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  1. #1
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    frustrated by $ budgets $

    I see hundreds of posts asking for bike recommendations by people that are new to cycling that want a lot of bike for not a lot of $ dollars $. I agree that you have to be wary of the $'s but many let the $ limit drive their bicycle purchase decision.

    It's not reasonable to request a bike that you want to use for commuting, road racing, touring, and cyclocross 'cuz you're really going to "get into cycling" and you're going to ride this bike everywhere and put thousands of miles on it, it needs to be reliable, weigh less than 20 lbs, etc., etc., etc.... Oh... and the budget is $700!

    I may be different than others, but if I say I'm going to "get into a sport or hobby" I define what it is that I want to do with the sport and let my purchasing decision be driven by my goals or objectives rather than a $ dollar $ limit. I'm happy with my purchases. Yes, they were way more expensive than what I wanted to spend and it was even a little uncomfortable handing over the cash but, I am absolutely elated with the bicycles that I have purchased. And, I am "into" cycling at my original goals and objectives.

    I have an accounting/finance background. The way I see a bicycle purchase (or vehicle) is that this piece of equipment is something you plan to use for 15-30 years (i.e. if you are really "into it") and I amortize the cost of the equipment over that time period. So, a good quality bike amortized over 15 years is as follows:

    $1000 = $5.55 per month
    $2000 = $11.11 per month
    $5000 = $27.75 per month
    $10,000 = $55.50 per month (is this a typical health club monthly payment?)

    My objectives were never to race, I think it's easy to get to the $10,000 level with that objective. My main objectives are commuting/club rides/fitness rides/one or two-day distance events. I had to buy two bikes. That took me to the $5000 level or... about 28 bucks a month - something I feel I can afford for an activity that I am "really into."

    How do you think the decision should be made on how much you should spend on a bicycle???

  2. #2
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    What sets a budget is a complicated & arcane subject. Had a guy who is obviously very wealthy (beachfront home, Ferrari, airplane & trophy wife) tell me that $600.00 for a bike is way too much. For me, that's the starting point for a decent mountain bike assuming buying last years model on close-out. One of my favorite bikes to ride was $25.00 off Craigslist. It's overweight & out of date, but for riding down to the beach, having a beer AND picking up groceries on the way home it's hard to beat.

    Bought a Univega Super Strada in 1985. The $650.00 was a lot of money for me. In today's dollars, that's about $1,300.00. I was a poor delivery truck driver. Still ride it. It was worth it, then & now.

  3. #3
    Degenerate Grouch xray1978's Avatar
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    I think people who are "getting into cycling" should ride a $1300 and a $300 bike to see the difference. Not to say that serviceable bike can't be had for <X$ amount but, when I got on my friends Specialized after riding Wallyworld bikes it became obvious why his bike cost so much more than the one I was riding. Shortly there after I saved money and bought a nice bike.

  4. #4
    Fat Guy Rolling dcrowell's Avatar
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    Starting cheap (but not too cheap) can be a good thing.

    I walked into a bike shop two years ago and bought two $225 bikes. One for me, and one for my daughter. I wasn't a cyclist, I was 70lbs heavier than I am now, and I wanted to lose weight.

    What started as a fairly cheap trial turned into a passion. My $225 bike is now decomissioned (it wasn't meant to handle 3500 miles). I've bought two better bikes, and learned the basics on the cheap one.

    Really, ride whatever bike you can. You can tour on a $20 used bike.
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  5. #5
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    Most people getting into cycling have no clue what they want, let alone what they need. They do generally have an idea of what their budget is though, hence using that as a starting point. Luckily, unlike some hobbies, pretty much any budget will work for getting into cycling. I've set friends up with quality bikes for as little as $75 (used) and built a few of my own for, well, a lot more than that. When the budget allows it, a more durable, lighter weight, and better fitting bike can be had but not everyone who's jumping into a hobby wants to outlay so much cash before they figure out if it's really for them. With the right purchases, you can have a net gain of cash buying and selling a bike rather than losing hundreds or thousands buying brand new from the LBS then changing your mind.

  6. #6
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    My point is... I think you get what you pay for. If you want to spend $500 on a bike... you will get a bike that you can ride. But don't be fooled, you aren't "into" cycling and you are not going to hang in there with the local club cyclists on a 35 mile ride where they are averaging a leisurly 18-20 mph on their $1500+ bikes.

    I had an entry level $225 hybrid bike from the LBS. Yeah, I putzed around on it. Got onto it a handful of times over a period of about 5 years. However, when I decided that I wanted to start commuting and doing some longer rides, I tried it on the cheap hybrid... it wasn't all that great. I rode an entry level steel road bike... Wow! what a difference! That was fun! That was when I started doing my research trying to find the bike for me. At that point, I didn't have a budget in mind. Once I found that the bikes that I wanted were over $1000 then I knew I had to commit or get back on the hybrid.

    I sold the hybrid. I was very up front with the customer. He said he wanted a bike to putz around the neighborhood on. He was in his late 60's and hadn't been on a bike for over 30 years. I told him if he wanted to "putz" then the hybrid was a "putz around" bike. He knew his goals and objectives. He got it for $100 (It was a Trek Navigator.) I figured that I was never going to ride it again.

    Like I said... you get what you pay for (Yes, I know, there is the occassional 'craigslist' deal which is good... if you can be sure it's not stolen.)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    My point is... I think you get what you pay for. If you want to spend $500 on a bike... you will get a bike that you can ride. But don't be fooled, you aren't "into" cycling and you are not going to hang in there with the local club cyclists on a 35 mile ride where they are averaging a leisurly 18-20 mph on their $1500+ bikes.)
    I commuted 15,000 miles over 4 years on a $350 Specialized Hardrock (added rigid fork, slicks, rack, and fenders). It wasn't a fast bike but I didn't really care. It was cheap enough that I didn't mind riding it in all sorts of crappy weather and leaving it outside in the elements all day while I worked. I replaced a few minor parts over the years (a bottom bracket, a few cassettes and chains) but nothing out of the ordinary for that many miles. For someone to say I'm not into cycling because I only spent some dollar amount they feel is low is pretty childish.

    I now commute on a much nicer, lighter bike (still in lots of crappy weather) but at least I can store it indoors at my new job.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    Most people getting into cycling have no clue what they want, let alone what they need. They do generally have an idea of what their budget is though, hence using that as a starting point. Luckily, unlike some hobbies, pretty much any budget will work for getting into cycling. I've set friends up with quality bikes for as little as $75 (used) and built a few of my own for, well, a lot more than that. When the budget allows it, a more durable, lighter weight, and better fitting bike can be had but not everyone who's jumping into a hobby wants to outlay so much cash before they figure out if it's really for them. With the right purchases, you can have a net gain of cash buying and selling a bike rather than losing hundreds or thousands buying brand new from the LBS then changing your mind.
    A guy should feel fortunate to have a friend like you. I agree with your logic if a person goes into it not knowing what he wants. However, some of the posts in the forums have some pretty strict criteria... like the guy knows exactly what he wants. Then he puts a budget limit of about 1/3 or 1/2 of what something like that would cost new. I'm sure that you can set up a "quality bike" for $75... depending on what those qualities are. It's not going to be a new $75 quality bike.

    People have ridden my bikes. They tell me how nice they feel and that they could really get into riding if they had something like I have. They ask me if they could get into a bike like my commuter/touring bike (steel rocky mountain sherpa 30 - a $2000 setup) or my road bike (cannondale synapse carbon SL2 - $3000) for a couple of hundred dollars. To be honest with them, about the only answer that I can give them is "NO" or... "YES" something "like it"... but the only similarities might be that they both have two wheels.

    There is a difference between a "functional" bike and a "nice" bike. Just to be fair... all these friends of mine drive much nicer vehicles than I do (1991 toyota pickup) and I have no misconceptions that my vehicle is something like theirs... other than the number of wheels.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951 View Post
    I commuted 15,000 miles over 4 years on a $350 Specialized Hardrock (added rigid fork, slicks, rack, and fenders). It wasn't a fast bike but I didn't really care. It was cheap enough that I didn't mind riding it in all sorts of crappy weather and leaving it outside in the elements all day while I worked. I replaced a few minor parts over the years (a bottom bracket, a few cassettes and chains) but nothing out of the ordinary for that many miles. For someone to say I'm not into cycling because I only spent some dollar amount they feel is low is pretty childish.

    I now commute on a much nicer, lighter bike (still in lots of crappy weather) but at least I can store it indoors at my new job.
    You jumped in and misread the whole thing, didn't you? My point is, that the bike purchase should be the one that meets your needs, expectations, goals, and objectives... not the one that costs "X" dollars. The Hardrock was used for exactly what it was supposed to be used for! You didn't buy that $350 Hardrock to go on club road rides and do road races on the weekends, did you?

    You may have misunderstood my use of the term "cycling." I am using it to describe a sport. Like "cycling" televised on Versus... road racing... the Tour de' France. So... if you are "into" that kind of "cycling" on any level... you won't find to many other participants on a Specialized Hardrock. I think the "cycling" that you are speaking of is what I call "commuting."

  10. #10
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    Many people think a bike is just a bike (ie, they are all the same). Many people think they can get a "magic" bike for very little money.

    Having a budget is reasonable. It just has to be a reasonable budget. The problem is.. [see first paragraph]


    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    My point is, that the bike purchase should be the one that meets your needs, expectations, goals, and objectives... not the one that costs "X" dollars.
    People have no idea about the first stuff. They do understand dollars (and they are cheap). GOTO: first paragraph.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-09-10 at 02:24 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by es82 View Post
    After two years of biking, I'm enjoying it far more than I thought I would, and decided to buy a new bike this year. Yeah, probably could of saved some money if I bought the 'better bike' from the get-go, but part of my train of thought was : It's less of a sting to have a $500 bike collecting dust if I end up not using it vs a $1,500 bike collecting dust.
    So... you spent $2000 on a $1500 bike??? Where I work, they call that mis-management. We don't get the "$500 try it and see if you like it." Most of us that cycle a lot have made the same mistake. I just think if you say you are going to do it... then do it! If you say you are going to give it a try... just recognize that it's probably going to cost you the $500 to "try it."

    If you are a person that comes onto the forums and says, "I'm going to do it." Why not skip the $500 "try it" step? If you go into saying I'm going to "ride the bike around the neighborhood" and "I'm going to ride it 5-10 miles to work" then the $500 bike is fine. And if your needs change, then you buy a new bike to meet those needs. However, If you say I'm going to do fitness rides with the club, or go on cross country touring, or ride cyclocross, then there aren't a lot of $500 bikes that fit the bill. If you actually follow through and do those things, I will guarantee that you won't be doing them very long on the $500 bike.

    I'm just hoping people will make a purchase based on their needs... not their budget, because in the long run... you will buy what you need (and if you know what that is now, why not buy it now?)

  12. #12
    Fax Transport Specialist black_box's Avatar
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    another way to break down the cost, how much time do you spend riding? A movie theater might be around $7 per hour. $1500 bike = 214 hours of riding to break even... and that will buy you a nice bike to last a lot longer than 214 hours.

  13. #13
    Tawp Dawg GriddleCakes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    How do you think the decision should be made on how much you should spend on a bicycle???
    Perhaps because some people only have so much they can drop on a bike at any given moment. $10,000 might equate to $55.50 a month over fifteen years, but it also equates to half of my yearly earnings, or a full year's rent. And while it's not unreasonable to tell someone who wants to get into competitive road racing that a $700 budget won't win you any races (unless you're The Lance), it is unreasonable to tell someone who wishes to get into recreational mountain biking or commuting that $700 isn't sufficient.

    If someone doesn't know thing one about bicycle purchasing, then being told that $500 racing bikes under 25 lbs don't exist is part of the learning process. With helpful advise they'll learn that they either need to alter either their expectations or their budget. I don't see how it's helpful to tell a cycling noob that:
    If you want to spend $500 on a bike... you will get a bike that you can ride. But don't be fooled, you aren't "into" cycling...
    Some people value their savings more than quality gear. Some people are on a tighter budget than you can (apparently) conceive. I work with a guy who commutes to work on a Roadmaster, from twice as far as me. I've let him ride my Kona, and he liked it. When I told him the price, he laughed and said, "Maybe when the kids move out."

    A $300 bike affords the same gas savings as a $600 dollar bike. And they're still fun to ride. More fun than walking or riding the bus, anyway.

  14. #14
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    Many people will tell me that I spent way too much money on bicycles. To me, I made my bike purchases based on how I would use them. I know that I spent more on my fenders ($300 berthoud stainless steel, powder-coated, leather mud flaps, & brass hardware) for my touring/commuting bike than most people would spend on an entire bike.

    Then again, I ride this bike InTheRain a lot. I like my feet to stay relatively dry, and like to keep most of the crud off of my drive train. Since I ride and live in the Puget Sound area, I perceived this as a priority. But... I don't spend a lot of money on sunscreen.

  15. #15
    Tawp Dawg GriddleCakes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    Many people will tell me that I spent way too much money on bicycles. To me, I made my bike purchases based on how I would use them. I know that I spent more on my fenders ($300 berthoud stainless steel, powder-coated, leather mud flaps, & brass hardware) for my touring/commuting bike than most people would spend on an entire bike.

    Then again, I ride this bike InTheRain a lot. I like my feet to stay relatively dry, and like to keep most of the crud off of my drive train. Since I ride and live in the Puget Sound area, I perceived this as a priority. But... I don't spend a lot of money on sunscreen.
    Holy cow, I didn't know there were $300 fenders! You know, we get a fair amount of rain, slush, and snow here in the Anchorage bowl, and my $45 Planet Bike fenders work pretty well for all of it. And while I'm sure that your's are prettier, I have my doubts that they're six times as effective.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    So... you spent $2000 on a $1500 bike??? Where I work, they call that mis-management.
    Then, you work at a weird place!

    If you are 100% sure that a $1500 bike is what you need, then it would be a waste to spend $500 on a first bike.

    If you are 20% sure that you are interested in just bicycling, then spending $1500 is foolish.

    Put another way, spending $500 first is often much less of a risk than $1500 is.

    Plus, spending $500 to learn what exactly you want is much more reasonable than spending $1500 on a guess.

    And, you can sell the $500 bike for something (think of it as renting).

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    I know that I spent more on my fenders ($300 berthoud stainless steel, powder-coated, leather mud flaps, & brass hardware) for my touring/commuting bike than most people would spend on an entire bike.
    Well, that was pretty stupid! You can get reasonable fenders for $50. How does this make you an authority on spending "mistakes" other people make? (Pretty fenders, by the way. Feel free to enjoy them, even if they make no rational sense!)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-09-10 at 04:03 PM.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    Then, you work at a weird place!

    If you are 100% sure that a $1500 bike is what you need, then it would be a waste to spend $500 on a first bike.

    If you are 20% sure that you are interested in just bicycling, then spending $1500 is foolish.

    Put another way, spending $500 is much less of a risk than $1500 is.

    Plus, spending $500 to learn what exactly you want is much more reasonable than spending $1500 on a guess.

    And, you can sell the $500 bike for something (think of it as renting).
    Uh... didn't I say, "if you know what you want, then just buy it?"

    I also said, "you get what you pay for." A nickel is a smaller risk than $500... or $1500

    If you are "committed" and you say you are going to do something... is that a "guess?"

    You can sell a $1500 bike for more than you can sell a $500 bike.

    You are perfectly OK with paying $2000 for a $1500 product??? You don't think that is not mis-managment??? If you're OK with it... I have a lot of bikes that I can sell you for $500 more than they are worth!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    You can sell a $1500 bike for more than you can sell a $500 bike.
    If you assume the same rate of depreciation, you would lose more money on the more expensive bike. If you assume a 100% loss (ie, you let the bike rot, unused in the garage), your loss is 3 times as much with the more expensive bike.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    Uh... didn't I say, "if you know what you want, then just buy it?"
    Isn't that obvious? Do you also point out that the blue sky is blue? If people "know" they want a $3000 bike but can't afford it, should they buy it anyway?

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    I also said, "you get what you pay for."
    But this isn't exactly correct. There's a very-clear diminishing return on what one can spend on bicycles. Your $300 fenders prove that!

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    A nickel is a smaller risk than $500... or $1500
    ???? Please tell me where you can buy a $0.05 bicycle.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    If you are "committed" and you say you are going to do something... is that a "guess?"
    People often say the are "committed" and buy stuff that ends up unused.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    You are perfectly OK with paying $2000 for a $1500 product??? You don't think that is not mis-managment???
    But this is wrong: you are spending $2000 for two products!

    Anyway, I be more OK with wasting $500 than wasting $1500!

    Since belaboring the obvious is the mode for this thread: if you know you "need" a $1500 bike and can afford it, then you should buy it!

    (Crazy thread!)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-09-10 at 04:32 PM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GriddleCakes View Post
    Holy cow, I didn't know there were $300 fenders! You know, we get a fair amount of rain, slush, and snow here in the Anchorage bowl, and my $45 Planet Bike fenders work pretty well for all of it. And while I'm sure that your's are prettier, I have my doubts that they're six times as effective.
    Fenders $85
    Powder coating $90
    brass hardware for mud flaps $35
    Leather mud flaps $40
    Tax and shipping $50

    They look good. They won't crack as easily as the planet bike fenders. The planet bike fenders don't come with quality hardware and mudflaps. I don't spend nearly the amount of time cleaning the drive train. And riders that ride behind me appreciate the fact that they don't get road spray in their faces on wet roads.

    I only see the powder coating as a splurge. The guy at the LBS had planet bike fenders and SKS fenders to sell me. However, he said it too... "you get what you pay for." The berthouds will last longer than the planet bikes. The function is about the same. I could have added mud flaps to the plastic planet bikes but drilling a hole and adding the hardware would have significantly weakened the planet bike fenders.

    So maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Go to the LBS and ask them which is a better fender - berthoud stainless steel or planet bike plastic. I also bought what I could afford.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    If you assume the same rate of depreciation, you would lose more money on the more expensive bike.
    That purely depends on the quality of the bike, not necessarily how much you paid for it. If you look at quality bicycles that are more than 30 years old, I think you will find that the bikes actually appreciated rather than depreciated.

    I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to argue... that a $500 bike is better than a $1500 bike? That's gonna be a tough sale. If the bicycles are intended for the same purpose, and I know what I need, and I need it to last me a long time without a lot of maintenance and parts replacement... I'm gonna buy the $1500 bike.

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    Biking is expensive, you should only buy what you can afford. If you can't afford the bike you need then hold off the purchase to save up more or buy something cheaper. Budgets are budgets and are relative to the priority and value someone places on the object, I wouldn't pay over $2k for a bike (my bike budget), but I would buy a car for $200k (my car budget). You get what you pay for? Eh not always. Most bikes you can get a great deal on if you buy them at year end as the new models are coming out, does that mean the person that purchased full price got a better bike than the person that purchased on discount for the same bike?

    The fact is, the majority of people buy exercise equipment and rarely use them. So the majority of people should buy a cheaper started bike. There is nothing wrong with that. The other thing is that most people will not keep a bike for 15 years, especially if they are really into the sport, new and better materials come out every year. And if you keep the bike for 15 years and it sits in the garage collecting dust whil you ride your new bike all of the time, you shouldn't still amortize the cost because it's useful life to you has passed.

    I think the decision should be made by the person buying the bike

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
    Well, that was pretty stupid! You can get reasonable fenders for $50. How does this make you an authority on spending "mistakes" other people make? (Pretty fenders, by the way. Feel free to enjoy them, even if they make no rational sense!)
    If you think "reasonable fenders" are $50 then I think you are the stupid one. I've made fenders from plastic milk jugs but you know, they just didn't look right on a $1500 touring bike. I can build you a house out of sticks, too and it wouldn't cost nearly what you are paying now. But most people would look at you and say you are the stupid one for living in it.. no matter how much you saved.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    That purely depends on the quality of the bike, not necessarily how much you paid for it. If you look at quality bicycles that are more than 30 years old, I think you will find that the bikes actually appreciated rather than depreciated.
    It depends on a whole lot of things!

    Anyway, we aren't taking about the very odd case of ancient "vintage" bicycles. Keep the discussion reasonable by not bringing up weird exceptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to argue... that a $500 bike is better than a $1500 bike? That's gonna be a tough sale.
    No one is making that argument. A bike "around" $500 isn't junk (maybe, you'd need to spend a bit more). It's hard to say that a $1500 bike would last 3 times as long. A $3000 bike isn't "two times" better than a $1500. The other problem with spending a lot is that replacement costs for things are also much higher. Personally, I'd rather lose, to theft or an accident, a $1500 bike than I would a $3000 one. Honestly, for most people, $3000 is pretty inefficient.

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    If the bicycles are intended for the same purpose, and I know what I need, and I need it to last me a long time without a lot of maintenance and parts replacement... I'm gonna buy the $1500 bike.
    If you are 100% certain, this is reasonable. You are assuming that many people are 100% certain. This assumption is incorrect.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-09-10 at 04:52 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    If you think "reasonable fenders" are $50 then I think you are the stupid one. I've made fenders from plastic milk jugs but you know, they just didn't look right on a $1500 touring bike.
    Looks??? The $300 fenders don't perform 6 times as well! You are free to spend what ever you want on fenders but that doesn't mean the purchase is rational. (No doubt, the fenders you have look great!)

    (I'd guess that "milk jug" fenders don't look too great. How well did they work?)

    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    I can build you a house out of sticks, too and it wouldn't cost nearly what you are paying now. But most people would look at you and say you are the stupid one for living in it.. no matter how much you saved.
    ???? Step away from the bong!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMallez View Post
    The fact is, the majority of people buy exercise equipment and rarely use them. So the majority of people should buy a cheaper started bike. There is nothing wrong with that. The other thing is that most people will not keep a bike for 15 years, especially if they are really into the sport, new and better materials come out every year. And if you keep the bike for 15 years and it sits in the garage collecting dust whil you ride your new bike all of the time, you shouldn't still amortize the cost because it's useful life to you has passed.

    I think the decision should be made by the person buying the bike
    My argument is that if you're not going to use it... don't buy it. Or, if you're only going to use it occassionally, borrow or rent a bike. I would rather throw my money down the disposal than buy a bike and store it in my garage (takes up less space.)

    I don't really ride with a "racing crowd" so they aren't always upgrading their equipment. Many of them ride reasonably lightweight steel frames with 7, 8, and 9 speed drive trains. I would say that more than half of the people in the group ride frames that are 10+ years old. In the touring bike community, I think you will find many that ride the same bike they were touring on back in the 70's and 80's. I plan using my touring bike as a commuter for well beyond 15 years.

    People that do upgrade their equipment for the newer technology still seem to keep the old bike around. When I go on a group ride in foul weather, I see a lot of the people bring out the old bike as their "rain bike." I can see myself doing the same thing in another 10 years or so. If you regularly ride a bike, it is not passed it's useful life. A good quality, older bike is a great bike to have around as a loaner for a friend, or someone visiting from out of town, or a back up for when your main ride has a mechanical problem.

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