(A response to why buy an expensive bicycle)
Two “randonneur” bikes may look roughly similar. Both can have a front rack and both have gears. Yet one could cost more than five times as much as the other, if you ordered one today.
Of course, there are obvious differences: One already is equipped with lighting and fenders, the other isn’t. But even if we add $500 for those parts to the less expensive bike, we still have a remarkable difference in price. Why is one bike so much less expensive?
The “inexpensive” bike is made by a company that employs many people, both here and abroad and that supports bicycle related activities and business, including local bike shops, bike events and causes, whereas the more expensive bike is hand-made by a small constructeur. Having the satisfaction that may come with owning a handmade product is nice and well, but what do you get with the mass produced bike?
From my experience, a bike company that produces bikes for the masses, not only supplies hundreds of local bike shops across the United States with reasonably priced, quality bikes that are more than capable of giving years of solid performance to the vast majority of users, such bikes also do well in at least three areas:
1. Performance: The mass produced bicycle has a geometry conceived for its intended purpose and is made with good, strong, proven materials. The truth of the matter is that you can’t buy speed. Unless you have already lost that last 10 pounds, quit your job to train daily, ridden that perfect number of hill repeats and, in short, done all you can to maximize your fitness, blaming the cost/manufacturer of the bike for your poor performance is really just a lame excuse. Buying a race car doesn’t make you a race car driver, regardless of what the advertisements may imply.
2. Durability: Well-made mass produced bikes have passed the test of time and hard use. They have been commuted on, used to haul trailers, carry groceries, locked outside, ridden in deplorable conditions . They have gone across country and around the world and still come back. They are ridden in competition and take the podium. Even today, frames from the 70’s and 80’s are rebuilt, restored or still on the road. You don’t have to baby these babies. They can be ridden and ridden hard. And if there is a failure, rare as they may be, you can go and buy another with the money you saved and still come out ahead.
3. Value: The real value of owning a bike is in the riding of the bike. If you spend $5,000 or more on a bike that sits on wall or in a room waiting for the right weather or event before it gets used, you may own a piece of art but you are not getting good value for a bike. If you buy an “inexpensive bike” and then ride it regularly, you will get more than your money’s worth out of it.
Don’t you deserve a better bike? This question begs another question - What does “deserve” mean? If deserve means “can you afford to buy” a more expensive bike then the answer really has nothing to do with how you use the bike. You “deserve” to buy whatever your wallet can support. But if deserve means that you have somehow earned a more expensive bike through your biking exploits, then most likely, if you really deserve one, you won’t have to buy one -it will be given to you.
Ride what makes you happy. If you want to ride a piece of art - go for it. Beautiful hand built bikes are a joy to look at and probably to ride. But, if you want to ride a proletarian pedal machine - join the movement, you will have lots of company with many satisfied customers. Because, when all is said and done, it’s the riding that matters most.