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Why are Modern Bikes So Expensive?

Old 03-20-24, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
I agree times have changed. I too purchased my first top end bike from money earned delivering newspapers it was a Raleigh Professional for $580, you couldn’t do that today for a S-Works Tarmac for example.
Sure you could. The median pay in 2022 for food and beverage service workers was $13.52hr; it's surely gone up in the past two years as most wage rates have risen, and in some areas it's even higher -- in CA next month, a $20 minimum wage will take effect for such workers. You don't need to be a math whiz to figure out that a high school kid, working part-time at such a job, could easily save up enough for an S-Works in a year or so, even with payroll taxes

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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
But are the two bike comparable andI would say not. Both are effectively batch made however the Raleigh was made with non proprietary materials and techniques and very simple components. Reynolds tubing, standard off the shelf lugs and dropouts and existing manufacturing jigs. The S-Works on the other hand is basically fully custom build unique to this brand and model with hundreds of thousands of development and tooling costs which need to be amortized into the bike.
And you've identified the key. Some posters seem to recognize this, but some posters - the C&V people - can't acknowledge it. Even an entry-level 2024 Tarmac is objectively superior, on pretty much every metric that matters for actual cyclists, compared to a high-end steel-framed bike from the '70s or '80s. In other words, Dave Stoller can be on a superior bike for about the same real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) expenditure -- maybe even less. If that's inflation, I'll take more, please.

Even though we're not talking about cars, a similar trend has occurred in that market. I've cited the data before, so won't look it up again - it's easy enough for anyone to find. In real terms, cars have actually gotten cheaper in the past 40-50 years -- and on top of that, they have gotten immensely better in every measurable way: acceleration, handling, mpg, reliability, crash worthiness, comfort, features, etc. A new car today, at pretty much any price point, makes most 1970s cars seem like crudely-engineered and poorly built jokes.

Last edited by Koyote; 03-20-24 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 03-20-24, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak

And bike companies don't do what they do to make it hard for us to put bikes together from the frame up. That's not remotely on their radar. They do what they do to try to stay a step ahead of their competition.
it amazes me how people come up with these conspiracy theories instead of applying Occam’s Razor.
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Old 03-20-24, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged

Your suncream example is silly and not relevant as this is not a performance based product but rather just a branding exercise. ...
...maybe your skin is not important to you. I'm not gonna end up looking like some droopy old leather work glove with wrinkles like a Shar Pei. As for branding versus performance...thank you once more for a good chuckle.
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Old 03-20-24, 07:59 PM
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If I was looking for another bike, I'd buy used; I do have an unlimited budget. Here: profound truth. Watch the whole thing, particularly at 3:30:

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Old 03-20-24, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I don't know that I'd compare Peugeots and Gitanes of the 70s with Walmart and Costco bikes of today. It seems to me there were a whole lot of bikes below the Peugeots and Gitanes. I owned one of them, and I can't even remember the brand. You used to see them, being ridden to work by workers at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder - the handlebars flipped up to put the brake levers at the top.

So, another way of looking at it is, "Why Are Modern Bikes So Cheap?".
Sears, Monkey Ward, Coast to Coast (among other national chains) sold horrible cheap "racing" bikes. I remember "Free Spirit" was that a Sears or some other brand?
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Old 03-20-24, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
Sears, Monkey Ward, Coast to Coast (among other national chains) sold horrible cheap "racing" bikes. I remember "Free Spirit" was that a Sears or some other brand?
Yeah, that's the ones I was thinking of.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Even an entry-level 2024 Tarmac is objectively superior, on pretty much every metric that matters for actual cyclists, compared to a high-end steel-framed bike from the '70s or '80s. ....
...what's your definition of an "actual cyclist" old man ? Are you honestly suggesting some guy in his 60's can take full advantage of all that race proven performance on an entry level Tarmac, let alone one of those top of the line wonder bikes? OK...just remember the old adage about not looking back, because something might be gaining on you.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
it amazes me how people come up with these conspiracy theories instead of applying Occam’s Razor.
Me, too. I guess we've forgotten how gratifying beating a spoon on a highchair was.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer
Peak bike occurred just before the pandemic, the metric being most bang for the buck. For around $2,200 you could get a Giant TCR KOM with Shimano 105 and a full (good) carbon frame and adequate wheels. Weight: under 17 pounds. Double that and you could have got Ultegra Di2 and better wheels, and drop a pound.

The pandemic caused supply chain issues which spawned price increases. And for the first time in 50 years, general shortages helped the bike industry exercise some market power, because at every level of the industry you could simply charge more with no negative customer backlash or price elasticity response.

Post pandemic, disc brakes have added at least $500 to the cost of every road bike, as have aero features. Neither of which are a worthwhile tradeoff to most road riders. The extra 2 pounds of ballast and extra cost just isn't worth it.
I agree that there were some great deals just before the pandemic, but this extra $500 for disc brakes is bs. In 2019 I paid exactly £2k for a Giant Defy Advanced Pro with 105 R7000 disc brakes and carbon wheels. I very much doubt $500 of that price was the disc brakes.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
...what's your definition of an "actual cyclist" old man ? Are you honestly suggesting some guy in his 60's can take full advantage of all that race proven performance on an entry level Tarmac, let alone one of those top of the line wonder bikes? OK...just remember the old adage about not looking back, because something might be gaining on you.
Are you honestly suggesting those of us in our 60s are not capable of taking full advantage of lighter weight, wider gear range, better brakes, greater comfort, and superior ergonomics?
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Old 03-20-24, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
Sears, Monkey Ward, Coast to Coast (among other national chains) sold horrible cheap "racing" bikes. I remember "Free Spirit" was that a Sears or some other brand?
...Sears sold a variety of levels in cycles. They sold their top bike under the "Ted Williams" brand name, like a lot of their top end sporting goods. I think it was made for them by Puch, or some other Euro company. It wasn't awful, compared to what was then available, and had a Reynolds frame, IIRC. The Sears bicycles got progressively lower in quality, over the years. They specced them to production at a price point, not unlike many companies do today.

Way back when, Sears was selling three speeds made in Austria based on the English model that were the equivalent in quality of Raleigh's Sports, except the rear hubs were a little better, because they were made on newer machinery to the SA design. A benefit of rebuilding Austria after WW2.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Are you honestly suggesting those of us in our 60s are not capable of taking full advantage of lighter weight, wider gear range, better brakes, greater comfort, and superior ergonomics?
...IKR. The unmitigated gall to suggest that maybe "full advantage" might be limited to riders who are capable of competing professionally. I don't know what to say, except maybe it's because I missed my nap today due to the ride on the 80's Paramount. I bet if I'd been on a "modern" bike, I'd have finished with plenty of time left for a nap.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Again,
...I bet Jennifer Lawrence doesn't cheap out on sunscreen.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
...IKR. The unmitigated gall to suggest that maybe "full advantage" might be limited to riders who are capable of competing professionally. I don't know what to say, except maybe it's because I missed my nap today due to the ride on the 80's Paramount. I bet if I'd been on a "modern" bike, I'd have finished with plenty of time left for a nap.
You joke, but for my 25 mile benchmark rides, the difference in elapsed time between the slowest (1982 Lotus Classique with $14 Michelin Dynamic Classics) and fastest (2020 Canyon Endurace with GP5Ks) is over 4 minutes. I have been known to nap that long.

Or, at least, to drift off during a seminar.
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Old 03-20-24, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
...I bet Jennifer Lawrence doesn't cheap out on sunscreen.
I bet she has people to apply it for her.

D'you suppose they're looking for help?
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Old 03-20-24, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
I bet she has people to apply it for her.

D'you suppose they're looking for help?
Sorry. I got the job yesterday. I start this weekend.
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Old 03-20-24, 10:20 PM
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Mid-'70s TOTL bikes were about 5 times as expensive as BOTL bikes, say $100 for a basic, decent bike-store bike, and $500 for a racer or TOTL tourer.

According to the inflation calculator I used, 100 1974 dollars is $629 now, but I bought a basic, decent bike-store bike (Jamis Citizen 1) for about $500 just before the pandemic.

If you take $500 as the new BOTL price, and $15K as the TOTL price, now TOTL bikes are about 30 times as expensive!

Racing may improve the breed, but it's marketing that improves the margins.
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Old 03-20-24, 10:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Fredo76
Mid-'70s TOTL bikes were about 5 times as expensive as BOTL bikes, say $100 for a basic, decent bike-store bike, and $500 for a racer or TOTL tourer.

According to the inflation calculator I used, 100 1974 dollars is $629 now, but I bought a basic, decent bike-store bike (Jamis Citizen 1) for about $500 just before the pandemic.

If you take $500 as the new BOTL price, and $15K as the TOTL price, now TOTL bikes are about 30 times as expensive!

Racing may improve the breed, but it's marketing that improves the margins.
I believe these premium bikes costs are more about manufacturing cost inputs than marketing. Especially with current TOTL bikes when compared to the 70’s. Those older bikes you reference were virtually identical to there entry level brothers just used better quality materials and components. Very little R&D or manufacturing adaptations were required.
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Old 03-20-24, 11:22 PM
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I bought my Peugeot CFX-10 frame in 1982 for $250. It was half price because not many people wanted a top of the line race bike with a 61 cm top tube. Add in the Simplex shifters, and Campagnolo derailleurs, wheels, stem, French bottom bracket, headset etc. I had a bunch of stuff that could be moved over from the Motobecane I had just demolished, but I have no doubt that the total cost of that bicycle was right around $800.

For a 21 pound steel bicycle that becomes unstable at speeds a little over 30 MPH. I would not pay $5K for that bicycle today.
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Old 03-21-24, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
So, what would it cost today to get a 21 1/2 lb carbon fiber bike with 7 speeds, downtube shifters, 32-spoke wheels, and single pivot rim brakes? Because that's the comparison.
What dumb analogy.

Technology moves on. Nobody compares the price and features of a modern car with a Ford Model T when they are discussing car costs.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
What dumb analogy.

Technology moves on. Nobody compares the price and features of a modern car with a Ford Model T when they are discussing car costs.
Nor do they compare their modern car performance directly against a Model T. In reality most people don’t really care about old bikes or what they cost BITD. What they care about is what they can afford in the present day. When I was riding in the 80s only the very wealthy could afford top tier Italian bikes and expensive cars. This idea that they were easily accessible by working class plebs is nonsense.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
This reminds me of a guitarist I used to know. Whenever he had trouble figuring out the chords to some song he wanted the band to cover, he'd say, "They deliberately made it complicated to make it hard for guys like us in cover bands to play it."
Nowadays, a cover guitarist has to make a difficult choice in that situation. He could do things the old fashioned way like your friend did and develop his ears. However, for the same amount of practice time, the newfangled option is to use the good old internet and look up the chords/tab/fingering. You don't develop your skills, but you learn more songs in a whole lot less time. When you're really in a pinch, there's video tutorials for most every song as well.

As far as your point, If the bike companies wanted to standardize stuff, they could. This happens all the time in electronics - cell phones play together, DVDs play together, even electric car chargers are starting to come together.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:36 AM
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Not sure that w as what @Trakhak was saying but .... The peopel who wrote those songs had the charts, right? They wrote them. And the band members were given the charts, and it didn't make them lesser musicians.

Going online to download the charts or tabs doesn't hurt musicians. You develop skills by playing and listening, not just by deciphering other songs. In fact, every classical musician works entirely off of charts ...

So now there is the "learning charts will hurt musicians" theory, the "Internet ruins music" theory, the "musicians write complicated tunes to hinder t=other musicians" theory, and the "Bike companies hate their customers" theory.

I am glad I am not a skilled musician nor a skilled rider. Not sure i could keep up with the theories.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:49 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Nowadays, a cover guitarist has to make a difficult choice in that situation. He could do things the old fashioned way like your friend did and develop his ears. However, for the same amount of practice time, the newfangled option is to use the good old internet and look up the chords/tab/fingering. You don't develop your skills, but you learn more songs in a whole lot less time. When you're really in a pinch, there's video tutorials for most every song as well.

As far as your point, If the bike companies wanted to standardize stuff, they could. This happens all the time in electronics - cell phones play together, DVDs play together, even electric car chargers are starting to come together.
That guitarist couldn't develop his ears even if he wanted to, having all but deafened himself back in his hard rock days, standing directly in front of a cranked full Marshall stack on tiny stages in bars. (If you're not a rock guy: "cranked" = full volume.)

In our band, I would occasionally have to cross the stage and point to his fretting hand: he'd think he was playing a fifth-fret A barre chord, consonant with the rest of us, but was actually playing the Ab chord on the fourth fret. Not close enough for rock-'n'-roll.

On standardization: as I said, every company does what it does to try to succeed in the marketplace. They don't innovate with the intention of making life difficult for consumers, any more than the songwriters wrote the way they did to frustrate the half-deaf guitarist. They do what they do to stay competitive.

To drive home the point:

Back in 1982, when Kozo Shimano, son of the company's president, was an undergrad at Johns Hopkins, he stopped by the bike shop one day and asked me to tell him what I thought about Shimano's products. I proceeded to lecture him on what Shimano was doing wrong.

Specifically, I said that Shimano introduced and then dropped components and systems far too frequently, making life difficult for us shop folk. I insinuated that unless Shimano changed their ways, both Campagnolo and Suntour, being far more conservative in maintaining their component lineups unchanged for years at a time, were likely to squeeze Shimano out of the market.

I suspect that he may not have explained my point of view to his dad quite as clearly as I'd hoped he would. Hey - I tried.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:01 AM
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Prices are what they are - and people will pay the price - so, we have high priced bikes.

My problem with the industry is the perception of what one "needs". I'm not talking "wants", we know what we want and that is just fine - "needs" is the issue. And the lack of options to fill those needs.

Walk into any bike shop and look for a line of road bikes for the average Joe 14mph guy. Or for the kid starting out in road cycling - good luck finding one. And the sales staff is limited to selling what they have, so they sell "needs" to people.

I rode with Joe 14mph hour guy last night. He's riding a fine aluminum Madone - pristine bike, well suited for any CAT 4/5 racer, very well suited for a 14mph recreational feller. After reading a bunch of online stuff about what he "needs", he went into the bike shop and started looking around. They had him sitting on Emonda SL7's, 5k++ of what he "needed".

At least he was smart enough to ask us on the group ride about what that bike would do for him. The answer I gave - absolutely nothing, zero, zilch. Go spend $100's on some GP5000's, and if you have a burning in your wallet - get some lighter wheels.
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