You’ve no doubt noticed that prominently display the Project Cost on the sidebar. That’s because I want to encourage people that they can do what I’m doing. That being said, I don’t want to be disingenuous with how I calculate the costs of these projects. And that goes both ways.
I don’t want to overstate how much it costs because not everyone will make the same decisions I did. For example, you might have a friend with a welder. If you don’t, you might buy one from Harbor Freight for nearly 1/10th the cost of mine. You may not need all the PPE, or the clamps, etc. So it’d be unfair and unnecessarily frightening to include those costs.
I also buy in larger (by my standards) quantities when possible, and the supplies get used for other projects. Or they’ll be used for future projects. My calculations could include, for example, all 15 lbs of welding rod that I purchased, but I’m only going to use a fraction of it for this bike. Grinding supplies are another example. When purchasing flap and cut off discs, I bought in bulk to save on per-item costs.
If you add up the total cost of supplies, tools and equipment (and trust me, I am keeping track), the grand total at this time is nearly $2,300. These costs include a new welder, 24 feet of steel tubing, 24 feet of aluminum tubing, 15 pounds of welding rod, PPE, plans, test materials, carbon fiber samples… you name it. If it’s even tangentially related to my bike projects, I’ve included it.
This post is for context and clarification. If I say I built a bike for less than $100, that might be true, but it isn’t taking into account all the actual dollars I’ve spent. It’s like when they say factories crank out widgets for pennies. Sure, it’s pennies per piece, but the factory may have cost millions!
So I don’t want to over-sell the idea. Building your own bikes can be cheap if you use all donor parts and already have some equipment. Or it can be a money pit.
The above being said, am I calculating the gas required to drive to people’s houses to pick up donor bikes? Electricity for the welder? What percentage of welding rod or disc supply have I consumed? Just how anal am I about this? The truth is: Not Really. I’d rather be riding. I’d rather be building. I’d rather be doing literally anything than crunching numbers to that degree.
All that being said, I’m going to calculate the costs for each project individually. So the $100 I spent on steel and aluminum now becomes the $23 I spent on steel, because there’s no aluminum being used right now. Supplies, tools, and consumables are par for the course. I’ll continue to track those, but I’m not going to figure them into my totals.
So when you see the total drop from about $350 to $117, it’s because I’ve recalculated the costs.
The amazing clarity I’ve had after recalculating, is that nearly 1/3 of the money I’ve spent has been on plans. There’s an important lesson here. Having good plans is a great investment. The folks at Atomic Zombie are really providing a service to the community.
After all this money talk, I feel obliged to add a Donate button here. Click! Donate! Help a poor bike nerd out. 🙂