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Why are Modern Bikes So Expensive?

Old 03-20-24, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Top-tier bike prices have increased more than inflation.
Which is why there are now far more tier levels to fit your budget. Fortunately, the level of engineering and tech has moved on to allow the performance of mid tier bikes to exceed that of their top tier predecessors. So you only have to pay top tier prices if you want every last marginal gain possible and of course the status.
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Old 03-20-24, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Hold up- are you saying that you arent able to walk into a bike shop, pay in full for a bike, get a superficial fit, and leave with the bike in hand?
If you arent able to do that, then you are either...
1- trying to buy a bike that the shop simply doesnt have in stock.
-or-
2- needing to shopping elsewhere.

Currently I could walk into any bike shop in a 60mi radius of me, pay for an in-stock bike in full, and leave with the bike.
Or 3. trying to buy a bike that costs more than you can afford to pay in cash.
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Old 03-20-24, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
To me, that's the POINT, not the CATCH.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this. The technology is more advanced, the bikes themselves are more capable. You can't get the same thing in 2024 that you could get in 1989 - you get something better for the same money. This is even more true for cars and phones. Sure, the average car costs more, even inflation adjusted, than in 1989, but it also is a lot more advanced, and probably measurably better in all particulars. And phones? How many people even HAD cell phones in 1989? IIRC, they were the size of two bricks taped together, or came in a small briefcase. And they cost $3000 1989 dollars.
My main point is that it's hard to compare since it's really apples to oranges. Your cell phone example makes sense, but it's not the whole story Those cell phones went down in price until they were free with a 1 year contract, but now smart phones are $500+. Arguably much better, but not for the same money.
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Old 03-20-24, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Interesting to see the technology comparison. The catch is the older technology isn't really available in the same way that it was before. That means the entry point or basement cost goes up. Of course, this goes for other things as well (cars, phones, etc.) but unless wages go up proportionately, the consumer than has to decide which things to give up completely in order to afford the others.
Originally Posted by genejockey
To me, that's the POINT, not the CATCH.


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by this. The technology is more advanced, the bikes themselves are more capable. You can't get the same thing in 2024 that you could get in 1989 - you get something better for the same money. This is even more true for cars and phones. Sure, the average car costs more, even inflation adjusted, than in 1989, but it also is a lot more advanced, and probably measurably better in all particulars. And phones? How many people even HAD cell phones in 1989? IIRC, they were the size of two bricks taped together, or came in a small briefcase. And they cost $3000 1989 dollars.
I think the point he made was pretty clear. He's saying the entry price for certain consumer goods, adjusted for inflation, is higher than the entry price for similar goods or activities was in the past. This means that to just get into the activity or item, it's less affordable than it was before.

You're saying - I think - sure that may be correct, but the item is so much better than the entry item back then.

May be true but that doesn't make itany easier to get the most basic item or to enter into an activity.

I'm not arguing the points made because I don't care to spend the time looking at inflation adjusted pricing for, say, bikes, skis, skiing, golfing, motor scooters, whatever. And I don't disagree that even the most basic stuff in a lot of categories today is better than the most basic stuff the same category back then. Hmm. Most basic Chevy Vega (or whatever consumer good) vs. most basic Hyudai similar size? But if the Vega was easily affordable back then with a short term loan for an unskilled worker and the cheapest alternative nowadays is not, I agree with his point.

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Old 03-20-24, 03:28 PM
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I don't accept the basic premise that "modern bikes are expensive". Like anything else (cars, watches, computers, houses, clothes, food, etc), you can find bikes at nearly every price point, and the basics of supply and demand apply. Manufacturers and marketers will produce what the market demands and ask a price the market is willing to pay.
The existence of filet mignon does not suggest rice and beans are unavailable.
Personally, I consider diamonds to be expensive. I don't buy any. Problem solved. Fortunately for the diamond industry, lots of other people find diamonds worth the prices asked, and they buy them. Happy sellers, happy buyers. No problem apparent.
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Old 03-20-24, 04:08 PM
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Idk, I still can't get a HDMI equipped bicycle with heated seat & bar ends...
the tech improvements for a car vs bicycle isn't linear...
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Old 03-20-24, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
Idk, I still can't get a HDMI equipped bicycle with heated seat & bar ends...
the tech improvements for a car vs bicycle isn't linear...
Maybe not, but we are getting ever closer to "I can't ride my bike today. It won't connect to the internet."
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Old 03-20-24, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
Maybe not, but we are getting ever closer to "I can't ride my bike today. It won't connect to the internet."
just pop on the vision pro's, dyson fan, the strava app, & zone out...
only it'll lack the cars buzzing by & people yelling profanities.
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Old 03-20-24, 04:40 PM
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Whether you like my choices of bikes or not I build my bikes which makes me less sensitive to price fluctuations because I don't buy everything at once but stuff has gotten silly, mid level group sets selling for high end prices the only light at the end of the tunnel is (for customers) is labor hasn't gotten significantly more expensive. My wheel builder still charges basically the same price to build wheels as he did a decade ago. I don't pay outside of inflation more for my Paul and WI stuff so maybe small manufacturers haven't been exposed to the same supply constraints the large have?

I read a comment about cars up somewhere in the thread and that market is truly weird, I bought my 2019 Golf Alltrack in 2022 for 28K at .9% w/36 month financing. My parents (mom wanted it) offered to buy my car from me a couple weeks ago if I don't want to take it with me when I go back to Germany. My old man did some research and found there was exactly one like it in a hundred mile radius and the dealer want 30K for a 5 year old VW with 8K more miles than mine has. While I could buy a shell and build a car its car more involved than buying a bike frame and building it things have gotten pretty weird during COVID and post COVID I'm hoping things stabilize a bit going forward.

Basically I have no real idea what's going on world wide post COVID but it seems to be the new normal so I'll adapt
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Old 03-20-24, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
My main point is that it's hard to compare since it's really apples to oranges. Your cell phone example makes sense, but it's not the whole story Those cell phones went down in price until they were free with a 1 year contract, but now smart phones are $500+. Arguably much better, but not for the same money.
You can get new smartphones for a lot less than that. The cheapest iPhone is only $430. And there are other, cheaper smartphones.
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Old 03-20-24, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
You can get new smartphones for a lot less than that. The cheapest iPhone is only $430. And there are other, cheaper smartphones.
OK, but I donít know of any that are ďfreeĒ with a 1 year contract, and even contracts are significantly more than back then.
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Old 03-20-24, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
I think the point he made was pretty clear. He's saying the entry price for certain consumer goods, adjusted for inflation, is higher than the entry price for similar goods or activities was in the past. This means that to just get into the activity or item, it's less affordable than it was before.

You're saying - I think - sure than may be correct, but the item is so much better than the entry item back then. May be true but that doesn't make itany easier to get the most basic item or to enter into an activity.

I'm not arguing the points made because I don't care to spend the time looking at inflation adjusted pricing for, say, bikes, skis, or skiing. And I don't disagree that even the most basic stuff in a lot of categories today is better than the most basic stuff the same category back then. Hmm. Most basic Chevy Vega (or whatever consumer good) vs. most basic Hyudai similar size? But if the Vega was easily affordable back then with a short term loan for an unskilled worker and the cheapest alternative nowadays is not, I agree with his point.
The Chevy Vega was ~$2,090 new in 1971, which works out to $16,296, according to BLS's CPI Inflation Calculator. The current cheapest new car for sale in America is the Nissan Versa for $16,390.

Median hourly wage at the same time in 1971 was $3.55, which works out to $27.68 today. Current median wage is $29.71. So, essentially both cars equal about 14-15 weeks wages.

That seems like it's pretty comparable. Now, the other thing is - how comparable is a 1971 Chevy Vega to a 2024 Nissan Versa? I think you get a lot more car with the latter.
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Old 03-20-24, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
OK, but I donít know of any that are ďfreeĒ with a 1 year contract, and even contracts are significantly more than back then.
Apples to apples, though - the cheapest smartphones are WAY cheaper now than the cheapest smartphones when smartphones were introduced, and the real comparison would be flip phone vs flip phone.
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Old 03-20-24, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Apples to apples, though - the cheapest smartphones are WAY cheaper now than the cheapest smartphones when smartphones were introduced, and the real comparison would be flip phone vs flip phone.
I got my iPhone 11 from my employer, which bought it from Verizon, which my company uses. I just found the invoice in a box of stuff from my old office. The cost to my employer was around $56.
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Old 03-20-24, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Apples to apples, though - the cheapest smartphones are WAY cheaper now than the cheapest smartphones when smartphones were introduced, and the real comparison would be flip phone vs flip phone.
Agreed, and thatís why itís so hard to compare. To my point, a person getting into cycling today canít get a mass produced steel frame with 5 speed Tourney downtube shifters in a regular bike shop, no matter how much it would cost.
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Old 03-20-24, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
I remember the days when I could walk into a bike shop with a given amount of cash and walk out with a bike, new or used, fit for use.

Now days bike sellers appear more interested in long term financing then providing a bike.

Ahhhh... I get it... Its like a Car Dealership...
Wonder why no shop I ever worked in during the 1980s/90s ever offered financing?

Maybe because they didnít need to?
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Old 03-20-24, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
$7,500 today will buy you a higher performance bike than a 1989 Kestrel 4000.
Your temporal chauvinism is striking. Truly.

You realize that in 1989 the Kestrel (and similar bikes) were as cutting edge and as high a performance bike you could get at the time?
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Old 03-20-24, 06:15 PM
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My understanding is that some carmakers enter into multi-year deals with parts supplies where the cost per part keeps dropping.a few percent each year. The logic is that the supplies will surely find some efficiencies each year as they are making all these parts.

Buying a new bike is a combination of three things - a frame you like, a good deal (negotiated by the manufacturer) on a complete set of parts chosen, and a bunch of non-factory service (assembly, etc) that gets done at your local shop.

I continue to feel like people in the "good old days" could build highly affordable bikes themselves by shopping for deals on parts. Over the years, the manufacturers wised up to this and designed bikes that can accept fewer and fewer parts.
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Old 03-20-24, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Agreed, and thatís why itís so hard to compare. To my point, a person getting into cycling today canít get a mass produced steel frame with 5 speed Tourney downtube shifters in a regular bike shop, no matter how much it would cost.
You're also unlikely to find a buck board and buggywhip at a car dealer, but you can get a mass produced aluminum framed bike from a major manufacturer with Claris 8 speed STIs for the $800, which is equivalent to $315 in 1989.
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Old 03-20-24, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
You're also unlikely to find a buck board and buggywhip at a car dealer, but you can get a mass produced aluminum framed bike from a major manufacturer with Claris 8 speed STIs for the $800, which is equivalent to $315 in 1989.
So itís okay to compare two lower- mid level bikes from two different eras, but not top of the line models?
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Old 03-20-24, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Wonder why no shop I ever worked in during the 1980s/90s ever offered financing?

Maybe because they didnít need to?
Obviously the finance wasnít there back then, but did they sell as many high-end bikes as they do today? Most of our local shops never even sold premium level bikes. There was literally one high-end shop in the city where I used to lust over the pro level bikes I couldnít afford. Today I can think of a dozen local shops selling pro tier bikes.

Same with cars. Before financing was commonplace not many people were driving around in expensive cars. Now you see premium cars all over the place. Households that would have only owned 1 car 40 years ago, now typically own 2 or 3.
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Old 03-20-24, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Your temporal chauvinism is striking. Truly.

You realize that in 1989 the Kestrel (and similar bikes) were as cutting edge and as high a performance bike you could get at the time?
I might gently suggest that you're the one with the temporal chauvinism. The Kestrel may well have been cutting edge 35 years ago, but even midrange bikes of today are lighter, faster, more comfortable, and pretty much better in every objectively measurable way.
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Old 03-20-24, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Obviously the finance wasnít there back then, but did they sell as many high-end bikes as they do today? Most of our local shops never even sold premium level bikes. There was literally one high-end shop in the city where I used to lust over the pro level bikes I couldnít afford. Today I can think of a dozen local shops selling pro tier bikes.

Same with cars. Before financing was commonplace not many people were driving around in expensive cars. Now you see premium cars all over the place. Households that would have only owned 1 car 40 years ago, now typically own 2 or 3.
Sure, we sold higher-end bikes. Even the Schwinn shop sold a Paramount to a college student working minimum wage at Radio Shack (me) and at the high end shop I worked at. Not so much at the college town shop.

(Did I mention I was able to get a Paramount on a part-time retail salary? How many kids can do that today?)

Oh, and in America 40 years ago, pretty much every family had two cars. At least. It wasnít unusual at all.

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Old 03-20-24, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I might gently suggest that you're the one with the temporal chauvinism. The Kestrel may well have been cutting edge 35 years ago, but even midrange bikes of today are lighter, faster, more comfortable, and pretty much better in every objectively measurable way.
That, Mr. Jockey, is the ultimate expression of temporal chauvinism. ďBikes are better today than they were in the past.Ē Thank you!

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Old 03-20-24, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
So itís okay to compare two lower- mid level bikes from two different eras, but not top of the line models?
Well, first off, that was in answer to a different question - what's the cheapest, rideable road bike you can get today? But, yeah - comparing two bikes of that level makes more sense than comparing "halo bikes" from different eras, because that's where most cyclists will start.

It's also completely reasonable to point out that the the same nominal dollars you'd have spent on a halo bike in 1989 will get you a much more capable bike today.

The thing about comparing "halo bikes" is that they don't tell you what happened with prices for MOST bikes. They just let you compare the far end of the bell curves.
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