“Oh, that’s a nice bike! How much was it?”
I’ve been asked this question on numerous occasions since I started to ride a Brompton two years ago.
I always feel queasy and try to dodge the question because most people would call me insane if they knew about the real price I paid for my bike.
“Well, it’s difficult to say. It really depends on the spec”, is my usual reply. Unfortunately, only very few people are satisfied with such a cagey answer. “You know, they start at about 700 Pounds”, is my second line of defense. People who don’t cycle themselves are usually taken by surprise. “Gosh, are they really so very expensive?!”
Well, I paid twice as much. I don’t think that’s too much money for a very good bicycle. Furthermore, if you look at the matter from a different perspective, the bike effectively comes for free. Even if you take the costs for accessories and maintenance into account.
In January 2010, I paid £1510 for my bike. I chose the ultralight weight version plus a Schmidt’s hub dynamo (An ordinary bike without the hub dynamo would have been around £500 cheaper). Later on I added a rack (£114 including Eazy Wheels).
Additionally, since January 2010 I’ve spent about £425 for accessories like a new helmet, the Brompton folding basket, different pedals, and so on.
Maintenance has cost about £135 in those two years (I cycled 5000 miles and service the bike myself.) On top of that, I estimate that I spend about £10 per month (or £240 in two years) on busses and the tube.
If you add things up, my total costs of urban transportation in London in the last two years were £2310.
However, if I’d sell the bike tomorrow, I’d at least get £600 (probably more). Hence, the total costs of having ridden the bike for two years come down to £1720.
Without the Brompton, I would have spent at least £1000 per year on public transport – in the last two years riding the most expensive Brompton on sale saved me almost 300 Pounds.
This year, thanks to the brazen fare price increases of Transport for London, my savings will become much larger.
Of course, similar calculations apply for all other bikes as well. However, notice that I did not spend a penny for a lock because I take the bike everywhere with me and don’t have to worry about bike theft at all.
From now on, I might have a better answer to the question how much I paid for the Brompton: “Less than two annual travelcards for the tube.”
Update: Here’s an interesting article about the costs of car use: “Cars are cash sinks, point out bus company and bike orgs “