The cost of using a bicycle

The cost of using a bicycle: calculating the cost of using a bicycle

I tried to get an idea of ​​the cost of the bike, by way of comparison with the cost of the car.

Initial investment cost

If you have luxury tastes, you can probably buy a bike that costs a few thousand euros, to which you can add a great computer / heart rate monitor / altimeter / GPS ... for my part, my bike cost 150 euros, to which we must add:

- a helmet: 30 euros
- 3 tire changers: 1,5 euros
- a spare inner tube: 3 euros
- a mini pump: 12 euros
- a bag to put all this in: 7 euros
- a raincoat: 40 euros

That is a total of about 250 euros, with which I intend to do 10000 km, or 0,03 € / km.

Of course, you can have different needs (transportation of children for example), which can lead to a slightly higher cost.

Bike maintenance!

I admit that I do not yet have a good estimate of the cost of maintaining a bicycle myself. Over 30000 km, an experience of the price of maintenance (carried out by bicycle shops), and arrives at a sum of approximately 0,04 € / km.

“Biological” energy cost

Yes, as for the car, it takes energy to move the bike forward, and the cost of this is not zero:

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it is estimated that it takes about 150 W to drive quietly on the flat. With a muscular output of 25%, this requires a consumption of approximately 600 W (the rest is lost in heat: the cyclist warms up).

At 20 km / h, it takes 3 minutes to make a kilometer: the energy consumption is 110000 Joules / km, or 26 kcal.

Chocolate provides about 550 kcal per 100 g, so you will need to consume 5 grams of chocolate / km. At 8 € / kg, it will cost you around 0,04 € / km.

It is surely better to eat pasta, which provides 350 kcal / 100 g (dry pasta). You will need to consume 7.5 grams / km. At 2 euros per kg, it will cost around 0,015 € / km. (cooking not included)

Cost of the shower… (but we have to shower even if we don't ride a bike !!)

For distances greater than 10 km, or in hot weather, cycling will have an additional cost compared to the car: it is the cost of cleaning the radiator that the cyclist constitutes, that is to say the cost of additional showers.

A shower of 50 liters costs:

- water at 3 euros / m3, or 15 cents
- heating the water from 10 to about 50 degrees, or 8.4 MJ, or 2.3 kWh. At 8c / kWh, that's 18 cents

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Either a total of 33 cents for at least 10 km, or 3 c / km

Total cost of use per km of a bicycle

So we get a total cost of using the bike of 0,12 € / km.

Econology note: point c) and d) seem abusive to us, indeed, you have to eat and wash whether you are cycling or not. On the other hand, for those used to sports halls (generally quite expensive) it is obviously preferable to take their bike instead of the car + sports hall. The savings would then be very high. Obviously, the gym is above all a meeting place… this is quite difficult to compensate for by cycling routes.

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The real cost, in our opinion, would therefore be more around the 0,05 € / km and much less by using a second-hand bicycle.

Conclusion: comparative bike / car / motorcycle

One kilometer traveled by bike, it is therefore a "virtual" gain (in other words a saving) of 0.15 €, this taking an average motorized vehicle cost of 0.2 € / km (low assumption in 2018!)

And so in the end, the more kilometers you bike (especially in the city), more you save money or around 0,15 € / km. This is far from negligible for someone who uses their car to do a few km to go to work!

Thus, a household of 2 people working and achieving 20 km per day (5 km per average trip which is very reasonable and does not require special physical conditions) will save 63 € per month ... not to mention obviously the social cost of the pollution avoided , the cost of your insurance or all possible additional costs linked to the use of a motorized vehicle (breakdown, accident, etc.)

Go further:


- Calculate the cost of using a car or motorbike
- Use the Ledconsommation software calculating the actual cost per kilometer of your vehicle to make a very accurate estimate of your costs!

5 comments on “The cost of using a bicycle”

  1. The math is interesting. Personally, when I count what my bike really costs me, the running cost I get is close to 15 cents / km. Indeed, you have to reckon with the wear and tear of the bike, the cost of tires, transmission and wear of cycling clothing (overshoes and rain jackets do not last more than a season. In addition, compare this cost at the cost of using a car is excessive: when you already have a car, the savings made by using your bike corresponds to the marginal cost (gasoline that you don't consume ...) and therefore rather 10 to 15 cents / km Conclusion: going to work by bicycle costs me more than taking my car !!!! But the gain that the use of the bicycle brings me is different: the pleasure of making an effort, of communing with nature It is not a question of price.

      1. I agree, the cost of a car is not limited to gasoline, however, if I already have the car and leave it in the garage to go to work, the savings are made. is close to the marginal cost of using the car (i.e. gasoline) because the mileage done by bicycle (around 4000 km / year for the commute to work) is low.
        I am very wary of calculators and I prefer to do my own things.

  2. As far as I'm concerned, in practice over 20 months, on city/country trips: €967 in equipment/maintenance costs for 5100km, or €0,19/100km.
    I do not count the bike (non-motorized VTC) that I owned.

    In detail :
    Equipment: €238 (helmet, chasubles, lights, luggage rack, waterproof bags, etc.)
    Spare parts: 325€ (tires x4, patches, brakes, pedals, dynamos, wheel, cassette, chain, …) = 0.06€/100km
    Tools: 89€
    Workshop: 20€
    Clothing: €170 (including rainwear, sportswear, mittens, etc.)
    Accessories: 105€ (phone holder, bone conduction headphones)

    In my case, I estimate the cost at 1200€ of equipment + 0.11€/100km (eventually taking into account wear, breakage and breakdowns).

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