Budget Busters

Our regular guest poster, Don Blount, came up with a suggestion the other day: Track how much we spend on biking during the year.

“Someone told me that biking was not an inexpensive activity,” said Don. “After buying a bike, what’s left? Little did I know the black hole I was getting sucked into.”

He’s not alone. I started tracking my biking expenditures this year, just to see how much this pastime put me back, and it’s been an eye-opener. So I checked with our other regular guest poster, Jeff Hemmel, to see if his story was similar. It was, but different.

Here’s a look at what we’ve spent this year. We broke it down into three categories: Apparel, equipment, and miscellaneous (Blount didn’t account for miscellaneous expenses).

So Don emerges as the winner (or loser), with $1,100 spent on biking. He explains his leading total this way: “I spent much less than this last year, my first year of riding, as I just used many of the items I already had, most of those were just barely adequate for riding in any season. And in the fall and winter I froze my behind off.”

Even though he spent over a thousand dollars, Don says it could have been worse: “I saved about $300 – 30 percent – by purchasing everything and I mean everything on sale. That’s either a sign of: a) my shopping savvy or b) the great markup on inventory by the biking industry.”

Jeff’s story was different because of the way he bought his stuff. “I had received my road bike last Christmas,” he said, “so was getting a lot of stuff I might not have purchased in a normal year. I thought it was interesting what I did to support my habit -— lots of deals on eBay, sold a number of other items on eBay when I wanted to upgrade to something else. Looking back, I feel like I didn’t really get much of anything this year, as I was really watching my money. Looking at this list, however, maybe I was wrong!”

Jeff notes that he bought three Pearl Izumi jerseys, either on eBay or at the PI outlet store, for a total of $80. His bike rack was a $6 eBay purchase. But his $90 shoes, that came as a birthday present, were given to him by his wife, “…so it’s really my money in the long run.”

In the Bike Noob household, we’ve been careful shoppers this year, too. Some of what I count as apparel purchases are really Christmas presents that I won’t be using. And then there was the entry fee I paid for a ride I never rode in because of illness. And the two nights in a Houston hotel plus meals and sundry expenses could have been added to the miscellaneous list, because they were the result of the MS150. But I decided not to.

I think the three of us would agree that all these items were needed. “I don’t consider many of these items frivolous purchases,” says Don. “Maybe the Garmin, but even that replaced a $20 broken bike computer. The others I can justify as either items needed for comfort on the bike (bibs) or safety (light) or replacement (tires).

“Looking toward next year I think I’m set on a number of things and don’t plan on spending nearly this much. But then again I didn’t plan on spending this amount this year.”


  1. says

    Interesting lists. A real eye opener for somebody looking to get into cycling and potential maintenance costs.

    @Jeff: You’re treading on dangerous ground buddy. I hope you never mention to the wife that she spent ‘your’ money to buy you a gift…lol!

    • Jeff H says

      I thought about that when I wrote it! Was actually just trying to point out that I couldn’t “not” count them just because they were a gift…I’m happy to share the funds.

      Especially when they’re used to buy me more bicycle stuff…

  2. tracywilkins says

    Yes, cyclng is a black hole as far as money goes. Even when you commute by bike 90% of the time, it still is a money loser. I look at it this way. It’s my hobby. I can afford to spend the money on what I enjoy, so I’m not going to worry about it. By comparison, when you look at the amount of time I spend on the bike, I probably come out a lot cheaper than if I would spend the same amount of time on the golf course, fishing, or hunting.

    Call it discretionary spending!

  3. Matt says

    @ Tracy –

    Commuting by bike let me get rid of a car, so I actually come out ahead… even if you consider the several hundred dollars we’ve spent on bike-related gear this year.

  4. says

    I just finished up a spending spree, I guess, for winter riding gear. I just got back into the sport after 4 years of not riding, so I found a lot of stuff needed to be replaced, ie bike maintenance and helmet, plus needing new jersey, etc.

  5. says

    I don’t want to even think about how much I spent on cycling this year, for starters a track bike, a fixed gear bike, a new road bike, and now that I live in Reno warm clothes, oh dear….

  6. says

    No matter how much I spend on cycling, it still pales to what I spend on golf. At least when I want to practice riding my bike, I can just go out and ride. With golf, even a trip to the driving range forces you to dole out cash. Not to mention a bag of clubs that cost as much as an Ultegra equipped carbon fiber bike.

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