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Old 03-02-06, 10:37 PM   #1
Digital Gee
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Is a $2,000 bike twice as good as a $1,000 bike?

As I continue doing the research and test riding new bikes, I find myself wondering about the law of diminishing returns. As I look at (mostly road) bikes, I find a group of bikes selling from $650 - $1,000, and another set selling from $1,500 to $2,000, and of course there are those that are much, much higher, and there are a few in-between these artificial ranges.

What I am not knowledgeable enough to know is whether a bike costing $2,000 is roughly twice as good as a bike costing $1,000, for instance. Or, to put it another way, if I were to purchase a modest road bike or hybrid at a cost of less than $1,000 (new) would I regret it in six months or so.

I bought my $350 mtb seven or eight months ago, but back then I had no idea whether I'd stick with it. Now I know I will -- so is it a mistake to purchase the lower priced bike because in a few months I'd be kicking myself and wanting more, or not? Is a $2,000 bike twice as good as a $1,000 bike?
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Old 03-02-06, 10:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Is a $2,000 bike twice as good as a $1,000 bike?
Gary,

Short answer; certainly not twice as good. With that said, it all depends upon whether or not you will value it twice as much. There is something to be said about buying what you really want. I find whenever I have chinced on something, I end up longing for what I really wanted in the first place and I just don't enjoy it as much, and sometimes end up buying the one I really wanted in the first place. That's the most expensive route to go. For $1,000 you can obtain an excellent bicycle. For $2,000 you can purchase a bicycle with probably the same quality frame, but better components, wheels, etc. My suggestion, purchase the one that turns you on. When you consider that you'll probably ride it for many years to come, you're only looking at a few extra pennys per ride. Besides, it might help in keeping you interested in the sport, too. I'm sensing there will be photos of a new steed on this forum soon!
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Old 03-02-06, 10:56 PM   #3
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P.S. Earlier you asked how to stop drinking soft drinks. Now here's a solution, save the money that you would normally spend on sodas and put it towards that new bicycle.
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Old 03-02-06, 11:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
Is a $2,000 bike twice as good as a $1,000 bike?
Well, the obvious answer is that it depends on what you mean by "good". In other words, what is it about riding a particular bike that provides you with enjoyment? If the thing that gives you pleasure in riding a bike is knowing how much you spent on it, then yeah... a $2K bike is by definition twice as nice as a $1K bike.

By any more rational measure, though, the answer has to be no. A $2K bike will ride smoother, go faster, and look better than a $1K bike. But it will not be twice as smooth, twice as fast, or look twice as good in the opinion of most people. If you were to draw a curve of any sane measure of bike "quality" as a function of price, the curve would flatten out with price... the more expensive it gets, the less a given increment in cost buys you. At the low end of the curve, it's very steep... a $1500 bike is a whole lot nicer than a $500 bike. Once you get to the high end of the curve, though, it gets very flat... a $6000 bike might be a few hundred grams lighter than a $5000 bike, but that's about it. Most riders wouldn't be able even to tell the difference.

Where the sweet spot lies on such a curve is a very individual issue, based on your personal finances, what you get out of riding, and a host of other intangibles. But by any rational measure, I wouldn't expect a $2K bike to be twice as good as a $1K bike.
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Old 03-02-06, 11:50 PM   #5
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It's better, but certainly nowhere near twice as good. My two main bikes now are an Atlantis and a Rambouillet, about $2500 each new (I bought the Atlantis several years ago and got a great deal on a used Rambo, so I don't have anywhere near that in them). Before that, I rode a $350 Motobecane from the early '80s and an early steel Allez that cost around $700.
I love the two I have now--I literally can't think of anything I'd change on either one of them. But if I had to justify the price compared to the Moto, I couldn't do it.
Even Grant Petersen, who designed the Atlantis and Rambo and also builds really nice custom bikes, says the off-the-rack models give you 95 percent of the performance of his customs for 40 percent of the money.

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Old 03-03-06, 12:14 AM   #6
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Consider the old sepia toned photos of TdF riders and recreational riders from the 20's. Those bikes were heavy, primitive in componentry and comfort options. Yet regular people pedaled up the Pyrenees, etc. Today's $1K bike is utopian compared to them. All your basic (90%) of your cycling needs will be easily met by such Basic Bikes. Beyond such bikes, the differences become marginal. For envelope pushing high performance cyclists, or long-time cyclists, or gear afficionados, those marginal differences may well be very significant and worthwhile. Or, for trendy OCP'ers who read Bicycling Magazine's "bike porn" lists. If $1K is your practical limit, DON'T feel that you are somehow being denied the Highest Dimension of the Cycling Experience. Baloney. Greg Lemond would have won on a Huffy (come to think of it, he did).

At my left elbow now is a large poster of Eddy Merckx kneeling beside his steel, non-index 5 cog. Its functional equivalent today (forget the aesthetics of the handbuilt, lugged frame) would be below your $1K. Poor guy riding such stuff...but don't patronize him overly much LOL...he compensated pretty well.

So, DG, spend as much or as little (down to to $1k) as you like and know you're still very roadworthy for any full century or fast ride with the local grupetto. Of course, the trick below $2K is knowing the features and trade-offs to squeeze out the most personal value for yourself. Skip the brifters and go for bar-ends while up-grading your wheels, for instance. Or upgrade the saddle. Or look for a carbon fork.

Questioning others, test riding....all that fun stuff of searching out Your Bike. Beats watching your bald spot grow.
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Old 03-03-06, 01:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGear
If $1K is your practical limit, DON'T feel that you are somehow being denied the Highest Dimension of the Cycling Experience. Baloney. Greg Lemond would have won on a Huffy (come to think of it, he did).

Questioning others, test riding....all that fun stuff of searching out Your Bike. Beats watching your bald spot grow.
bike manufacturers use one particular frame on a series of models and just change the spec on that frame to give you the price difference within that range. So a $1,000 bike in a range will have the same frame as the $2,000 bike. What will have changed is the quality of the components.
In my opinion- the bikes will be no difference between the bottom and top, but the ride quality and components are affected. Groupset is the obvious and others will be able to tell you of the difference between the groupset on one bike is a great deal worse than the next model up. Wheels, bars, stems, saddles are components that are worth going for a better spec, and these will also differ between models.

Just face it- You are looking for a new bike and you are also going to the dark side. This will not be your last bike. Test the models and see if one jumps at you. If it does not- go for the model you can afford and wait for it to not be good enough in a years time to get the better spec.(Just like the rest of us)
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Old 03-03-06, 02:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Gee
As I continue doing the research and test riding new bikes...
... Or, to put it another way, if I were to purchase a modest road bike or hybrid at a cost of less than $1,000 (new) would I regret it in six months or so.
"Cycling is 50% physical and 90% mental."
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Old 03-03-06, 02:31 AM   #9
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Interesting question. And interesting answers. Gary, after riding the same bike for 20 years, I asked myself the same question you did. Eventually I bought a $2K bike (which was actually a $3K bike on sale), and I must say I've gotten my money's worth. That is to say, I enjoy it.

However, after my back went to hell in a rowboat, I rigged up a rusting old hulk of a mountain bike with very high handlebars and slicks. At the moment, my comfort bike with a bad attitude is more to me than the new bike--because I can ride it without pain. When my back is fully recovered, I'm expecting to get back on the high-priced steed, (with a few tweaks to my riding position).
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Old 03-03-06, 05:34 AM   #10
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GrannyGear wrote "At my left elbow now is a large poster of Eddy Merckx kneeling beside his steel, non-index 5 cog. Its functional equivalent today (forget the aesthetics of the handbuilt, lugged frame) would be below your $1K. Poor guy riding such stuff...but don't patronize him overly much LOL...he compensated pretty well."
I suppose he's in a time of prayer? Or is he lubing his chain? I do that before I mount my "steel, non-index 5 cog" 10 speed '79 Schwinn Traveler. It cost $150 new this month 26 years ago. Adjusted for inflation that would make it around $350 bike in today's market. Depreciation, however, brings it down to (on average) less than $25 on ebay. Yet, I can average about 15 mph on a 25 mile loop.

On my 2003 Cannondale with 27 speeds (9 X 3) I can only make about 10 mph on the same loop. (I know, it's a different kind of bike which makes a difference in speed--- but a 50% improvement?) The C-Dale cost about $1000. So far I've riden it only about 700 miles. That works out to a little over $1.43 for each mile.

After all these years, even with the cost of service, repairs and upgrades, the Traveler has cost me less than $20 per year. I rode it about 1000 miles last year or 2 cents per mile.

Gary, do the math. If you were racing--- more $$$ would make a difference. But you are simply a rider.

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Old 03-03-06, 06:52 AM   #11
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I have a Lemond Buenos Aires (105 - 27 speed, carbon fork) which cost about $1,700 in 1999. It has lasted well with appropriate upkeep. I really enjoy it.

I also have a 2004 Windsor Leeds road bike which I bought on EBay new for $285.00 It is Sora (24 speed) and has also lasted as well, although not quite as well as the Lemond. I have received compliments from strangers on this "beautiful" bike!

And I love both bikes. As far as "riding" experience goes, the Lemond is a bit better, but blindfolded, it would be hard to tell the difference. Is it $1,415.00 better?

I don't know how to measure that. What I do know is that when I want to go on a "real" ride, I take the Lemond, and for some reason I feel like royalty cruising down the road (trail or whatever).

I guess none of us is entirely rational.

What I do believe is that you must find a bicycle that "turns you on" in some fashion or another - that is special to you for whatever reason you like things to be special.

For some folks, that special is riding, maintaining and keeping a 1974 bicycle. For others it is a $6,500 Seven, or a hand-crafted frame, or expensive Dura Ace components. For others it is finding a really great deal on EBay or at a police auction. Each of us has our own "special." But hopefully you will find a bike that is "special" to you!

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Old 03-03-06, 07:41 AM   #12
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If you can be patient and shop very carefully you can have the $2K bike for $1K by buying used. I wanted a steel Lemond Zurich and managed to buy a lightly used 2002 for less than $1K. I do have to say that it took me over 6 months to find exactly what I wanted so the being patient part is critical for success.
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Old 03-03-06, 07:53 AM   #13
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- i started cheap, went expensive, then back to cheap... $500 initial cost for a used AL frame w/Tiagra components... i still ride it, but for long (30+ mile) rides, i have a $2K+ bike... i can definitely tell the difference, but like both...

- i also have an ultra-cheap find that has proven to be a lot of fun, and through a little elbow grease, morphed into a different ride (see sig linky)...

- all good advice here... your body will tell you what feels good... and don't discount the value of a used bike - you can save a lot of money if you find the right one in your size!
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Old 03-03-06, 08:06 AM   #14
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Gary,

I went through the same agonizing decision last year. I was riding a GT mountain bike and an "old" road bike. I liked biking but not the bikes...neither did my body. When I started looking at bikes I looked at them all, did my research, agonized about the price and worried about looking like a poser on an expensive bike. I couldn't pull the trigger. I needed reassurance that I was making the best decision.

What did it for me was when I saw the bike that turned my head and my crank. I fell in love with the bike. It was my color and had all the bells and whistles for a hack like me. That is all it took; all the worry and fear passed. I bought the bike, the extra gear and the "stylish" clothes to match the bike. Now it is a love of my bike and gear that drives me back on the road. (Don't tell anyone but I talk to my bike too). My bike? Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple.

Life is about passion...find the bike you love and buy it! No regret!
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Old 03-03-06, 08:29 AM   #15
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Gary, I don't know if Performance is still selling off its stock of Giant and Specialized after the buyout of Supergo. That's where the deals are at. That's where you can spend 1,000 for a 2,000 bike. A couple of years ago Supergo dropped its line of Cervelo and the Dual was selling for around 600.
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Old 03-03-06, 08:42 AM   #16
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I'm also bike shopping, and I've reached several conclusions:

1.) Putting me on a $2000 bike would be like giving a Stradivarius to a chimpanzee. I'm just not strong/fast/conditioned enough to take advantage of it. The most important part of any bike is the engine.

2.) In any sport or activity, we all want to feel accepted, and one way to do that is to buy the "right" equipment. This may be one reason that beginners in any activity put so much stress on equipment, whereas old pros--who feel more secure about their status--are sometimes less particular. (Example: I have a friend who's a professional artist, and he sometimes sketches with a ballpoint pen!)

3.) If I bought a $2000 bike, I'd be afraid to ride it to the store, or to work, or in the rain, or anywhere where it might get stolen, damaged, scratched, soiled, rusted, mangled, etc. I wouldn't even want to leave it in my garage, which frankly is a filthy mess. I'd have to keep it upstairs, next to my bed. And that would be weird.

4.) Even if I wanted a $2000 bike, I'm too broke to get one, unless I go into debt. I'd rather pay cash for a $750 bike and be able to sleep at night.

Obviously, other people have more (or less) money than I do, and their conclusions will be different.
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Old 03-03-06, 09:16 AM   #17
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All worthy points, Mild Al. However, if you really love riding (and you've got the dough), I wouldn't let Stradivarius/Chimp metaphor keep me from a better bike. Life is short and high-end bike builders will thank you.
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Old 03-03-06, 09:44 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garfield Cat
Gary, I don't know if Performance is still selling off its stock of Giant and Specialized after the buyout of Supergo. That's where the deals are at. That's where you can spend 1,000 for a 2,000 bike. A couple of years ago Supergo dropped its line of Cervelo and the Dual was selling for around 600.
You can literally have your cake and eat it too. There is a Performance Bike shop in your area. Right now you can get an Ultegra equipped road bike originally $1849 for only $999. Here is the link

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Old 03-03-06, 09:47 AM   #19
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My, there is a very high percentage of decidedly well expressed and valid advice in this thread, and I agree with much of it.

Let me add one additional perspective.

I donít know weather you do now, or ever plan to do your own wrenching but either way here is a point as yet un-spoken in this thread.

From a mechanics point of view I would much rather do a tune-up or a component replacement on a higher end bike than on a lower end bike because the higher end bike has a better groupo. Where adjusting the brakes so that they function (in my opinion) properly on an entry level bike may not even be possible or at least very time consuming, the same adjustment is simple more precise and longer lasting on the better components. The cost is lower also because I didnít have to throw away and replace stretchy cables or inferior housing.
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Old 03-03-06, 10:53 AM   #20
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This is like asking is a $48k BMW 530 twice as good as a $24K Impala/Chryler 300. Some will say compromise with a more affordable $30 Avalon.

Bikes are similar: mechanical differences, image differences, support differences, and mostly my own likes and dislikes.

I've had a bee in my bonnet to check out TT/Tri bikes. Which I have never riden, just to see what all the buzz is about. So I plan to ride some next week. Will I decide to buy one, who knows. But I know I won't find peace until I take some rides. Then I will have a better idea of my likes. It's like test driving a car, or examining it carefully in person. You can inet forever, but until you hit the metal and check out the plastic, you really don't know what's good or bad or just ugly.

Have fun with your search.
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Old 03-03-06, 11:02 AM   #21
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This is like asking is a $48k BMW 530 twice as good as a $24K Impala/Chryler 300. Some will say compromise with a more affordable $30 Avalon.
Hey -- I drive an Avalon! Of course, it's nearly seven years old, but it's been a great car. ::::knock wood:::::

Seriously, this thread has been very helpful. I'm much more confident that if I find a bike in the lower price range that seems to suit me, I won't be making some huge mistake bringing it home. And, since I really don't have the budget right now, I can take my time shopping and reviewing and testing, until a harmonic convergence occurs when my budget and The Bike I Should Buy meet smack dab in the middle somewhere.
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Old 03-03-06, 11:57 AM   #22
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Gary, you are a middle aged, overweight guy, just like me. Take it from me, you are not in it to race anyone, just for the workout. A $1,000.00 bike ($12-1300.00 with accessories) is plenty fine. It will be nice equipment, that with care & maintenance, will give you years of service. 2K plus accessories is overkill for those of us who are in it for the workout, weight loss &c.
I put 6 years on a trek 750 ($550 + extras) with no trouble. My wife has put 3 more years on it. I cleaned & lubed it the other day, and it is still nice equipment. bk
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Old 03-03-06, 12:04 PM   #23
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One last word, Gary.....and that is-- there is no Last Word or, for that matter, Last Bike. Many of us ride bikes we love, but always in the back of our head is our Next Bike which we're assembling in our head. Sometimes a brand new bike, a sweet find at eBay, or a new component iteration of what we have in the garage now. For good or ill, many cyclists are restless, equipment oriented people fond of tinkering their way towards a perfection that always escapes before us like a road mirage-- and which continually redefines itself as we evolve are consciousness as cyclists.

Anyway, the switch from idle fantasizing to a sudden rush down to the LBS waving your charge card can come with astonishing speed. This notion of ongoing turnover takes some stress from you in making choices for your Ultimate Once & Future Bike. Besides, between buying complete bikes, there's always component changes on the ones you have. Good ol' eBay.
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Old 03-03-06, 12:09 PM   #24
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Not to be a smart pants......

A person 50+ years old should be mature enough to know to listen
to their heart on what is "right" for them dollar cost be damned.

We should know that money can not buy us the kind of pleasure
that comes with "right" purchase that truely "fits" who and what
we are at the most basic level.

Shallow people throw money at things all their lives never finding
that comfort level that true mature character in choices made do.

At 60 I KNOW who I am and what I like. That guides me to choices
that will reward me with that sweet comfort level of knowing they
are "right" for ME. If I need to change or buy something different
I study what's out there to find those Items that click with me.

I would never spend $2000 on a bike unless the numbers and specs
tell me that this bike and ONLY this bike will meet the need for the job.

As an example.......
My favored bicycle is an old Schwinn world tourist that I bought new.
It fit me then and even more so today.
My most recent purchase was a Worksman PAV trike. Not what many
here whould choose but represents an excellent value for dollar spent
while fitting with my need at a much lower price than any other trike.

Do I lust after a more expensive bike/ trike? No, I don't. I'm quite comfortable
with my choices thank you.
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Old 03-03-06, 12:31 PM   #25
bkaapcke
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Quit obsessing & go buy the thing. I think you'll be happy with 1K. If the sales person 'ups' you to $1500 or $2K, so what. you will still love it. bk
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