This post has been brewing for a while and I’ve talked myself into writing it and not writing it several times. Am I bitter? Probably. Frustrated? Certainly. If you’re one of those cyclists that has bottomless pockets or an unlimited cycling budget you may want to skip this one.
Any hobby has its expenses. If you like to knit then you have to pay for yarn and needles. If you enjoy scrapbooking then you have to pay for paper, stamps and stickers. Cycling is no different. If you want to enjoy the sport of cycling you have to maintain you bike which costs money. Cycling clothes cost money. Bicycles cost money. And so on. Cycling is just like any other hobby we have. It costs money. But does it cost too much?
Let’s talk about bicycles first. Are there affordable bicycles out there? Sure, if you start with the low-end beginner road bikes, you can find a bike or two for right around $1000 that may suit your needs. On the other end of the spectrum you have the new Madone 6.9 that’ll set you back $8600 for the basic version. Throw in upgrades and custom paint and you can get it up to $14000 ($8600 sounds like a real bargain now). Custom road bikes can be even more.
I don’t know about you but the planet I live on would call $1000 for a road bike expensive. Am I out of touch? Maybe but in my book $1000 is a lot of money. I couldn’t fathom paying $8600 for a bike. Who would actually go out and pay that for a bicycle anyway? Not anybody I know. I’m sure some of you know people who would pay that for a bike but is it a bike they’ll actually use for the purpose it was designed for?
Regardless of what kind of road bike it is I think the prices have just gone through the roof. Having to drop $1000 to $3000 on a new bike is ridiculous. Has the technology advanced so far that the research and development costs are driving up the end price? Perhaps but I also think the bicycle companies are taking advantage of cyclists with large mark ups.
I’m a cyclist who owns just a few pieces of actual cycling clothing (four to be exact). And they aren’t even name brand bibs or jerseys. If you want name brand, or top of the line, expect to pay out of your proverbial arse for it. $80-130 jerseys. $150-$200 bibs. I talked the other day about how I was looking for a sleeveless jersey and was shocked when I found out one I was looking at cost a $100 at one of the local bike shops. Come on! It doesn’t even have sleeves for crying out loud!
There is cheaper cycling clothing out there but I hear that you do get what you pay for with regards to cycling clothing. I wouldn’t know if the expensive stuff is any more comfortable or not but I’ve been told it is. But is it so comfortable that it should require you to take out a second-mortgage to totally outfit yourself for spring, summer, fall and winter riding? Are cycling companies just like the department stores that mark up clothes 200-300% and take advantage of the shoppers? I would say yes.
This is the low-hanging fruit of the cycling hobby that can really start to add up. $200 carbon shoes and handle bars. $1000 sets of wheels. $300 GPS enabled computers. $100 saddles. $1000 (and more) component groups. And the list just goes on and on and on.
I guess the real question is how serious are we with this hobby/sport we call cycling? Are we serious enough to blindly fork out thousands of dollars on bikes, clothes and accessories so we can have the latest and greatest designs or technology? Do we have unlimited funds where we can simply pay whatever the cycling companies want for their products? Are we willing to pay anything so we can fit into “the group” on the next ride?
Some people are perfectly happy to pay these prices and do. I can’t and won’t but that still doesn’t mean that the prices the cycling companies are charging aren’t inflated and ridiculous.
I expect a lot of flak from this post but I really don’t care. I would like your opinion on the subject though. Do others feel the same way or am I’m a minority in this line of thinking and should just get out of the sport of cycling right now.