Rise of the Five-Figure Bicycle

imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

August 20, 2014, 11:28 AM

http://online.wsj.com/articles/rise-of-the-five-figure-bicycle-1408489679

I confess that a few interest me and then realize how much fun I have riding my basic hard tail.

I'm sure lighter but doubt there's a more comfy riding road bike that my 23 year old model made of steel. For that, add that all the old all metal Campy stuff has ever needed has been grease, oil and a new chain.

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Nate W.
Club Raconteur

August 20, 2014, 09:21 PM

Can't read the article without subscribing...

Anyway, I think it's all to easy to resent the uber-expensive bikes and their riders. I really don't think they deserve it personally. We all are buying the best, most expensive bike we can afford anyway, right? More power to those that can afford a five-figure ride...it drives the industry. I'd be pretty disappointed if the cycling industry dried up.

And, the big spenders also drive something else that I crave...trickle-down. I'm interested in a XT/X9 level 1X11 group and a fork like the Pike for less than $900 for the MTB and electronic shifting at a 105 price point might convince me to move away from the 15 year old Campy stuff on my CX/roadie.

My old shop in LaX has already sold one of the super-expensive Trek Emonda road bikes to the resident big spender. If that helps them stay in business, that's awesome!


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August 21, 2014, 10:14 AM

Trickle down, I want that 1x11!


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Walt Hougas
Trail Steward - Blue Mound SP
To Be A Man...

August 21, 2014, 10:29 PM

I'd rather spend less and continue to ride hard enough to crash occasionally. I've learned a lot over the years by taking calculated risks.

Putting a scratch on a $10K bike would feel catastrophic. On my 8 year old bike...not so much.

Walt

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blackbike (Scot E)
None more black

October 23, 2014, 09:02 AM

I'd rather spend less and continue to ride hard enough to crash occasionally. I've learned a lot over the years by taking calculated risks.

Putting a scratch on a $10K bike would feel catastrophic. On my 8 year old bike...not so much.

Walt
I can also say that maintenance costs on expensive bikes come back to haunt you.  Especially if you have several of them.


~ Look up on the wall baby, hand me down my shootin' iron.
Call your mother long distance, tell her to expect your body home.


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XXX

October 23, 2014, 11:13 AM

I've become a fan of buying expensive bikes 'off the shelf'. For whatever reason it seems like they need less work than bikes that are built from the frame up, maybe because I'm less inclined to tinker with them because they just work better from the get go, but it's been cheaper all around in my experience to buy a stock bike and stick with it (mostly).

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October 23, 2014, 09:50 PM

I have to agree with Rich. Keeping it stock works, and when something breaks or wears out, use it as an opportunity to upgrade. I generally try not to spend a whole lot on a bike because I would hate to have it stolen or damaged. Instead, I just have a whole bunch of bikes!

Besides, bikes are far overpriced. Looking at a cost per pound, it's ridiculous. High-grade alloys sell for maybe a few dollars per lb. The labor and tooling is light and cheap compared to the auto or construction industry. The machining isn't that complex either, especially compared to the tolerances in many other industries. If all bikes were half the price of what they sell for today, the bike industry could still make a good amount per bike and it would start to bring the value more in line with other industries.

Selecting a cheaper model is really more for your money; they typically have the same frame and performance, but that last lb or two of weight reduction costs hundreds...if not thousands. It's much cheaper to cut weight in other areas. And the other hype is that weight matters. There is a lot more to it than just grams, unfortunately, that's one of the only metrics used.

Why is it that the $10,000 tri bike on Ragbrai gets passed by someone on a $500 commuter bike riding self-supported with 30 lbs of gear? It's the engine more than the bike! You can't buy conditioning.

Another example, 1x11 drivetrains. There are less parts, less machining, and less material, so why does it cost more besides hype? If I was to build up a 1x10, I would spend less than buying a 2x10 and it would weigh less (on the standard rating scale of 1 lb makes a big difference...). The 1x11 should follow that cheaper path as well.

 

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Nate W.
Club Raconteur

October 24, 2014, 08:40 AM

Jeff, I tend to agree, but the SRAM cassettes on the 1x11 stuff have tons of machine work involved.

The tooth profile on the drop-stop chainrings takes more time also.

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October 24, 2014, 11:29 AM

I don't see the cost of that additional machining that would justify a higher price. In general, a cassette sprocket is a $0.50 piece of metal that is laser cut, possibly slightly machined (or even stamped for shaping), and then they go through a heat treatment, anneal, and some form of plating process. A 1x10 or 1x11 goes through the same fundamental steps. I can see it costing 10-15% more since one additional part is added to the assembly.

Bikes are about the only thing you buy for such a high price to value (and they don't even come with electronics or safety systems). Cars are far cheaper in comparison. Using the value people get when buying an expensive bike, a similar multiple would price a compact car over $100k.

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Nate W.
Club Raconteur

October 24, 2014, 12:01 PM

Except that the XX1 and X01 cassettes don't go through those same steps.  10 of the 11 cogs are machined from a single block of cro-mo.

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« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 12:06 PM by Nate W. »

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Nate W.
Club Raconteur

October 24, 2014, 12:25 PM

Also, I of course don't believe that the high cost of bikes is the result of the machining cost of 11 speed casettes.

It's more a function of economies of scale when compared to cars and also due to demand.  Why does Santa Cruz price the Bronson with a RS Pike, XX1, XTR brakes, and DT 240/ENVE wheels at $10,000?  Because someone will pay exactly that amount for one.

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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

October 24, 2014, 12:57 PM

Also, I of course don't believe that the high cost of bikes is the result of the machining cost of 11 speed casettes.

It's more a function of economies of scale when compared to cars and also due to demand.  Why does Santa Cruz price the Bronson with a RS Pike, XX1, XTR brakes, and DT 240/ENVE wheels at $10,000?  Because someone will pay exactly that amount for one.

Makes a good argument for a Santa Cruz guitar instead of Santa Cruz bike. Not a consumable like a MTB, much better theoretical life span. I'm sure Nelson would be calling a $2000 14 year old Santa Cruz MTB a joke but sending me a text that he's figuring out how to make it his if craigslist had a 14 year old Santa Cruz guitar for same price.

There are diminishing returns as you spend on a lot of things. For me the consumable or disposable nature of modern MTBs makes it harder to buy a high end bike even though I've done it before and it would be fun. I'd probably pay a premium for wide gear ratio 1x setup (X1????) and great wheels before the premium charged for a plastic frame bike.

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October 24, 2014, 01:59 PM

It takes two parties to establish the price of any given good or service: a willing seller AND a willing buyer.

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Gary S
Board Member, co-Trail Steward Blue Mound SP
Administrator

October 24, 2014, 04:20 PM

William, the premium for a "plastic" frame is easily paid for by a few fast laps around the Kettles parking lot.

I suppose your comments are fair considering that you'll probably never sell me on a dropper post. At least not until someone makes one that works like I want it to.

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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

October 24, 2014, 05:31 PM

William, the premium for a "plastic" frame is easily paid for by a few fast laps around the Kettles parking lot.

I suppose your comments are fair considering that you'll probably never sell me on a dropper post. At least not until someone makes one that works like I want it to.

Plastic is not a put down and there are a few I'd enjoy owning. My new car's full of plastic too and it's pretty cool to see a plastic where I used to have iron.

I don't know how the droppers could work differently. I didn't like the ones with fixed positions but the Crank Bros, KS, SRAM and Thomson I've tried or have are great. My Thomson is pretty much perfection compared to the Crank Bros I had first.

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