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Road bikes and price

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Road bikes and price

Old 04-10-09, 09:07 AM
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Road bikes and price

What is the point where road bike quality "tops out"?

I have heard that at a certain point, any increase in the price of a bike results in an essentially non existent increase in the real quality of the bike. You end up paying for better tech and a few grams less weight, but basically you are paying for the name. In other words, a 4000 dollar bike is not really 4 times better than a 1000 dollar bike. At what price point does this happen?

$2000? $3000? $1000?
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Old 04-10-09, 09:10 AM
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I'd say around $3-4K. At that point you're looking at a high quality frame, nice wheels, and (at least) ultegra or chorus, with real-name stems/bars/posts.

It depends what you're using it for too--for puttering around the city, the law of diminishing returns kicks in around $1K, maybe less.
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Old 04-10-09, 09:13 AM
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The latest edition of Road Bike Action magazine had this to say about carbon frames:
pg. 42 - "Initial engineering and startup costs for carbon are high, but after the frames are rolling out of the factory, the difference between "ultimate" and "affordable" frame technology becomes pretty narrow. Experts agree that the feel of a well-designed and executed frame made from the least expensive of the three grades of carbon materials is nearly indiscernible from the nano tube-filled ultra-high-modulus carbon used for the creme de la creme models."
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Old 04-10-09, 09:31 AM
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yeah, I just got my first road bike, a Giant Defy 2, MSRP $1025, I got it for $950. I'm not a racer, but I still want something that is pretty nice that rides well for fun, fitness, possible racing, some touring, etc. It does ride well, but I am already considering how high I could go with future bikes.

How high should I go with upgrades for components? It has all Sora components, with an Tiagra rear derailleur.
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Old 04-10-09, 09:41 AM
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It doesn't really that x times cost is x times better. The cost/value relationship goes downhill pretty much from the moment you can build a functioning bike. If you put $2000 aero race wheels on a $2000 bike you wouldn't really expect it to go twice as fast or be twice as "good" but that doesn't mean that there isn't a real improvement to be had there. Is that improvement worth $2000? Each person has to answer that for themselves and the answer will not always be the same.

There's also a difference between what a bike's MSRP is and what many people actually pay for it. Go to a race and you will see a lot of high end gear, but very few people actually paid full price for it.
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Old 04-10-09, 09:46 AM
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I'm pretty new to all this stuff, but I also have a penchant for overdoing things a lot, especially when its something I really enjoy like cycling.

When I was shopping for my first real road bike, I test rode a bunch of bike in the $2K price range, and then road a bike which retailed for $3K, and I found a noticeable difference in the riding experience, both in the quality of the frame, and the components. At that level, I got a good carbon frame, with full Ultegra components, and the bike weighed a little over 18 lbs. I liked it a lot. Should have left well enough alone.

Later in the year, I found an insanely good deal on what would have been a $7K bike, an all titanium Seven, with full Dura-Ace. Obviously not much of a direct comparison to the carbon bike, but Dura-Ace components seem to be a slight step better than the Ultegra, and a little bit lighter.

Then, a couple months ago, like an idiot, when the LBS was having a clearance sale on their in-stock '08 Madones, I test rode a 6.5 Pro, which was two "quality levels" of frame above the 5.1 I had. This bike had an MSRP of about $6.5K. It was about as direct a comparison as possible - same manufacturer, same geometry, I had upgraded the 5.1, so even the same wheels. I was absolutely astounded at the difference between the two bikes. The 6.5 weigh about 15.6 lbs, which I assume accounts for soem of the difference in acceleration and "snap". But it is stiffer, more responsive, there is so much less of a "dampened" feel which makes it lively without being harsh. The thing is just incredible. Its the top of the line frame form this manufacturer, so the only step up from there is ridiculously expensive carbon wheels, which would get it close to the $10K range, a place I just can't go. How much better could a $10K, or $13K bike be? My feeble mind can't even imagine, but I've got to think that where I'm right now had got to be close to, or ever, the line of diminishing marginal returns.
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Old 04-10-09, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by jgt_madone_newb
I got a good carbon frame, with full Ultegra components, and the bike weighed a little over 18 lbs.
This is what I got when shopping a few years ago. It seemed like a like a pretty good setup for a "value" shopper.
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Old 04-10-09, 10:01 AM
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$8k
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Old 04-10-09, 10:10 AM
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Weight comes at a premium. The difference between a $4,000 bike and a $2,000 bike is probably a pound if not less. I pay less attention to weight since I carry 2 water bottle and a seat bag with tubes and CO2 cartridges anyway. I concentrate on losing weight and getting stronger. Once I am in peak condition, then I will drop the big bucks on an ultra light bike or a lighter groupo and wheels for my current bike.
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Old 04-10-09, 10:27 AM
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Seems like this thread needs some pictures



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Old 04-10-09, 10:27 AM
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To me > than $3,000 is the limit to where more money spent returns more enjoyment in a bike. Weekend warrior and no racing so having a nice ride is important but not that important.

Another way to look at it is for $1,500 - $2,000 today you get what a pro racer would have killed for 10 years ago.
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Old 04-10-09, 10:29 AM
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It's not really that simple. First, it depends on what "qualities" you're looking for. But beyond that, I think a $5,000 Cervelo IS much better than any $2000 bikes out there but it's also better than some $10,000 bikes out there. Same for the Look 586 Ultra. There is no point at which all bikes are the same. They ride differently. I'd spend (if I had it) a lot of money on the Look 586, but I wouldn't spend that same money on a similarly priced Fuji.
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Old 04-10-09, 10:35 AM
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1500-2000 dollars (usa) assuming stock frame. 1K more for custom frame. Above that is icing on the cake but rapidly diminishing returns.
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Old 04-10-09, 02:02 PM
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Well, I started with a bike that was $2000 (CR1 with ultegra) and have worked it up to a bike that'd probably retail for $6K+ (SRAM Red and Reynolds Assault wheels). Would I notice if I spent a few more grand and got lighter wheels? Sure. Would it make me seriously faster? Probably not, though some of the hills might get a tad easier. I mean, you could get crazy with some of the weight weenie stuff. I'd love to try a 12 lb bike and see if I notice.

I'd say, depending on the bike, somewhere in the $5,000 to $7,000 range would probably be a near pro spec.
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Old 06-23-09, 01:46 PM
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I know this thread is a couple months old, but I found this article about price last weekend that I thought was pretty good.
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Old 06-24-09, 05:30 AM
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I thought this was funny - "In high end bicycle shops customers frequently come from a more affluent demographic than the owner of the store and the staff. The customers simply have way more money than the person waiting on them. It is generally considered inappropriate or even rude for an affluent customer to ask an employee making a middle class wage for a discount that threatens to further reduce that employee’s already modest standard of living."
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Old 06-24-09, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by sced
I thought this was funny - "In high end bicycle shops customers frequently come from a more affluent demographic than the owner of the store and the staff. The customers simply have way more money than the person waiting on them. It is generally considered inappropriate or even rude for an affluent customer to ask an employee making a middle class wage for a discount that threatens to further reduce that employee’s already modest standard of living."
That's ridiculous. It's not like a couple bucks off the bike is going to mean that some employee doesn't eat tonight.
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Old 06-24-09, 06:13 AM
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I currently alternate between a 16.5 LB Bikesdirect bike and a $600 heavy Craigslist cross bike and there is no difference in my averages even with big hills. Exactually the cross fits me better and is quite compfy.
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Old 06-24-09, 06:25 AM
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You can purchase a full carbon bike with full (including brakes,cranks) 105 from one of the big players for under $2,400. Any upgrades from this point will be minimal maybe with the exception of a nicer wheel build.
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Old 06-24-09, 06:34 AM
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For me, it used to be around £2k and now it's around £3k. (But I'd never actually spend that much on a bike (it's just a bunch of tubes with a couple of wheels right?)

I dont know what that is in USD, but it's Tarmac Pro kinda level.
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Old 06-24-09, 06:36 AM
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I spec'd out a possible build recently that was pretty ridiculous, and only about $4000.

Pedal Force CG1 ISP BB30 frameset
2010 Force with BB30
Ritchey WCS controls
Spec Toupe Ti saddle
Reynolds DV46UL
Keo Carbon Pedals

with every weight taken into account, and even tires, tubes, rim tape, headset, bar tape, everything purchased, I came up with 13.3 lbs for about $4000.

I think if you're riding a sub 14 lb bike with aero wheels, you're getting pretty close to ridiculous diminishing returns. Sure, you could shave some more weight for a ton of money, but probaby only another 1/2 lb or so, and it would cost you another $4000 at least to do it.
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Old 06-24-09, 06:37 AM
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Originally Posted by jadoescher
What is the point where road bike quality "tops out"?

Tops out? arguably never, or at least north of $20,000 With Giant's top Di2 bike at $13,000, the top would have to be north of that.

What you're really asking is at what point does the curve with price on x axis and quality on the y axis start to become very steep.

I'd say that point is around $1,000.
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Old 06-24-09, 06:49 AM
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"quality" isn't the right word to use here.
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Old 06-24-09, 07:02 AM
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I don't think think you'll find anything these days that isn't almost ridiculously high quality. Even a low end aluminum frame can be well designed and a great performer. But you're asking where the actual performance vs price curve peaks.
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Old 06-24-09, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by DrPete
I'd say around $3-4K. At that point you're looking at a high quality frame, nice wheels, and (at least) ultegra or chorus, with real-name stems/bars/posts.

It depends what you're using it for too--for puttering around the city, the law of diminishing returns kicks in around $1K, maybe less.
+1 I agree with this comment. The $2K bike from the LBS is great, but it seems that most cyclists drop another $1K in wheel and cockpit upgrades, as well as the obligatory pedals, cages, and cyclometer. At that point you're in an Ultegra equivalent bike with a very good frame.
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