Back in “the day,” when I first started racing, the best bike components you could get were made by Campagnolo, and the height of extravagance (legendary US racer Mike Neel’s term for describing Record brakes when he sold me my first PX-10) was equipping your bike with a set of Campag Record brakes. In the early 1970’s, these cost a whopping $90 or so. Ordinary brakes (comparable Weinmann or Universal sidepulls), by comparison, only cost $10-20, so there was quite a sizable price differential. Don’t forget that in those days, you could buy a complete Schwinn Paramount for $400-450. and a gallon of gas cost only $0.35.
So if you inflate everything indexed to that gallon of gas that now costs $3.50, a top-line racing bike should cost $4,000 to $4,500 (about right), an everyday set of brakes should cost between $100 and $200 (about right) and a set of Campag Record brakes, with levers, should cost $900, also about right (levers $600, brakes $300).
So being both poor and miserly, my bike at the time was equipped with Weinmann sidepulls. I figured that if I became good enough, I’d win or be given Campag equipment anyway. The extravagant components were earned by the top riders, or were purchased by old guys who could appreciate and afford the stuff, and once past a certain age, you could put what you wanted on your bike.
So I never became quite good enough to win the stuff, but I did have Record brakes (second-hand) given to me at some point. When I did masters races, I actually bought Ergopower levers and used them with whatever brakes I had. I now use Campag Chorus and Centaur brakes (and an old circa-80’s Record caliper), but I’m curious to know how others who are over 50 feel about upgrading to “extravagant-level” components. Is your bike equipped with current Record-level components? Why or why not? And if so, would you insist on only the best at this stage in your life? Or, if not, why are you happy with what you have?