Budget Bicycling


I've now been riding Aaargh for a year, and I've written up a 1st Annual Summary for your entertainment.

What's this all about, then?

This is an experiment to see how long it takes to break even on the purchase price and running costs of a sub-$100 department store bicycle, used for commuting purposes.


Because I'm of the opinion that you don't need a carbon-fibre-equipped $2000+ bicycle and full tour-de-France riding gear to rack up substantial commuting mileage without significant breakages. I suspect that a major reason for the bad reputation of cheap bicycles is that people are far less likely to do regular maintenance on a $100 bicycle than a $2000 one.

The Bicycle

I chose a $73.48 Blade XTI-18 men's mountain bike from Big W. This was a sale price, the normal price is $98.00. It should be pretty representative of the sub-$100 mountain bike range in most department stores. The pictures below show its main features.

In the box - just like xmas! That's my 30-year-old Batavus 10-speed in the background.

Unpacked and assembled, with a collection of plastic and cardboard bits removed.

I don't like excessive stickers on my bikes, so I removed most of them. I left the stickers on the top tube and down tube to cover the red-silver paint transitions.

It's a Blade!

Lined up next to my current commuter bike. The Progear has an aluminium frame, but once you add a rack, dynamo hub, water bottle and lights the two bikes weigh about the same.

Plastic brake levers, and flimsy-looking plastic gear shifters. You don't even get grip shifters on bikes in this price range.

This is how many Shimano components you need to be able to advertise a bike as "Shimano Equipped".

Fine, sturdy, 1-piece cranks, plastic pedals, and some rather ugly welds disguised with a thick coat of paint. Yummy!

Plastic V-brakes. They're still quite powerful though.


I'm 34 years old, 180cm and 82kg. I normally commute 16km each way to work on a moderately tweaked MTB (in the winter) or an elderly 10-speed road bike (in the summer).

Follow the numbers

I'll be counting each successful trip to or from work to be worth $3.00, since that's the cash price of a bus ticket here in Canberra. Once the "Running Total" makes it to $0.00 I'll have broken even.

I'm not going to be masochistic and include the cost of items that would be needed for ANY bicycle, such as a pump, patch kit, spanner, screwdriver, helmet and gloves. I'll list the cost of any replacement parts as and when they are needed.

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