Spend your money wisely this Christmas. Get a bike.
You could say that as a bike shop owners, we are biased. But we happen to believe that the products we sell make great Christmas gifts for kids and grown-ups alike. Wrap one up, and you're giving mobility, independence, fitness, fun and adventure, not to mention something incredibly durable that will last for years.
First of all, it is a common misconception that bike shop bicycles are expensive. Even a cursory Google search into what most people spend their money on, and how much money they spend, reveals that if only price were the object, bicycles compare rather favorably.
Here’s a quick rundown.
Popular gaming systems. The system itself will set you back about $350-450, plus $50 per EACH premium game. So let's say a new game every couple of months (really, I have no idea how many games an enthusiast would buy a year, but that seems like a good number). So now you have $600-750 at your disposal. At this price you could get yourself a Kona Dew hybrid, with fenders, rack, and a Kryptonite Evolution lock. You might even have enough left over for a helmet. For well under a grand, you just bought many years' worth of autonomous travel.
What's a fancy game system if you don't have a big TV to play on? Though not as expensive as they were a few years ago, highly rated 65”+ models easily command prices between $1500-4000. You could buy one really nice bike for yourself (or consider getting everyone in the family on a halfway decent one). How about superlight Brompton folding bike for the globetrotter, or a pair of standard ones for the commuting couple?
As long as you have a big TV, you should get a good program package to go with it. The ballpark cost of such service runs about $100/month (each and every month). For one year of this privilege, you could get a nice gravel bike, such as a Roll AR1 Adventure, great for getting around town and gravel racing or mini-tours on the weekends. And, since you'll be keeping fit by riding, rather than parked in front of a TV, you'll also save $600-700 annually in health club memberships, so you might consider an even fancier steel bike such as the Kona Rove ST, perfect for long summer rides, touring and year-round commuting.
For $1000-2500 you could buy a stationary exercise machine, which might help you get fit, but will not help you get anywhere. For that kind of money you could haul your own self, plus several members of your family and a cartload of groceries on Yuba cargo bike instead of a minivan.
And how about those small but regular expenses that really add up over time? Such as:
Lattes. Let's say you indulge three times a week at $4, times 52 weeks, that's about $600, which you could spend instead on a Fyxation Eastside single speed bike, a helmet, lock and messenger bag (and have enough cash left over for a sweet little French Press to make delicious coffee at home).
Transit pass. At $105 a month, a CTA pass will cost you $1260 per year. Don't give up the CTA entirely. Public transit is a good thing. Here's an idea: use the CTA when the weather is bad. Save half the money and get yourself a classic Breezer city bike, lock and helmet. You will not find a better bike for trips to the farmer's market or traveling to work in style and professional garb.
And now that you are riding your bike and not the bus more often, remember you can skip that fitness club membership? So you can afford bikepacking accessories, and outdoor gear like a tent, hammock and sleeping bag and get even more use out of that new bike.
Gas. Oooh boy. There are so many ways you could approach this. Let's use my own experience. A fill-up on my minivan costs about $60 these days. If I fill up once every two weeks, six months' worth of gas would yield me $720. That would just about get me on a sweet Roll C1 City bike or a Kona Coco. If you drive more than I do, you could realize these savings at a greater rate, and for six months’ worth of gas, you might be able to afford a matching bike for your spouse too!
And what about gifts for kids? Think of a price of a popular doll with a couple outfits or accessories, a fancy box of Legos, or a handheld game system, and you will see that the price of a quality, professionally assembled, properly working child's bicycle is actually quite reasonable. Children's bikes range from about $100 for starter balance bikes to over $400 for bigger bikes and BMX (with a year of free service, to boot!). And this gift will keep on giving. It will not be discarded or forgotten. Your child will use it for a long time to come, and the cost of a bicycle and its maintenance, spread over the number of years the owner will enjoy it, adds up to a very affordable annual expense.
Of course, this is just a handful of examples to demonstrate how affordable bicycles really are in the scheme of things. I haven’t even begun to address the rewards -- improved physical and mental health, reducing traffic congestion, cleaner air, building friendlier communities, sheer enjoyment -- that bicycles offer over these other pursuits. But imagine that some people could give up ALL of the above items. And not just for one year, but forever. Now they could afford to buy bikes not only for themselves, but for all the neighbors on their block! And maybe even send some overseas to help folks around the world.