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Why are Modern Bikes So Expensive?

Old 03-21-24, 05:14 AM
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Well ... if you were selling bikes to pay your bills, you would certainly want to sell a person as much bike as he or she would be willing to pay for.

It is not up to bike salespersons to help a person save cash ... their jobs are actually to help the customer Spend cash.

Anyone who ever worked on commission already knows. or anyone who worked in a shop with a low margin who realizes that the bigger the sale, the more likely the shop won't go under.

I think that as adults, we are supposed to have long since learned that all forms of advertising are designed to make people want to spend more and more money. If people fall for ads ... Hello, Darwin.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes

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.
There is still plenty of standardisation in bike gear. But too much long term standardisation slows innovation and progress. Itís a fine line. I donít personally want everything on my bikes to be ďstandardĒ and I certainly donít want to be limited by any long term fixed standards. The consumables on my bikes are nearly all standardised eg tyres, cassette, chain, BB etc and those which arenít like brake pads are readily available from OEM and third party suppliers.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
Well ... if you were selling bikes to pay your bills, you would certainly want to sell a person as much bike as he or she would be willing to pay for.

It is not up to bike salespersons to help a person save cash ... their jobs are actually to help the customer Spend cash.

Anyone who ever worked on commission already knows. or anyone who worked in a shop with a low margin who realizes that the bigger the sale, the more likely the shop won't go under.

I think that as adults, we are supposed to have long since learned that all forms of advertising are designed to make people want to spend more and more money. If people fall for ads ... Hello, Darwin.
My point - there was nothing else in the store, no other real options, for them to even sell. So naturally they will sell what they have...

Back in the day... yep, way back then... one could walk into a bike store and have a full range of options and get a bike suited for their skill level and be sold a bike suited to their skill level by a salesman that knew what one needed.

The bike industry is in trouble, we all know this. And lately I've seen a shift in what the youtuber shills are pushing - just about all of them are now pushing videos, clearly sponsored, featuring mid spec aluminum bikes. Even calling the bikes carbon fiber killers. Seems like they've figured out what many people already figured out - Joe 14-16mph guy wants cheaper options.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed

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.
I donít understand this lack of options part. There are more bike options than at any time I can remember, for any budget level. The industry markets bikes to everyone at all these different levels.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
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.
Again: bike companies do what they do to stay competitive in the marketplace. That includes pushing higher-end models. They'd be nuts not to do so.

But 14-mph guys can find plenty of bike magazine websites that offer both "Best in 2024!" (i.e., best regardless of expense) and "Best Bang for the Buck in 2024!" suggestions, with the pluses and minuses of each model in each category spelled out.

Compare that to the old days, when we all wanted high-end Campy-equipped Italian bikes, despite the fact that components from Shimano and Suntour were equal in quality to Campagnolo's in most areas, and superior in some, including shifting performance. And that the geometries of those Italian bikes, while great for pro sprinters, weren't all that great for many riders, most of whom were 14-mph guys back then, too.

Finally, I've always found it interesting that my inclination, like yours, is to protect novice riders from themselves, explaining that the entry-level or one-up-from-entry-level bike is fine. But if that rider asks if that's what I ride, I have to say that it's not, that the bike I ride is far better than I need it to be.

Did I say "the bike," singular? Full disclosure would be that I have four or five expensive bikes, some C&V, some modern, all of which are minor variations on the theme. Why? I didn't need them: I wanted them.
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Old 03-21-24, 05:37 AM
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I don't go to many bike shops, but most of them have a bunch of bikes, and only a few really high-end bikes ... most are mid-range (which is still pretty expensive) but most shops know that New customers (unless they are already experienced riders) are not going to drop $5 K on a bike ..... Of course, sellers will try to upsell.

If people go to the wrong shops ... but those shops aren't going to stay in business long. Well, maybe in some areas ... but most places, there simply aren't enough cyclists buying new and expensive bikes often enough for a shop to survive just sell $5 K bikes

Last I looked, the vast majority of bikes bought int he US come from big-box stores. And the "CF-Killer" thing ... says to me that yes, shops and even manufacturers are realizing that they have saturated the high-end market and maybe scared off some of the lower-end market, for whom an Al-frame, CF-fork bike with Sora or mechanical 105 is all the bike they would ever need.
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Old 03-21-24, 06:29 AM
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Current automobiles bought new may qualify for discounts, incentives, rebates, etc.
Very rarely if ever have I've seen a bicycle that I would consider to qualify for such a thing. New automobiles that I have considered did qualify if I went for it.
only bicycles & in most cases regarding vehicles that folks seem to benefit from such rebates are linked to electric motor equipped & or a safety enhanced design [Likely big luxury SUVs]
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Old 03-21-24, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Troul
Current automobiles bought new may qualify for discounts, incentives, rebates, etc.
Very rarely if ever have I've seen a bicycle that I would consider to qualify for such a thing. New automobiles that I have considered did qualify if I went for it.
only bicycles & in most cases regarding vehicles that folks seem to benefit from such rebates are linked to electric motor equipped & or a safety enhanced design [Likely big luxury SUVs]
Here in the UK we have the Bike2Work employee discount scheme.
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Old 03-21-24, 07:14 AM
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It may not really be possible to apply inflation numbers to bikes as simply as many posts here try to, or to make comparison across years.

Even if bikes are included in the transportation commodities category of the cpi, this category is weighted rather low. inflation numbers and the index weigh other things much more heavily (eg shelter at nearly 33%). So you can't assume that the inflation in one category is the same as another, or that the aggregate inflation rate reflects every item equally well. It could be that inflation for bikes is higher, or lower for that matter, than the aggregate rate.

But there is also the problem that the bikes people are talking about here, for the most part, are actually luxury items and discretionary expenses (not absolutely necessary like health care, and you can choose how much you want to spend, or if you spend at all, and set your own upper limit). While there are other such things in the cpi, i think alcohol is in there eg, luxury good prices probably more closely reflect consumer willingness to spend, and that is a result less of inflation than manufacturers' testing out how high they can raise prices, or what price they can convince a consumer to see as "worth it" for whatever reason.

So why are prices higher now for fancy bikes, if they actually are (i don't know)?: well, it's because someone is willing to spend that amount.
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Old 03-21-24, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Prices are what they are - and people will pay the price - so, we have high priced bikes.
Yup, the free market. Companies are selling bikes at the prices people will pay.

Old rich people are they only ones riding bikes and honestly, when we all stop, the bike industry in the USA is going to go the way of the dodo bird.
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Old 03-21-24, 08:43 AM
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Why have we forgotten that there are good to great bikes available at much less than the price of the expensive bikes this thread is about. Adjusted for inflation I'd say that they are on par with what I was buying in the 70's. And there are even cheaper still today.
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Old 03-21-24, 08:43 AM
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My question is-------------how long does it take some Chinese woman to wrap a cheap CF bike, and how long does it take another Chinese woman to wrap a $15,000 CF bike???
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Old 03-21-24, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
My question is-------------how long does it take some Chinese woman to wrap a cheap CF bike, and how long does it take another Chinese woman to wrap a $15,000 CF bike???
Maybe you should refer to the first post, but I realise it was a lame rhetorical question.
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Old 03-21-24, 09:21 AM
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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?
But those were way better in terms of performance, weight, gearing, etc. compared to the 1950 Schwinn Panther (although the Panther had a horn and a tank. Or was a tank).

Even the cheap bikes of 1980 were leap years ahead of the top end bikes from the 1950s. Just like a low-end 2024 bike is way better than my old bike.

Last edited by smd4; 03-21-24 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 03-21-24, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
My question is-------------how long does it take some Chinese woman to wrap a cheap CF bike, and how long does it take another Chinese woman to wrap a $15,000 CF bike???
To begin with, it's important to note that carbon bikes are produced globally, not solely in China. Are you suggesting that the involvement of women in the production process makes it less skilled? It could be argued that more skill and precision are required to produce carbon bike frames, leaving less room for error. Additionally, you seem to assume that labour is the most expensive component of manufacturing a carbon frame when, in reality, it's only a small fraction. Your $15K bike is more than just a frame but a complete bicycle with numerous premium components, all expensive to produce in their own right.

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Old 03-21-24, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Are you insinuating that because women are doing the work, it is less skilled?
I have a book that says in the 1970s, women were welding up Paramounts.
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Old 03-21-24, 09:36 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.
Maybe that's because we were talking about bikes 35 years ago vs today, not bikes of 115 years ago.
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Old 03-21-24, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by vespasianus
Yup, the free market. Companies are selling bikes at the prices people will pay.

Old rich people are they only ones riding bikes and honestly, when we all stop, the bike industry in the USA is going to go the way of the dodo bird.
Perhaps you are talking about who frequents these forums. However, go to any competitive event or place where younger cyclists participate, and you see a majority of top-tier bikes. What is your definition of old?
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Old 03-21-24, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Top-tier bike prices have increased more than inflation. It was interesting to learn about the reasons behind these costs. Firstly, the newer component groups are more complex and have tight tolerances, which increases research, development and manufacturing costs exponentially. Secondly, high-end frames are expensive to manufacture and come with significant development and tooling costs that need to be incorporated into the final price. Finally, modern top-tier bikes are much more advanced than their predecessors, with increased customization and complexity. Therefore, it's unfair to compare them with their equivalents from decades ago, just like comparing an original 911 to a modern GT3/RS.
On the surface, those sound like legitimate reasons for the price increases far outpacing inflation. The issue is that it basically assumes no research, development or manufacturing costs were involved for the baseline bikes. The fact is that those were at the cutting edge of technology at their time and it took just as much R&D to get to that point and to manufacture. The lessons learned from the previously incurred R&D cost is used to build upon with new R&D. The whole idea is that things continually improve and become better because all these incremental improvements over time compound. Their excuse is basically saying that engineering and manufacturing is not improving, so none of those processes have been made more efficient and the new processes are extremely inefficient to add miniscule improvements for high costs. Improving upon existing carbon frame design to improve aero/compliance/weight should not be more time consuming and resource intensive than it was to develop carbon bike manufacturing from scratch. Even aero advancements and wind tunnel testing of tube shapes was being done before the recent drastic acceleration of price increases. Adding an 11th and 12th cog to the cassette didn't require exotic materials or breakthroughs in design or manufacturing.

They've been seeing how much they could raise prices before consumers responded by not purchasing. It seems we have or are reaching that point. Maybe they've been able to get away with wasting tons of money on cost ineffective methods to chase minimal improvements because people were still buying the bikes, and for a while supply was reduced due to all the Covid supply chain issues. That may have hidden the fact that there were less people willing to pay the high prices, because there were still enough to buy what was being made available. Now that the supply chain is allowing them to produce more, they're sitting because there aren't more buyers willing to drop 10-15k on a top end bike, or 7-10k on a mid tier bike.
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Old 03-21-24, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
One of the problems with measuring inflation is that some items are static over time -- a gallon of milk, or a bushel of apples. But other goods change over time, often (perhaps usually) for the better. So, while your newer newer car and newer bike do cost more dollars in nominal terms, they are also vastly better -- more features, better performance, better reliability, etc. It's almost like comparing two different products.
Milk is pretty similar, but apples today are better than when I was a kid.
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Old 03-21-24, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent
My question is-------------how long does it take some Chinese woman to wrap a cheap CF bike, and how long does it take another Chinese woman to wrap a $15,000 CF bike???
Of course you know that the layup of the CF material is only one small step in the entire process of producing a complete bicycle, available to buy at your local LBS.

Here's a look at some of the process that goes into building Giant's top-end road frame...
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Old 03-21-24, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Maybe that's because we were talking about bikes 35 years ago vs today, not bikes of 115 years ago.
115 years, 35 years. Doesn't matter. Nobody is comparing the tech and features of 35 year old cars to today's cars when discussing how much cars cost. The tech in a modern car is far more advanced than the tech in a 35 year old car. By your logic a modern car should cost as much as a house?

35 years ago cell phones were terrible. Today's phones are like magic compared to phones from 1989. By your logic today's phones should cost tens of thousands of dollars?

Makes no sense.
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Old 03-21-24, 10:18 AM
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I did find it interesting that one of the first CF bikes was so heavy. There was absolutely no improvement in weight over the mid-to-upper end of steel bikes. 21 1/2 pounds for $3000. Compare that with the Schwinn Circuit (one bike I know from the same era) - it was 21 lbs, and cost $799.
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Old 03-21-24, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
115 years, 35 years. Doesn't matter. Nobody is comparing the tech and features of 35 year old cars to today's cars when discussing how much cars cost. The tech in a modern car is far more advanced than the tech in a 35 year old car. By your logic a modern car should cost as much as a house?

35 years ago cell phones were terrible. Today's phones are like magic compared to phones from 1989. By your logic today's phones should cost tens of thousands of dollars?

Makes no sense.
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HA! I remember selling the Radio Shack cell phones! It was nothing but a phone. With a huge battery pack (with a carrying handle!) that had to be stored in the trunk of the car. BUT! It had a lighted keypad, last number re-dial, and some other "great" features. In 1988 the cost was $1199.00.

That's $3,145.00 today, for anyone keeping score. The tech absolutely blew up in the intervening years.

And the price went down in real dollars. By a lot.

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Old 03-21-24, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
115 years, 35 years. Doesn't matter. Nobody is comparing the tech and features of 35 year old cars to today's cars when discussing how much cars cost. The tech in a modern car is far more advanced than the tech in a 35 year old car. By your logic a modern car should cost as much as a house?

35 years ago cell phones were terrible. Today's phones are like magic compared to phones from 1989. By your logic today's phones should cost tens of thousands of dollars?

Makes no sense.
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Hold on, there, bub! I make no claims about what things SHOULD cost. I make observations about what they DO cost and what you get for that money. Buy a gallon of milk in 1989 or today, you get the same product, so prices are directly comparable. Buy a new mid-to-upper level bike of today and you get a MUCH better product than a mid-to-upper level bike of 1989. So, does it make sense to compare THOSE prices without noting the difference?
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