Introduction: How I Spent $6.79 on Gas in One Semester

About: I've been tinkering and building things since I was very young. The hobby continues on!

One of the banes of transportation is the price of gasoline. It really puts a damper on things when nearly 6-8 hours of hard work is squandered away in the tank of a 5400cc machine. The gas prices are especially rough if you are a college student with limited income.

I am currently a freshman at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. I set out to try and spend as little on gas as possible this semester. I did not have a car, and I did not use public transportation. Just, me, my feet, good friends, and my trusty motorbike.

Step 1: Learn to Walk

The nice part is that I live very close to campus. This allows me to walk to all of my classes. Walking will also work for any other short trips, but anything longer than a one mile walk will begin to eat away at valuable study time.

Step 2: The Secret

This experiment of mine would not have worked unless I had this motorized bicycle. I built it myself specifically for college. Kits can be purchased from many online sources, and many instructables are dedicated to these little bikes. It has a top speed of 30 miles per hour, approximately 50ccs* (The same as the Honda Metro and Ruckus), gets about 100 MPG, and only cost me a whole $350 dollars to build. Compared to the $1000+ price tag of any Honda or Chinese scooter, thats a pretty good deal. Parts are cheap, and the engine is simple enough to fix yourself.

With this bike, My transportation distance increased from just a 1 mile radius to potentially 20 miles. However, I never used it to leave town, just in case it runs out of gas or breaks down. An old snowmobile proverb says, "Don't ride further than you are willing to walk."

The $6.74 I paid in gas went directly into this machine. Thats exactly two gallons of gas, enough to get me to classes and work over the course of the semester. In fact, that two gallons of gas got me not only to where I needed to be, but also left room for me to take joyrides around town on nice days, and I still have gas left to spare. Because the gas has to be premixed and the tank on the bike only holds a half gallon, I used a 1 gallon gas container that I kept in the back of my closet to occasionally refill my bike up with.

*Also make sure you are aware of the laws in your area regarding these bikes. Many countries and states have outlawed them, and many more require registration just like a motorcycle. Fortunately in Utah, the legislature wants you to save gas.

Oh course, you can forget about a motorized bike and just ride a regular bike, but whats the fun in that?

For more information on the bike, check out

Now what if you do want to get out of town, go further, or carry large heavy objects? Thats when you...

Step 3: Make Friends

Make some good friends. Now I know what you are thinking. "Dumb-butt college kid trying to bum rides from others who are unfortunate enough to own a car." Let me explain.

You DO NOT want to become a freeloader. Nobody like freeloaders. However, you can still hitch rides with friends.

For example, I once needed to get to the store, but didn't want to carry grocery bags of Dr. Pepper back on my bike. So I started listening around for potential rides. Pretty soon, a friend of mine mentioned, "I'm going to try to look for (insert product here) at (insert store name here)." So I politely asked, "Hey, can I come along?" To which he gladly agreed. BAM. Ride set, no hassle. You can even offer to feed them sometime as a makeshift payment.

Some colleges may have "ride boards" for people to to take advantage of if you really want to travel further. You can always turn to public transportation, or local family members as well.

Step 4: Additional Tips

Here are some things to remember:

1) Be patient. Spending less on gas means slower transportation. Walking is time consuming. 30 MPH isn't the fasted thing in the world. And you may have to wait weeks before a friend makes that much-needed grocery trip.

2) Look for opportunities. Always look for opportunities, but do not feel entitled to them. Always listen for possible rides, and don't turn down an offer if you don't have to. You may end up riding in the bed of a truck. You may end up at a regular grocery store instead of your all natural organic special store. It doesn't matter, take what you can get.

3) Plan trips wisely. You don't have the luxury of just cruising around to your favorite stores when convenient. When I went to to the store, it was a carefully planned excursion. What will you buy, and how much can you carry back? How far is the store? Does the road have a bike lane, or can you keep up with traffic? Just Be Prepared.

4) Obey the law. PLEASE don't be one of those tweakers who haul on their motorized bikes at 30 MPH on the sidewalk. All it takes is you almost running into a congressman's cousin to ruin everything for all the other bikers.

5) Don't tell anyone you store gasoline in your room. Dunno why. Just a good idea.

6) Stay in school. Yeah, stay in school.