How much money I saved in 2015 by cycling

It’s pretty much the end of the year, so I’ve got my final figures for my Great Edinburgh Bike Experiment. I’ve been doing posts quarterly on this, and by my last estimates in August I was up £653.77 against the fictional car. I’ve now totted up the remaining year, give or take a few days as it’s the 27th today and there are a few journeys left in December.  But hey, what are a few days? Let’s tot up September, October, November and December…

Autumn and winter’s numbers

  • Total journeys: 101
  • Total distance: 855 miles
  • Total calories: 27,719 kcal
  • Total climb: 22,702 feet

Bike expenditure in last four months

As it turns out, riding the same bike almost every day over two and a half years means that things need replaced. And so it was over autumn and winter, when all the proverbial buses came at once and I had to replace both gear cables, both tyres, chain, cassette, two brake block sets, one brake cable, and the rear brake completely due to it being cheap to begin with and eventually falling off. Combine that with a service to get everything sorted and I was down £130. Ouch. That’s a big wedge out of my potential savings.

However, when cycling thousands of miles over bumpy, pockmarked Edinburgh roads you’re going to have to expect wear and tear. This is now my third chain and cassette and umpteenth brake block, so it goes with the territory.

As for bus fares, I have been spending a bit more on buses these last few months due to some rotten weather. So I am down £30 for this, too.

Total expenditure – £160

Public transport equivalent

  • I substituted £142.50 worth of bus fares in  September, October, November and December. It wouldn’t have been more economical for a Ridacard over these months, so let’s just go with the total.
  • Public transport cost = £142.50

Car equivalent

  • Monthly car running cost – £39.16
  • Petrol cost for 855 miles – £73.92. The majority of journeys I’ve been doing are in the city, so I’m going to round it up to £80 to account for congestion.
  • Total running cost = £230.56

Gym equivalent

  • Total cost – £122

Grand totals!

  • Public transport (£142.50) + gym (£122) – expenditure (£160) = £104.50 savings
  • Car (£230.56) + gym (£122) – expenditure (£160) = £192.56 savings

2015 grand totals

  • Bike vs Public Transport – £633 in pocket

  • Bike vs Car – £846.33 in pocket

  • Total miles cycled – 2,454

So that’s it, folks! Over the course of the year, I have managed to save almost £850 against my fictional car. I am pretty happy with that, especially as my fictional car has been perfect and required no repairs or anything on its fictional MOT.

In conclusion

I think I will write a bit more about this over the next week or two. It’s been incredibly interesting to tot up my cycling and compare it against potential spends on running a car. Of course, this crude experiment has done nothing to try and understand the other amazing benefits afforded by cycling. No mention of:

  • carbon savings
  • societal benefits by riding a bike (bike riding offers a wealth of plus points in this sense)
  • my physical health and fitness
  • my mental health
  • the “feelgood” factor

More on this soon.




  1. I have missed your posts!!

    Trust me you have saved more than that.. my cars just cost me £1000 this month as the insurance tax mot and service are all due at the same time …. I only drive it once a week!!

    Hope you achieve many more miles in 2016!

    1. Hiya! Hope you had a good Christmas 🙂 thanks for the comment, and I think you are right. In practice I’ve maybe saved a bit more over the year as I didn’t account for any repairs or ongoing maintenance for the car. I did do a small mileage for driving, less than 3k, so to be fair a newer car would probably have less in the way of repairs. But an older one? definitely!

  2. Not sure where you got you car costs from, but £40 per month seams a wee bit low. A quick Google search suggest that is more like the average weekly running cost. You have probably saved more than you think 😉

    1. Hi Kim! I calculated this cost as the start of the year based on the following:

      “With my imaginary 2008 Ford Fiesta 1.25 Zetec Blue 3d car, I’ve come up with this monthly breakdown:

      MOT – £4.58, based on an annual cost of £55
      VED – £12.08, based on an annual cost of £145
      Insurance – £22.50 based on an annual cost of £270”

      Petrol goes on top, and I have excluded any other costs like parking, repairs etc. So it’s the cheapest possible way to run the car. I’ve also excluded the initial cost of purchase. See my first blog post at the start of the year for the full breakdown:

      However, I do appreciate that I might be considerably underestimating… In that case I am even more quids in! 😊

      1. It would be a very unusual 7 year old car if it didn’t need servicing, so add in a few hundred quid a year. Also at that age major repaires often come a nasty surprise, allow a few hundred more pounds. Most people would also have breakdown cover, there’s another hundred or so a year.

        What about depression? Cars deprecate but bikes generally hold their value. Also most people don’t buy a car in cash up front, they use finance, so there monthly repayments.

        Most people are in denial about how much it really costs to own a car. However, because it costs so much they feel the need to use it for unnecessary short journeys to justify having one.

  3. Hi Kim, that’s a really good point about breakdown. I didn’t factor that in at all. I will do a wee follow up post on the other costs that I didn’t include in my experiment. This includes finance, which I mentioned in my initial post at the start of last year. I think if you include finance, it was something like £160 a month to pay for a car before even starting the ignition!!

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