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Are expensive bikes worth it?

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Are expensive bikes worth it?

Old 06-09-23, 10:25 AM
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Weight being "worth it":

If you are a larger rider, or not near your lightest possible weight, the extra $1000's +++ you spend to take pounds off the bike really won't do very much for you.

Total system weight. If you clock in at 145#, 3-4#'s is a bigger % off of the total system weight than a 190#er.

I weigh about 190#, ride a 20.5# bike. The thousands I would have to spend to take 3-4 pounds of the bike would = about 3 min on the 26 mile climb I did the other day.

I have a 17# older bike & a 22# cyclocross bike - I really can't feel the difference between the three.

Then you factor in the 4-5#'s of water you have on board, tubes, tools, pump....
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Old 06-09-23, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
Weight being "worth it":

If you are a larger rider, or not near your lightest possible weight, the extra $1000's +++ you spend to take pounds off the bike really won't do very much for you.

Total system weight. If you clock in at 145#, 3-4#'s is a bigger % off of the total system weight than a 190#er.

I weigh about 190#, ride a 20.5# bike. The thousands I would have to spend to take 3-4 pounds of the bike would = about 3 min on the 26 mile climb I did the other day.

I have a 17# older bike & a 22# cyclocross bike - I really can't feel the difference between the three.

Then you factor in the 4-5#'s of water you have on board, tubes, tools, pump....
Totally agree. Weight is often subjectively over-valued and the cost per pound quickly becomes very high. If all your riding is in the Alpes and you are a competitive climber then it might be worth spending more on a lighter bike. But otherwise itís a very poor objective return.
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Old 06-09-23, 02:13 PM
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Depends on how dear $1000+ is too you, and how much you care about the diminishing returns that come as price increases.

$1k should get you a reliable and functional bike that can be made to fit.
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Old 06-10-23, 10:11 AM
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When I read the title of your thread, I thought ‘expensive’ referred to $15,000+ bikes. It’s all relative.
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Old 06-10-23, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Totally agree. Weight is often subjectively over-valued ...
Weight is subjectively overvalued because it is a number that is relatively easy to compare. By analogy, certain consumers fixate on horsepower, torque, and 0-60 time when buying a car. An aspect is overvalued overall because it is important to the individual buyer.
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Old 06-10-23, 11:40 AM
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I hope you're not under the impression that your Le Tour is a low-end bike. You've got a full 4130 butted chromoly frame, to start with, along with alloy wheels and pretty decent components. It's not even THAT heavy - it's not like it's a Varsity or Continental. All in all a very respectable bike. Mostly, you'll have a hard time matching the ride quality and handling with anything close to $1000 in today's market.
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Old 06-10-23, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by SoSmellyAir
Weight is subjectively overvalued because it is a number that is relatively easy to compare. By analogy, certain consumers fixate on horsepower, torque, and 0-60 time when buying a car. An aspect is overvalued overall because it is important to the individual buyer.
It's also overvalued because you feel it when you need to carry your bike from the rack, up the stairs, etc. It's also apparent at every stop-start, sudden accelerations to hold a wheel or attack. Or just more fun to ride.
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Old 06-11-23, 09:31 PM
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After shaving 1kg (2.2lbs) off my bike over time as part of bike fit adjustments and little tweaks, I can say that I clearly notice that a lower weight bike enhances several aspects of riding, beyond any timing-related marginal gains, that matter to me enough to keep bike weight as a priority going forward.

Now if we pit some weight weenie who overspends on ultra light components to compensate for another psychological issue against some heavy-bike rider who has heard from other people secretly unhappy with their own bike weights that weight does not matter and carried that message on without really knowing anything, we'll hear the arguments forever.

Likewise, in a world of diminishing returns, there will always be those who feel clever because they identify value, and those who desire the best to satisfy their discernment, or signal to others. Both seem like idiots to the other.

Both are right, or who are you to judge?

Last edited by yaw; 06-11-23 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 06-12-23, 03:22 AM
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Originally Posted by yaw
After shaving 1kg (2.2lbs) off my bike over time as part of bike fit adjustments and little tweaks, I can say that I clearly notice that a lower weight bike enhances several aspects of riding, beyond any timing-related marginal gains, that matter to me enough to keep bike weight as a priority going forward.

Now if we pit some weight weenie who overspends on ultra light components to compensate for another psychological issue against some heavy-bike rider who has heard from other people secretly unhappy with their own bike weights that weight does not matter and carried that message on without really knowing anything, we'll hear the arguments forever.

Likewise, in a world of diminishing returns, there will always be those who feel clever because they identify value, and those who desire the best to satisfy their discernment, or signal to others. Both seem like idiots to the other.

Both are right, or who are you to judge?
The way I look at this is that our body weight naturally varies by approx 2 kg during the course of a day. So I'm not going to spend a large amount of money to save 1 kg of bike weight. Having said that I do like my bike to be reasonably light. My current road bike weighs 7.8 kg and there is a 7.0 kg version for an extra £3k. So that's a cost of £3,750 per kg. There are a few other extremely marginal gains within that additional cost besides weight, but none of them are remotely worth it to me. The diminishing returns on high-end bikes are staggering and yet people justify it to themselves in all sorts of ways. That's not a criticism btw, just an observation. If I had nothing better to spend £3k on I might buy the highest spec version just for the hell of it. But I'm not going to pretend it's going to enhance my riding experience. I've done a few 5000 m climbing days on my 7.8 kg bike, where I would have been a few minutes faster overall on a 7 kg bike. For a pro rider those few minutes might be very costly, but to me they are totally insignificant. On my local rides, the extra weight is worth next to nothing, literally a few seconds here or there.
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Old 06-12-23, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
The way I look at this is that our body weight naturally varies by approx 2 kg during the course of a day. So I'm not going to spend a large amount of money to save 1 kg of bike weight.
Don't quite follow the reasoning. If our body weight did not naturally vary by approx 2 kg during the course of a day, you would be happy to spend a large amount of money to save 1 kg of bike weight?
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Old 06-12-23, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Don't quite follow the reasoning. If our body weight did not naturally vary by approx 2 kg during the course of a day, you would be happy to spend a large amount of money to save 1 kg of bike weight?
No. My reasoning is that 1 kg is pretty insignificant (whether on bike or rider weight) in the bigger picture.
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Old 06-12-23, 04:57 PM
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PeteHski that old thing of equating 1kg of body weight to 1kg of bike weight is not really the point, it is probably the least important part of bike weight for the vast majority short of being a competitive rider taking great pains to diet down to race weight and vying for seconds on the mountain top finish.

A light bike often has light components besides the frame, so if you have, for example, a light saddle, stem, and handlebars, saving weight higher up on the bike, there is significantly less inertia in it when you throw the bike left and right when climbing, an inverted pendulum. For the same reason, I rather carry my spares in my jersey pocket than in a saddle bag. A light bike usually also has light wheels, so it feels noticeably livelier and accelerates faster, particularly at low speeds with little energy already in the system.

So it's not about percentage of total system weight, that argument is completely ignoring day to day riding sensations that are far more important to most of the people concerned with this question in the first place. Most people will feel the difference in the way the bike feels underneath them, wherever they ride, fit or fat, racing or not. Whether it is worth the extra cost, and to what extent, is up to personal finances, involvement, and preferences, and fortunately there is truly enough to choose from, every component, every weight, every budget. I personally draw the line at part reliability because the ultra weenie spec niche finishing kit products out there seem to be fragile.

Also, comparing stock prices for bike weights often involves other items, like groupset tiers. Whilst they play into bike weight, it quickly messes with the cost per gram calculation. There are other ways to build/customise bikes that allow one to pick and choose, and usually achieve a better fit due to more control over components.

My current road bike weighs 7.8 kg and there is a 7.0 kg version for an extra £3k. So that's a cost of £3,750 per kg.
Case in point, you could easily find 800 grams at a much lower cost - not saying you would have to. This may not apply to your spec, but my friend on a budget had stock alloy wheels on his bike and for the equivalent of 540GBP he saved over 900g just in buying perfect condition pre-owned wheels and lighter tyres. That is about seven times better than your stock example.
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Old 06-12-23, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by yaw
PeteHski that old thing of equating 1kg of body weight to 1kg of bike weight is not really the point, it is probably the least important part of bike weight for the vast majority short of being a competitive rider taking great pains to diet down to race weight and vying for seconds on the mountain top finish.

A light bike often has light components besides the frame, so if you have, for example, a light saddle, stem, and handlebars, saving weight higher up on the bike, there is significantly less inertia in it when you throw the bike left and right when climbing, an inverted pendulum. For the same reason, I rather carry my spares in my jersey pocket than in a saddle bag. A light bike usually also has light wheels, so it feels noticeably livelier and accelerates faster, particularly at low speeds with little energy already in the system.

So it's not about percentage of total system weight, that argument is completely ignoring day to day riding sensations that are far more important to most of the people concerned with this question in the first place. Most people will feel the difference in the way the bike feels underneath them, wherever they ride, fit or fat, racing or not. Whether it is worth the extra cost, and to what extent, is up to personal finances, involvement, and preferences, and fortunately there is truly enough to choose from, every component, every weight, every budget. I personally draw the line at part reliability because the ultra weenie spec niche finishing kit products out there seem to be fragile.

Also, comparing stock prices for bike weights often involves other items, like groupset tiers. Whilst they play into bike weight, it quickly messes with the cost per gram calculation. There are other ways to build/customise bikes that allow one to pick and choose, and usually achieve a better fit due to more control over components.

Case in point, you could easily find 800 grams at a much lower cost - not saying you would have to. This may not apply to your spec, but my friend on a budget had stock alloy wheels on his bike and for the equivalent of 540GBP he saved over 900g just in buying perfect condition pre-owned wheels and lighter tyres. That is about seven times better than your stock example.
Difference in acceleration with lighter wheels is insignificant. The pro data is out there to prove it and itís not hard to calculate. Itís certainly been beaten to death on BF and Iím definitely not going to go there again. There is always the marginal gain from lower mass when climbing steep gradients, but again easy to calculate and decide if the time saving is worth it to you.

The subjective effects on bike handling are more debatable. If the entire 1 kg weight saving is from the saddle and bars then I would certainly notice the swing weight when climbing. But if the weight saving is spread more evenly around the bike then probably not.

Your last point about cheaper weight savings is really just another way of demonstrating diminishing returns as you upgrade. Your friend found a good return on upgrading from stock alloy wheels, but it would likely cost a lot more for the next 900g saving. My bike already has quality lightweight carbon wheels, so it would be big bucks to save more weight and 900g from my current wheels would be unfeasible. It would be 200g at most.

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Old 06-12-23, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski
Your last point about cheaper weight savings is really just another way of demonstrating diminishing returns as you upgrade. Your friend found a good return on upgrading from stock alloy wheels, but it would likely cost a lot more for the next 900g saving. My bike already has quality lightweight carbon wheels, so it would be big bucks to save more weight and 900g from my current wheels would be infeasible. It would be 200g at most.
It definitely becomes harder to save weight as you exhaust the cheaper options, that is no secret. I don't mean this to be a discussion of where to save weight for less on your specific bike, I assumed you were on decent wheels because 7.8 is not that heavy (friend's bike was almost 10kg stock despite the frame being quite light on its own), it was just an example that one kg does not necessarily cost several thousand pounds by countering one extreme (your stock price example) with another (used carbon wheel upgrade to replace terrible wheels).

And it's not about pushing nice-to-have components all the time for riders on tighter budgets. For those riding clinchers, swapping terrible stock tyres with butyl tubes for great tyres with TPU tubes can transform the ride in terms of safety and handling, and save over 300g just as a side effect. Much cheaper than saving another 200g from your current setup, no doubt. And it could even be done as the first bits wear out.

With so many variables, including disposable income, relative importance of cycling, type of riding, number of bikes, blablabla, there is simply no one answer. And reducing the impact of bike weight to calculations and relative measures doesn't tell the whole story either.
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Old 06-12-23, 11:44 PM
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Iíll echo what most have said - it depends

Bikes have gotten expensive BUT you get a lot of performance for your dollar imho. Whether or not that performance matters, or if you can even appreciate itÖ well, it depends 😀

I also agree with others that the most important feature of any bike is the fit. It is hard to describe when you get it right, but it puts a smile on your face each ride
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Old 06-13-23, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by yaw
It definitely becomes harder to save weight as you exhaust the cheaper options, that is no secret. I don't mean this to be a discussion of where to save weight for less on your specific bike, I assumed you were on decent wheels because 7.8 is not that heavy (friend's bike was almost 10kg stock despite the frame being quite light on its own), it was just an example that one kg does not necessarily cost several thousand pounds by countering one extreme (your stock price example) with another (used carbon wheel upgrade to replace terrible wheels).

And it's not about pushing nice-to-have components all the time for riders on tighter budgets. For those riding clinchers, swapping terrible stock tyres with butyl tubes for great tyres with TPU tubes can transform the ride in terms of safety and handling, and save over 300g just as a side effect. Much cheaper than saving another 200g from your current setup, no doubt. And it could even be done as the first bits wear out.

With so many variables, including disposable income, relative importance of cycling, type of riding, number of bikes, blablabla, there is simply no one answer. And reducing the impact of bike weight to calculations and relative measures doesn't tell the whole story either.
At the end of the day it just comes down to diminishing returns. If a weight saving is relatively cheap and includes other benefits, then it is more likely to be worthwhile. On cheaper bikes, those options can be attractive as your examples clearly demonstrate. But once you get to bikes above a certain price point (My Canyon was £4,600) then additional weight savings start getting very expensive and the returns are minimal.
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Old 06-13-23, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Bikealangelo
...I am a new cyclist...
Bravo! Welcome to the genre... I observe, its not the name, or the paint job, or the peer pressure that turns me on. Its the quality of the components. And there are Duds in the quality components too. So ya gotta look, learn, question and research, then find the bike or build that you need and want. There are expensive and cheap POS's every where.

Keep ridding, soon you will know what you whats worth it. Tires, wheel set, bars, shifters, tools...

Don't spend too much time trying to find a comfortable seat. The Elves stole those away to middle earth long ago...
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Old 06-13-23, 11:06 AM
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I always enjoy buying a descent mid-grade bike and up-dated the components over the years. you can really tell the difference with a good wheel set and tires. Most of the other stuff is just the cool factor.
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Old 06-13-23, 11:18 AM
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The more expensive bikes will have better derailleurs for smoother shifting and the combination brake lever gear shifter that are much easier to use than levers on the down tube of a bike. Not a big deal on flat ground but quite valuable on hilly terrain.

I have noticed some very good bikes for sale on Craiglist selling for under $500 so the used market has changed a great deal lately.
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Old 06-13-23, 12:01 PM
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Building a 7-7.5kg bike can be built fairly cheap especially if you go clincher. I think the real money spent are road bikes that weigh between the 6-7kg range. A gravel bike within the 7-8kg range with wide range gearing and wide profile tires would also be impressive.
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Old 06-13-23, 04:19 PM
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When I started riding again in '95, I also had a mid-80's bike, downtube shifters, 7 speed cassette, two chainrings. I rode that bike a lot including centuries and a double century. I finally got strong enough that I could feel the thing flex and it felt like I could rip the bars off it. So I bought a modern bike in 2000 and it's still my main ride.

Old is just fine as long as you don't outgrow it. What you might run into is the gearing not going low enough for you to do serious climbing if you live where that's available. There are a lot of excellent bikes available fin the $1400- $2K range.
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Old 06-16-23, 03:14 AM
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OP here, and I found out that several people in the factory that I work at go on regular bike rides, so I asked them. One had a 2012 Specialized Venge Pro that he was looking to pass along, and he was kind enough to let me borrow it for a couple of days to figure out if I wanted to buy it, and to test ride it.
I tried it on the first day I got it home. It is objectively better in literally EVERY category. Despite being in my work clothes, riding in heavy wind, on a bike I am unfamiliar with, and in the rain, my average mile time improved by over 10%.
So I can kind of see why the question seemed ridiculous to most of you now. I will say that for my hobby riding that I am doing (10-25 miles, two or three times a week) that this is probably way nicer of a bike than I need, but that isn't going to keep me from buying it
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Old 06-16-23, 06:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bikealangelo
OP here, and I found out that several people in the factory that I work at go on regular bike rides, so I asked them. One had a 2012 Specialized Venge Pro that he was looking to pass along, and he was kind enough to let me borrow it for a couple of days to figure out if I wanted to buy it, and to test ride it.
I tried it on the first day I got it home. It is objectively better in literally EVERY category. Despite being in my work clothes, riding in heavy wind, on a bike I am unfamiliar with, and in the rain, my average mile time improved by over 10%.
So I can kind of see why the question seemed ridiculous to most of you now. I will say that for my hobby riding that I am doing (10-25 miles, two or three times a week) that this is probably way nicer of a bike than I need, but that isn't going to keep me from buying it
Sounds like you are sorted! No crime in riding a bike that exceeds your minimum basic needs and, as you have just discovered, it can certainly improve the experience. Enjoy!
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Old 06-17-23, 05:53 PM
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In the 80's, I was riding a 17 mile course on a $600 Cannondale touring bike and couldn't break 59 minutes. I then bought a $2500 Italian racing bike and hit 52 minutes the first time out. So I vote definitely yes.
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Old 06-17-23, 11:18 PM
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This is a value judgement question, so it varies from person to person. Expensive bikes and bike equipment are all about marginal gains, but they can and do add up. I recently went from an not-particularly-aero bike ('13 Trek Madone 5.2 with lightweight climbing wheels) to a gen6 Madone SLR7, deeper/fancier wheels (Aeolus RSL 51's), and spent money on to upgrade to an aero helmet, higher end shoes, etc. I've gotten faster on my rides as a result, getting a boatload of PRs on well-worn routes. I also just added the removable Madone Speed aerobars since I most often ride solo and liked the idea of having another hand position. All cost $$, all make my riding faster and more fun. Is it worth it? To me, at this point in time, hell yes. : ) But everything I've purchased has been a mediocre to terrible value, and if I put more weigt on price-to-performance, it may not be.

Just the other day I was tailing someone who was moving at a good clip...managed to slowly reel them in and keep up. I found their route on strava and they had a power meter. They were pushing like over 50 watts more than me on the same segments, at the same time, and I was slowly creeping up on them. So you can buy a certain amount of speed, it's just a terrible value in the scheme of things. But it can still be worth it if you have the disposable income and enjoy what you get from the purchase enough.
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