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Why are Modern Bikes So Expensive?

Old 03-21-24, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I took an engineering class in carbon fiber back in the early '80s, because I wanted to make carbon frames. One thing that quickly became obvious is that if you wanted to make a carbon frame that was as strong as a steel frame in every possible loading condition, it was going to weigh about the same as a steel frame. The professor told us as much, and made us write a computer program to test how different layups would respond to loadings. I regret that I let a professor discourage me from working on carbon bike frames back then, although I probably didn't have the money to make a good try. It wasn't that long ago that I finally recycled the punch card deck with my program on it, it was about 3" thick. I wish I had it read into a more usable digital form before getting rid of it.

My impression is that fiber has gotten a lot stronger since that time, or at least the carbon that normal people could get their hands on back then. There is still some optimization going on to make for decent weight savings, but bike designers have had many decades of practice since then.
your professor was mistaken

was this in the happy valley ?
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Old 03-21-24, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I wouldn't have wanted to work in the bike industry over the last couple of years, there have been massive challenges. I have no idea if the current pricing is realistic or not, but consumer demand is still there, I think. High end bikes still seem to sell okay. The low end isn't doing so well. Much of the middle has disappeared for the most part.
Those folks bought their bikes within the last 4 years, and won't be ready to buy another one for a long time (some, probably never). High end customers have different motivations.

Note: These ^^^ are uneducated guesses/generalizations.
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Old 03-21-24, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by t2p
your professor was mistaken

was this in the happy valley ?
What he actually said is, "I could probably do it, but you couldn't." I forget which Va Tech professor told me that. They hired a carbon specialist after I took the course, but I don't think it was him.
Since I was an experienced framebuilder, and he wasn't, I might have had a better chance. He probably wouldn't have been able to build a usable frame. It's not like it was easy to learn about framebuilding in the early '80s. We might have been able to collaborate and be successful. In the end, it's not like it's that difficult.
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Old 03-21-24, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by NumbersGuy
Here are a couple mainstream examples of what I'd rate as equivalent. Same manufacturer, model and group set. 2024 Ultegra is Di2 vs non-Di2, but even so, that one is 86% more expensive or nearly 3 times inflation.

2014 S-Works Tarmac Dura Ace Di2 $8,500 Frameset: $3,500
2024 S-Works Tarmac Dura Ace Di2 $14,000 Frameset: $5,500

2014 Trek Domane 5.2 Ultegra $3,670 Frameset: $1,550
2024 Trek Domane SL7 Ultegra $6,830 Frameset: $2,500
Over the past decade, the S-Works Tarmac has made significant progress in terms of design and features. In fact, the current version is vastly different from its earlier counterparts, with a lighter frame that weighs 250 grams less, a completely new design and layup, significantly improved aerodynamics, internal wiring including cockpit, 12-speed wireless with wider gearing range, tubeless tires, and disc brakes, among other features. So other than the name, there is no real comparison between a 2014 and 2024 S Works Tarmac.

Compare this with a 1970 Cinelli SC and a 1980 Cinelli SC, and the two bikes are almost identical.
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Old 03-21-24, 02:57 PM
  #155  
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Over the past decade, the S-Works Tarmac has made significant progress in terms of design and features. In fact, the current version is vastly different from its earlier counterparts, with a lighter frame that weighs 250 grams less, a completely new design and layup, significantly improved aerodynamics, internal wiring including cockpit, 12-speed wireless with wider gearing range, tubeless tires, and disc brakes, among other features. So other than the name, there is no real comparison between a 2014 and 2024 S Works Tarmac.

Compare this with a 1970 Cinelli SC and a 1980 Cinelli SC, and the two bikes are almost identical.
Plus, I find Trek's product name/number scheme impenetrable, so I can't tell whether the two Domanes are directly comparable.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric F
"Little to no R&D" is not what Pete said.
Originally Posted by smd4
In your own words, why don’t you tell me what you think he said.
Here is what Pete said:

Originally Posted by PeteHski
Based on my experience working for decades in high tech engineering R&D, that statement in bold is almost certainly untrue. I would bet good money that the R&D resources at a leading bike manufacturer are way more expensive than they were 30 years ago, both in labour (engineers) and equipment.
If you want to argue with his statement, you might first need to simply comprehend it. He did not say what you seem to think he said. Reading is fundamental.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:07 PM
  #157  
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Here is what Pete said:



If you want to argue with his statement, you might first need to simply comprehend it. He did not say what you seem to think he said. Reading is fundamental.
This thread has more straw men than a scarecrow convention.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
This thread has more straw men than a scarecrow convention.
...speaking of which.

Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Over the past decade, the S-Works Tarmac has made significant progress in terms of design and features. In fact, the current version is vastly different from its earlier counterparts, with a lighter frame that weighs 250 grams less, a completely new design and layup, significantly improved aerodynamics, internal wiring including cockpit, 12-speed wireless with wider gearing range, tubeless tires, and disc brakes, among other features. So other than the name, there is no real comparison between a 2014 and 2024 S Works Tarmac.

Compare this with a 1970 Cinelli SC and a 1980 Cinelli SC, and the two bikes are almost identical.
Why anyone would expect Cinelli (as a company) to have much in the way of an R+D department is beyond my comprehension. Sure they were expensive, but they were still small, limited in numbers of production, and generally made by a company that was primarily earning money by selling components like stems, bars, and saddles. They did change out the stem designs periodically, often producing a stem that worked less well than their original 1A.

Here's the Cinelli timeline. 1970-1980 were not especially innovative years. The steel frame tech was a relatively mature one by then. As technologies mature, that happens. They did do a time trial funny bike in 1974, but the Cinelli SC was a boutique product that was selling well in small numbers. Why change it ? Columbo (of Columbus tubing) bought into the company in 1978. Columbus tubing was in constant development mode for new and different frame tubing sets.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
...speaking of which.



Why anyone would expect Cinelli (as a company) to have much in the way of an R+D department is beyond my comprehension. Sure they were expensive, but they were still small, limited in numbers of production, and generally made by a company that was primarily earning money by selling components like stems, bars, and saddles. They did change out the stem designs periodically, often producing a stem that worked less well than their original 1A.

Here's the Cinelli timeline. 1970-1980 were not especially innovative years. The steel frame tech was a relatively mature one by then. As technologies mature, that happens. They did do a time trial funny bike in 1974, but the Cinelli SC was a boutique product that was selling well in small numbers. Why change it ? Columbo (of Columbus tubing) bought into the company in 1978. Columbus tubing was in constant development mode for new and different frame tubing sets.
I don't think this was so much about Cinelli as about the bike industry in general, which seems to have been pretty stagnant from the mid-50s till about 1980.
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Old 03-21-24, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Over the past decade, the S-Works Tarmac has made significant progress in terms of design and features. In fact, the current version is vastly different from its earlier counterparts, with a lighter frame that weighs 250 grams less, a completely new design and layup, significantly improved aerodynamics, internal wiring including cockpit, 12-speed wireless with wider gearing range, tubeless tires, and disc brakes, among other features. So other than the name, there is no real comparison between a 2014 and 2024 S Works Tarmac.

Compare this with a 1970 Cinelli SC and a 1980 Cinelli SC, and the two bikes are almost identical.
I think vastly different is a bit of a stretch.
  • The frame from what I can see is 200 grams lighter, but the complete bike is heavier.
  • Fact 12r carbon vs Fact 11r carbon for 10 years of R&DÖ not really impressive or major; mostly marketing.
  • Incrementally improved aerodynamic at pro tour speeds which means minuscule for everyone else, despite marketing hype.
  • Internal routing for the cockpit (SL4 had internal cables)is again an aero advantage for pros, not much elsewhere and not mind-blowing R&D.
  • 12 speed vs 11 speed is the same incremental gain over a decade thatís been happening for ages, no great R&D for that.
  • Wireless isnít something the bike industry developed. They just finally are using current, cheap technology for shifting.
  • Tubeless tires are a questionable advantage for road bikes, and again itís long existing tech finally being used in bikes.
  • Disc brakes are an excellent addition but the refinement is not quite there which leads me to question to amount and quality of R&D performed.
Maybe itís just the expense of marketing to make the lack of real engineering progress sound like itís game changing thatís behind the cost increases.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Facetious. Pete seems to think that the R&D and engineering back in the day just wasn't as costly and time consuming then as it is today.

Adjusted for inflation, of course it was. NumbersGuy is correct:
How many engineers do you think Kestrel employed back in 1989? I'm guessing you could count them on one hand. Major bike manufacturers like Specialized and Giant probably employ hundreds of engineers today. You only have to look at their vast product lines across the board. I bet their own engineering R&D departments are way bigger today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, with far more qualified engineers and designers. That's generally how it goes. It will likely be the same story at Shimano. I bet their engineering resources are 10 fold what they were in the 80s. It's not my industry, so I don't have any figures. In my own field (F1 motor racing) teams have grown from employing around 50 staff in the late 1980s to over 1000 today. The cars cost a LOT more today.

People keep mentioning cell phones as an example of things getting relatively cheaper with increasing tech. Well that tends to happen when sales volume grows exponentially. This doesn't apply with bicycles. They get more sophisticated, but also more expensive at the top end.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
The question was "Why are modern bikes so expensive?" To overlook the improvement in every measurable aspect and simply compare prices is ludicrous.
Originally Posted by genejockey
What I DID do was to point out that what we mean by "a cell phone" in 2024 is RADICALLY different from what we meant by "a cell phone" in 1989, and that EVEN SO, phones are MUCH cheaper in nominal dollars and INCREDIBLY cheaper in inflation adjusted dollars.
The second half of what you wrote is the total opposite of the first half of what you wrote. You're refuting yourself.

Why are you punching yourself in the face? HELLO???

Originally Posted by genejockey
I make no claims about what things SHOULD cost. I make observations about what they DO cost and what you get for that money.
Originally Posted by genejockey
I didn't dodge responding. I pointed out that you set up a straw man argument, because I never said anything about what things SHOULD cost.
Oh, so you admit that what bikes "SHOULD" cost is not the same as what they "DO" cost. Well that was my point. Thank you for agreeing with me.

End of story.

​​​​​​​

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Old 03-21-24, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote
Here is what Pete said:



If you want to argue with his statement, you might first need to simply comprehend it. He did not say what you seem to think he said. Reading is fundamental.
Hey! I thought I was on your ignore list? What terrible thing did I do to get delisted?
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Old 03-21-24, 04:11 PM
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PeteHski and genejockey : you guys are arguing with posters who can't (or won't) comprehend your rather simple statements or are deliberately concocting straw man arguments -- probably the former, since a child could come up with better straw man arguments than the ones they are offering.

At any rate, you should quit while you are behind. With some of these folks, you're never gonna get through. Just state your case and move on. I'm speaking from experience.

That's just my $.04. (That's $.02, adjusted for inflation.)
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Old 03-21-24, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
The second half of what you wrote is the total opposite of the first half of what you wrote. You're refuting yourself.

Why are you punching yourself in the face?
Oh, dear. More straw men for the convention.

The first statement is totally aligned with the second. Let me restate, since reading comprehension doesn't seem to be your strong suit: Ignoring technological improvements and simply comparing prices is ludicrous, but EVEN IF YOU DO, cell phones are cheaper now than 35 years ago.

Oh, so you admit that what bikes "SHOULD" cost is not what they do cost. Well that was my point. Thank you for agreeing with me.
This one's singing "If I Only Had A Brain".

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Old 03-21-24, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Hey! I thought I was on your ignore list? What terrible thing did I do to get delisted?
What, are you feeling listless?
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Old 03-21-24, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by smd4
Hey! I thought I was on your ignore list? What terrible thing did I do to get delisted?
Koyote never actually puts anyone on his ignore list. He just says he does while actually still spying on you, because he can't help himself.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Ignoring technological improvements and simply comparing prices is ludicrous, but EVEN IF YOU DO, cell phones are cheaper now than 35 years ago.
So under your logic, if phones have gotten cheaper as they have advanced, then why have bikes gone the other way as they have advanced?
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Old 03-21-24, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
So under your logic, if phones have gotten cheaper as they have advanced, then why have bikes gone the other way as they have advanced?
Phone sales have grown exponentially. Bike sales havenít.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Phone sales have grown exponentially. Bike sales havenít.
That will undoubtedly be the post that ends the thread. Except for this one.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
So under your logic, if phones have gotten cheaper as they have advanced, then why have bikes gone the other way as they have advanced?
Shorter Yan:

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Old 03-21-24, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey
Shorter Yan:

Translation:

"I've lost the argument and now I'm gyrating and thrashing"

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Old 03-21-24, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
Koyote never actually puts anyone on his ignore list. He just says he does while actually still spying on you, because he can't help himself.
I figured. And in his ďlastĒ post to me he accused me of stalking him!
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Old 03-21-24, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
Translation:

"I've lost the argument and now I'm gyrating and thrashing"




Dude, you don't even have a point that you're arguing.
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Old 03-21-24, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Phone sales have grown exponentially. Bike sales havenít.
So if the sales volume of a particular product is holding steady year-to-year, that mean the price trend of this product will need to outpace inflation?

Interesting theory.
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