The Skinny: you could buy a car for that much! (but it will probably suck)

Bikes are cheaper and better than ever and everything is great

Whenever we discuss bikes costing more than a couple of grand, a subset of commenters (bless their scratchy cotton socks) pipe up with the following lines, without fail...

"How much??!"

"Modern bikes are rediculously [sic] overpriced"

"£3000?!! My motorbike cost less than that and I DON'T HAVE TO PEDAL OH THE LOLZ"

"idiot u could buy a car for that"

Now, these are all valid points, ones that bear closer examination. So let's examine them, in order.

1. "How much??!"

A serious bicycle: a serious bicycle
A serious bicycle: a serious bicycle

Loads. If you're sat at a desk reading this instead of doing the work your large and faceless company pays you for, you probably can't afford the thing we're talking about. It's pretty much the preserve of hedge fund managers, Panamanian accountants, and minor royalty. We're being nice and letting you read about it, but basically you can't afford it and never will because you keep spending your money on dumb stuff like raising children and paying your taxes.

2.  "Modern bikes are rediculously [sic] overpriced"

A bikeradar commenter:
A bikeradar commenter:

(Credit: Getty)

Are they though? I mean yes, if you're positively determined to ruin your bank balance and you always insist on buying the halo bike from any given brand, they probably do seem quite expensive. Most of us don't do that though – we try to get the most for our money by plumping for 105 instead of Dura-Ace (other groupsets are available), or by opting for the second-tier frame rather than the limited-super-team-edition-ultra-high-modulus-SLX-unicorn-hair-nano-blarp-bloop.

No one is holding you down and forcing you to buy the latest and greatest bike kit, indeed there's a lot to be said for choosing proven technology that the passage of time has rendered more accessible and reliable (*cough*SRAM road discs *cough*). By reporting on the latest developments in the world of bikes we hope to inform and perhaps even to entertain, but our doing so is in no way a criticism of your existing possessions, nor an attempt to undermine your confidence in them. If you're happy with what you've got, that's just peachy.

3.  "£3000?!! My motorbike cost less than that and I DON'T HAVE TO PEDAL OH THE LOLZ"

Motorbikes are awesome:
Motorbikes are awesome:

(Credit: Getty)

I'm not going to argue with you here. If there's one product that makes bicycles look expensive, it's probably motorbikes. It's frankly incredible that you can get a fully functional machine that propels you to 100mph in a scant few seconds for mere single-digit thousands. But I'd ask you this: so what? A motorbike is so fundamentally different to a bicycle that there's just no point in comparing the two. One is an essentially unnecessary machine which you ride wearing special clothes and a comedy hat and is principally bought by middle-aged men to satisfy an unrealised urge to live on the edge and actually that's a perfect description of both. Damn.

Ok, let's look at it like this... For most of us, motorbikes and bicycles are fancy toys. They can be quite useful to get places, but the odds are we choose them over the more mainstream alternatives (cars, walking, dog sleds) because they offer us something special – a sense of freedom, the thrill of working in harmony with a beautifully engineered mechanism, or that fizzy feeling in your genitals. (You should really get that looked at by the way.)

Fancy toys are a luxury and as such, they don't warrant a strict cost/benefit analysis. In terms of part-count or engineering complexity, motorbikes are clearly far better value than bicycles. They have engines for God's sake, with fancy electronics and clutches and gearboxes. By comparison even the most sophisticated bicycle is childishly simple. But both are absolutely wonderful, technological marvels that the common man or woman can enjoy.

4. "idiot u could buy a car for that"

Here's a bicycle:

The scott addict:
The scott addict:

The Scott Addict 20 (photo: Scott)

It costs £2500 / $3300. It weighs a little over 7kg in total, and the frame alone is well under a kilo. It has some of the best shifting kit on the market, and if you gave it to a pro, they could go win a race on it tomorrow without changing anything at all. Here's the new car you can buy for that much money…

Just kidding! There isn't one. You could have this though. Hey, it seats five times as many people as the Scott...The point is, this kind of money buys you an amazing bike, and a distinctly average (or quite old) car. Even spending less than half that amount on a bike gives you some fantastic options, and the best cyclists in the world compete atop machines that cost less than a modest family hatchback.

Really, this is about priorities. Angry commenter #4 doesn't understand how someone could possibly choose un-motorised entertainment over the motorised variety given sufficient funds to do either. But cyclists all over the world make that choice every day. Hell, half of the staff of BikeRadar own bikes worth more than their cars. Like any other hobby-related expense, buying a bike is rarely a wholly rational undertaking. If eye-wateringly expensive racers are the only thing that sets your pulse racing, you should probably get one of those, and you should ignore the shouty people on the internet. Ride what makes you happy, but above all, just ride.

Matthew Allen

Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Also a really, really terrible racer who's been dropped more times than you've shaved your legs.
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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