Saturday, 1 November 2014

How much does a bike cost?

How much does a bike cost?
There is a price that it is sold at, but is that the real cost to the buyer?

A lot of it is about priorities as well as wealth.
Anyone who has a mortgage or a loan and thinks themselves as having money to spare is merely choosing one thing over another, rather than spending "spare" money.
(same goes for buying motor vehicles and holidays when you also have a loan or mortgage!).
Some would suggest increasing benefits to be had up to about £1000 ($1600, 1200 Euro), then rapidly reducing benefits beyond
Indeed, one would expect the planners of the cycle-to-work scheme (a tax-subsidized scheme in the UK to assist commuters to buy bikes) have reached a similar conclusion, given that the scheme is capped at the same £1000.

However, is not the real test of a bike's "value" the opportunity cost?
What else could have been bought/paid?
How much in health/fitness/mental health benefits will be generated?
("satisfaction"/"happiness" I have included in mental health, as a severe lack of either often results in a decline in income)
How much money will be saved by not using other transport methods?
Will the bike save time, and how much is that time worth?
etc. etc.

I actually have the finance for just about any bike - but buying one would not change the way I ride much, and the "true" money cost would have to factor in the extra interest payments I would be paying my mortgage as a result!
A cargo bike would be nice (like the Pashley Mailstar I borrowed last summer), but as they are still being withdrawn from service and "consolidated" near me, it is quite likely I can borrow another next summer - so it seems pointless to buy a similar bike at the moment.

A trailer project will be where I am going next spring - taking garden stuff down to the recycling centre is a job for which we currently have no realistic alternative than a motor vehicle - and I want to change that. Since we live in a town with fairly decent cycling infrastructure, it seems a waste not to use it more!

How can I justify spending money on building a trailer rather than buying a new bike?
Well, the trailer is going to be quite cheap to build - I already have 4 twenty-inch wheels and an assortment of tyres (two from my old folder, and two from a worn-out freebie bike I was given that I stripped for parts).
A bit of wood is not that pricey.
Imagination is free :-)
And it will allow us to offset another cost - that of using a motor vehicle to go to the recycling centre.
So it really won't cost that much.

On the mental health side, I am as much a "wage slave" as the next man, and feel as drained by the corporate horse-manure as the anyone else, and a modestly priced construction product, when completed, will certainly makes me feel good, and using it will make be feel even better.

So next time you read that advert for the latest/greatest bike, just think about what it will really cost, beyond just the "sticker" price, and how much extra benefit (if any) all that money will buy.

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