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A Bike is Not a Cell Phone - Upgrading to "Latest and Greatest" Syndrome

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A Bike is Not a Cell Phone - Upgrading to "Latest and Greatest" Syndrome

Old 05-22-20, 08:25 AM
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PoorInRichfield
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A Bike is Not a Cell Phone - Upgrading to "Latest and Greatest" Syndrome

Warning: This thread is pointless and is just me rambling about a thought that's been rolling around in my head for a while

Having just sold a handful of bikes recently, one of the most common bargaining tactics used by potential buyer's to get me to drop the price of my bikes was that the bikes were a couple of years old (ranging from 2013 to 2015 model years) and thus not worth anything. On more than one occasion, I'd get someone sending me a link to some "bicycle blue book" stating that my bikes were worthless because they weren't the latest and greatest. I learned to ignore those potential buyers and my bikes all sold for what I was asking... thanks to COVID-19

That got me thinking... are we as a society being duped into thinking that a bike that is a few years old is now a piece of outdated junk, just because we've become used to a 2 year obsolescence cycle for electronic goods? (I.e. "Moore's Law" has had a pretty big role in people buying a new mobile phone or computer every 2 years because that's about how long it takes before a new, much faster model is invented.) Unless you're planning on buying a bike with SRAM eTap, Shimano Di2, or some other electronic components group, the entire rest of the bike is not electronic and not subject to radical improvements from year to year.

I often think manufacturers just introduce new models with new marketing hype to convince us that the newer model is radically better than the old when it potentially is not. For example, I'm still wondering why Shimano created the Ultegra R8000 group set when it's hardly a departure from the 6800 group set. Both are 11 speed and both work just fine. It's my opinion that used bikes with Ultegra 6800 are a great value because they're perceived as being "yesterday's news" but work just as good as the new R8000 bikes.

While there certainly are incremental advances and improvements in bikes over the years, I personally think that one ought to really consider if you really need the latest model bike or if you just want it. There's nothing wrong with either, but if you can convince yourself that you don't need a brand new bike, you can save yourself a lot of money. Not only that, bicycles typically hold their value worse than cars do... once you ride the bike away from the LBS, you'll have a hard time selling it for anything near what you paid for it (well, excluding our current bizarro-world COVID-19 bike shortage.)

Anywho... your thoughts? Are bikes that are more than a few years old worthy of the scrap heap? Is buying a brand new bike a psychological gain or a good idea? Should we all buy a new bike every two years to keep up-to-date along with our iPhones and Android phones?

Note: I currently ride a 2020 Trek Domane SL7, so I'm a little hypocritical when it comes to my argument that one doesn't need a new bike. However, in my defense, I did buy it used for substantial cost savings... I would've stuck with my 2015 Domane had the deal not come along.

Last edited by PoorInRichfield; 05-22-20 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 05-22-20, 08:35 AM
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topflightpro
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With all things, I think it depends.

Road bike technology really hasn't changed that much in the last 15-20 years. Carbon has become more ubiquitous and we went from 9 to 10 to 11 and no 12 speeds. We also went from Triples to compacts and now in many cases, single rings. Compacts are definitely an improvement over triples - which never shifted great. And many people like the ride of wider tires and rims, which many older frames don't accommodate. So there are some aspects where things are outdated.

For cross, it's all gone disc. And if you are considering gravel, that's all disc too. So, why would you want to buy something that isn't disc compatible? Non-disc cross bikes have lost a lot of value. If you are looking for a bike to commute on or ride around the neighborhood, a canti-brake cross bike would probably be a good value.

With TT and Tri bikes, they continually create new and more aerodynamic options. If your goal is to go as fast as possible, newer is probably better.

On the mountain bike side of things, yeah, the technology changes a lot. Today's suspension systems are so much better than what was available 5 years ago. And shocks have a lifespan. As they get older, they are increasingly costly to repair or replace.

But if we were to look at something like track racing, there has been almost no development in new products. They still run narrow tires. You can buy a 15 year old wheel and frame and be pretty close to what is at the top of the line today.
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Old 05-22-20, 08:40 AM
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Once it's taken off the lot, whether car or bike, it's not new anymore. Unwanted bikes should be given to those that can't afford a decent bike. I don't care to support those that buy indiscriminately and then want me to pay them premium for their lack of interest in that item.
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Old 05-22-20, 08:59 AM
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I dont think this is much of a revelation. Most people are aware that they dont NEED a fancy new bike, or that they HAVE to have the latest/greatest. Most of us getting nice bikes because - as with most things in life, good stuff is good.

A life that is based entirely on utility, with no room for indulgence, is a pretty sad life in my opinion. Others may feel differently and that's fine.
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Old 05-22-20, 10:01 AM
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In other news, a five-year-old car will get you to work quite well, but people will still try to haggle you down when you sell it.
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Old 05-22-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
For example, I'm still wondering why Shimano created the Ultegra R8000 group set when it's hardly a departure from the 6800 group
Anywho... your thoughts? Are bikes that are more than a few years old worthy of the scrap heap? Is buying a brand new bike a psychological gain or a good idea? Should we all buy a new bike every two years to keep up-to-date along with our iPhones and Android phones?
R7000 and R8000 front derailleurs are lightyears better than those long armed 6800 and 5800 designs. Having owned both, its a totally different game for setup and use(tire clearance?). But thats a minor issue as a 7000 FD can go on an otherwise 5800 bike.

If its true that bikes more than a few years old are crap, then my garage has been filled with crap since I got back into cycling 9 years ago. Ive had dozens of bikes that were all late 70s-early 90s and they were a blast to own and ride.
I have an 89 Tange 1 steel frame road bike with modern Tiagra set up on the trainer 5' from me for Zwift and it works great. Super comfortable and quality frame plus components.
All the old bikes I have kept have been updated with more modern drivetrains, but some have been 9sp which is hardly cutting edge and they perform as well as my 11sp Ultegra bikes.
No, older bikes and tech isnt worthy of just the scrap heap.

I do understand why buyers may not want to pay a premium for used though. If a 4 year old $1000 retail bike is being sold as 'nearly unused' for $900, I wouldnt be interested, even if it really has been sitting in a basement the whole time. For $100 more, just buy the newest version and get the warranty(as rare as thats needed). There is a point at which while something may be unused, it is still used and therefore is simply valued as less than what retail is worth.

Also, technology changes so much and trends change so much, than MTB and gravel are totally different from 4 years ago. The bikes from 4 years ago still work just fine, but there is appeal in having the newest trends and unless the price difference is great enough, the nearly new older bike may not have a lot of interest at a high price. If it doesnt have thru axles, there needs to be a significant price drop(even if QR disc works fine). If it has cable disc and the new model has hydraulic disc for only slightly more, then there may not be much appeal for the older bike. This doesnt even get into the MTB trends that disappeared like 27.5"(to an extent) and plus tires(to an extent).
A 7 year old MTB that is basically unused and cost $1500 new but has 26" wheels, cable disc brakes, QR drops, and a 70 degree head tube is not going to be valued very well by most if it is priced like it is new now.
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Old 05-22-20, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Once it's taken off the lot, whether car or bike, it's not new anymore. Unwanted bikes should be given to those that can't afford a decent bike. I don't care to support those that buy indiscriminately and then want me to pay them premium for their lack of interest in that item.
What one considers to be a premium, another considers a steal.
And while unwanted bikes being donated is a great option(i continually support the local collective with parts and bikes), its absurd to declare that unwanted bikes should be donated. Given that approach, then ALL unwanted goods should be donated and never sold. No garage sales, no ebay, no flea markets, not antique stores, etc etc. The same argument could be used for pretty much anything unwanted.
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Old 05-22-20, 10:21 AM
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I think there is a "sweet spot" for buying used... i.e., finding the bike you want that's only a year or two old.

For example, I bought my 2014 Trek Domane 5.2 brand new from my LBS for ~$3,600 "on sale". Two years later, I saw the same bike in the same size for sale on Craiglist in a different color for an asking price of $1,600... and it didn't sell quickly. Ouch. As nice as my Domane was, that's some pretty huge depreciation and in those two years there was no appreciable change in technology in the new version of the bike. (For comparison, 2014 Domane 5.2 vs 2016 Domane 5.2)

I guess that if you're in some kind of a hurry to buy a bike or don't know much about them, the used market is probably not an option for you. However, if you can be patient, don't need that "new bike smell", and know what you're looking for, used seems like the sensible path to go unless you've got a lot of extra cash laying around!
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Old 05-22-20, 10:23 AM
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My last smartphone was 4 years old and I only replaced it when the battery would only last a few hours.

My bike is a 2015 model, with 11 speed and rim brakes. I have no reason to replace it anytime soon.
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Old 05-22-20, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
I often think manufacturers just introduce new models with new marketing hype to convince us that the newer model is radically better than the old when it potentially is not.
OMG you're right! Thank goodness this doesn't happen with other consumer products.
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Old 05-22-20, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
In other news, a five-year-old car will get you to work quite well, but people will still try to haggle you down when you sell it.
Why would anyone sell a perfectly good nearly-new car like that??

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Old 05-22-20, 10:37 AM
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In '74 I ordered a frame from Al Eisentraut. I put Crane and DA stuff on it. I wore that stuff out. I put DA AX stuff on it and wore that out. Then I put what, at the time, was almost vintage Campy stuff on it. Campy doesn't wear out.

Along about '05 I got the itch to modernize, so I sent the frame back to Oakland and asked to have its rear triangle taken apart and set to modern dimensions, add water bottle bosses and BB cable guides, repaint it black and put red decals on it. Eisentraut thought a black bike would look like **** with red decals on it and, without asking, put yellow ones on. I think he just didn't have any red ones or was simply satisfying his inner need to be a contrarian. I got it back and put 10S Campy Compact Carbon Crap on it because I liked the alliteration. Been that way for 15 years.

And I'm still as slow as I ever was but the older I get the better I was.

And nowadays we have the demise of the venerable Bowden cable in favor of bikes that shift electrically. What the jump the **** up and down is all that about?
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Old 05-22-20, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
OMG you're right! Thank goodness this doesn't happen with other consumer products.
Lucky for me that I have a pair of secret decoder glasses that allows me to see through marketing hype! (Although I've noticed they occasionally fail on me... perhaps the batteries are getting low?)

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Old 05-22-20, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
Lucky for me that I have a pair of secret decoder glasses that allows me to see through marketing hype! (Although I've noticed they occasionally fail on me... perhaps the batteries are getting low?)

Looks like a bra.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:07 PM
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Talk about making a hen out of a feather.

People haggle. They're trying to convince you your bike isn't worth much. What they actually think it's worth is impossible to know. They may not even a have a notion of that themselves and are just looking for a bargain.

In other words, they are exactly the person everyone here finds virtuous: who shops for used, waits patiently, makes offers, buys something a few years old to save a buck, etc etc. The rest is in your mind.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:10 PM
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I cannot think of a bike that I've bought new, except going back to my Gitane Tour de France - in 1973. Still have this bike; heavy, but still rides well.

The Sweet Spot in terms of cost/benefit is used stuff about 5-10 years old. But you have to be really careful, do your research, and know what you are getting into. Bikes depreciate 30% when they exit the shop door, and then there is no reason to be paying more than 50% of retail for a 5 year-old bike. Most 5-year old road bikes feature a worn our drivetrain (rings, cassette and invariably the chain), and sticky shifters. So hundreds of $ of replacement parts right there.

The ultimate sweet spot for road is a 5-10 -year old carbon bike (T800 or T1000 level frame) bike with rim brakes (discs: heavy, fussy, expensive and unnecessary), external cable routing, a BSA threaded BB shell, and a 10-speed drivetrain. 10-speed consumables cost nothing these days... I go through 3 chains minimum per year, so factor this into your ride economics. And, STI shifters where the cables exit from the sides of the shifters... cleaner, smoother shifting, as cable runs under the bar tape introduce extra friction, and the current shifters eat cables. Dura-Ace 7800: best mechanical shifting ever.

So a 10-year old carbon team bike (UCI level kit) with Dura-Ace 7800 will be lighter, easier to work on, shift better, and definitely less expensive to run than any of the current elite-level road bikes, unless you are willing to forgo discs, and still pay in excess of $10k for something new.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:26 PM
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I’m a younger and newer cyclist, but for the purposes of recreation, I don’t think bikes have gotten appreciably better in the last 40 years. A top end steel bike with 3x6 or 7 gears and downtube friction shifters from the 80s would probably suit me just fine if all I did was ride for fun. Heck, I know someone who rides a (very cheap and modern) bike like that and he does just fine.

That being said, I think a small part of the perception of older bikes being worse is how quickly the bike industry changes up standards. Gears, brakes, crank spindles, bottom brackets, headsets, steerers, hubs/freehubs, dropouts, and tires have all changed quite a bit.

For example, if I were buying an expensive bike right now, I probably wouldn’t get 11 speed Shimano. They’re probably going to switch to microspline 12 speed, which is going to bring its own set of compatibility issues. I wouldn’t get rim brakes or stock up on my favorite tubulars or even tube-only clinchers either.

This is probably a very small part of the problem though.

Last edited by smashndash; 05-22-20 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:26 PM
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I've never sold a bike nor bought a used one, but I've bought, sold and traded dozens upon dozens of firearms in all price ranges except super high-end. Haggling among the parties isn't just part of the game, but a game in and of itself. A lot of people (myself included, to an extent) actually enjoy it.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
For example, I bought my 2014 Trek Domane 5.2 brand new from my LBS for ~$3,600 "on sale". Two years later, I saw the same bike in the same size for sale on Craiglist in a different color for an asking price of $1,600... and it didn't sell quickly. Ouch.
Unless the Craigslist bike is damaged. That could be a serious ouch.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
And, STI shifters where the cables exit from the sides of the shifters... cleaner, smoother shifting, as cable runs under the bar tape introduce extra friction, and the current shifters eat cables. Dura-Ace 7800: best mechanical shifting ever.
You're talking about groupsets that were introduced 10 years ago, not current ones.
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Old 05-22-20, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
My last smartphone was 4 years old and I only replaced it when the battery would only last a few hours.
I replaced my iPhone 4 in October for the same reason

Originally Posted by GlennR View Post
My bike is a 2015 model, with 11 speed and rim brakes. I have no reason to replace it anytime soon.
My Domane is a 2015 with Dura-Ace Di2 and hydraulic disc. There's no reason to replace it anytime soon, but I might get a crank based power meter when the big ring needs to be replaced again.
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Old 05-22-20, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by sfrider View Post
Talk about making a hen out of a feather. <snip>
I can honestly state that I have never heard that expression. You made my day!
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Old 05-22-20, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
The ultimate sweet spot for road is a 5-10 -year old carbon bike
Lots of folks have no interest in an older carbon bike since there is no easy way to tell if the frame has been compromised. That's probably why they depreciate so quickly compared to steel or Ti.
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Old 05-22-20, 02:46 PM
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For a while new cell phones were obviously better than the 2yo model. That's not really happening any more. The numbers keep going up but they don't matter, screen size is just a fashion and its resolution is sufficient to the eyeball, the cameras are sharp enough, the data rate is fast enough, the software features are not dependent on the model, and so on.

This is happening with mountain bikes. A mountain bike today is obviously better than one from 10 years ago and even just 5 there's a difference. Road bikes? ehhhh... you could argue nothing important has changed since the arrival of Ergo's. Even Di2 is nearly 20 years old.
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Old 05-22-20, 02:50 PM
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I'm a Campy only guy and Campy has been first with 10, 11 and 12 speed road bikes, so it's easier to keep up. If you buy a 2020 Shimano 11 speed bike, it will be old news next year. I got two 2020 Campy Chorus groups last July when they first became available. I paid significantly less than an 11 speed Chorus group, I bought in 2018.

Unless a new group offers a major change, I wouldn't worry about having the latest. Changing from 11 to 12 was a big deal for me, because I really needed the new 48/32 crank and 11-34 cassette for the mountains that I ride. SRAM AXS costs twice as much and has less low gear and poor spacing with their 46/33 and 10-33. A 44/31 crank would be needed to match my gearing range and the spacing of sprockets would still be less desirable. No thanks.
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