A Tiny House + A Folding Bike = A Perfect Fit

How a Tiny Home and a Folding Bike Can Help You Live a Simpler, More Sustainable Life.

A diverse movement of tiny home dwellers is emerging all over the country and growing fast. At it’s foundation, it is a social movement where people are choosing to simplify and streamline the space that they live in. The average home in the U.S. is about 2,600 square feet, whereas the average tiny house is between 200 and 400 square feet. Everyone from millennials scarred by the housing crash of ’08, to aging homeowners looking to downsize, to environmentalists concerned about their carbon footprint, is among the avant-garde of this exciting new trend. There are a number of key factors that make tiny homes so appealing to such a wide range of people:

  • Affordability
  • Lower Environmental Impact
  • Simplicity
  • Adventurous Living

Interestingly, these are many of the same reasons that people choose to own a Bike Friday- a love of adventure, with earnest practicality, rugged-individualism, and the environmental and financial benefits of cycling over driving. Folding bikes and tiny homes are so well aligned in terms of their mission and application that it’s worth highlighting them side-by-side:

Affordability

There are so many reasons why a tiny home can be a better housing solution than the conventional alternative. Probably the most compelling reason is just how affordable and fiscally sound a tiny home can be. First, consider this 30 year cost analysis of home ownership from the Wall Street Journal:

With the true cost of an average home being over 1 million dollars it’s no wonder that nearly 3/4 of Americans are trapped in a cycle of debt in which 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads. Compare that $1M to the average cost of building your own tiny home- $23,000 –  less than half of the downpayment on the house listed above. Of course, not everyone has the time or skills to build their own home, but even if you buy one readymade they start as low as $38,000, still well underneath the down payment of the typical single family home.

A folding bicycle that is well tailored to your sizing and lifestyle can have just as much of an impact on your bottom line. You may be wondering how a custom built bicycle that costs upwards of $1,000 could save you money, especially when a cheap bike from Wal-Mart costs $200. The comparison though, is not really between bikes, but rather between modes of transportation. If you re-imagine your bicycle as a car-replacement, or even just as a way to reduce your car usage, the savings can be tremendous.

According to a study by AAA the annual costs of a car are nearly $10,000. That number may seem outlandish, but when you consider the combined costs of car payments, insurance, registration, fuel, parking fees, and maintenance it’s actually spot on. A custom folding bicycle from Bike Friday, typically $2,000 in price, will last decades, doesn’t require insurance or fuel, and, for daily riders, averages about $300 per year in maintenance at a bike shop (replacing tires, tubes, chains, overhauls, etc.). Over ten years a car would cost you more than $90,000, whereas a Bike Friday would cost about $5,000. And that figure doesn’t even take into account the positive health benefits and lower medical bills that the exercise from cycling would provide.

But could a bicycle truly replace a car? Absolutely, just as there is a growing number of people downsizing their homes to “live tiny,” there is a growing movement towards living car-free or car-lite. The primary car-replacing bicycle that we build is the Haul-a-Day, a size-adjustable cargo bike, capable of carrying kids, groceries, or even construction supplies. Our latest model, the pakiT, is perfect for urban commuting and combined with a mix of public transportation and Uber could definitely replace a car.

The pakiT fits into a backpack for tansportation

The pakiT fits into a backpack for easy urban commuting

Lower Environmental Impact

Even given the materials, manufacturing, and servicing of a bicycle over it’s lifetime the European Cycling Federation conservatively calculates that a bicycle puts 13 times less carbon into the atmosphere per km traveled than a car. That’s nothing to say of all of the other noxious gases emitted from the tailpipe, the massively destructive infrastructure cars require, and the damaging effects of drilling and shipping of oil from around the world.

A tiny home has very similar CO2 savings to that of a bicycle. When compared to the average US house a tiny home uses 93% less electricity and heating, resulting in 14 times less carbon emissions. The materials needed to build a tiny home are far less as well, important when considering that more than 25% of our solid waste stream comes from construction, and that 75% of all lumber used in the US is for home building.

Simplicity 

A tiny home takes the best space-saving techniques of RVs and boats, and combines them with the charm and comfort of a beautifully built home. The savings in space and finance of a tiny home translate into a much simpler and more efficient lifestyle. Firstly, a smaller home is far easier to clean, organize, and upkeep. Don’t like vacuuming? Well, you’ll only have to do 1/10 of what you used to. Have a tendency to hoard? A tiny house will keep that in check. But those aren’t even the best parts of the life simplification that a tiny home provides. Because “living tiny” costs so much less than traditional housing, it really opens up the possibilities of working fewer hours, early retirement, and increased time traveling. A tiny home can free you up to do more of the things that you love to do, like spending time with your kids, getting out into the garden, or riding your bike.

Teri Page & Brian Thomas built theirs debt free, allowing more time for homesteading and homeschooling- www.homestead-honey.com

A folding bicycle is a simple and approachable vehicle, especially when compared to a car. Cars have around 10,000 moving parts, where as a bicycle has fewer than 100. Basic servicing on a bicycle can easily be done by yourself using only a few tools. Cars, however, require incredibly specific knowledge and training to service and maintain them, not to mention dangerous power tools and a lot of space. Bicycles don’t require insurance, a license, registration, street parking, fuel, or… (the list goes on). And a folding bicycle makes life even simpler by not requiring you to lock your bike outside- keep your folding bike stashed inside out of the elements and away from thieves.

Adventurous Living

With a custom-built folding bike you have the flexibility to travel with your bike wherever you want, whether that’s around the world or around the block. A Bike Friday pakiT easily fits in the trunk of your car, checks in a suitcase on a plane, goes into a backpack, or stows in the hull of your Oru kayak.

How is a tiny home adventurous? (You mean other than feeling like your own personal version of Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond?) Because many are portable and, just like a Bike Friday, you can take it with you either as a trailer, or as the vehicle itself. A transportable home frees your inner nomad to wander as far as the roads will allow, always having your sanctuary right by your side. But even if your tiny home isn’t on wheels, the tiny-lifestyle lends itself well to adventure; requiring less money and maintenance, you’re left with more time spend outdoors or traveling.

Sprinter Van & Airstream tiny home conversions by Bohemian Cottages 

Right at Home

A tiny home and a folding Bike Friday are pretty much a match made in heaven, perhaps rivaled only by peanut butter and jelly. As space is the highest premium inside of a tiny home, there couldn’t be a better bicycle for it than the pakiT. When folded, the pakiT is a mere 10″ wide by 38″ long, making it very easy to store in tight spaces like a closet, behind a couch, or under a table. And since the pakiT is belt driven (which doesn’t require any lubrication) you can bring it indoors without fear of it getting grease on your upholstery or clothes.

So if you are thinking about a life simplification, a tiny home in combination with a folding bike like the pakiT might just be the recipe. By joining the clever space saving designs of each, you can lower your physical footprint drastically, not to mention your carbon footprint as well. Who wouldn’t want to save precious resources, have less clutter, spend more time doing the things they love and be poised for any sort of human-powered and human-scaled adventure? At Bike Friday, we couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of the movement away from over-consumption, suburban sprawl, and oil dependence. We hope you’ll join us one folding bike at a time!


Want to build your own tiny home?

Our good friends at Bohemian Cottages (fellow Eugenians!) have just launched their newest project How to Build Tiny through Kickstarter!

How to Build Tiny is a comprehensive training system that will help you build a tiny house – and do it right the first time. With nearly a decade of experience, and more than 35 tiny house builds under their belts, Bohemian Cottages has perfected the art of building a tiny house to be sustainable, affordable, comfortable, and long-lasting. How to Build Tiny will be a series of tutorials and workshops designed to educate and empower anyone who wants to build their own tiny home!

To support their really cool project head over to their Kickstarter page- you can get anything from a hefty how-to manual to a one-on-one training session with a master builder! We’re also offering limited edition How-To-Build-Tiny pakiTs at a discounted price.

 

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “A Tiny House + A Folding Bike = A Perfect Fit

    1. mattc Post author

      Thanks Jeff! If you can make it out to the launch party this Friday, we’d love to see you there! Ninkasi on tap, live music, tiny home + pakiT demos… it’s going to be awesome!

      Reply
  1. Joni Zander

    I spy with my little eye – The Galavan! Can’t wait ’til it’s done and my new pakiT is safely on board. Nice article – and I’ll be calling you soon, Matt.

    Reply
    1. mattc Post author

      Hi Steven,
      Thanks for reaching out! From our understanding, it costs about $25,000 in materials to build a tiny home. This estimate is for the mainland though, so may not take into account factors that are unique to island living. Your question would probably be best answered by folks in HI who have already built one, try checking out some local resources to get a clearer picture!

      Reply
  2. John R. Manix

    Like you I live in a tiny house. So to speak. It’s a Mother in Law apartment with a storage room at about 480 sq. feet. Pretty spacious even with three cats and four bikes. I wish I would had made the last one a Bike Friday. I would’ve had more room. Especially when I haul my bikes in my small Honda Fit. I love the tiny movement.

    Reply
    1. mattc Post author

      So cool that you’re living tiny and loving it! And it’s never too late for a Bike Friday, sounds like it would be perfect for you 🙂

      Reply

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