PDA

View Full Version : 10 Reasons to Not Get a Cargo Bike



Tim Kelley
01-30-2015, 01:11 PM
http://www.spokesmama.com/2015/01/10-reasons-not-to-get-cargo-bike.html?spref=tw

Phatboing
01-30-2015, 01:27 PM
The extra exercise from cargo biking might cause you to drop a size, requiring you to get newer, better fitting clothing.


This is a real problem. I hate shopping. Hate it. So I have to eat vast quantities of food just to make sure I don't have to get newer fitted clothing ever. Packing away so much delicious food means I'm depriving someone else of it, yes, so I follow it with milkshakes so I can live with myself.

hozn
01-30-2015, 03:02 PM
I guess it's funny, but the arguments are mostly so superficial.

For example, this is a theme:




Using a cargo bike rather than a car might mean you'd do the maintenance yourself, which means you'd get your hands dirty. Also, you'd be saving a lot of money, compared to the cost of a car mechanic--see #2.



Um, why aren't you doing your own car maintenance? It's not like maintaining a car is particularly difficult, though I admit that I do little of it now because I'm not driving old cars (or Saabs) anymore.

But what does bike maintenance really cost vs. car maintenance? Is it really cheaper? I would believe "yes", but the answer doesn't seem obvious.

For me every 1500 miles I replace a chain at a cost of around $30. And every 3 chains I replace my cassette at a cost of $60. That's about the life of tires too, if you're lucky. And brake pads. So for me that's around $250 every 4500 miles. And every 2 cassettes I replace my rings at a cost of around $100. So $600 for 9,000 miles. And that's about the time that I need to replace cables, housing. Factoring in other things that wear out like wheels, bars, shifters, derailleurs, saddles, etc. I'm gonna throw out that my bicycle probably costs me somewhere in the range of $700-$900/year (~9k miles) to maintain. And if I was paying retail prices & LBS labor it's probably twice that? There are likely cheaper ways to ride a bicycle, but I'm not exactly paying for caviar (or Campagnolo) components here.

This is a lot more than I spend maintaining my car. Granted newer car now, but that is also more than I spent maintaining my '91 Saab 900 (doing the work myself). And that car cost me $1500, which is less than I spent on my commuter bike.

And operating costs? A gallon of gas is pretty cheap. I can't ride my bike for 25 miles for less than $3.

There are lots of other costs related to owning a car (insurance, property tax, etc.), but I'm not sure that maintenance (or operational) costs are the no-brainer this article suggests. -- Unless you can sell your car altogether. Then I'd believe you're saving significant money.

I want more people riding bicycles, but I think the economics bear a little more thought.

Crickey7
01-30-2015, 03:21 PM
I agree that a pet peeve I have with articles citing the savings of commuting by bike wildly understate the costs. I have to replace 4-6 items of clothing a year, for example, at an average cost per item of around $50. Tubes wear out or flat every 3 months or so on average, at $6 a pop. Good tools costs, and even then I won't do some repairs myself. And then there's the added beer consumption.

peterw_diy
01-30-2015, 03:26 PM
A gallon of gas is pretty cheap. I can't ride my bike for 25 miles for less than $3.
...
I want more people riding bicycles, but I think the economics bear a little more thought.

Your maintenance costs are $0.10/mile, so how does it cost you more than $3.00 for 25 miles?

ronwalf
01-30-2015, 03:52 PM
Your maintenance costs are $0.10/mile, so how does it cost you more than $3.00 for 25 miles?

Biking at a steady 15mph consumes energy at the rate of about 22 miles per whopper (http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/trans0209gettingaroundrev.jpg) (with cheese). My commute is 30 miles (RT) by car (Corolla, avg 36mpg), and 43 miles by bike. The GPS estimates about 1800 Calories per commute. Even using the lower whopper estimate (1500 Calories), I'd have to be creative (http://www.mymoneyblog.com/what-does-200-calories-cost-the-economics-of-obesity.html) to compensate that energy deficit with $2 in food without suffering gastronomic distress (noooo, not a cup of canola oil!).

GB
01-30-2015, 03:54 PM
Your maintenance costs are $0.10/mile, so how does it cost you more than $3.00 for 25 miles?


Fuel.

The $3 / 25 miles was meant to compare fuel costs. What's your $/mile only counting food costs?
I'm probably a around $0.15 or $3.75/25miles. That's just if I get regular grade, if I splug for premium (better for the engine) it could easy be twice that.

All that said, I do think Honz spends more than absolutely necessary for basic transport cycling. Which is kind of like comparing the maintance costs of a Honda and a BMW.

Steve O
01-30-2015, 04:07 PM
The IRS says it costs about 60 cents a mile to own and operate a car. The IRS is not in the business of giving money away, so I'll accept that as an average value. (That said, there is a wide range depending on lots of variables).

Over the many years I have owned bikes, my experience is about 10-15 cents/mile, including the cost of the bike. I'm a bit of a cheapskate, so I know it can be a lot more.

For instance, a rider who spends $3000 on a cargo bike is going to have to ride it 30,000 miles before just the capital costs drop to 10 cents/mile--not including any maintenance along the way. There are lots and lots of riders out there who won't ride 30,000 miles over their entire lives.

So 25 cents or more per mile for some bicyclists is not an unreasonable estimate, and I would guess that there are plenty for whom their full costs may very well exceed the costs of operating their cars.

Lesson?
You gotta ride your bike to make the numbers work.

dasgeh
01-30-2015, 04:12 PM
If you really want to be precise about it, you have to look at the delta - the difference between what you need to eat cycling for transportation vs what you need to eat driving for transportation.
Also, capital costs should take into account resale value. Cargo bikes generally hold their resale value pretty well.

peterw_diy
01-30-2015, 04:22 PM
Fuel - you mean if you didn't bike you'd sit on your duff and not exercise some other way? If so, let's factor in healthcare costs, OK?

GB
01-30-2015, 04:29 PM
I think
Lesson?
You gotta sell your car to make the numbers work..

GB
01-30-2015, 04:41 PM
Fuel - you mean if you didn't bike you'd sit on your duff and not exercise some other way? If so, let's factor in healthcare costs, OK?

Yes and ok.

Heart disease goes down, broken bones go up.

hozn
01-30-2015, 04:41 PM
Fuel - you mean if you didn't bike you'd sit on your duff and not exercise some other way? If so, let's factor in healthcare costs, OK?
I eat an extra 1000-1500 calories per day to maintain my weight when I commute by bike.

jrenaut
01-30-2015, 05:11 PM
You all are entirely too disciplined in your diets. My bike commute barely offsets the vices of my caloric intake. I'm a sucker for an imperial IPA...

It's hard to determine the actual costs for us. Because of the locations of home/work/kids' school, I'd be crazy not to bike. If I drive, it's probably 20 minutes each way, and I'd have to drive to school, drop the kids, drive home, and then begin my commute to work. If I drove the whole way it's $20/day for parking. We can take Metro, but it's a half mile walk, three stops, then a mile walk. The bus isn't terrible but it's a transfer plus a five block walk. Those of you with children 6 and under can understand the drawbacks of two rush hour buses plus a walk.

If I bike, it's an extra 1.5 miles added to my commute. I have good bike parking at work. Yes, we spent $2000+ on the cargo bike, plus a non-trivial amount on winter/rain clothes for everyone. And hauling that much weight all the time is tough on any bike, so maintenance is not trivial, either. But we paid off my car in 2011. If we drove a lot, we would have replaced it by now, but it's a 2006 and hasn't quite broken 70,000 miles. We put 5500 miles on it in 2014.

The hardest to quantify is my mental well-being. I'm in such a better mood when I bike. Even on the crappy days.

Anyway, I don't really have a point here except that it's extremely difficult to quantify the exact difference between using the cargo bike and using the car or anything else. But my Xtracycle makes me happy, so I don't really care.

Vicegrip
01-30-2015, 05:19 PM
I eat an extra 1000-1500 calories per day to maintain my weight when I commute by bike.You can drink 1000 to 1500 cal too!

peterw_diy
01-30-2015, 05:21 PM
Yes and ok.

Heart disease goes down, broken bones go up.
My rate of broken bones is about one every 15 years. If that's the cost of avoiding cardiac failure, it's a bargain. ;-)

vvill
01-30-2015, 05:58 PM
The hardest to quantify is my mental well-being. I'm in such a better mood when I bike. Even on the crappy days.

Anyway, I don't really have a point here except that it's extremely difficult to quantify the exact difference between using the cargo bike and using the car or anything else. But my Xtracycle makes me happy, so I don't really care.

Yeah this is how I feel. I would love it if more people biked for transportation, utility, with family, etc. but I don't think it's for everyone, and cargo bikes will never have the same range/capacity as a motor vehicle. But if you enjoy it and can make it work then more power to you. I like to ride so I'm always happy to take the bike instead of car/metro, but at the rate I buy bikes/bike stuff it's not likely to be much cheaper than a car. (That said, driving my car doesn't count as a leisure/fitness activity, and most of my bikes/bike gear expenses aren't geared towards transport/utility.)

I also don't really have a point here.

hozn
01-30-2015, 06:10 PM
Yeah, GB is right; I spend a lot more than what I *need* to on my bike. My estimated $700-900/year was sort of "my minimum". In reality I spend easily twice that on my bicycles, the other stuff is just discretionary -- "oh, I want new shifters; I want to build new wheels, etc.". And I hadn't even thought about the clothing and other gear. -- Good point. I have probably spent $1500 on winter cycling clothing alone over the past 5 years.

I think Steve is right that you have to ride to make it worth it, but my understanding is that the $0.60/mile includes fuel. I believe the $0.10/mi for bicycle does not? I probably eat a little less than $0.50/mile, but not a lot less.

And I'd replace cycling with other exercise, but realistically I wouldn't be doing serious exercise for 12 hours a week. I love cycling, but I'm not doing it to save money. That said, the fact that I would otherwise pay like $7 !? in tolls does help me justify spending more money on my cycling transportation costs :-)

Raymo853
01-30-2015, 06:14 PM
#11. Because you will get arrested if you pickup your kids with it from some schools:
http://www.theurbancountry.com/2013/11/dad-arrested-for-picking-up-kids-at-school-by-foot.html

Steve O
01-30-2015, 10:44 PM
I think Steve is right that you have to ride to make it worth it, but my understanding is that the $0.60/mile includes fuel. I believe the $0.10/mi for bicycle does not? I probably eat a little less than $0.50/mile, but not a lot less.


I find that hard to believe. You rode about 7600 miles last year, so you are claiming you spent an extra $3900 on food? That's an extra $10+/day above and beyond what you would already spend on food without riding.

Amalitza
01-31-2015, 08:43 AM
I find that hard to believe. You rode about 7600 miles last year, so you are claiming you spent an extra $3900 on food? That's an extra $10+/day above and beyond what you would already spend on food without riding.

I bet thatís not too far off. This thread is making me curious[1], soÖ Based upon last yearís food spending, last year's calories burned by cycling as estimated by cycling tracking app[2], baseline calories per day required by me estimated by diet app, I spent about $1400 last year on food to fuel my cycling. Yes thatís a lot less than $3900, butÖ I bet hozn weighs at least 150% what I do, 7600 miles is 140% more than I rode, so thatís $2940 for him. Heís also younger and more male (faster metabolism) and rides harder and faster, so those will up his calorie burning as well, which should bring him well into the $3k+ a year, assuming similar $/calorie expenditure as myself.

Yeah, thatís a lot of back of the envelope comparisons and estimations, but it suggests to me his numbers are not too far out of line.

[1] yes, when i get curious, i do math and stuff
[2]which may be too low; I recently started riding w/ a heart rate monitor, and my reported calories burned per typical ride went up nearly 20%-- if the HRM makes the estimate more accurate, most of my year's riding underestimated calories-- though i suppose it could make it *less* accurate, which would mean the last month or so would be overestimated...

vvill
01-31-2015, 10:04 PM
Funny to read this, because usually when I buy lunch at work in DC I try to maximize my calories/$ (within reason - no soda refills, etc.) - firstly because I'm hungry enough, and secondly because I'll use more fuel on the way home and feel less starving when I do get in the door. It's something I've only really done since I've been commuting regularly (and actually when I first moved to the US I had trouble finishing even some of the lunch-time portion sizes here).

hozn
02-01-2015, 10:13 AM
Yeah, I think carefully about maximizing calories. In truth, I rarely buy lunch out and cook cheap carb-heavy food, so my costs are definitely less than the $0.50 I suggested. But if I were eating at Chipotle or drinking beer the ~1200 calories for 30 miles would be ~$8 or ~$10, respectively.

dasgeh
02-01-2015, 05:38 PM
So back to the original post... you shouldnt buy a cargo bike because you don't want to be like the crazy people in the movies... http://tapatalk.imageshack.com/v2/15/02/01/af4c0da2bdbbe0b2fb317f823114dfd5.jpg

OZ_D7
08-19-2015, 06:42 PM
This is classic, i like the "i will burn to many calories...get an electric assist, less calories, more fun!