Buying a New Trek Bicycle
Over the last 5 years I have been riding a used thrift store bike in which I bargained them all the way down to $35; the bike lock that needed to be cut off was my bargaining chip. I originally bought the bike for a couple reasons: 1) I sell things on eBay, why not buy a bike and give it a try 2) I didn’t own a bike 3) lots of really cool FI people ride bikes*
I took the bike for a tune up and of course to get my bike lock hacked off. I don’t remember the exact numbers originally but $75-$100 to make the bike ride-able seems correct. Mrs. Even Steven was not exactly thrilled with the costs; I could feel the glare of dislike as she questioned why I just paid a little over $100 for a used bike from a thrift store. I’m sure she was thinking why not just buy one from one of the big box stores? I actually did this during my time in Florida, but one small car crash, followed by an angered filled slam and the bike didn’t last past that.
Over the past 5 years I have purchased the following: a bike helmet, ~$3 from the thrift store, ~$20 bike lock, a couple of new tires and tubes ~$50 probably a high estimate, but these were installed as well so I’m sticking with a higher number for the labor costs. All in total I have spent ~$208 and that’s putting that number on the high side. That’s $42 per year, a very small number, all for a little extra transportation.
Why I Bought a New Bike
Over the past 5 years I have been biking more and more. It all started innocently enough when I lived closer to the Chicago lakefront and took a morning commute to work on the lake path. An occasional ride to work became a concerned effort to ride to work on Friday’s, especially when the weather was just right. Last summer I upped my game and began riding a little more often, I was able to ride for an entire week straight to the delight and terror of my ever pedaling legs. Over 100 miles in and I still like waking up in the morning for the early commute. In fact, the energy I come with to work after biking through the streets of Chicago as the sunrise approaches the city’s skyscrapers puts a smile on my face.
Surprisingly, the thrift store purchased bike has held up over the last few years. The bike doesn’t shift the best and in its old age prefers just a couple particular gears. I have come to learn this by the chain falling off during an occasional gear shift. Flipping the bike over and getting a little grease on your hands before work doesn’t bother me much, but if I could avoid this dance, I’m all for it. The brakes, well they work, but let’s hope I don’t have to stop dramatically for any moving vehicles. In short, the bike works. I don’t love the bike and I don’t hate the bike, it feels like I own a 1986 Gremlin.
This year I decided to bike even more and with my new debt freedom I wanted to purchase a bike. Like any super nerdy excel sheet, FI chasing fool I have been thinking about purchasing a new bike for the last 2 years. My original plan as I looked at bikes was to purchase a new Trek Crossrip which starts at $1,099. Only a couple of months ago did I make a dramatic shift in price and began looking at the more common Trek FX Commuter bikes, which start as low as $379. This made more sense for my budget, where I’m riding, and the amount I currently ride. As I did my research and was asked for my birthday present ideas, I asked for money towards my new bike. I don’t entirely celebrate my birthday too much anymore, but my parents and my beautiful wife gifted me some money towards the Trek bike cause, no Go Fund Me page needed. I mean what parent doesn’t want to buy their son a new bike, even if he is in his 30’s!
Then it happened, I was focusing on my price range and budget for my bike and came across a Memorial Weekend sale at a local bike shop in Chicago. Of course, this only happened after checking craigslist for the better part of a month to find very little price difference across the board. I went in the bike shop with every intention to purchase a 2016 Trek FX 7.2 and after asking a range of questions on the different models within the FX series, I left with a receipt and an order to pick up my brand new purchase. It was that simple.
My purchase included the following, not including Chicago’s insane amount of sales tax:
- Trek 7.2 FX $450
- Water bottle cage $20
- Kickstand $15
Afterwards I poked around the website I realized I had totally forgot to look at the discounts and coupons they offered……what kind of crappy frugal personal finance blogger am I??? The good news was I called the next morning and talked with Jake, not the guy from State Farm, who knew exactly what I was talking about and said he would add everything on the accessory list to my bike. Thanks Jake. Here’s what was included, for free I might add:
- Seat pack– for little items like a wallet or keys
- Frame pump-Perfect I don’t even have a bike pump
- Water bottle and cage– I decided to stick with the upgraded water cage on this one-I think I missed out on the water cage credit which I believe would have been around $7
- Helmet-$20 They did offer a basic helmet, but I already have one and wanted something a little more comfortable and preferably not one from a thrift store. $20 off not bad
Because of a monsoon of rain when I was supposed to pick up my new treasure and ride home, I came back with our SUV** and threw my bike in the back. Funny enough my main man Jake was the person who grabbed my back from the back and explained everything. He explained everything from adjusting the seat, explaining the quick release and brakes, and anything extra that popped up in my head at the time. Then I was hit with some more good news, he handed me my Trek manual and the offer to have a 90 day check in with the bike to make sure everything is working properly after you stretch out the gears and brakes. Then to sweeten the deal, you actually get 2 more tune-ups over the next 2 years for free, a $90 maintenance package.
I have my bike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously that’s how I felt. I came home and rode the bike around my neighborhood while it was still light out, it was great! The only thing I needed to do was purchase a bike lock. After reading reviews and horror stories around the internet I had pretty much had me convinced that I needed a lock the size of the house so the potential thief would move and pick someone else’s bike to steal. Although based on my riding patterns, 90% of the time my bike will be in my house or locked up at my work where we have a security guard checking people in and out along with appropriate bike racks to safely secure my ride.
That of course still didn’t stop my endless indecision to buy a lock. My guess is I put in a solid 2 hours of indecision before I added anything to my Amazon cart, then another 30 minutes asking myself if I made the right decision. Since I have had my thrift store bike I have only had a cable combination lock, mostly I had the feeling that they would pass on my bike entirely whether I had a lock or not. Final decision time came and after a small gift card from taking an online survey, I landed on the Kryptonite Lite 6 shown here, originally $60, knocked down to $50 with the gift card. I even received the bike lock the same day with our Amazon Prime account ($99 per year).
What the Bike means to Me
Over the past 5 years I have enjoyed my thrift store bike ride and maybe I will sell it or rent it out in the future, but it feels great to have a new bike. The Trek bike is great and the ability to enjoy my financial freedom and purchase something I have been truly wanting over the last couple years brings me to a level of satisfaction that I’m growing to love.
The bike has meaning behind it. This bike is the past 2 years working overtime, skipping a vacation, bringing a lunch to work, selling on eBay, using my tax refund for debt, and riding a $35 bike to work. It’s about taking every last cent and putting it towards a student loan or money I owed my parents. It’s the hours I took running numbers on my spreadsheet looking for ways to pay off my debt that much faster. Today some of these same decisions that I made to cut costs actually provide more happiness than I could have imagined. In the same way when I ride my bike it gives me a financial happiness that I would have not expected. I hope everyone reading gets that same feeling in the near future, share the financial happiness with someone you know or the internet both I’m sure will appreciate it!
* Although originally I didn’t think riding bikes was a realistic financial savvy method of transportation, hater I tell you
**Certainly some irony picking up a bike with a gas guzzling SUV. We rarely the SUV since we are in the city and take public transportation 5 out of the 7 days of the week and sometimes more.
One of the biggest reasons I am enjoying my debt freedom is because I made the decision to track my finances. I encourage you to know where your money is going and sign up with Personal Capital using the link above, if you are already tracking your money this is for you also . Once you understand what you are spending your money on, this puts you in financial awareness mode and will lead you to start making the financial decisions on the best places you want your money to go.