I want a bike!

I’ve had a really hard time this last week. There’s a battle going on in my head, and it’s not over yet.

Since I’ve decided to live without a car, every so often I toy with various ways to transport myself around the city.  Yes, I make use of the Toronto Transit all the time. It’s cheap and efficient.

Now that the weather is nicer, my head has returned to thinking of more ways to get from A to B. If you live in a larger urban centre, chances are you’ve seen an increase in the amount of gas powered scooters, vespas, and electric bikes on the road.

Last year was the year of the Vespa for me.  I really wanted one. After doing my research, I determined that the cost of the bike, combined with the cost of training, insurance and license was too much.  No Vespa for me.

This year, manufacturers are turning out electric bikes, or ebikes, that look a lot like the Vespa, and the Ontario Government has introduced a pilot project that allows the ebikes to ride on the roads without a special license, as long as the ebike meets certain specifications.

Earlier this week, I took one of those ebikes out for a test drive.  OH. MY. GOODNESS!  What fun it was! Not only was the ride pretty cool, but add the fact that I felt like some silver screen actress driving around Venice, and I’m hooked.

What started this whole thing? Truthfully, I get asked to fill-in for other people for my part-time gig on Sundays often.  I can rarely say yes because the TTC doesn’t operate early enough on Sunday to get me to work on time. A couple of weeks ago I did say yes and rode my traditional bike to work.  One hour there, one hour back.  Not a bad ride, but not something I’d really enjoy doing too often.

I almost laid down my credit card this week and purchased one of these snazzy ebikes.  Thankfully, when I took my daughters and sat one of them behind me, our combined weight was too much for the shocks. The manufacturers specifications said the weight limit was 10 pounds higher than our combined weight, but still, it didn’t look like enough to me.  The credit card stayed in my back pocket.

When I speak to people about this ebike bug that I have, I hear “you deserve it” and “it sounds like you’d have a lot of fun on it” and “wow it’s so cool looking”. Only my youngest has asked “is it in the budget?”

No, it isn’t in the budget. The total cost of this kind of an acquisition would be just under $2,000.

In order to talk myself off the fiscal ledge, I’ve made a pros and cons list.

PROS:

  • transportation at my disposal (in fair weather)
  • cheap to operate at only three cents a charge
  • no parking fees, no license, no vehicle insurance
  • can drive one of the girls to wherever they want to go in town
  • the girls can both drive it legally without a license
  • I can say yes to part-time gigs when the TTC isn’t operating
  • it’d be fun just to go for a ride
  • I’d feel stylish and hip

CONS:

  • the cost would add to my debt, therefore my debt would most certainly not be paid off until February or March 2011
  • I’d have to add a rider to my house insurance to cover the value in the event it’s stolen, which is likely about $150 more/year
  • I can’t ride in the rain or the winter
  • need to find a place to store it in a heated place in the winter (some models)
  • I wouldn’t be a very good example of somebody serious about wiping out debt if I go and add to it. Would you come back and visit? What would my kids think?
  • I worry that I’d get less exercise, and walk less in favour of riding the new bike
  • cost of regular maintenance and repairs would add to my annual operating budget
  • I’d be inclined to look for other purchases to complement the bike, even fancy scarves or gloves or glasses

I’m likely to do a bit more research, but I do feel less likely to reach for my credit card now than I did a few days ago. People with medical costs as high as mine shouldn’t be out looking for a zippy little bike.

This past week has shown me how easy it is to get sucked in to something. It’s not like this is a brand new idea or an impulse thing, it’s been on my mind for about 8 months.  It’s just that the picture of what IT is keeps changing. From gas to electric. From $5K+ to just under $2K. From just for me to for me and the girls.

The girls and I have been so good talking about money and goals. I’m sure that there won’t be a new ebike in the driveway this year. Next year I want to save for a vacation. Maybe there won’t be an ebike in the driveway for a few years.  Think of how cheap they’ll be by then!

How do you keep your credit card in your wallet when you got it bad?

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