7:21 am

    I just stumbled on this post. I must say it is very interesting. I grew up in a country where riding a bike is considered ‘low class’ and as a result, many people do not ride bikes. This is an interesting thing because the majority of people are very poor and having a bike would save them money and time. I started learning how to ride a bike after moving to the western part of the world. I now intend to buy my own bike because it would be nice to go for rides with my family and hiking friends.

  • Joy June 3, 2012, 2:31 pm

    The power of suggestion.

    My husband and, I bought bikes. :)

    We rode 9.5 miles this past weekend. We had a great time.
    Then the following day I became very sick with sinus/lung congestion.
    Allergies? I don’t know. I haven’t beat it yet.

    But, getting outside and, riding was nice. I look forward to getting
    well so I can ride my bike.:)

    • orbix May 7, 2013, 12:52 pm

      This is going to sound crazy, but when you have sinus/lung congestion is an *excellent* time to get out and go for another ride. I find that getting out and exerting myself on a bike is possibly the best way to get my body going and clear out the congestion and gunk- the couple years that I was riding the most were the couple years that I was sick the least.

  • Kath1213 June 4, 2012, 7:36 pm

    Hi MMM & Fellow Mustachians! Have a question for ya :-)

    I’ve wanted a bike for ages (rode all the time when I was in grade school) and back in 2001 got a super sweet Trek hybrid. Problem is, I have balance issues that have gotten worse since 2001. Fell 7 or 8 times and wound up giving the bike away :-(

    These days I walk with a balance stick and riding a two-wheeled bike is out of the question.

    These look pretty cool http://lightfootcycles.com/products-overview/trike-models-overview/greenway/ …any other ideas you guys can offer? Live near Boulder, CO and am DETERMINED to buy a bike before Summer ends.

    Thanks bunches!

  • Kath1213 June 5, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Or maybe this one? Any feedback, good or bad greatly appreciated :-)


  • Ralph Corderoy June 8, 2012, 4:56 am

    How does the moustachiode one recommend carrying luggage? Basket, panniers, rucksack, ..?

  • Jack June 9, 2012, 10:10 am

    great post and the video at the end is fantastic!

    my favorite line in the movie from the cute kid, “Biking saves polar bears. Polar bears are epic!”

  • Martsi June 23, 2012, 2:07 am

    Another awesome post – it’s going to take me ages to read through all those 224 +!

    Really agree – I brought a Claud Butler some 5 years ago and I STILL love that bike!

    • Art June 27, 2012, 7:15 am

      Would you consider riding a bike to work if it was 20 miles away (40 miles round trip) in a city where seeing a person on a bike very rare? Moving closer to work is not an option.

    • superbien July 2, 2012, 6:48 pm

      Thanks for the friendly browbeating – ok ok, I’ll ride to work tomorrow! It’s only 5 miles (in 100 degree heat…) Especially since I’m soon switching to a job that is 12 miles away (maybe do-able?), without a shower (maaaaaybe doable?) in a seriously dangerous scary neighborhood (oh hells no!).

  • Marc July 13, 2012, 8:27 am

    biking sounds great….but here in toronto, you’ve got 5 months of snow :( suggestions?

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 13, 2012, 1:27 pm

      Nice try Marc! I grew up near Toronto, biked to school every day for my last 3 years at McMaster University in Hamilton, then lived a few years in a place that gets a REAL winter: Ottawa.

      Toronto is snowy for 3 months at the most. My recommendation: bike year-round! http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/03/how-to-ride-your-bike-all-winter-and-love-it/

      • marc July 15, 2012, 8:24 pm

        k, i hear you…but i live 1 hr away from work b/c i enjoy the quietness of the suburbs….yet downtown is where the $$ is….however, i have been thinking about the commute…2hrs a day is nuts….BUT….if you use the time wisely, it can be a blessing…

    • Doug in London, ON February 20, 2013, 9:33 pm

      I lived in Timmins, where the season is much shorter than in Toronto, and still managed to ride 600 to 700 Km a season. What to do in the long, cold winter? Bundle up and walk, of course!

  • Dee July 16, 2012, 6:11 pm

    Thanks for this! Dusted off my sweet road bike this weekend and rode it (mostly downhill) to get honey for my parents at the corner store with boyfriend (we were visiting them). I don’t really understand how to use my gears, though. My bike clicked a lot on the ride as a result, I believe. In any case, it was wonderful to ride together with the wind blowing past!

    Soon I am moving 2.3km from work and 15km from school. My goal is to be able to ride to uni by September. As a runner, I remember when I started biking that distance wasn’t nearly as big of a deal! So far I do not have any lights or reflective gear so this will be very important. I am wondering about dealing with hills. I live in Vancouver BC and biking is very popular but I am not yet strong enough to pedal up the hills, so I end up walking the bike up them.

    Edit: re: the bike lock — I’m afraid of using anything but a U-lock, but I was able to get an amazingly solid one for $10 at Mountain Equipment Co-op, an open-box return.

  • NYC! August 12, 2012, 12:17 pm

    Late to the party, but what if you have no place to store a bike when it’s not in use?

    • Mr. Money Mustache August 13, 2012, 3:41 pm

      Bikes are pretty darned compact.. you could hang it from hooks in your apartment wall or ceiling, or get a folding bike. Or ask your landlord if there is somewhere on-premises to store bikes. Or sacrifice other space-wasters like a TV or unneeded furniture.

      • NYC! August 19, 2012, 6:20 pm

        To Bakari below, finding space for two bikes in a 400-450 square foot apartment is actually pretty difficult. I’ve been thinking for about a month that getting rid of furniture is the only way to go–our building has no storage space and hanging a bike (let alone two) on any currently free wall space would prohibit us from moving in certain areas of our apartment. Do any of you have a bike hanging over your couch? Is that scary or uncomfortable?

        How comfortable/light-weight/durable are folding bikes? I’ve never been on one.

        Edit: Meant to add that the other option is finding a bigger apartment, unfortunately in a different neighborhood so that our rent doesn’t go up.

        • Bakari August 19, 2012, 9:14 pm

          I don’t have one hanging (6.5ft ceilings), but I did instal hooks to hang one for a client. She ended up moving her bed under it, and kept it that way for about a year (when she moved out).
          As long as its installed securely in studs, should be fine.
          I have knives on the ceiling (on a magnet) – it was unnerving at first, but after a while it seems normal.

          Folding bikes come in just as huge a range of styles and qualities as regular bikes. They will be heavier than a high quality non-folder, and the handling will be a little faster/less stable, but overall you don’t give up much. After a theft last year, my folding bike is the only one currently working, so I’ve been riding it exclusively for pleasure rides, commuting, even to pull my grocery trailer. Its slower than my old ride (it a very cheap folder that I got for free), but its really nice to be able to take it on crowded transit, throw it in a friend’s trunk, or take it inside the house (250sq ft) when I get home late and am too lazy to put it back in the shed.

    • Bakari August 13, 2012, 4:25 pm

      I live in an RV. Really nowhere to store a bike indoors, and outside they can get rusty and stolen. I got a 4x4x4 shed. I have to take off the front wheels, but I can fit 4 full size and 1 folding bike in it, along with helmets, panniers, and everything else bike related.
      If I can get 5 bikes in a 4 foot cube, surely you can find somewhere to store just one bike?

    • Jimbo August 13, 2012, 4:42 pm

      Folding bike!


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