Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What I thought of when buying a cycle?

Cycling was something which I enjoyed as a kid. Even though I had the option to take the bus, I sometimes rode to school on my Hero Impact. It was fun. Even in Manipal, where either you had a motorbike or you walked, I was among the very few who tried their hand at cycling. So back in 2010, when I used to work out of Jaaga, I was inspired by Deepan of Hashcube, who went on long weekend rides to places like Ooty, Mysore etc.

I thought, I should buy a cycle sometime. Having joined Babajob in 2011, I was in a slightly better position to buy a cycle.  I was thinking of buying a Hero Hawk or some other simple geared cycle. I thought the max I would spend on my cycle would be 6 grand. Surely, I could not afford anything more expensive than that.  So I started asking around - which one should I buy?

Random cyclists I met on the road at the traffic signal, or outside a snack shop etc. all suggested to go for a good cycle.  "You mean like Firefox, which is about 9 grand?" I asked. "Well it depends on you, but I would recommend to go for something better. It may cost you, but this is a one time purchase. If you think you will start with a low end model and then move onto a better one later, that will just not happen. You will never get started with a low end model. Your enthusiasm will fade and you will give up." Hmm..now that was the response I had heard from three random strangers, so I started giving it a thought. Maybe I could increase my budget a bit.

Then one fine day, I got a call from Ram of Hashcube that he was going to buy a cycle. I said, I am coming with you. He was buying a TREK 3700 MTB from BumsOnTheSaddle (BOTS as its popularly known). I said, well I will go with the same. Basically, I trusted Ram's judgement and if he was spending 19 grand, then the cycle must be a good one. But the question which I still had at the back of my mind was, how do I justify spending 19 grand on the cycle?

So I started doing some calculations. I used to spend around a thousand rupees a month on petrol at that point of time. If I stopped using my bike, I would be saving 1000 rupees a month. That's 12,000 in a year and 24,000 in two years(not accounting for the rising cost of petrol). I also knew that sitting in front of the lappie all day is not good for my health. I did not feel energetic and at 28, the body needed at least some exercise. In the past, I had tried but failed miserably at putting a disciplined exercise regimen as part of my daily routine. I was just never able to sustain it. I had been thinking of joining a gym to force myself to go. After all if you have put in money, then there is some motivation (or should I call it shame) for you to go? A simple gym membership at that time was costing 1200 a month for a one year membership. So that's 14,400 a year. Hmm.. so if I don't take a gym membership for a year and don't buy petrol for a year then I can basically recover the cost of my expensive 19 grand bike in a year!

This deal now seemed pretty interesting. I decided to go with it and bought the bike. Yes, I had been frustrated with the frequent punctures that I had to fix and yes, I ended up spending much more than 19,000 grand on the bike (helmet, backlight, frontlight, water bottle stand, pollution mask etc.) But for a year I did not buy petrol (not kidding) and I did not join a gym.

I am not sure if I was absolutely able to recover my investment by buying the cycle (Yes, think of it as an investment and have a strategy as to how you will recover it) but am sure by the next year, I
would have. I regularly cycle to work - its just over 7 kms one way, and go for longer rides sometimes on the weekends. I feel much more energetic and positive after cycling (though I guess that applies to exercise in general)

The important factors which helped me in cycling regularly were -
1) My commute time and exercise time were clubbed so I was saving time (which was crucial)
2) I worked at a startup, and thus could go dressed to work the way I wanted and at the time I wanted (avoid rush hour traffic) . It is cool to cycle to work.
3) It easily became a part of my daily routine as my flatmate started using my bike and thus I had to cycle or take public transport. 
4)  After getting in the habit of cycling, it was difficult to get out of it.
5) The commute to office was not much (7-8 kms) and I was able to take side roads to avoid traffic. Also it took me just 8-10 mins extra on the cycle as it took me on the motorbike.
6) The Bangalore weather! (of course!!)
7) I loved it.

So as the prices of petrol shoot up, and you think that its time to give cycling a try, I thought of sharing my own experience so that it helps tilts the scale in favor of your bumsonthesaddle. :)