Bicycle running costs

John Meekings tracked his running costs for 100,000 km over ten years.

Including the initial purchase, the running cost for travel on John's bike has been $557 per year, or 4 cents/km.

Here's his story.

GT Backwoods

Before this bike I owned an Avanti road bike. I used that for doing fun rides and cruising in the country. All in all a great bike. When my second son was born we needed a second bike with a kid-seat. A decision was made to upgrade to something that would handle some weight over the back wheel but would still be fun to ride. I checked out several models in different shops but the GT Karakorum stood out for me with a real natural fit. It felt like it was made for me. I loved the powerfull braking, balance and manoeuvrability that the mountain bike had which the road bike never did. Being able to jump kerbs was another bonus.

GT BackwoodsGT Backwoods 

Ten years ago suspension technology was still in its infancy and tended to be something the enthusiasts added later. I never bothered, after all I purchased my bike to transport me and sometimes a kid on the city streets and it was over 8 years before it got its first outing off road in the Rotorua forest. I swapped the oversized knobblies for some smoother riding road tyres at the outset.

It has let me down a couple of times. Once when the frame broke on the bottom strut near the cluster (after 14,000 km use). This occasion necessitated a walk of about a kilometre, and I was without a bike for a week while the GT warranty took effect. The molybdenum alloy frame of the “Karakoram” had been discontinued and was replaced by a more bulky and stiffer aluminium frame of the “Backwoods”. There was noticeably more vibration with this frame and I took to wearing padded gloves. The second frame is still going strong.

The other occasion I got left stranded was when the bolt holding the seat onto the seat post snapped. Murphy was in fine form that day. I was at the furthest point from either home or work on my way between the two. Riding a bike without a seat is incredibly tiring (and uncomfortable!) over a distance of about 6 kilometres.

Although most of the mileage I’ve run up has been in Hamilton City, I’ve also taken it with me to explore other cities. It has been fun and now the bike has clocked up just over 100,000 km.

John Meeking

Cycle Action Waikato


John has kept a detailed spreadsheet of all repairs and expenses associated with his GT over the last 10 years (100,000 km). He's carried out most repairs himself and gone through:

1 frame,

1 pair of derailleurs,

1 bottom bracket,

1 pair of pedals,

a couple of chains,

3 clusters and a few chainrings,

and 16 tyres.

The most durable tyre John has used has been 26 x 1.5 inch Michelins (with a rear one lasting 14,882 kms and a front lasting 22,264 kms).

He has had an average of 1 puncture every 372 kms.

Back in 1996, the GT Karakorum cost $1,400 (with a $200 trade in deal). Since then, a total of $4,168 has been spent on repairs. The costs have been very evenly incurred -$1,100 $1,014, $1,036, and $1,018 for each consectutive 25,000 km.

Including the initial purchase, the running cost for travel on John's bike has been $557 per year, or 4 cents/km.

PDF icon GT Backwoods spreadsheet.pdf72.85 KB


would make a good Chainlinks article. any objection to us grabbing it for Chainlinks?

Stephen Wood , based in Central Otago

This is based on a ChainLinks article from about 2 years ago.

oops, that shows I'm a relative newcomer. I'd better spend some time studying back issues of CL before I make too many mistakes like that. ;-)

thanks, S

Stephen Wood , based in Central Otago