Coughing up the dough

Just out of morbid curiosity, I started keeping tabs this year on how much money I spend to feed my biking habit.  It’s barely mid-April, and I’m surprised.  Here’s a quick rundown:

  • New helmet                          $33
  • Three tires @ $15 ea.         $45
  • Two tubes @ $4 ea.            $  8
  • New cassette                        $35
  • Ride entry                             $30 (for a ride I didn’t start because of illness)
  • Team jersey for MS 150    $70
  • Chamois creme                   $16
  • Total:                                  $237

The Ms 150 is a week away, and I know I’ll be incurring a lot of ancillary costs connected with that one.  This all seems like dribs and drabs here, but over $200 in just over three months?  It’s a good thing I’ve received a lot of biking items as gifts, because otherwise, I might have dropped even more money.

A lot of my purchases are impulse buys — oh, I gotta have one of those.  In other cases, they’re purchases of things I got along without, but being around biking and bikers, I realized they’re things I should have.  Shorts and jerseys probably fall into this category.

A biking friend told me he didn’t realize how much money he would spend once he got into riding.  He thought just getting on the old beater bike that was gathering dust in his garage and riding it longer distances would get him into better shape.  But he found the biking culture too, and soon was dropping money even more prodigiously than I account for above.

“What does a biking noob really need besides a bike, a helmet, shorts and shoes?” he asked me. “And is there any way to get quality at an affordable price?”

Good point. Your friendly LBS probably sells most of its stuff at retail. You might get a good price from some of the big catalogs, but sometimes the quality isn’t what you were hoping for.

If you were going to advise a new biker, what gear would you suggest they must have?  What gear could they get by without, at least until they decide that they’re in biking for the long haul?


  1. says

    Interesting. I probably don’t spend enough on my cycling. I really need to invest in some clothing, tools, and new gear.

    At a minimum, I think a noob needs a helmet and shorts. If they find they like it they can slowly start increasing their gear by looking at tools (starting with a well-stocked seat bag), jerseys, shoes/clipless pedals, event entry fees, and so on.

    You can get some good deals at the big online stores. You have to be careful with some of the less expensive clothing (especially shorts) and accept that the lesser expensive clothing doesn’t come in cool looking styles.

  2. says

    I’d be afraid to add up how much I’ve spent. It’s an expensive endeavor.

    Oddly enough, though, I find myself reverting to some simpler/cheaper things. For instance, I have been riding on platform pedals for a while now, which are great because I can wear any shoes I want. And I feel increasingly disinterested in getting dressed up in lycra.

    A helmet is a definite necessity, and a good pair of shorts is probably a worthwhile investment. But I’ve found that cheap jerseys are generally fine — or you can even get a sporty, non-cotton wicking shirt at places like Wal-Mart or K-Mart very cheaply.

    Beyond that, I would advise them not to get an item unless they experience a need for it. I always wear gloves, because I have found that my hands get slippery without them, and I like the extra padding. But I didn’t buy any until I had problems. Clipless pedals … well, I love them in certain circumstances, but for a lot of things platforms and normal shoes are better. Definitely not necessary.

  3. John Wilde says

    I agree with mildstallion above.Don’t ever let the wife know exactly how much you have spent on the bike.
    I too have spent more than I care to admit on my bike habit.
    Helmet and gloves were a definite necessity for me, mirror (helmet mounted) and powergrips were next. Tools are always good.
    I started riding again (June 2008) thinking I was going to save money on gas by bike commuting,I need to ride probably for the next four or five years just to break even with what I have spent on the bike.

  4. CR1 Rider says

    I spent that alone on my Specialized helmet, not to mention Specialized BG shoes. I believe you get what you pay for.

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