Seriously considering a bike commute

To follow up on my gasoline consumption post, I’ve been considering buying a bike and commuting to work. I use to ride my bike a lot as a kid and rode to school off and on from 4th to 7th grade. It was my main mode of transportation growing up and was a good source of freedom. Since then I haven’t been on a bike much except for a couple rides down Mammoth. I’ve been researching bikes and figuring out some of the logistical problems a bike commute presents.

One of those problems is getting to work without being completely soaked in sweat. I don’t think there are any locker facilities available in our building and changing clothes in the bathroom doesn’t sound ideal. Not a huge deal so I’d just have to find what works best. If I leave early enough in the morning I doubt my usual casual business attire will be a problem.

A bike commute would also force me to bring my lunch, eat locally or go out with coworkers. Bringing lunch would be the frugal approach. I’d probably start bringing lunch and then eat out once a week.

My commute is convenient right now so I haven’t had a problem working a 5/40 schedule. Riding a bike would introduce a little more overhead into my daily routine and I’d probably switch to a 4/40 with Mondays off. This would force me to get into work earlier so I can still get home at a reasonable time. I’d end up with a whole day off and would accumulate holiday time since most County holidays fall on a Monday.

The more confusing part is figuring out what kind of bike to get and how much to spend. I’ve never rode a road bike and just a handful of mountain bikes so I’m really not sure what I need or what I prefer. From what I’ve read a road bike might not be best for navigating city streets and handling rougher spots. I also like the idea of doing some light trail riding so I’m leaning towards a hardtail mountain bike; no suspension helps keep pedaling efficient. Just have to go down to the bike shop and see what’s comfortable.

Last thing to consider is the cost of starting up a bike commute. Bike, helmet, lock and who knows what else could start to add up. As is I’m spending about $550 a year on gas to commute. If I started bringing my lunch and switched to a 4 day work week that number could be reduced by 60% so that digs into the savings. With that in mind I’m looking at a budget of $400 for everything to get started.

I’d see hard savings in fuel costs and maintenance, but more importantly I’d be getting exercise and opening up a new avenue for outdoor activity. Considering the cost of a gym membership this is easily worth a couple bucks a day to me. This could be the dropkick I need to reform my sedentary lifestyle and get into shape.

Anyone have bike commuting experience or general bicycle knowledge to share?

9 Replies to “Seriously considering a bike commute”

  1. i say go for it with the bike-commute to work. besides saving you money on gas in the long-run after the initial investment in all the “stuff” you’ll save money later in life too by avoiding an ambulance-ride, hospital stay, and triple-bypass surgery when you’re 60 or whenever… or something like that. my point is, i think it’s a great idea.

    and i don’t know about mountain bike selection, price, etc., but i do know that when i bought my beach cruiser a few years back i found it at the Orange County swap meet for half the price of the same bike in a bike shop.

  2. Try Pat’s Cycle and skip the bike shop in Downey.

    I think sweatiness depends on how fast you ride. My occasional bike ride to Rancho will occur early in the morning (when it’s cool) and will probably be relatively leisurely.

    Don’t forget a bike isn’t just a commuting tool, it’s also something fun to do on the weekend and evenings, so you’ll be getting that enjoyment as well. (e.g. tennis nights at the park-STAY TUNED!)

  3. Hi. Please join the Bicycle to Work! LinkedIn networking group. Members pledge that they will try to ride their bicycle to work or on an errand at least once a week. Although the benefits should be obvious, let me outline them here.

    Right now people in the industrialized world are facing two very grave problems: obesity and a growing scarcity of oil. Compounding this problem is the new food shortage brought about, in part, by the conversion of food cropland to bio-fuel crop production. Most people feel powerless to help, but there is one thing that we can do. Ride our bicycles to work.

    If everyone would agree to ride their bikes to work one day per week we could cut oil consumption by as much as 10-15%. No one would argue that riding a bike burns more calories than driving the car. Although popular politically right now, most bio-fuels consume more energy than they produce. We would be much better to eat those bio-crops then use our own energy to transport us around.

    So spread the word. Make it a movement! Bicycle to work one day a week and do your part to cut back obesity and the overuse of oil and precious cropland.

    Just go to my profile at and you can click on the group to be included. While you are there, don’t forget to ask to link to my network of more than 9,000,000 like-minded professionals. I accept all invitations and look forward to meeting you.


  4. I know nothing about bikes. My students could probably give you some tips if you wanted to skateboard though.

    And for Jeff, I found this interesting article that asserts walking is actually WORSE for the planet than driving a car. The energy needed to replace the burned calories has a total negative effect on the environment. Not sure if bicycling is the same.

    My biggest hurdle with riding a bike is trying to transport stuff, adds extra time to my morning, and there is no way I’m showing up with all the students on a bike. I need my protective bubble!

  5. We took a trip to Pat’s Cycle and they were really helpful narrowing down what I needed. Mountain bikes are a little too inefficient for commuting so they suggested a hybrid. The skinnier 700c tires roll better on pavement. There’s not too many options in my price range so I’m looking at a Trek 7000 or Trek 7.2 FX. The 7.2 FX is a little over my budget but the extra money gets me an aluminum frame and nicer components. Don’t mind spending money on a quality bike since it will last a while. Looking forward to going back and doing a test ride.

  6. I commute on bike at least twice a week. 8 miles one way. It take me about 45 minutes to an hour. I have a lot of signals I have to go through and some pretty busy intersections to cross. I ride a Trek 7200 which is basically a commuter bike. Has smaller tires and its a pretty comfortable ride. I would suggest trying out a few before you buy and take them for test rides as well. Its actually a lot of fun and very freeing believe it or not. Just be careful with the crazy people on the road. They tend not to pay attention to bikes so your always on the defense. If you are aware of your surrounding and feel comfortable with your route I would go for it. Also as far as getting sweaty and the clothes situation I usually bring clothes the day before and leave them at work or just throw them in a pack pack or get a bag that attaches to your bike. If you get to work early enough you’ll have enough time to cool down and dry off. Its not as bad as you might think. One other thing I did before I started my bike commute was to ride the commute on a weekend just to get a feel for it. I highly recommend that as well. Good luck.

  7. Yeah but your world is a lot cheaper. I just added up my car loan/insurance/gas for a year and almost spit out my coffee. Let’s just say I could max out my Roth IRA every year with the money I spend on automobile transportation.

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