Guide To Commuter Bikes: Bicycle Commuting Saves Money and The Environment

by Guest Blogger on 2009-05-1028

I’d like to present to you a really cool article on how to cut costs on your commute. It’s a great guest post from EnergySavingGadget.net, which covers eco-friendly solutions to living, using the right kind of products. You can subscribe to their feed here.

We cover a lot of cutting-edge green products at EnergySavingGadgets.net. From the Tesla Roadster, an electric car that goes from 0 to 60 in under four seconds, to a hydrogen powered Honda motorcycle, green technology is advancing at breakneck speeds. But as fascinating as the new technology is, sometimes it’s the tried-and-true that produces the best “green” results. In that vein, we give you the bicycle.

Biking to work even one day a week will produce significant benefits for the environment as well as your pocket book and health. So let’s take a look at some of the benefits of commuter biking, and then we will provide some tips and resources to help you bike like Lance Armstrong (or at least like Fred Armstrong, my cousin). Finally, so we don’t disappoint the technophiles among you, we’ll show you some of the super-cool bicycles available today.

The Benefits of Bike Commuting

Environment: The average commute by car belches over 4,000 pounds of CO2 into the air each year, according to one study of New York City commuters. Biking to work just one day a week would reduce your carbon footprint by 800 pounds of CO2 a year, based on these figures.

Cost: Biking to work can also save a lot of money on commuter costs. These costs include the money you spend on gas, insurance, car maintenance and repair, and parking. According to one cost of commuting calculator, a 25 mile round-trip commute will cost you over $300 per month depending on your gas mileage, and that’s not including parking costs. The calculator is consistent with the AAA estimate that the average car cost is 52 cents per mile.

Fitness: Exercise benefits every part of the body, including your mind. Studies show that by getting the right amount of exercise, you can increase your energy levels and help improve your mood. Regular exercise will keep you fit and will make you feel better overall. Biking to work is a sure way to get the exercise you need to live a healthier, happier life. On average, depending on your weight and the intensity of the ride, you will burn between 400 and 500 calories on a one hour bike trip.

Your Commuter Bike Guide: Bicycle Commuting Tips and Resources

Kinds of Commuter Bikes
Over the last 20 years, bicycle design has changed dramatically, with bicycles today ranging from a few hundred dollars to well into the thousands. The good news is, you don’t have to spend thousands in order to get a bike that fits your commuting needs. Of course, you can use the bike that’s probably already in your garage, but if you are looking for new wheels, you should consider a folding bike or a commuter bike.

  • Folding Bikes
    As the name suggests, folding bikes can be folded up to make them easier to carry and stow away. Folding bikes are ideal for shorter commutes, particularly if you commute to a bus stop or subway. With a folding bike, it’s easy to take it with you on public transportation and to store it out of the way when you get to work.
     
    folding bike

    Folding bikes generally range in price from $125 to more than $2,000 for a Dahon MU EX 2009 (pictured above). Generally, the more expense the bike, the more comfortable it will be for longer commutes. Still, a good quality folding bike can be had for a few hundred dollars.

  • Commuter Bikes
    A commuter bike is a lot like a mountain bike, but with some significant advantages for commuting. Commuter bikes are lighter than mountain bikes, and they have tires better designed for riding on asphalt or concrete. In addition, the chains are typically covered to avoid getting your clothes chewed up. And unlike a racing bike, commuter bikes have higher handle bars, which make riding easier and which help you keep your eyes on the road.
     
    commuter bike

    As with folding bikes, commuter bikes range in price from the low hundreds to a couple thousand dollars. But a few hundred dollars will buy you a good bike. You can also find good deals on bicycles on eBay.

Finding the Best Route
The route you take to work in a car will probably not be the route you would take on a bike. If you live in or around a major city, it may seem almost impossible to find a safe route to work. But you may be surprised at just how ingenious people can be when it comes to commuter biking. In fact, there are several resources you can use to find an ideal bicycle route map for your trip. Check with your local city council or even your human resources department at work to see if they have a map of area bicycle routes. Many organizations have bicycle groups that meet once a month to ride and they would be able to offer advice as well. There are also online resources available that offer maps and route suggestions. Some online resources worth visiting to help you customize a route that works for you: Bikely, Map My Ride, Google Maps.

Other Resources
There are a wide variety of books and websites geared towards biking to work. Here are some additional resources that will help you on your journey.

  • Bike To Work Book: The Bike to Work Guide: What You Need to Know to Save Gas, Go Green, Get Fit. This is a great book on bike commuting.
  • Paul Dorn’s Bike Commuting Tips. Paul’s site is filled with great tips and resources for those biking to work.
  • Commute by Bike. Offers beginner tips and equipment suggestions.

Super Cool Bikes and Pricing

As we promised, here are three high-tech bikes that may not be the most frugal choices out there (and perhaps may not be the best for commuting), but they are super cool! These are courtesy of Fast Company:

The Santa Cruz Driver 8

Santa Cruz Driver 8

From the manufacturer — combining 8 inches of next generation VPP travel with a solidly built chassis that allows 7 inches of up and down seat adjustment and well thought out details like a super burly pair of long life, low maintenance pivots, a 1.5″ headtube, an 83mm bottom bracket with ISCG05 mounts, and a 150mm spacing rear end with a Maxle thru-axle – the Driver 8 is a versatile, tough, fun loving, gravity fed wrecking ball. Retail: $2,200

Trek Madone

Trek Madone bike

From the manufacturer — The 2009 collection of Madones represents the most technologically advanced road bikes Trek has ever made. They’re designed to meet the demands of hardcore racers, weekend warriors, speed-junkies looking for the fastest, most balanced performance road bike on the market, and anyone who simply prefers the finer things in life. Retail: $9,130

Loring I-Motion 9 Build

Loring I-Motion 9 Build bike

From the manufacturer — Whether tooling around town, cruising campus or pedaling to the grocer, the Civia Loring offers supreme comfort, safety and utility. From its gently sloping top tube to its bamboo fenders and matching trim, the Loring is a study in elegance, simplicity and fun. Designed for short runs of five miles or less, the Loring carries up to 50 pounds of cargo while delivering an exceptionally balanced ride. The Loring features disc brakes and a three or nine-speed internally geared hub. Retail: $1,695

For more on how to save money on the road, check out these articles as well:

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

David Stillwagon May 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Unfortunately the city that I live in wouldn’t be too safe to ride a bike in and it would take me forever to get to work.

Baker @ ManVsDebt May 10, 2009 at 5:07 pm

This is sweet! My wife and I are going to be going to all bike commuting here in about a month. While we won’t be spending the dough on some of the bikes you listed later, it’s awesome to peruse and dream!

Enjoyed the article!

FrugalMe May 11, 2009 at 5:08 am

Well I agree with the concept as an environmentally friendly, low cost way of traveling the risk is great when bike paths are not available for save riding. Some places do have dedicated bicycle paths (parts of Europe comes to mind), others have on-road bicycle lanes (Melbourne, Australia) while a majority of places do not provide either facility hence riding becomes an exercise in staying alive. For myself, I walk to work – 20 min each way at a fast pace. It certainly helps me save on transport cost and keeps me fit.

Puddles May 11, 2009 at 6:53 am

@David

What about a folding bike? With a good folder you could throw it in the trunk for half or even most of your ride and then pull it out when you’re close enough to ride. I ride a Swissbike and use it perfectly in this capacity.

Bonnie May 11, 2009 at 8:58 am

I just bought a Jamis Commuter 2.0 bike and LOVE it!!

Silicon Valley Blogger May 11, 2009 at 11:23 am

The key to saving money on using a bike is of course to actually use the bike once you buy it! ;) I say this because I know a few people who vow to start exercising, then purchase equipment for it. They make that initial investment but then there’s no follow through, then of course, the equipment (bikes included) just gather dust in the garage or basement. That’s the thing about exercise, it is a commitment.

MLR May 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Most cities have bike maps available for free with “bike safe” roads, bike lanes, and bike trails highlighted.

If you are doing commuting biking, do NOT get a bike like the Santa Cruz. Mountain bikes have a lot of shock absorption… but think about what that means. It is wasting energy meaning you are putting more energy into going the same distance. Combine that with the thick tires with a lot of friction.. and you are just chugging along. When I ride on my road bike… I frequently go about 30 mph… passing the people on mountain bikes poking around at 10mph.

In my experience: DC and Philadelphia are pretty easy to bike around. I think New York is pretty easy, too. Baltimore isn’t bad but that’s cause it’s so small.

It all has to do with YOU. Don’t bike on sidewalks. Don’t bike on the shoulder and risk getting door’d by a parked car or even worse getting swiped by a car pulling out. Know that it is 100% your right to take the whole lane if you need it for your safety. Have proper lighting at low-visibility times. Have a good pocket DIY bike maintenance book in case you get stuck in a bind, and have the proper tools in a bag (patch kit, frame pump, extra chain, extra tube in case your blowout is along a seam, tire levers, all in one tool kit, clean up rag, etc).

I biked from England to Hungary… bicycling is a viable form of transportation everywhere as long as you use your head!

.. Oh, and in some parts of the city… wearing a helmet makes you a target. Have your u-lock ready. Or don’t go through those parts.

Neil May 12, 2009 at 5:44 am

Hi

If range or speed are a concern try an electrically assisted bike. With hub-motor kits a good road bike can be converted and makes even more of a practical commuting vehicle.

Steve May 15, 2009 at 8:06 am

I would love to bike to work but on warm days I would stink and my coworkers would not be happy about that. There isn’t a shower at my office or near.

Cold days would be a problem too as I would have to bundle up and the effort to bike in heavy clothes would be stinky too.

WrenC May 15, 2009 at 8:25 am

There’s another article about getting started biking to work at True Adventures in Money Hacking: http://tinyurl.com/q6wrvm
It covers types of bikes, accessories, safety, and how to get everything you need inexpensively.

Chromejesus May 15, 2009 at 12:06 pm

MLR makes very valid points about not getting a bke like the Santa Cruz pictured. However Santa Cruz does actually make some bikes that might be commuter friendly such as the Stigmata and the Chameleon. Oh and the price quoted for the Driver 8 is for the frame only, even a budget build on that bike would be in the $4500+ range

Warren P. Bonds May 21, 2009 at 3:52 pm

I enjoy riding my bike. I work from home so I don’t need to ride to work but I do ride it often anyway.

A Wilken May 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I find that biking to work wakes me up better than any cup of coffee ever can. The health benefits are fantastic!

For those in NYC, there was an article on TechCrunch today about RideTheCity (.com) to help with mapping out bike friendly routes.

Si Phoenix June 12, 2009 at 8:35 am

Whilst I would love to be able to bike to work, and really avoid the daily traffic cue, the biggest problem is taking my suit in a bag and then finding that when I arrive at work it is always heavily creased.

Jay July 2, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Great post. I’ve biked to work a few times since driving takes 15 minutes, it’s not a long bike ride. Just wish there was a better route for me to take. It gets a bit hairy on some sections of my route with all the drivers rushing to work.

Biker Jacket July 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm

I think that for those with a commuting distance of up to 6 miles, a bicycle could be a very good idea. My old job had a daily roundtrip of 76 miles. That is why I started using my motorcycle instead of the car (when weather permitted).

gurp13 July 11, 2009 at 10:14 pm

I think all three of those bikes would be terrible choices for a bike commuter. Get an older “hybrid” bike. It should have mountain bike styling (upright position, flat handle bars) but without any suspension. Put skinny tires on it. Something like 26 x 1.9 or smaller.

Annie July 15, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Gas price are very expensive nowadays and it may still go up. And the impact of this has been quite serious to many families.

That is why bicycling to work is increasing in popularity. Bicycles are relatively cheap, and if you live within a reasonable bike ride to your work it can be very practical as well as healthy.

Niles October 22, 2009 at 11:55 am

Bike commuting is really very much helpful in terms of economy as well as it is good for the environment too i.e. eco-friendly. I think it is one of the best way to maintain a good economy and keep the environment healthy.

Mistie December 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm

If you are looking for an affordable, quality made “dutch style” commuter bike you should check out bowerylanebicycles.com

They are made by hand in the U.S., out of American steel, using solar power and they only cost $595.

Tania April 8, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Commuter bikes rock! They are the best on asphalt, and they are good for our environment. I can’t see why more people start using them…

Naveed August 24, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Great article, I reckon that commuter bikes are beneficial for both our environment and for our health as well, however going to work on a bike doesn’t seem a good idea to me because at times in my job I don’t usually go directly to my office, but I have to meet some clients on my way. So I use my bike early in the morning to go to a nearby park where I jog and exercise.

Gadget Lover October 7, 2010 at 9:46 am

Since “Go Green” is so important today, cycling is a great idea to solve the issue. It’s also a great exercise for your body and mind.

AZ Moeth December 27, 2010 at 9:54 am

I’ve seen lots of commuters bringing their folding bike into a train. For instance I’ve seen a guy that after a couple of stations would unfold his bike and ride again…in total, his biking journey count only +/- 5 miles (home to station:2,5 miles, station to office:2,5 miles).

Can we still call them “bicycle commuting”?

bicyclehotdeals December 29, 2010 at 12:51 am

Same with our friend David Steelwagon up there…its hard to ride a bike in the city I live in, besides the crazy traffic, the air is not too clean either. But somehow, lots of “bike to work” community members in my city actually do commuter bike riding. Salut to them.. go green!

Gabor February 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I just found now but still a great article!

Desoza March 7, 2011 at 1:10 am

In cities, much traffic is created by people traveling short distances by cars and motorcycles, looking for parking spaces. It is more convenient to take a bike for shorter distance, and the streets will be less congested for those who really need to travel by car. Also using bikes is advantageous for many reason.The most obvious advantage of a bike is the cost. You simply pay for the bike and ride off. No other taxation required.Second important advantage of bike over car is bikes are very versatile and can often navigate around places that cars can’t such as small streets, and city centers.Third reason is fitness. Cycling every day gives you regular exercise. Bicycling can be one of most pleasant ways to commute to work.

mtnbkrdude April 19, 2011 at 6:47 am

That Trek Madone looks freakin’ sweet…if I only I had 10k to drop on a bike!

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