Thursday, June 30, 2011

What's That Cost?

Since I'm out on my bike all the time these days, I tend to run into other transportation cyclists a lot. Some of these folks are riding because they prefer it to driving, some because they can't afford to drive, and some because, for whatever reason, they no longer have a driver's license. Oddly enough, they all seem to want to talk about the same thing: the cost of our respective bikes.
I had one fellow corner me at a bike rack outside of a Target and subject me to a lengthy lecture about how much he paid for his bike, what the actual retail price was, what the price of the bike was the model year before and after, and what the cost of the other bikes he was considering buying at the time. Then he, of course, asked me how much my bike cost. "Um... I'm not really sure," I mumbled, "I got it on closeout, but swapped a lot of parts and stuff around." This didn't really satisfy him, so I eventually just said, "five-hundred dollars," which elicited a knowing nod and a "not bad" from him.
I didn't quite get it, but it seems to be a common thing. I mentioned it to my boss at the bike shop, and he said last time he and his wife were grabbing coffee after a Sunday ride, the same thing happened (the woman who approached them bragging that she had a "ten thousand dollar bike," which was only off in his estimation by about $9,000).
I'm really not sure how much my bike, as I'm riding it, cost. I know how much the MSRP was, and how much I paid for it when I bought it, but I swapped out a lot of parts, added some things, used some old parts I had lying around, got some stuff from a friend... you get the idea. I could probably tally it all up, but I don't actually care.
I guess it's another case of folks wanting to use their transportation as status symbols. After all, if you're driving an Escalade, everyone knows you spent a certain amount on it, but if you're riding around on a mountain bike, there's the very real danger that people might not realize that it cost you lots of money!
Yeah, it's kind of stupid. I figure even the most expensive add-ons to my bike, like the high-powered headlight for night commutes cost less than a tankful of gas for my old truck, and everything I've done to it serves a purpose.
A more interesting thing to me, in terms of cost/use/etc is to look at what I've worn out since I started using a bike as my main transport almost four months ago. I estimate I've got between 1,500 and 2,000 miles on the bike now (a cyclocomputer doesn't count as a necessity, so my "broke commuter" logic says I can't afford one), and have worn out, lost or broken the following:

A pair of pedals
Two sets of grips
Three inner tubes
Two sets of brake pads
One chain
One kickstand
Two water bottles
One bell
Two taillights
One headlight
One spoke

This is more interesting to me than what the bike cost, or what it weighs (another meaningless question that comes up a lot, the answer is "depends on what's in the saddlebag"), because it's both a tally of the real operating cost of the bike, and a mark of how much use (and care, I fix stuff when it's worn out or broken more diligently than I ever have on a car) my current vehicle gets.

What's it mean? I don't know. It means I'm riding my bike, I guess that's all.