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Pre-pre Friday question: Is it worth that last $2000?(30 posts)

Pre-pre Friday question: Is it worth that last $2000?Cory
Oct 16, 2003 8:03 AM
Two friends of mine, longtime cyclists who do a dozen centuries a year, have just replaced old, well-massaged bikes with new ones. One guy bought a Litespeed to replace a 22-year-old steel Centurion, the other had a custom frame built and retired his Allez. They're both nice bikes, Ultegra/DA, well-fitted.
The question for you big-bucks riders: They both agree the new bikes are better than the old, but they're not hugely better--5 percent difference, maybe, for 200, 300, 400 percent more money. I had the same feeling when I moved up from a generic Trek to an Atlantis. I love it; it's exactly what I wanted--but it isn't three times as good as a bike that cost one-third as much.
The Atlantis was planned as an interim stop on the way to a Rivendell (I'm sure my son wants me to have a Riv as a present for his graduation), and I can afford it now as much as I'll ever be able to. Ego doesn't play a part in this, I don't think--I just want to RIDE the thing, not impress people with it. And since I can't even imagine a bike that would be significantly better than the one I already have . . .
I realize this isn't a question yet, but feel free to answer it anyway.
Yes...yes it is.funknuggets
Oct 16, 2003 8:24 AM
$2000 is a decent tag, but definitely not excessive. A nice way to improve your ride, upgrade your ride, and have something that looks better and you are proud to ride. Nothing to inspire you to ride more often or faster than a fat new ride. For serious and/or dedicated cyclists, this type of expendature is an investment, and a reward.

And don't take this the wrong way, old bikes... especially classic ones are cool, but the new stuff is, in fact better... not sure what the percentage would be, but I would suggest a lot more than 5% performance-wise.

"new stuff is ...better"Steve_0
Oct 16, 2003 8:42 AM
All depends on what your definition of 'better' is.

Also, I think 5 percent is a stretch on comparable steeds from different eras (i.e., same weight, same wheelset).
Oct 16, 2003 8:51 AM
Agreed, the word better is in the eye of the beholder. I give the classice their due, especially the high end stuff. But if your choice is to train incessantly and to ride tons of centuries, especially on an Ironman Centurion... an upgrade from cromoly to 853 or whatever would offer some marginal weight savings and likely be a tad more safe (wear and tear, internal rusting, etc.) The 5% could probably be justified.

But what you said makes sense, steel to steel, alu to alu, but what if they went steel to carbon or steel to ti..., or steel to alu...? You may be right a 5% increase in performance would be a stretch, but confidence and excitement over a new ride may provide some decent psychological gains.
unit-less comparisons?DougSloan
Oct 16, 2003 8:27 AM
It's difficult to make comparisons of value, when a great deal of the equation involves unit-less characteristics. What is the measure of "satisfaction?"

I would dare say ego does play a part of it for darn near everyone. An Atlantis is sort of an "anti-yuppie/racer" bike, isn't it? Your ego is satisfied knowing you have something different, not trendy (well, it may be, though), but still high quality. Would people ride what they do if the bike had no logos at all? Eegads, that $2000 bike might look just like a $500 bike, now.

It seems that some people view others spending lots on a bike with some derision. Who knows that their situation is, though? They may have saved for 20 years to buy a $5,000 bike. They may have just hit the lottery. They make make plenty of money and not spend too much on a house or car. I don't think it matters. The only one I might get all judgmental about is someone who runs up 21% credit card to buy an expensive bike and then can't make the payments and goes bankrupt.

Bottom line, no, I think everyone agrees that a bikes "worth" is not proportional to it's cost. It's probably an exponential scale. However, it's not like buying a Ferrari vs. a Chevy. While the Ferrari might cost 4 times a much (or more), it's still $100,000 more in actual dollars. The difference between the cheapest and an expensive bike might be the same proporation, but still only $5,000 apart.

ferrari .vs. chevy.Steve_0
Oct 16, 2003 8:47 AM
though the ferrari, costing 4 times as much, will yield performance gains FAR exceeding those on the most expensive bike.

If Cars are the baseline, then the expensive bike is DEFINATELY not worth the $$
Oct 16, 2003 9:20 AM
A $200,000 Ferrari is not 4x as fast as a $50,000 Corvette. In some aspects, the Corvette may be faster.

i'll give you thatSteve_0
Oct 16, 2003 11:23 AM
of course, thats just supports the position to stay with lower-priced equipment.
true, if you have no passion ;-) nmDougSloan
Oct 16, 2003 12:08 PM
Rivendell? You just tipped your hand-filtersweep
Oct 16, 2003 8:29 AM
I went from a Trek 2300 to a Look 381, and I guarantee it was more than a 5% difference (at more than twice the price). I think there is a sweet spot at that $1500-3000 range- but beyond that the laws of diminishing returns qickly take over.

It really depends on what you are after- if weight is an issue, prices rapidly rise. If you are into Rivendells, your priorities probably lie elsewhere.
Oct 16, 2003 8:40 AM
I guess it depends how happy you are with your purchase, but I went from a Lemond, to a Fondriest, to a Look 381 and wha-pow!!! I almost never ride the Fondy (and the Lemond was retired to the trainer). I love the ride of the Look and plan not to purchase another bike like that for a LONG time. Definitely worth it (to me).

A bike that ends bike lust is well worth the added expense. nmdzrider
Oct 17, 2003 7:52 AM
I'm now waffling about a Vanilla fixie for that very reasonPdxMark
Oct 16, 2003 8:33 AM
I got a nice cheap $600 Bianchi fixed geaar bike this spring and have been riding it almost exclusively all year. It fits me fine, I've ridden a 450 mile bike tour on it, including a century, and done lots of climbing.

Once I got to the point that I knew I liked fixed gear riding, I ordered a custom Vanilla fixed gear commuter. The Bianchi has no water bottle bosses (for my light battery), no rear brake mount (if I want to ride singlespeed), and is too tight for front fenders (necessary for commuting here). Nothing critical, but it all makes it hard to use as my year-round commuter.

The problem is that I've gotten attached to my Battleship Gray Bianchi. For my bike light I clamped a water bottle cage onto the down tube with hose clamps. (I know I could drill it & use rivnuts, but those have been flakey for use with my light battery.) I solved thr front fender issue by zip-tying a home-made mudguard to the down tube. (Corrugated plastic used in political yard signs is great.) I'm not likely to want to ride singlespeed much, if any, so maybe I don't even need a rear brake mount.

So, even though I am queued up to have this LOVELY Vanilla dream bike built, I'm thinking that my workhorse bailing-wire & kite string Bianchi commuter is doing just fine for me. My last thread of self-delusional rationalization is that the stock Shimano brake pads on my front brake don't stop me very well in the really wet, so maybe I do want that Vanilla with front & rear brakes. I suspect, though, that once I put Kool-Stop Salmon brake pads on, even this last justification will slip away.
Homemade "fender"MShaw
Oct 16, 2003 9:10 AM
Used to be we'd take a 2 liter bottle and chop it open, cut off the ends, and zip tie it to the DT. Works fairly well, lasts a long time, and best of all, it almost free.

I went and bought a "Crud Catcher" that does the same thing, but is fancier.

Still doesn't beat full fenders, but you get "cool points" for it.

exponential coststreebound
Oct 16, 2003 8:36 AM
There is not a direct relationship between cost and return. There may or may not be a huge difference in feel and performance between a $300 and a $3000 bike, it really depends on the use and the rider. Put someone like "Lance" on a $100 WalMart special and put yourself on a $3000 Colnago and go for a roadrace.

In other respects there is an asthetic and user satisfaction variable whereby the cost is secondary to the desire and going to the next level of fit or performance is worth the cost. Upgrading from older SunTour components to Campy is worth the cost upgrade for someone who's always wanted to go with Campy gear, and it may not be for status, it may just be simply because of tradition and personal afinity of cycling to the person.

I have a Colnago MasterLight that I got a deal on, tradeshow demo/display bike that a local dealer got for a huge discount where it then hung in his shop for a year or so. Sold to me for cost and a huge break on components from another customer's trade-in upgrade Shimano components, the other customer was going Campy and traded in his early Ultegra gear. Total dollar cost to me for the bike was way less than half-retail, but since I'd always wanted a Colnago "just because" and status had nothing to do with it I found a way to get it. It handles different than previous bikes I've had, and I really enjoy riding it locally.

If I was going for a touring bike and if cost was no object I'd go for a Bruce Gordon model. But since cost is a factor I'd try instead to find a used Trek steel 520 or a used Fuji frameset and build something up.

I still have a Centurion that I ride and still enjoy, but may sell/swap it off on something that fits a little better since the frame is slightly big for me. It's currently set up for TT/triathlon stuff that I've never gotten into yet really. Would a replacement for this bike be 200% better if I got a bike worth 400% more? No. But if it fits better and is a decent bike that I like the ride of then cost is secondary to performance and fit/ride/feel as long as it fits my budget.

There is more to consider than cost alone. Dollar comparisons against performance comparisons are on different scales. Look at the gain, look at the cost, and find where the two variables intersect on your own personal chart for a decent decision.

This is more of a verbal meander than an answer, so hopefully it helps in some way, or at least hopefully it doesn't hurt.
If you can afford it and you don't buy it, will youshawndoggy
Oct 16, 2003 9:12 AM
be bumming when you are 70 (or at whatever age that you won't be able to do this anymore) and didn't buy it? IIRC at your age, this could be a "bike to last a lifetime," no? So that's the qualitative question that YOU need to answer.

Quantitatively, I recently jumped from early 90s dura ace sti to mostly 9 speed ultegra sti (sill using old cranks with new rings and the original DA brakes). The "performance" difference is way more than 5% on that upgrade, if by performance you mean the "how-good-it-works-ness." Meaning that I'm probably not even 3% faster on the new stuff, but the perfect snick-snick-snick when I downshift to sprint before the line is priceless.

In my mind, so long as the frame fits, there ain't much performance to be gained or lost. But the components, ahh the components. For pure "this bike rides like a dream-ness" blow your cash on the great components and a decent frame rather than vice versa.
Brother Cory, my honest take isOldEdScott
Oct 16, 2003 9:18 AM
no, you won't see a vast (or even significant) (or even noticeable) 'improvement' if you get the Riv. But that's not why you want the Riv. You want the Riv because you want it. And -- listen up, now -- you've earned the right to call that sufficient reason.

Us older guys have raised kids and sacrificed and made-do and driven the old car (were you ever the primary driver of the NEW car? I bet not) and frankly didn't mind a bit. It was our FAMILY, and we were supposed to provide, and we loved doing it.

If it meant we frequently said: "No, no, it's fine, I can make this thing work another year, you all go ahead and (fill in the blank, with an answer that takes money)' so be it.

There's been a Riv out there with your name on it, in the shadows on the cave, for all the years you've done those good and decent things. Go collect it. It's yours. And next year when I get the dad guilts about ordering my custom Waterford, I'll expect you to tell me the same damn thing.
good adviceColnagoFE
Oct 16, 2003 9:26 AM
hey...but when do I get to drive the new car?!
When you and your wife are old, alone in the house, andOldEdScott
Oct 16, 2003 9:29 AM
afraid to drive solo anymore!
Ed, you're a genius, man!Cory
Oct 16, 2003 2:35 PM
How'd you know I've been driving the s**tbox all these years?
my $.01gtx
Oct 16, 2003 9:26 AM
Spending much more than $1000 on a frame is kind of silly, IMO. If you race a C'Dale, Giant or something like a Titus Drop-U should be 99.9% as good as anything out there, and you won't cry when you crash it. For a recreational rider a Steelman 525 SR, Colnago Master X-light, Strong, Atlantis, Dean, or a LS Tuscany bought at the end of the year clearance will all work as well as anything out there. I'm sure some day I'll have the funds to buy a Rivendell or Richard Sachs or C40, but I doubt I'd be able to pull the trigger--I think I'd just feel silly, especially when some kid comes flying past on a TCR.
you don't see many 16 year olds driving a Ferarri, do you?ColnagoFE
Oct 16, 2003 10:12 AM
Hey if you don't care then don't worry, but as we get old and senile we get our pleasures where we get them. Why not pop for a top of the line C-50 if your pocketbook can take the hit. If it makes you happy, who cares what those jealous bike racers think! ;)
I'd feel silly driving a Ferrari, toogtx
Oct 16, 2003 10:40 AM
And I bet a bunch of those Rolex-wearing Ferrari-driving 60 years olds get spanked silly by 16 year olds in modded-out WRXs. ;)
Having driven one, I disagree.Bosun
Oct 16, 2003 11:25 AM
I'm an English teacher. I drive a Subaru. I thought that Ferrari drivers were goombas, pimps, egomaniacs, etc...

And then an old friend showed up one day with his neighbors red 360 Modena. After a short ride and even shorter drive, I realized the true pleasure in this vehicle. It was awesome. I didn't feel like an idiot--I simply didn't care about anyone else. I didn't even notice other cars on the road, who were no doubt trying to ogle/race me. It's a unique feeling, driving a Ferrari, and has no real logic behind it. It's like spending 2000 or more dollars on a bike, but much more exclusive. When people ask this fellow "how" he can drive a Ferrari, he replies, "How can you not?" He thinks anyone (with the resources) who doesn't drive one is a lunatic. Odd, huh?
Having driven one, I disagree.gtx
Oct 16, 2003 12:29 PM
I've actually driven a 308, a 328 and ridden in a 246 Dino. They are all very nice, I admit--and the 360 has taken it to a whole nother level. But for something to actually own and drive on a daily basis I kind of prefer my 66 Satellite, which makes cool noises and gets crummy mileage, too.
Incremental value is relative.Steve98501
Oct 16, 2003 12:31 PM

It's only a bike. If you want it and can afford it, then that is reason enough. My other road bikes are/were OK and the right size, but not quite right geometry. I'm now an empty-nester with both kids through college, so this has been my year of self-indulgence. I was about to order a custom frame to get a more laid back seat tube angle, but the pro fitter found that Rivendell and Merckx century geometry suited my needs. Long story short, the Rivendell (Rambouilett with my old Veloce/Daytona mix)is now my commute/rainy day/fendered bike, and a Merckx Corsa with Chorus 10 speed is my feel good, go fast, bike. The Chorus doesn't really work better than Veloce, but it's what I decided I wanted.

Of course, these weren't really expensive bikes, but I wanted lugged steel that fits well and looks good. These bikes receive a lot of compliments on their appearance, which just adds to the good feeling of the comfortable fit. The money I spent on bikes this year is almost already forgotten, but I am so satisfied with the feel of riding them, I'm comfortable that I'm getting good value for my expense.

entry level and older bikes vs. newish designsChazWicked
Oct 16, 2003 12:53 PM
First, all my bikes are steel.

I rented a $700 ish aluminim road bike recently and it felt dead dead dead. It was heavy and decidedly low end. The shifting, however, was bombproof.

I've ridden some old bikes that feel really good and some that are like the aforementioned aluminum brick that I rented.

My take is that a frugal rider can get *most* of the performance out of a factory made steel 853 bike. Such bikes with an ultegra or 105 setup could ring in as low as $1200 ish, possibly less. Such a setup with decent wheels would ride very similarly to my bike where the frame alone exceeds the cost of the whole bike.

What value did I get paying that kind of $? Perfect welds, beauty, knowing I'm buying from a craftsman, in short: art. I like the idea of buying from a local guy vs. getting something from a far away factory. The local bike has soul.

Along those same lines, some older bikes ride magnificantly as well. An old lugged 525 frame will be heavier than today's offerings but it'll go very fast if kitted out with a decent group & wheelset.

Going a different direction, my somewhat cheaply manufactured surly steamroller single speed is fast and rides well. That's an example of probably something that has the weight and feel of an old bike. It's a quick accelerator and a nimble craft. It's not extremely fast on twisty downhills but that's a function of the track angles vs. frame material. It's my commuter/urban ride and gets the job done somewhat cheaply and stealthily.

I suppose the real question is what do you want out of your bike?

I know, more questions than answers..
Bikes and Ferrari'sDaveLobster
Oct 16, 2003 1:29 PM
The Ferrari analogy really does have something to do with it. Some things are absolutely expensive, and some things only relatively expensive.

A new 12 cylinder Ferrari at $200k plus is absolutely expensive. Very few people have an extra $200k to spend on a weekend toy that is expensive to insure & repair and gets terrible mileage and is sure to depreciate rapidly (we're talking new Ferrari's here). Probably only one person in a million in this country has the financial ability to afford such a thing.

But a $5,000 bike is only relatively expensive. So while that's a lot to spend on a bike, it's probably no more than your sister's jet ski or your brother-in-law's big screen TV or your hairdresser's motorcycle. In the big scheme, bikes are cheap. Lots of people can come up with five grand for something they are interested enough in.

When you consider all the hours a serious rider spends in the saddle, I don't think that spending an extra $2000 is extravagant.
re: Pre-pre Friday question: Is it worth that last $2000?ramboorider
Oct 16, 2003 3:46 PM
Well, if it gets you what feels right, it's worth it. I've personally never spent more than $2200 on a complete bike and only done that twice (not that this is cheap, mind you). But I'm sure that I've spent $10,000 over the years on frames and parts in the process of concluding that my Rivendell is the perfect bike for me, given my physical dimensions, limitations, and the way I like to ride. All of that money was worth it, because now I truly feel like I have a "lifetime" bike, but I didn't know that until I'd tried a lot of other stuff. I still have other bikes that fill particular roles and that I like a lot, but I reach for the Riv 90% of the time.

I bought mine back when they were cheaper than a Rambouillet or Atlantis is now, but if I knew it would take another $2000 to get a bike that's this perfect for me, I'd probably find a way to do it. I'd only feel guilty until after I'd put the first scratch on it :)

re: Pre-pre Friday question: Is it worth that last $2000?mapei boy
Oct 17, 2003 11:06 AM
Whether the difference in perceived quality is 5% or 1000%, whenever I climb onto my Colnago after spending time on one of my cheaper bikes, I invariably start chuckling with glee. I get a rush of adrenaline. I think, "Man oh man. ...Am I having FUN!"