It took me almost four years, but as of this month I have fully amortised my bike! Which means I'm now essentially "cycling for free", barring maintenance costs such as yearly workshop visits for a checkup, or the membership to London Cycling Campaign.
How do I know? Because, as a properly organised person, I kept track of each of my trips with the bike on a spreadsheet, adding up the equivalent cost had I taken public transport. It is exciting when you do a long trip across multiple zones: it helps amortising faster!
It's taken me 580 trips, cycling about 3000 km (I tracked these with Strava). I didn't cycle every day of these four years, as you might well deduct. When I lived closer to the office, I walked instead, so that slowed down my amortisation program.
Also: I have only fallen three times from the bike! One was entirely my fault (trying to do too many things at once and forgetting to keep my hands on the handlebars!). The second one was the fault of a pedestrian that did not look before crossing. The third one was a combination of Camden Council's fault for not gritting the streets during last March's snow, and my own fault for cycling on a day like that. It's quite impressive how quickly you can lose control of your bike when cycling over ice! 😅
I have changed a number of things on my bike, so it's not entirely the same:
- I replaced the front light as soon as I could. The shop that sold me the bike also sold me a very weak light that used AA batteries. They were always running out at the worst possible time, and I was cycling some bumpy and dark roads with a sad yellowy light. So it didn't take me much to get fed up and replace the lights with a strong USB rechargeable CATeye light.
- but then I replaced this with a Beryl light which also projects a laser green bike on the floor.
- and then I got a bracket to replace the front reflector with the CATeye light, so now my bike has two lights. Since the CATeye is right above the wheel, it helps finding potholes. I use it on the maximum brightness setting, no flashing. (I was also very excited that I figured how to install the light myself, without having to bring it to the workshop!)
- I also carry a rechargeable CATeye back light which I clip to my backpack, so it's a bit higher up than the stock light (which is right under the seat, and I fear not very visible if I'm wearing a longer jacket).
- I replaced the old black handlebar grips as they broke in one of my falls. They are now phosphorescent yellow. I wanted them in white, but they were out of stock. This colour doesn't really match my bike, but they're quite visible, so there's that.
- I also had to replace the bell after my second fall, as the older one literally split in two. Now I have a QUITE LOUD Spurr bell. I'd love to find a nice 'ding dong' bell, but all the models I've seen are huge and I'm sure they'd add 500 gr to the bike. I'm not keen on lifting an extra half a kilo up the stairs!
- I replaced the gloves when they started to develop holes (it sort of pleased me: I was using them that much!)
- and also replaced the "sporty looking" helmet from Specialized, which I sort of hated but didn't know any better when I started, with a "urban lifestyle" helmet from Kask which was quite expensive compared to the rest, but it is so comfortable and stylish---plenty of people have declared their admiration for it!
- Finally, the chain was replaced this summer, as it was waaaay too stretched.
I'm still not sure if I like the Ortlieb front bag or not. It looks very ample, but the distribution of space isn't efficient. The pockets and internal divisions take so much space and make no sense. I keep forgetting where I placed things, and they are also very hard to access (they're too deep). Plus, it becomes full really quickly and you can't really place very bulky items on it, as you can't then close the bag! I keep trying to like it, but four years later the verdict is not decided yet. The good thing is: yes, it is waterproof.
Another thing I've changed my mind about is what to wear when on the bike. I initially would wear sports clothes (e.g. leggings, sports jacket etc). But then I visited Antwerp and I saw everyone cycling in their normal clothes, and it was a big inspiration to do the same when coming back. Which I did. I even took it some steps further, cycling in skirts and dresses (not at the same time!). It is very liberating to not to have to carry a change of clothes with you when you cycle, and it makes it more spontaneous to just go and cycle! Plus, it helps normalising the fact that normal people cycle, it's not all just people in lycra racing across the streets.
I'm still tracking the trips I do—if only to feel smug about how much money I keep saving, although discussing with people in the office we mentioned the fact that there's a new electric Brompton in the market and that could be interesting (it assists your pedalling when the road gets tough). But I would not want to get the first generation of any new technology, and besides, I'm still happy with my bike. Plus at this rate, it'll take me eight years to save up. They'll have developed an ultra light ultra efficient electric by then, maybe. Speak to you in eight years time! 😏