Since gas appears “stuck” near $3.00/gallon, the psychological price that encourages me to bike commute when the weather is cruddy, I was kind of curious how much, if anything, I was saving.
Barring calamity, I should hit 3,000 miles (and 150,000′ ascent) before my trip to Minneapolis later this month. Less than half of that has been from events. (RAW: 431, Lilac Surprise: 93,
Flying Wheels: 94, Chelan, etc). That leaves about 1,700 miles spread among 80 commuting days since I started the last week of April.
The IRS reimbursement limit for automobile mileage is $0.405, or $745.20.. I’ll compare that to my accumulated actual expenses:
- Chain ($25) — I replaced my chain at about 1,800 miles with one of the SRAM chains with the fancy whoozit that lets you remove and reinstall it without knowing the secret Shimano handshake. With the weather on the downslide, I’m experimenting with cleaning it by soaking it in kerosene.
- Tires — ($25 x 5). Three tires had worn out from use. The Schwalbe Marathon was worthless, flatting four times — on the front! — during RAW. As soon as I got back, I tossed it. The Continental Top Touring model, while durable, has very poor traction in wet weather. Before I kill myself going around a corner too hard, I’m replacing it with a Comet Primo Kevlar.
- Tubes — ($5 x 3) When I get a flat, I swap out the tube and patch the flatted one, thereby giving the patch time to adhere. After five patches, I’ll toss the tube.
- Patch kit ($5) — I’ve had a lot of flats this year…
- Freewheel ($30) These wear out after a while.
- Handlebar tape ($10 x 2) – I did a double-padding job
- Seat bag ($8) The velcro strap thingie wore off.
- Cycle computer — The transmitter of my cycle computer broke on the first day of RAW. I haven’t replaced it yet. ($20)
- Brake pads($10 x 6) I have gone through too many of these, four pair on the back, two on the front.
- Wheels ($300) Ouch The steep, curvy descent on the way to work is generating lots of heat as I brake. I think this caused my rims to develop excessive wear. I replaced the wheels just before RAW. I could have saved $90 reusing my existing hubs but (a) I couldn’t find anyone who’d work with the proprietary hub on short notice and (b) I hope to eventually upgrade to disc brakes, preventing this from occurring in the future.
- Miscellaneous ($10) — zip ties, black electrical tape, bungee cords, bolts, and a large rubber band so my fender doesn’t flutter. I’m starting to channel Kent Peterson.
- Labor ($190) I had a bike tune-up done in January, but have since taken a “derailleur/brake maintenance” class so I can deal with the chronic issues on my bike myself. The guy who built the wheels for me charged $120 for the work, but was four days late. That, and the sheer hassle factor of small-wheeled bikes, and especially proprietary Shimano components is such that I’ll take the next wheelbuilding class at Wright Brothers’ bicycle in Fremont so I can do it myself. Next time.)
So, that all adds up $808. However, a large chunk of my mileage was for events. Applying the weighting, my commuting expenses account for:
1700 / 3000 * $808 = $452.48
I’ve purposely omitted any expenses for clothing (I mostly wear old biking T-shirts), lights, special tools to do my own maintenance, and the bike itself. These are “capital expenses.” (Like this) I also omitted cleaning supplies and the opportunity cost of my time doing my own maintenance since I often do it while watching The Daily Show.
Now, to calculate the offset of savings by this particular mode of transportation. My driving commute clocks in at 23 miles, which coincidentally is the estimated fuel economy of my Subaru Impreza in city driving conditions, and with my lead foot. Fuel not bought:
80 days * (23 miles/day / 23 miles/gallon) * $2.799/gallon = $223.92 gas savings
I dunno, I thought this was going to be a lot higher.
According to Edmunds, the theoretical depreciation on my car is $.0425 per mile. By reducing its use, I save:
23 miles/day * 80 days bike commuting = 1,840 miles bike commuting
1,840 miles * $0.0425 / mile = $78.20
My auto insurance is paid regardless of my commuting choice, therefore I can’t “save” any money there.
Finally, there’s maintenance. If I assume an oil change costs $36 and is done each 5,000 miles, I’d save $13.25, which I already blew to see Serenity.
Directly calculable savings: $315.37
At this point, I’m at a net loss of $137.11, mostly in the wheels. If they last through next year, it’ll look much more favorable. (SIgh.) Okay, the economic argument isn’t working.
I will ponder this some more on the way into work tomorrow…