Cheapest Commuting Challenge

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Rusdy
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Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by Rusdy » Tue, 21 Apr 2015, 19:49


So, user 'jonescg' has "I challenge you to come up with a better invention than the bicycle" as his signature. I can't agree more. Add electromagnetism to it, it's marriage made in heaven really!

Electric bicycle is definitely the cheapest form of commuting [7].

With my electric bicycle, I commute 54km round trip with 460Wh of energy, or 8.5Wh/km [1]. This energy usage is equivalent to 0.052 litres of fuel, or 0.1 litre/100km [2].

Well, hangon, surely it is cheaper to pedal with your own muscle, right? That's what I thought as well. So, being a skeptic, I did my own calculation:

Assume the rider is from Tour de France (NOT me), which can 'easily' produces 300 Watt all the time in the commute duration (to achieve the same comparison with my electric bike commuting). Let say the rider manage to output 460Wh exerted at the same time duration (1 hour and 40 minutes round trip). The rider would need 400 Calories [3]! Quick googling tells me, this is equivalent to a bigmac [4].

For food cost, this translates to $5 for a round trip. Heck, that is the same cost (fuel only) if I use my Toyota Corolla! There you go. Human powered commuting is NOT cheap [5]! (Of course, I'm ignoring the health benefit here).

My electric bike fuel cost? ... Nothing! That's right, because mine is solar powered (one way). The other way, I charge at work for free :)

Image

"Wait a minute, you have not included your capital cost!" I hear someone complaining. Well, since I'm a cheapskate, my total electric bicycle cost is around AUD1,600. This price includes: new electric bike kit, second hand bike, second hand solar panel, and my own custom MPTT charger [6]. To date, I've clocked 11,000km and 420 cycles of charging (quite deep too) and definitely still have my 80% capacity (I haven't had the guts to test the actual remaining capacity). I predict I'll be good for at least another 400 cycles (before I need to buy a new battery), so the life-cycle cost would be AUD1,600 / 800 trips = 2 bucks a trip (or 7.5 cents per km). Try to beat that!

References:
[1] Exact value is highly dependent on wind. This figure is anywhere between 350 to 550Wh. The average speed for the whole ride is between 33 to 34km/h (not much affected by wind, almost none I say). Data source from installed Cycle Analyst on-board (http://www.ebikes.ca/product-info/cycle-analyst.html)
[2] A litre of fuel contains 8.9kWh of energy, using data from http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/fuel_c ... _chart.pdf
[3] 460Wh = (460Watt)(3600seconds) = 1.656MJ = 396kcal (or 396 food Calorie, yes the Calorie unit IS confusing)
[4] Assuming 100% efficiency converting those bigmac calories to pedal energy.
[5] More reading if you don't trust me: http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ah810e/AH810E08.htm
[6] http://epxhilon.blogspot.com.au/2014/06 ... ger-3.html
[7] For smart a$$ out there that says "cheapest commuting is no commuting at all, i.e. work at home!". To that, I can't top it off. Yes, I agree with you.
Last edited by Rusdy on Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 07:33, edited 1 time in total.

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mikedufty
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Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by mikedufty » Tue, 21 Apr 2015, 20:18

How about bike maintenance, bike tyres can be quite expensive per km. Do you pedal at all? I pedal just as hard with e-assistance as without most of the time so, I just go faster, so I don't think it saves anything on food compared to pedalling, not that I think I really eat any more when I cycle than not.

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Post by Johny » Tue, 21 Apr 2015, 20:24

I think you just have to leave food out of it. Otherwise you will have to include driving a car to and from gyms and whatever - it'll get pretty complicated.
Rusdy I loved your post citing references and all. I am constantly annoyed by "I heard (or read) somewhere that...", or, "they say....".

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Post by Richo » Tue, 21 Apr 2015, 21:13

The real question would be if you were consuming an EXTRA bigmac due to the ride since you have to eat anyway.
But I agree big macs are too expensive Image

Nah seriously good work I doubt I could beat 7.5c/kmImage
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Post by Rusdy » Tue, 21 Apr 2015, 22:39

mikedufty wrote: How about bike maintenance, bike tyres can be quite expensive per km.


Yup, tyre is included. I have Schwalbe marathon plus that has endured the whole 11,000km without fail. Ooops, I lied, there was one occasion I had a puncture and I had to take out dozens of long and thin steel wire (I think it's from broken lifting wire rope sling). I still use the same tyres to date though. They cost me AUD120 back then a pair!!

mikedufty wrote: Do you pedal at all? I pedal just as hard with e-assistance as without most of the time so, I just go faster, so I don't think it saves anything on food compared to pedalling, not that I think I really eat any more when I cycle than not.
You got me there. Yes, I pedal too, as this is my only form of exercise :P. Not as hard compared to my manual roadies though (me got lazy). And definitely quicker. So, let's say an extra half bigmac instead? :P I was definitely hungrier (hence, eat more) when I was using my manual bike (although this maybe confirmation bias).

Johny wrote: Rusdy I loved your post citing references and all. I am constantly annoyed by "I heard (or read) somewhere that...", or, "they say....".
Thanks, I am quite anal on my references :D

Richo wrote: The real question would be if you were consuming an EXTRA bigmac due to the ride since you have to eat anyway. But I agree big macs are too expensive
How true. I may have to start eating wheatbix instead. The packaging box that is... :D

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Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by Adverse Effects » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 01:01

you have to also add in the extra time on the trip at around $25 P/H

and do you follow all the road rules? stopping at stop signs and so forth?

if not and you get done for running a stop sign is what $300?

PS:- just playing devils advocate Image

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Post by T1 Terry » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 03:21

:lol: Love your break down of the whole thing, most entertaining. Do need to facture in the replacement knee costs to the rider maintenance costs?

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Post by mikedufty » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 07:35

Had a go at working out my numbers.
I have a shorter commute, 28km round trip.
Average electricity use with power assist is about 300wh, 9c worth of greenpower, 0.3c/km

I also pedal. I estimate at about 200w average, so 233wh/200kcal for the 70 minute trip unassisted, dropping to 167 (60kcal less) with assistance (10 min quicker each way)

I follow a high fat, low carb diet, so don't eat big macs.
Butter is a fairly cost effective high fat fuel at around $1 per 100gm/717kcal
At that rate regular cycle has a fuel cost of 27c, reduced by 8c by the motor, so almost exactly the 9c cost of the electricity.

The rest of the costs are a bit hard to compare.
I've only done 2000km so far on my $100 240wh battery, so can say it will cost less than 5c per km, hopefully lots less but time will tell.

My previous bike (pedal only) cost around 7c/km to run over the 13000km I had it. My current bike is at about 2c per km running cost so far (8000km) but is still on it's first drive belt and internal gear hub, may go up a lot when those need replacing. I think there is a huge variation depending on your taste in bikes and cars.

I had a suzuki swift once that I calculated cost me 10c/km to run over the entire time I had it, including depreciation.
That didn't include fuel (15km/L) but a good demonstration of how cars can be way cheaper than the official new car based figures you see.

Last edited by mikedufty on Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 21:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by mikedufty » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 07:40

T1 Terry wrote: Do need to facture in the replacement knee costs to the rider maintenance costs?

I'm the opposite, I have a broken cruciate ligament, and need to cycle to keep the muscles strong to support the joint and avoid needing surgery for the ligament.

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Post by Rusdy » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 17:47

Adverse Effects wrote: you have to also add in the extra time on the trip at around $25 P/H

and do you follow all the road rules? stopping at stop signs and so forth?

if not and you get done for running a stop sign is what $300?

PS:- just playing devils advocate Image


It's hard to please people these days!Image

But you're absolutely right. It takes me 30 minutes longer (round trip plus a shower at work) if I ride.

I do obey road rules though, except... the legal limit on my motor. Don't tell, please! Image . I've passed coppa couple times (nervously), but looks like it's low in their 'nabbing' list. Hopefully this is true for looooong time. My speed is pretty much similiar to those 'weekend-warrior-in-tight-jersey' (if they ride in packs).


mikedufty wrote: Had a go at working out my numbers.
I have a shorter commute, 28km round trip.
Average electricity use with power assist is about 300wh, 9c worth of greenpower, 0.3c/km


That's a lot. Do you have hills all the way? Or do you calculate consumption at charger? Either way, sounds like you have very strong headwind all the way (typical Perth)!



mikedufty wrote: I've only done 2000km so far on my $100 240wh battery, so can say it will cost less than 20c per km, hopefully lots less but time will tell.
That is really, really, really cheap. Where did you get your battery?
Last edited by Rusdy on Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 07:50, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by woody » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 17:56

Rusdy wrote:But you're absolutely right. It takes me 30 minutes longer (round trip plus a shower at work) if I ride.
So two showers a day?
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Post by mikedufty » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 19:08

For me the e-bike is about 25 minutes each way. About 5-15 minutes quicker than a car depending on traffic, but cancelled out by the extra shower/changing clothes etc. It is still a little slower than by motorbike which is how I actually travel if I don't cycle.

I'm using Hobbyking.com LiPo batteries. Cheap and high performance, but more explodey than LiFePO4. And I'm not too sure on the durability. I use a balance charger, keep them in a fireproof bag, and run a cycleanalyst to keep an eye on them in use, with a conservative low voltage cut off.

No problems so far. I reached the low voltage cut off one day about 500m from work with a strong headwind and rain and not pedalling hard to avoid sweating in rain gear.


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Post by Richo » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 21:16

Rusdy wrote: (plus a shower at work) if I ride.
woody wrote:So two showers a day?


I thought the point was I was riding not pedaling.
Why would I need a shower.

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Post by Rusdy » Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 22:04

woody wrote:So two showers a day?


Yup.
Richo wrote: I thought the point was I was riding not pedaling.
Why would I need a shower.


Well, that depends on the person me guess. Mine is probably odd one out, from the order of priority:
1. Exercise (hang on a minute, so why not manual? Well, that's because I like my exercise to be light. I found 54km round trip a day is a wee bit too much for me to ride often in a week, especially in Perth summers, where head wind is ridiculous)
2. This is my main car. The other car is to be used by the missus. I cycle (well, electric assist) 3 times a week, regardless the weather (yup, I've ridden hailstorm, 40C heat, thunderstorms, you name it...)
3. Cost.

However, you're right, some people that I know of (that owns electric bike) bought them so they don't need to shower when they get into the office.


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Post by cj7hawk » Mon, 01 Jun 2015, 05:10

Rusdy wrote:
so the life-cycle cost would be AUD1,600 / 800 trips = 2 bucks a trip (or 7.5 cents per km). Try to beat that!


Sorry, you did throw down a challenge, so I'll answer that with my own hybrid petrol/electric system.

Image taken two prototypes ago... It doesn't look all that different at the moment.
Image

Cost per commute - $1.87 per commute -

How is this calculated?

Bike Estimates     
     
Bicycle     100
Motor     239
Controller     23
Boost     15
Circuitry/Wires     50
Batteries     54
Straps     5
3D printed parts     20
ICE     200
Generator     80
Total:     $786

Lifespan Estimates
Lifespan     6 yrs max.
Estimate Trips     1333 max
Round Trip     52 km
Lifespan (hrs)     2000 ( based on engine specs. Batteries are VLRA but are maintained at optimal 80% cycle so are likely to last a very long time )
Estimated commute time     1.5
Maintenance Cost     $100 (dollars on top of bicycle cost)
Max Cost for Bicycle     $886
Lifespan Cost per hour     0.443

Fuel          
          
Range     60     km/liter
Cost     1.40     Est Fuel cost per litre
km's     69333     Estimated kilometers lifetime range.
Cost/km     0.023     dollars
Cost total     1617     Lifetime Fuel Cost, bicycle + fuel for it's running life.
          
          
Lifetime costs          
          
Fuel     $1617
Bicycle     $886     
Total     $2503
          
Total cost per kilometer $0.0361 amortized over lifetime of bicycle/engine/generator/batteries.
Cost per trip     $0.94 (Half Commute)
Cost per commute $1.88 (Full Commute).


That's on purely petrol cycle - On hybrid cycle, I can improve that - Currently by 33% but am working on 100% improvement through matching charge to optimal generator output.

Regards
David.


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Post by cj7hawk » Mon, 01 Jun 2015, 20:28


Oops - Just realized a calculation error - I thought some of the numbers looked bigger than I had expected them to be based on earlier calculations and projections.... BTW, I'm working off of 200 commutes per year - so calculations are based on that, but this only affects the lifespan in years - All other calculations are based on estimated life of components. Here's the updated spreadsheet - It's a little more, but still coming in a less than 5c per km - without using "hybrid mode" - Just petrol-assist mode.

Image

As an interesting afterthought, I've included the other three common methods of commute I use, and included their times... This really highlights how effective the hybrid bike is.

Also, on good bike paths, typical speed is 24 kph, without pedaling. If it's slowed by wind in one direction, then it picks up in the other -

Regards
David.

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Post by EV2Go » Tue, 02 Jun 2015, 14:29

Stole someone else's bike $0, bail $500 :(

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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by Rusdy » Fri, 07 Sep 2018, 10:13

OK, so I haven't managed to beat @cj7hawk cost per km. After 40,000km and 5 years later, mine hovers around 5 ~ 6 cents per km.

However, after looking @cj7hawk video here, I don't think I can cope 1,500 commuting hours (eBike only to date) with that vibration and noise (trying to claim superiority here :twisted: .

Speaking about time, to @Adverse Effects point, if I can find someone willing to pay me the extra hour everyday (at $25ph) wasted due to longer commute on my eBike, I would've be able to buy second hand Leaf!! :mrgreen:

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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by HeadsUp » Fri, 07 Sep 2018, 10:53

Adverse Effects wrote:
Wed, 22 Apr 2015, 01:01
you have to also add in the extra time on the trip at around $25 P/H

and do you follow all the road rules? stopping at stop signs and so forth?

if not and you get done for running a stop sign is what $300?

PS:- just playing devils advocate Image
How is it an E-bike can do 35 kmhr unlicensed but an unlicensed guy riding a motorised esky at 10 kmhr gets booked and taken to court ?

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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by Richo » Fri, 07 Sep 2018, 12:19

Pedals...

It's the same with the pedelec scooters.
It looks like a scooter but they ride them on the foot path, no rego etc...
Only because it has pedals and a claimed power of 200W.

Put pedals on an esky and it becomes a bike and is perfectly legit.

Crappy loop holes...
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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by Reebok » Sat, 08 Sep 2018, 07:56

i have commuted for 15 years 22km each way to/from work.
Used the motorcycle for 12 years, different bikes, from 2.1 litre twins to Ducatis, to Turbo Hyabusas. Used the car for 3 years, Jag, Lotus, V8 commodore, and lately a 4 cyl honda accord. None of which is a fair comparison to an EV. Need for power is now tempered by need for licence.
time seems to be the big factor.
Most economical in terms of $$ was catching the bus!. But very time inefficient unless you use the time for another activity. I am spoilt, as the walk to the bus stop is about 400m, and it stops right outside work. just have to re organise start and finish times around the bus schedule. time - around 65 minutes. But you can do this when you don't have a licence - blame MC for that.
Most economical in terms of time is always the bike. Time - between 7 and 15 minutes depending on my motivation and the weather. But equal to the car in terms of running cost. Tyres the biggest killer.
Most expensive is the car, but also the most convenient. Time between 30 and 75 minutes depending on traffic congestion.

I would expect an EV pushbike type vehicle to be the most economical in terms of time and $$. Have done the journey by pedal only, and time is a reliable 45-60 minutes. Expect not much different from an EV Bike.

Only catch is the large hill in the middle of the journey (Wheelers Hill in Mulgrave Vic). Similar hills on most other potential routes without going too far off course.

The bus stacks up pretty well amongst all of these, no capital investment, no 'special' equipment required. no insurances.

I will be retired in a year or two, I expect much tinkering to be done then.

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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by mikedufty » Sat, 08 Sep 2018, 14:52

I am up to 22500 km on my e-bike now (though it did 7000 of that before adding the motor).
Total running cost is 2c/km.
Purchase price of the electic conversion works out to another 2.5c/km if it died tomorrow.
Purchase price of the bike works out to another 7c/km if it died tomorrow.
So about 10c/km all up if you assume the bike is still worth something.

Sounds fairly cheap, but I used to have an '84 Suzuki swift which cost about the same, would probably be more with current fuel and rego costs though.

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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by Scotty T » Wed, 12 Sep 2018, 09:23

Looking at the numbers here I'd roughly hit the same 5c km on my converted 350w rear hub drive bike which has around 4300km on it. I only just got back on it this week after a long hiatus.

I'm in Canberra so the times work out each way about 15 minutes in the car and about 30 minutes on the bike for ~15km distance.

@cj7hawk that's one agricultural beast you've built there.

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Re: Cheapest Commuting Challenge

Post by T1 Terry » Tue, 18 Sep 2018, 12:04

Does the per km cost have to include the purchase price of the vehicle? Can the per km cost be divided by the number of people conveyed on each trip?
My recently purchased PHEV Prius can run on electric only for our 5km commute from home to work and the same return trip as well trips to the shops and post office. If the battery pack is recharged via solar then the cost per recharge would be zero making that part of the equation very cheap. The heated seats for the cold and air con for the hot commutes as well as the wind and rain protection should also count for something.
I do have a number of electric bikes as well, but the 5km commute has a number of serious hills and at 63yrs old they take their toll on the body after a few days, so the cost of pain relief medication and loss of productivity should come into the costings maybe :lol:

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