The cost of using a bicycle

The cost of using a bicycle: calculation of the cost price of using a bicycle

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

Initial investment cost

If you have fancy 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 you have to add:

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

That's a total of around 250 euros, with which I intend to cover 10000 km, or 0,03€/km.

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

Bike maintenance!

I admit that I don't yet have a good estimate of the cost of maintaining a bike myself. Over 30000 km, an experience of the price of maintenance (carried out at bicycle dealers), and arrives at a sum of around 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 is necessary to provide about 150 W to drive quietly on the flat. With a muscle output of 25%, this requires a consumption of about 600 W (the rest is lost in heat: the cyclist warms up).

At 20 km/h, it takes 3 minutes to cover one kilometer: the energy consumption is therefore around 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 (of dry pasta). You will then need to consume 7.5 grams / km. At 2 euros per kg, it will cost you around 0,015 €/km. (cooking not included)

Shower cost…(but you have to shower even if you 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: this is the cost of cleaning the radiator that the cyclist constitutes, i.e. the cost of additional showers.

A 50 liter shower costs:

- water at 3 euros / m3, or 15 cents
– water heating 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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That is a total of 33 cents for at least 10 km, i.e. 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: points c) and d) seem abusive to us, in fact, you have to eat and wash yourself whether you are cycling or not. On the other hand, for regulars of gyms (generally quite expensive) it is obviously preferable to take their bike instead of the car + gym. 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.

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

Conclusion: bike/car/motorcycle comparison

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

And so ultimately, the more kilometers you cycle (especially in town), the more you save money or around 0,15 € / km. This is far from negligible for someone who uses his car to drive a few km to go to work!

Thus, a household of 2 people working and traveling 20 km per day (5 km per average journey, which is very reasonable and does not require any particular physical conditions) will save €63 per month… not to mention of course the social cost of the pollution avoided , the cost of your insurance or all possible additional costs related 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 from calculation of the actual kilometer cost of your vehicle to make a very precise estimate of your costs!

5 comments on “The cost of using a bicycle”

  1. The calculation is interesting. Personally, when I count what my bike really costs me, the cost of use that I get is close to 15 cents/km. Indeed, you have to take into account the wear of the bike, the cost of the tires, the transmission and the wear of the bike clothes (the overshoes and rain jackets hardly last more than one season. In addition, compare this cost to the cost of using a car is excessive: when you already have a car, the savings made by using your bike correspond to the marginal cost (the gasoline you don't use, etc.) and therefore rather 10 to 15 cents/km Conclusion: going to work by bike costs me more than taking my car!!!! nature. It is not a question of price.

      1. I agree, the cost of a car is more than gas, however, assuming I already have the car and leave it in the garage to go to work, the savings is close to the marginal cost of using the car (ie gasoline) because the mileage traveled by bicycle (about 4000 km/year for the home-to-work journey) is low.
        I am very wary of ready-made calculators and I prefer to do my accounts by myself.

  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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