Sunday, 16 March 2014

How much does it cost to run a bicycle..

There is a story in the Daily Mail about MPs claiming 20p per mile for trips by bicycle, and it has elicited the usual and expected response by Commentards
"They're taking us for a ride"
"If they're cycling during the working day they're already being paid"
"It costs nothing to run a bike"

Actually the 20p/mile rate is a standard HMRC rate & anyone using the bicycle for business miles who can claim is entitled to claim including myself.

But is running a bike actually free?

Let's assume that you have actually bought the bike you use outright.

If you cycle approx 2000 miles a year and claim it back, which is about 200 return trips of 10 miles.

2000 miles will probably see off
One pair of tyres - Schwalbe Marathons - £60
One chain - £16
One cassette- £15
2 sets of brake pads (assuming V brakes, front & rear)- £20
One full service - £80 (Halfords Elite Service)

That's the thick end of £200 already.

As for fuel, the Calories burnt calculator here reckons about 600 calories per hour, which is about a 10-12 mile ride. That's the equivalent of 7 bananas (90 cal each). Or £1.40 (current ave cost of 20p each), or £300 worth of bananas for the 2000 miles.

So in terms of fuel  & maintenance, a bike will cost about £500 to run over 2000 miles a year, before the cost of buying the bike, and other items such as clothing/shoes is taken into account. Insurance, etc are excluded from this, as is the cost of buying the bicycle and depreciation.

Compare with running a car (bog basic 1.4 hatchback) for the same 2000 miles.
Fuel (at 35 mpg) would cost £340 using this calculator.
A years service will be approx £150.
Tyres will be £250 to replace, but will last about 20,000 miles, so about £25

So in terms of fuel  & maintenance, a car will cost a similar £500 to run for 2000 miles a year
Insurance, VED etc are excluded from this, as is the cost of buying the vehicle and depreciation.

Yet car mileage comes in at about 67p/mile, where bicycles only attract 20p.

So the real issue is why are car drivers subsided so much from HMRC, especially when the other  benefits to society of cycling are not taken into account?

We should pay much more people who cycle, and indeed the french are thinking about it


  1. Other than the Daily Fail going to reproduce with itself, I think your figures see about right. I to claim my 20p a mile for business mileage (mileage accrued doing my job - you cannot claim commute mileage for cycling or driving).

    I get the minimum 45p when I use my car for work, but getting the car to work means stress in traffic, so bike it is. Yes, not sure why cycling rate is less than half especially as HMRC do not appear to make any comment on age or size of the vehicle. It should at least be the same in my view. But I would say that!

  2. Hey, thats a nice topic, thanks! I was looking for this information like a few days and finally, here it is. You're awesome.
    I love cycling and doing it everyday. I've used to ride a regular bike, but now I've switched to an electric bikes, so now, I'm searching everything about it. Here are the links of my profiles plus the list of useful links I've found: