Freedom for school children: lifetime cost of a bike

Businesses are accustomed to calculating the lifetime cost of ownership of a motor vehicle. This is something we rarely do in our private lives. An inexpensive new car with an on-road purchase price below $20,000 will cost easily $4000 per annum when all costs are considered. For that price, a family could have a number of very nice bikes. Bikes have a lifetime cost as well, and here is one example.


  1. Owning a bike
  2. Cycling as a lifestyle
  3. The lifetime cost of ownership
  4. The cheapest and healthiest option

The costs of owning a bike.

Owning a bike

If you have children, they will need a bike. Riding to school is a normal thing for many children. Particularly once they reach high school, bike riding is a good and healthy option – and often faster than taking the bus. High school children are old enough to judge traffic and fast on the bike. They quickly leave their parents behind. The distance to high school is not all that great. College follows and will be a bit further away. Kids that have ridden to high school transition to a greater distance to college very easily.

Cycling as a lifestyle

In this real-life example, a child rode to high school daily for four years over a distance of 5 km one way, and then 11 km to college (also one way and daily). The kilometres quickly add up as many who ride a bike regularly notice. In this case, about 17,000 km were ridden in 7 years. The bike was used to ride to friends and for recreational purposes, too, so the distance was more than shown below.

How far does a child ride to school on a bike over 6 years (accumulative distance in km)

The lifetime cost of ownership

The bike used in this example was not an expensive $700 bike. The Avanti Balde 2 was purchased in Canberra in 2013. The bike was a city bike and weighed about 15 kg. The service and maintenance costs below include parts and installation. 

Over seven years, between 2013 and 2018, and a distance of 17,000 km, the cost of ownership of the bike was $1812. During this period the chain was replaced 4 times, the Shimano cassette (on the rear axel) once, and the Marathon puncture-proof long-wear tyres once. There were no punctures in this period but a number of small problems, mostly due to neglect (e.g. a dry chain). The service was on average every 10 months at a local bike shop.

Columns in order

  • date of service
  • type of service
  • the chain (Shimano) was replaced
  • the cassette was replaced
  • the cost of the service
  • the time since the last service
  • the time unit
bike maintenance and cost of ownership
Bike maintenance and cost of ownership for Avanti Balde 2 was purchased in Canberra in 2013,

The cheapest and healthiest option

There is no doubt about it, cycling must be one of the cheapest and healthiest options to get around. Bikes are so easy and quickly become part of our lifestyle we would not want to do without.

As a side note, the bus to College took 50 minutes, the fastest ride by bike recorded was 25 minutes!

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