tl;dr – I swapped the train with a bike for my daily commute in Sydney. My health is improving and am (about to start) saving money.
To jump to the data, click here.
June 2016: I’m a fat guy with very high cholesterol. I need to try to be more active, or I’ll be young(ish) dead dad. Both my wife and a good mate (who’s into cycling) start encouraging me to jump on the bike and start riding for part of my commute…
I start riding my mountain bike to the nearest station. 3km. It kills me. But I stick with it. A month later I start riding one station further. 5km. As the months go on I increase the distance. A few months later I’m commuting 11km each way. I decide to take the plunge and try riding the full 23km and cut out the train all together.
I’ve been doing the full 23km (46km / day) commute for around 9 months now, and I’ve never felt better. Initially it took me 90 min or so. Now that’s down to 55 min on a good day, which is roughly the duration of my commute via public transport.
Of course the mountain bike wasn’t ideal, so I replaced it back in October ’16 with a Reid Vantage Endurance 2.0, with upgraded wheels, tyres and other bits and pieces.
Since I’ve started commuting on my bike, I’ve lost nearly 20kg. My cholesterol is lower. I’ve actually found a physical activity which I don’t hate. Plus, don’t have to stand in the awful halitosis cloud on the train every morning / evening. Almost two hours of exercise a day, for free.
All this got me to thinking about the costs. Cycling regularly isn’t just a buy-once scenario. You can do some of the servicing yourself (I only do the basic stuff), but on top of that you’ve got clothes, winter / wet-weather gear, tyres, wheels (I busted one after 4,000km) etc. To see the data, scroll down.
- The idea of riding 23km is pretty daunting / scary to a newb, especially when there are roads involved. A year ago I would have told you that you’re an idiot for suggesting I ride that far. To tackle the whole road / danger thing, I used Strava heat maps to see where other cyclists to determine where the most popular routes are to avoid as much traffic as possible.
- Go for a rack + pannier bag, rather than a backpack. Backpacks are uncomfortable and make for mega-sweaty-back.
- I go for layers in winter. Jackets are cumbersome to deal with (for me) and a pain to ditch when you get warm (or sweaty when it rains).
This spreadsheet outlines the cost of public transport (including petrol to the station) vs. cost of owning / maintaining the bike; plus, the weight I’ve lost (this is live data that syncs from my scales at home). To make it easy, it starts on the day I bought the road bike (not long after I started commuting the full distance to work).
The “estimated days commuting” is essentially a total of all weekdays between the ‘start day’ and the present. It’s more than the actual number of days I’ve commuted (due to bike being repaired, leave etc.), but it gives you a good sense of how it evens out if you’ve commuting every day.
This doesn’t include the cost of gear that I’ve been gifted (e.g. Cycliq Fly12, helmet etc.), or stuff I owned before I started commuting (random lights etc.).
This is ‘live’ data, so the figures will update each day, as I buy more gear, and as I lose (or gain) weight
Whilst it’s likely going to be another few months before the costs even out, commuting by bike has been far more enjoyable and economical than public transport. I truly love riding my bike. Above all, it’s been critical to my physical and mental wellbeing. I would recommend this to anyone who has the opportunity to try it out. If this fat idiot can do it, you can too.