The Cost of a Bike Ride

Parking TicketThe cost of a bike ride should be zero right? You have spent your hard earned cash on your mountain bike, the clothes, the shoes, the back pack, the new bars, the new tyres etc so getting on the bike should be free. Well it’s not. Sorry folks but this hobby is an expensive one.

Get up on Saturday morning, put your gear on and get the bike out of the shed and get out there. This is a relatively free ride assuming nothing goes wrong and you don’t break anything (on the bike that is). A puncture may cost you tube or some patches from your kit but generally this a free ride from your door step. Things change if you plan on visiting a trail centre or generally going further afield.

For instance last weekend I went to Wales from England on a round trip of approximately 140 miles. Here is a breakdown of the actual tangible costs of this ride and possible others.

Actual costs:

  • Fuel approximately £20.00
  • Parking £3.00
  • Severn Bridge Toll £6.20 – only if you are going to Wales!
  • Refreshments £4.00

Total = £33.20

Other potential incurred costs:

  • Brake pads £10 – My rear pads were shot by the end of the day and some locations and conditions can happily destroy new pads after a few hours riding.
  • Mech Hanger £10/15 – A spare I should really start to carry, luckily no damage here but an exposed and fragile component of the bike.
  • Inner tube £5 – No puncture for anyone on this weekend, most unusual considering the number of riders raising the odds of this.
  • Inflater Cartridge £2 – THE BEST way to get up and running quickly when on a group ride. Inflates your tyre in seconds.

Back home:

  • Bike cleaning / maintenance £1.00 – using a percentage of your MucOff, lube etc
  • Clothes cleaning £1.00 – Washing powder, electricity, water costs etc

Buying spares such as tubes and brake pads can reduce the unexpected costs of a puncture or brake failure, investigate bulk offerings of your favoured brand or even get hold of some cheap “get me home” components. Is this false economy?

Pub - Hard to Resist
Pub – Hard to Resist

Take snacks from home, resist the temptation at the counter when you fill up with fuel and you could save a few pound, but if the group decide to visit a pub or cafe you may not have a choice but to have that steak and ale pie or to try that huge slice of chocolate cake…

The actual cost of cleaning your and maintaining your bike is a tricky one to calculate and can be dramatically reduced by buying cleverly. Large undiluted bottles of bike cleaning fluids can save you a lot of money. Using your favourite brand sparingly and efficiently is also good practice. Watch how much of that cleaning mist lands on your patio and not your bike frame!

Lube sensibly – this is an area I know little about but there are different types of lube for different conditions and for different bike-cleaning minds. Some lube needs to be cleaned off and applied after every ride, others can be left for longer. Its your choice.

I was going to call this post something like “Invest in a bike ride this weekend” but that just sounded like I was going to pretend that these costs don’t matter, they do and they add up. So the numbers above (a worst case scenario?) add up to £50. Two “away” rides a month and few technical hitches could easily cost you £100 – not including visits to the pub.

Sorry for reminding you of this or bringing it to your attention but I thought it was worth pointing out.

[EDIT – No its not as expensive as running a race car, or flying planes, or keeping big cats – but its still a surprise when you add it up and hadn’t thought about the costs in this way before. I haven’t even touched on proper maintenance and servicing.]