As far as the bicycle industry is concerned - I`m probably a terrible consumer and chances are things won`t get any better. The chances of selling me a brand new bike any time soon really don`t look good.
Its not that I don`t like bikes - quite the contrary - I tend to get attached and take care of them regardless of purchase price.
But after all these years the rather harsh reality of `new and improved` is looking more like `new and even more expensive` all the time. I know that lots of people won`t agree with me, but after building and driving a variety of carbon and titanium bikes - the only real advantage I`m seeing over a well designed steel frame is weight. It would be nice if they were lighter AND stronger - but the weight race seems to be an incentive for everyone to pare down the weight to the point necessary to just maintain the required strength for that particular dicipline.
So a $5,000 bike has got to be the worlds most expensive diet if the objective is just to shed 5 pounds or so. I know, I know - carbon fiber bikes are amazingly durable and great status symbols - my brother in law has one he keeps in his office and with how little he actually drives it - it`ll probably last forever!
And please don`t take this post overly seriously - a sense of humor goes a long way - especially when it comes to cyclists!
I have noticed that some of the clunkers I`ve rebuilt for friends (because their kids were priorities and that left no money for carbon fiber bikes) drove REALLY well once the bearings were properly greased and adjusted, and the cables updated with low friction stainless stuff.
And their priorities seem very much in line with some of what I`ve seen posted in some of the forums here. A comfy seat, a good set of tires, a couple water bottle cages for whatever - and you`re all set to go out for a run with the kids to the local ice-cream store. And as long as you keep them at a slight disadvantage by buying them cheap department store bikes with BMX or mtb bike tires - the weight and rolling resistance will give them all the exercise they need while making it a breeze to keep up with them!
So this summer I think that`ll be my next hobby - rescuing older bikes and equipping them with great seats, good tires and pedals - and looking for good homes for them. And all the money I won`t be spending on XT components will probably mean there`ll probably be a lot left over for ice cream. See? I do have my priorities straight!