Wow. I just got back from the local car repair shop. (Yes, I do actually own a car!). My car is well into it’s middle age and it was time for one of those Regularly Scheduled tune-ups. You know the type – the type where the mechanic looks it over and gives you a laundry list of things that could be replaced in order of “your car will fail if you don’t do this” to “this is our recommendation”.
By the time I got through the basic maintenance needs and some replacements of belts and such, the total
was still over $1,000 (and that was only 2/3 of the full list). Ouch. Between that and the new tires that were required earlier this year (another $700), the car is turning out to be sucking down resources lately.
The perception of cost
But the other thing about it was that that number seemed “reasonable” for a car repair. It wasn’t like I thought it was going to be $200 and ended up being $1000. My perception of cars and their associated costs puts that number in the range of something you might spend on a car.
By contrast, we get people in the shop who look at a bike that costs $1,000 and couldn’t dream of spending that much on it, nonetheless spending a couple grand on a true car-replacement bike. The perception of bikes is that they should cost around $300. You can find a used bike on Craigs List for $100 right?
However, for about what I just spent on a car repair, you could get a very nice bike like the Surly Long Haul Trucker (retails at ~$1150). It’s a bike with a steel frame that might last longer than you, good quality components that can be replaced or refurbished, and the capacity to carry what you need, even for adding an Xtracycle to carg0-bike it for those big trips.
In fact, for just a little more you could even go whole hog on the Cargo Bike, scoring a Yuba Mundo,
Xtracycle Radish bike or Madsen bucket bike (all available for less than $1300). Could you get by with one less car if you had such a bike? (The true cost of owning a car is $6,000 to $10,00 per year – check it out at edmonds.com).
And as far as bikes go, while $1000 is not a cheap bike, it’s not an expensive bike either. Pick up on a really nice road bike for riding around the countryside and you’ll be looking at $3,000 or more. (I once heard of someone who spent an incredible $20,000 on a custom road bike! Maybe it had gold trim or something…..)
Well, the whole car repair experience served as a good reminder of just how expensive cars can be, even if you don’t drive them all that often. And conversely, how relatively inexpensive my “expensive” electric cargo bike is. Yes, that’s the one that allows me to cut my car mileage to less than 20 miles most weeks with relative ease.
Ride More, Drive Less.